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JONES: Never get rid of Stanley Cup playoff marathons

When Chris Cuthbert started calling the Calgary-Dallas Stanley Cup playoff game in Edmonton on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay-Columbus game was in overtime in Toronto.

When he finished, Columbus and Tampa were still in overtime. When it was finally over in Toronto and Brayden Point scored at 90:27 of overtime to end the fourth-longest game in Stanley Cup history, Cuthbert flashed back to 20 years ago.

“I did the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh five-overtime game in 2000 and it was fun counting down the to the longest TV game ever at 92:01,” he remembered.

It was the third longest in history. The other two, including Mud Bruneteau’s record goal scored at 16:30 of the sixth overtime for the Detroit Red Wings over the Montreal Maroons, came in the 1930s.

Cuthbert remembers his call.

“Primeau is the Marathon Man!”

It was Keith Primeau of the Philadelphia Flyers winning it.

Cuthbert had another memory of that night.

“We were flying to Denver after the game and Greg Millen had a cab waiting from 11 p.m. to take us to the airport. The meter was at $250 when we climbed in after 2 a.m.”

Hockey’s Stanley Cup marathons are memory makers to be treasured by many who were part of history, no matter how much they endured to get there.

Yet, when you get a game like we watched Tuesday, the call goes up again to end this cruel and unusual punishment.

“I’m for keeping it the way it is,” said Cuthbert. “They are remembered forever as part of the lore of the game.”

Cuthbert is the former CBC Edmonton sportscaster who hired a high school kid from Scona by the name of Gord Miller. Last night, Miller called the game for NBC in Toronto and became part of hockey legend and lore. When he left the booth, Miller had called two of the five Stanley Cup games to go to five overtime periods.

This one was the fourth longest. The other was the Petr Sykora overtime winner in a Dallas-Anaheim game in 2003.

“Brian Boucher, my analyst, played in the Primeau game, although he says in his house they call it the Boucher game. So he’s now played in and broadcast the third and fourth longest games ever,” said Miller.

Funny, the things you remember.

“The building in Dallas had just opened not long before and the water fountains weren’t working and they ran out of water in the fridges. And I’d never had a Dr. Pepper in my life. But I needed something to lubricate my throat. So I ended up drinking four Dr. Peppers. I felt like I’d eaten a bowling ball. I was wide-awake at 4 a.m. My heart was beating like 120 beats per minute. I’ve never had a Dr. Pepper since.”

With no crowd and being in the bubble and all of the different aspects of this, Miller figures this one is special.

“I think the fact that happened in this situation makes it even more remarkable.”

Like Cuthbert, Miller doesn’t want to see it go away.

“I’d like to stay with the overtime in the Stanley Cup games but I think they need to call penalties like they do in regulation time because it gets a bit like rodeo.”

Another interested observer was Kelly Hrudey, who was working the Calgary-Dallas telecast but was otherwise glued to the overtime drama emanating from Toronto.

“It was pretty cool to watch. Tonight was a night that I don’t think I will ever forget,” the Edmonton native said of the experience of cheering for Joonas Korpisalo of the Columbus Blue Jackets to beat his record by 12, making 85 saves in a game.

“I’m just beaming for Korpisalo,” Hrudey said when I called him a couple hours after the game, as well.

For Hrudey it was The Easter Epic, a Game 7 in 1987 with the New York Islanders against the Washington Capitals.

“Going into Game 7, we were without Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brent Sutter and Bryan Trottier,” he said.

Again, it’s funny what you remember.

“I remember referee Andy Van Hellemond looking at me and we were smiling and chuckling each time we looked at the scoreboard and it said, ‘This game is now the sixth longest in Stanley Cup history.’ And then, ‘This game is now the fifth longest in Stanley Cup history.’ And then, ‘This game is now the fourth longest in Stanley Cup history.’ I remember feeling comforted that there was somebody else on the ice that seemed to be enjoying the moment as much as I was.

“When I went home to Edmonton in the summer, I remember my mom and dad sharing a conversation on the broadcast between Bob Cole and Harry Neale and Harry said, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if it was your goalie in Game 7 of a Stanley Cup playoff series and the fourth longest in history and he was smiling and chuckling.’

Hrudey was glued on the game Seth Jones, older brother of the Oilers’ Caleb, played to go down in history for the most ice time at 65:06. What an experience to witness that.

Hrudey also thinks it would be criminal if the NHL ever decided to end the possibility of anybody ever breaking the storied record of the Winnipeg grain officer Modere ‘Mud’ Bruneteau.

“I love the ending that we have. When you get to third, fourth and fifth overtime, that’s pure drama that no other sport has. That’s how a playoff game should end.”

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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