It’s probably the most talked-about happening in Stanley Cup Finals history. And, without a doubt, the most controversial hit.
It was in Game 6 of the Finals between the New Jersey Devils and the Anaheim Ducks that Scott Stevens destroyed Paul Kariya, who didn’t have a clue about what was coming. The hockey world was in shock as Kariya lay on the ice, seemingly unable to move.
The Devils and everyone watching were sure that Kariya would be out of the game, and with that, a perfect opportunity to close out the game. But Paul Kariya had other plans.
Today, Kariya would never be allowed to return to the game. His head took the contact on the hit, and afterward, he’s said that he doesn’t remember anything about the rest of the series.
He was so concussed he didn’t even know what was happening, but somehow, he returned to the game shortly after the hit, and he even scored the game-winning goal in Game 6.
The Devils went on to win the Cup after a win in Game 7. Mike Rupp was on that Cup-winning team and now shares the incredible story about what happened after Stevens’ bone-crushing hit.
”I sat on the bus. I was a rookie so I had to double up. The rookies had to double up on the bus, we had to sit together, and the veterans all had a two-seat for themself,” he said on the Thats Hockey Talk podcast.
”A lot of times the older veteran guys like to sit towards the front of the bus, because they don’t want to be back by the card game. We saw the animal of Scott Stevens on the ice. You get on the bus, he has his glasses on, he’s reading a book, and he’s got the little light above him. It’s a different human being. It makes it even more creepy.”
On this particular bus trip home from Game 6, Rupp ended up sitting just across from Stevens, who just hours earlier delivered one of the most vicious hits in Stanley Cup history.
”Scotty’s next to me, and I’m like, sitting there, and it was probably the biggest hit I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I’m not joking. He could’ve killed him. It was a great hit, but at the same time, you’ll feel weird because someone could’ve died. That’s how bad it was.
”Scotty got his book open; he’s reading. Like, just another day at the office. So I just lean over him, and I go, ’Hey, Scotty. You really got him, huh?’ And he puts his book down, and he leans towards me, and he goes, ’You know what? I let up at the last second.’ I’m leaned over, and I’m like, ’Oh, okay.’ And I lean back, and I just thought, ’Holy f*ck.’
”He saw at the last second that he had no idea he was there, and he didn’t follow through. ’I didn’t give him that extra boom,’ he said. I’m like, ’Oh my gosh, this guy’s scary.’”