The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs are where the greatest hockey players on the planet look to create or cement their hockey legacies.
From the moment they pick up a hockey stick for the very first time as a kid to stepping on the ice for a win-or-go-home game seven, every player has their story on how they reached the pinnacle of their career, playing the game their younger self fell in love with.
For many very successful NHL players of the past and present, their path took them to the BC Hockey League en route to professional hockey. The experiences and development of the BCHL can be strongly attributed to these players’ rise to the highest level, and there have been some amazing playoff performances to prove just how high that level was.
Although not all of these outstanding runs ended in the grand goal of lifting the Stanley Cup, having admiration for those who worked through blood, sweat, and tears to just fall a bit short is acceptable nonetheless. In this article, you will see a breakdown of five of the best performances by BCHL alumni in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in no specific order.
Glenn Anderson and the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers
For a player of the stature and history of Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson, it is hard to pinpoint just one of the six Stanley Cup championship runs he was a part of as dominant over the rest. Most local hockey fans of the era will remember Anderson mostly for his work against the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 finals as a member of the New York Rangers.
In 1985, playing with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and Paul Coffey, Anderson understood his role as a gritty, depth forward who could score with the best. During the 1984-85 season, Anderson’s role was to become more of a defensive-minded winger, and as a result, saw his regular-season production drop in comparison to the previous years.
In the postseason, Anderson took his offensive game to another level all while remaining as steady as it gets in his own end. Scoring 26 points in 18 playoff games for Edmonton, Anderson came up big in game three of the Stanley Cup final against the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring a beautiful two-way goal to help the Oilers take a 2-1 series lead before winning the series in five games.
A player for the Bellingham Blazers of the BCJHL in 1977-78, scoring 131 points in 64 games for the team, Anderson’s six Stanley Cup rings and 214 career playoff points has him as one of the greatest playoff performers ever from the BCHL.
Brett Hull wins it all for the Dallas Stars in 1999
Of course, no one will ever forget this one.
Another member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the most gifted goal scorer to ever come out of the BCHL, Brett Hull had the final imprints on a Stanley Cup championship for Dallas in 1999.
It wasn’t the most outstanding overall performance by Hull that makes this moment so immortal in hockey history, but rather how it was done. In triple overtime of game six in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, the Stars were one goal away from the first Cup in team history.
With 5:09 remaining in the third OT, Hull pried the puck away from Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek’s reach and slid it through his legs to capture the illustrious Stanley Cup win. With it came years of controversy as to how the rules of the goalie crease are laid out, but for Hull, it was the biggest goal ever by a player from the BCHL.
Scoring goals is just what Hull loved to do, regardless of his size or ability to skate, he had the touch of a true marksman. Registering a BCHL record 105 goals in 1983-84 with the Penticton Knights and having the BCHL goal-scoring title named after him, his NHL career wasn’t any different.
Mark Recchi’s first Cup with Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991
Winning followed Mark Recchi wherever he went in his long, storied hockey career. A member of the 1984-85 Langley Eagles where he posted a modest 65 points in 51 games during his only BCHL season, it was only the beginning of great things coming.
In 1991, playing with other elite players like Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Paul Coffey, Recchi was one of the stars of the show for the Penguins during the season and even more so in the postseason.
113 points in 78 regular-season games were already good enough to lead the Penguins in goals and assists, but in the playoffs, Recchi went on a tear alongside Super Mario.
He had 34 points in 24 playoff games, including a massive two-goal performance in game five of the final. Recchi was the unsung hero of this specific Pittsburgh team and captured his first of three Stanley Cup rings, all with different teams. He also won in Carolina in 2005 and Boston in 2011.
Duncan Keith adds to his trophy cabinet with the Blackhawks in 2015
Much like Mark Recchi, Duncan Keith left the BCHL and was destined for winning. To determine which spectacular playoff run of the three he was a mastermind in is difficult, but 2015 felt like the icing on the cake for the career of Duncan Keith.
Playing in the BCHL for the Penticton Panthers from 1999-2001 and putting up a top 32 season all-time in points by a defenceman during his tenure, Keith moved on to Michigan State of the NCAA before winning a WHL championship with Kelowna in 2003.
In 2010 during the first of three Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victories in five years, Keith won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman and broke the record by assists in a single playoff run by a defender with 17, yet this wasn’t even the best performance in his playoff career.
Fast-forward to 2015, where Keith one-upped his own record and had 18 assists in the playoffs, good for most assists by any player ever in the postseason. Keith also set the record for best plus/minus at +16, most points by a defenseman, won the Conn Smythe, and scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
If this list was ranked, this would be the best playoff performance ever by a BCHL player in the Stanley Cup playoffs, 2015 Duncan Keith was a beast.
Olaf Kolzig steals the Caps crease in 1998
At the beginning of the 1997-98 NHL season, former Abbotsford Falcons goaltender Olaf Kolzig was the backup goalie for a Washington Capitals team with high expectations. During the very first game of the Caps season, starting goalie Bill Ranford went down with an injury, and Kolzig took over and never turned back.
It was the beginning of a legendary Capitals career for Kolzig and the 1997-98 season was one for the memory bank. After a solid first season as an NHL starting netminder, Kolzig found his rhythm in the playoffs where he backstopped the Capitals to the Stanley Cup final after defeating very talented Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa Senators teams along the way.
Kolzig became one of only 21 goalies to record four shutouts in one postseason and maintained an insane .941 save percentage over 21 playoff starts. The only team that ended up solving Kolzig was the defending champion and stacked Detroit Red Wings, who contained the Capitals to one goal in three of the four games.