It was the spring of 1997, and fans of rock'em sock'em hockey were getting all kinds of fired up. The Red Wings were set to face the Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals, and the series' defining matchup was both brutal and brutally obvious: Detroit's Vladimir Konstantinov had to be the one to counter Philadelphia's Eric Lindros.
The thought of seeing Konstantinov versus Lindros — the Russian defenseman with hits so powerful he was known as Vlad the Impaler against the superstar so bull-in-a-china-shop thunderous that he played on a line nicknamed "The Legion of Doom" — was enough to make even the most hot-blooded shiver. (Also, we need to step it up these days with our hockey nicknames.)
But Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman had his own ideas. Rather than fighting fire with fire, he chose to deprive it of oxygen. And so rather than go with Konstantinov, he opted for Nicklas Lidstrom.