The last time the NHL season was limited to 48 games, the Maple Leafs were a contender, the Quebec Nordiques existed, Fox started broadcasting games and Peter Forsberg was rookie of the year.
In the fast-moving world of sports, this is all ancient history and looking back at 1995 will make some of us feel old as dirt.
This week’s focus of the THN.com Top 10 is on the league scoring leaders from the lockout-shortened 1995 campaign. Do you remember who the top performers were?
10. Mark Messier, 53 points
In his fourth season with the Rangers, Messier led the Blueshirts in scoring with 14 goals and 39 assists. Though the team dropped to eighth in the Eastern Conference after winning the Stanley Cup the season prior, they were able to advance past the first round, upsetting the top-seeded Nordiques in that franchise’s final season north of the border.
9. John LeClair, 54
The Legion of Doom would take shape this season, as LeClair was traded from Montreal to Philadelphia nine games in. Immediately, his points per game more than doubled and he scored at the pace of a 50-goal man (25 in 37), a mark he would hit for the first time the following season.
8. Mikael Renberg, 57
Renberg stayed warm with Lulea of the Swedish League while the NHL was in lock down mode then returned to the Flyers to improve on a rookie season in which he registered 82 points. Renberg’s pace in 47 games this season marks the only time he averaged better than a point per game in his career.
7. Paul Coffey, 58
Skating with Detroit, Coffey earned his final Norris Trophy in 1995 and scored as many goals (14) as he did in both 1993-94 and 1995-96, when he had the benefit of an extra 30-plus games.
6. Theo Fleury, 58
Fleury joined Finland’s Tappara Tampere for the lockout then came back to post 29 goals, five shy of the league leader. He led the Flames to second place in the West, though they were eliminated by the underdog San Jose Sharks in the first round.
5. Ron Francis, 59
After posting a minus-3 rating in 1993-94, Francis registered a plus-30 to lead the league and earned his first and only Selke Trophy. He also won the Lady Byng and helped navigate the Pens to third place in the East, despite being without Mario Lemieux, who sat out the season to recover from radiation treatment.
4. Joe Sakic, 62
Not only was Quebec’s young team entering its prime just as it picked up and left for Colorado, but so was its 26-year-old captain. Sakic led Quebec to the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but Messier’s Rangers crushed the Nords hopes for a fantastic farewell.
3. Alexei Zhamnov, 65
Ya, that’s right, Alexei Zhamnov. Despite the abbreviated schedule, Zhamnov posted a career-high 30 goals and his 65 points were the second most of his NHL tenure. Zhamnov scored five goals in an April 1 game against the Los Angeles Kings, but his Jets still couldn’t get anything more than a 7-7 tie. No wonder they missed the playoffs.
2. Eric Lindros, 70
The Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award winner of 1995, Lindros was absolutely dominant for a rising Philadelphia power. His 1.52 points-per-game was the league’s best average, but he is held at No. 2 on this list because his goal totals fell short of No 1…
1. Jaromir Jagr, 70
Without Lemieux, Jagr took the reins in Pittsburgh, matching his goal total (32) from the season prior, when he played 80 games. It was Jagr’s first of five Art Ross Trophies and started him down the path to becoming one of the NHL’s all-time greats.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.