|Date||April 20, 1984|
In ice hockey, the Good Friday Massacre (French: la bataille du Vendredi saint) was a second-round playoff match-up during the 1984 Stanley Cup playoffs. The game occurred on Good Friday, April 20, 1984 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, between the Quebec Nordiques and the Montreal Canadiens. It is notable less for its series-ending finish than its epic brawl between the players, which spanned multiple periods and resulted in 11 ejections and 252 penalty minutes. It was the most infamous episode of the Battle of Quebec.
The Montreal Canadiens, five years removed from their dynasty of the 1970s, had regressed in the five years since their then-most-recent championship in 1979. After being eliminated in the second round of the 1980 playoffs by the Minnesota North Stars, the Canadiens did not win another playoff series for the next three years. In 1981, the Habs suffered an embarrassing three-game sweep against the Edmonton Oilers to become the first NHL team to lose a playoff series to a former World Hockey Association team. The next year their new provincial rivals from the WHA stunned the Canadiens by winning the fifth and deciding game in the first playoff series between the two provincial rivals, while 1983 brought another first round sweep for Montreal at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.
The Quebec Nordiques meanwhile had steadily improved in the five years since joining the NHL as part of the NHL-WHA merger. Quebec reached the playoffs in only their second NHL season and after that did not post a losing season until 1987. Although they narrowly failed to get past the powerful Philadelphia Flyers in their first NHL playoff series, the following year saw the aforementioned upset against Montreal followed by another upset against the Boston Bruins. After being swept by the New York Islanders who were then in the middle of their own championship dynasty, the Nordiques met the Bruins once again the following year, this time losing 3–1 in the first round.
The Canadiens regressed further in 1984, playing around .500 hockey for most of the season. Replacing coach Bob Berry with the defensively-minded Jacques Lemaire did not initially improve the club's fortunes, and the team ended up losing its last six regular season games to finish with its first losing record in the expansion era. However, under the relatively easy playoff format of the time it was still good enough to qualify since the Canadiens finished 11 points ahead of the last place Hartford Whalers. Quebec meanwhile finished with its best NHL record to that point in its history, although its 94 points was still only good enough for third place behind the Bruins and Sabres. However, both Quebec teams stunned their first round opposition with three game sweeps, setting up an unexpected rematch between them for the second round.
The provincial rivals split the first two games in Quebec as well as the next two in Montreal. The Canadiens shut out the Nordiques 4–0 at the Colisée de Québec to give themselves the chance to eliminate the Nordiques at the Forum.
After a number of fights, a bench-clearing brawl broke out as the siren sounded to end the second period. Amongst the fourteen altercations at the end of the second period were the Canadiens' Mario Tremblay smashing the nose of the Nordiques' Peter Stastny, and Nordiques' Louis Sleigher knocking Canadiens' Jean Hamel unconscious by sucker-punching him in the eye. Bruce Hood, the referee for the game, sent the teams off the ice without officially ending the second period by assigning penalties for the brawl.
After the intermission, with all players from both teams on the ice to warm up for the third period, a second brawl broke out. The public address announcer started reading the penalty summary as the players warmed up, and as players heard the confirmation that they were to be ejected from the game anyway, some felt they "might as well take some guys with (them)" (per Larry Robinson), as "they had nothing to lose" (per Guy Carbonneau). In particular, the Canadiens players went after the Nordiques' Louis Sleigher, furious with him for the damage he had inflicted on Jean Hamel in the original brawl. The second brawl included a fight between brothers Dale Hunter (Nordiques) and Mark Hunter (Canadiens).
The officials had to be summoned to the ice to restore order; Bruce Hood was roundly criticized for his handling of the situation. Hood had failed to "complete" the second period by informing the time keeper and the head coaches as to what penalties had been assigned, including which players (including Sleigher) had been ejected from the game and should not return to the ice for the third period. Hood retired after the playoffs that year, doing so amidst speculation that his retirement occurred at the behest of the NHL.
A total of 252 penalty minutes were incurred and 11 players were (belatedly) ejected. Hamel managed to return for training camp in the autumn of 1984, but sustained another eye injury in Montreal's October 4 pre-season game, prompting him to retire.
When the brawl took place, the Canadiens were trailing 1–0. After surrendering one more goal to Quebec just over two minutes into the third period, Montreal scored five consecutive goals, eventually defeating the Nordiques 5–3, thereby winning the series 4 games to 2. However, the Canadiens were defeated in the Prince of Wales Conference Finals by the New York Islanders in six games.
|April 20, 1984||Quebec Nordiques||3–5||Montreal Canadiens||Montreal Forum||Recap|
|1st||QUE||Peter Šťastný (2) (PP)||Jean-François Sauvé (1), Anton Šťastný (4)||5:12||1–0 QUE|
|3rd||QUE||Michel Goulet (2) (PP)||2:02||2–0 QUE|
|MTL||Steve Shutt (3)||Bobby Smith (2), Pierre Mondou (2)||6:23||2–1 QUE|
|MTL||Steve Shutt (4)||Mats Näslund (6)||9:11||2–2|
|MTL||Rick Green (1)||Bobby Smith (3)||12:14||3–2 MTL|
|MTL||John Chabot (1)||Guy Lafleur (2), Mats Näslund (2)||13:27||4–2 MTL|
|MTL||Guy Carbonneau (3)||Ryan Walter (2)||14:28||5–2 MTL|
|QUE||Wilf Paiement (3)||Jean-François Sauvé (2), Alain Côté (2)||16:51||5–3 MTL|
|MTL||Jean Hamel||Illegal stick||5:01||2:00|
|QUE||Dale Hunter||Roughing (double minor), Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||19:00|
|MTL||Mark Hunter||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|MTL||Mike McPhee||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|MTL||Mario Tremblay||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|MTL||Richard Sévigny||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|QUE||Wally Weir||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|QUE||Peter Šťastný||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|QUE||Louis Sleigher||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|QUE||Clint Malarchuk||Fighting, Game misconduct||20:00||15:00|
|QUE||Randy Moller||Fighting, Misconduct, Game misconduct||20:00||25:00|
|MTL||Chris Nilan||Fighting (double major), Misconduct, Game misconduct||20:00||30:00|
|1st||MTL||Steve Shutt||2 Goals|
|2nd||MTL||Mats Näslund||1 Assist|
It was broadcast on CBC Television and Télévision de Radio-Canada in Canada, and on the USA Network in the United States.
|CBC||Bob Cole||Mickey Redmond|
Dick Irvin Jr. (first 2 periods)
Don Cherry (3rd period)
|Radio-Canada||René Lecavalier||Gilles Tremblay|
|USA||Al Albert||Gary Green|