AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
Colorado Avalanche Claude Lemieux catches his breath during during practice at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver on Sunday, June 2, 1996. The NHL announced the same day it was suspending Lemieux for two games of the Stanley Cup finals as a result of a hitting from behind incident against Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper in Game five of the Western Conference finals on May 28.
Even though their first three meetings of the 1996-97 season went off without a hitch, it was inevitable that the fireworks were going to erupt. The Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings had just finished an ugly six-game Western Conference final the previous May that was marked by Claude Lemieux's hit-from-behind on Kris Draper in the last game. A few of the Wings said they felt sick even shaking Lemieux's hand and their emotions obviously carried over to the next season. Wings pugilist Darren McCarty pounded a hapless Lemieux, Adam Foote and Brendan Shanahan fought, and goaltenders Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy decided to duke it out. The Brawl in Hockeytown even featured a Round 2 the next season.