The 1996 Stanley Cup Finals were the first time in NHL history that both teams were making their first appearance in the finals. The Colorado Avalanche squared off against the Florida Panthers in what would turn out to be the Avs first Cup win. Only one year after relocating from Quebec City, the Avs made it to the finals for the first time ever as a franchise. The Panthers, on the other hand, were only in their 3rd season of play as a franchise when they made their appearance.

It was an exciting time for the NHL, with two young teams going head to head for the chance at their first ever Stanley Cup. It’s always exciting to see a new name engraved on the Cup and this final promised just that. Although ultimately the Panthers were swept by the Avs, the finals were nothing short of thrilling. We saw a blowout, two comeback victories, and one of the most incredible series-ending games in finals history. Not to mention both teams featured some fantastic jerseys going head to head!


Here’s a quick summary of each game:


GAME ONE, JUNE 4TH, 1996:

Patrick Roy makes a save on Mellanby in the 96 Stanley cup finals
Patrick Roy robs Mellanby of a goal in the 96 Stanley Cup Finals

Colorado were the favorites going into the game, but Florida would strike first with Tom Fitzgerald’s tally at 16:51. Fans began to think that maybe the Panther’s could pull off the upset in game 1, but those thoughts quickly vanished when the second period began play. Within a span of five minutes, Scott Young, Mike Ricci, and Uwe Krupp tallied goals to help the Avs to take home game one in a 3-1 victory.


GAME TWO, JUNE 6TH, 1996:

8-1. That’s the final score of this one. The Avs came out firing on all cylinders in game two to blow out the Panthers. Peter Forsberg scored the first goal of the game which was then matched by the Panthers in Stu Barnes. The tie game did not last very long as Rene Corbet notched one on a power play only a few minutes later. Then they kept coming for the Avs, Forsberg notched another two to complete his hat-trick, Corbet tallied another, Valeri Kamensky took one for himself, and John Klemm fired two more for good measure. Three different players on the Avs scored at least two goals in a game that the Panthers would rather forget.


GAME THREE, JUNE 8TH, 1996:

Patrick Roy is surrounded by rats in game 3 of the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals
Patrick Roy is surrounded by rats in game 3 of the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals

The Panthers wanted to win this one, their first Finals game on home ice. Claude Lemieux, fresh off his two-game suspension, had other plans as he netted the Avs first of the game at 2:44 of the first period. Florida was deflated, but not done. The Panthers netted two thanks to Ray Sheppard and Rob Niedermayer. Florida was now leading 2-1, their second and final lead of the series. The Avalanche came back in spectacular fashion to score two goals within 82 seconds of each other on goals from Mike Keane and Joe Sakic to take a 3-2 lead. Though Panthers fans showered Roy with Rats, they couldn’t break his focus. The Avs would go on to hold this lead and push Florida to the brink of elimination.


GAME FOUR, JUNE 10TH, 1996:


The Panthers knew they needed this win to stay alive and did their best to do so. After three scoreless periods thanks to the outstanding play of both Roy and Vanbiesbrouck, the Avs and Panthers entered OT. The Panthers had a chance to take one in the series, while Colorado had a chance at their first Cup. The two goalies wouldn’t break in the first overtime period, and so the game went to double OT. Finally, after a marathon of hockey, Uwe Krupp scored the game winner to make the Avalanche Stanley Cup Champions for the first time. Joe Sakic would go on to hoist the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP, after scoring 18 goals and 18 assists to lead all players with 34 points.


This Colorado team featured three future hall-of-famers in Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and would only continue to add to that number in the coming years. The Avs were a force to be reckoned with and weren’t done winning cups just yet, but we’ll talk about that in another post.


1996 Colorado Avalanche Away Stanley Cup Jersey  1996 Colorado Avalanche Home Stanley Cup Jersey


You can relive the Avs 1996 Cup win with your own 1996 Stanley Cup Patched Home or Away Avs jersey from CoolHockey.com! Check out our Stanley Cup Champions Page for more jerseys from Stanley Cup Champions over the years!

Stay tuned for more posts in our Champions Series where we look at some of the greatest teams to hoist the cup!


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