Essensa Helps Thomas, Bruins to Stanley Cup
June 16, 2011
East Lansing, Mich. - With the Boston Bruins capturing the most beloved trophy in professional sports, former MSU goaltender and current Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa became the 10th Spartan - and seventh in the last six seasons - to win the Stanley Cup. Boston defeated Vancouver 4-0 in Wednesday's Stanley Cup Finals game seven to win its first Cup since 1972.Essensa's night was a bit sweeter, as his pupil, goaltender Tim Thomas, also earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoff Most Valuable Player.
Essensa is the second member of an NHL coaching staff to win the Stanley Cup in the last five seasons - Newell Brown was an assistant coach for the 2007 Anaheim Ducks. Brown is currently an assistant with Vancouver, and ended up on the losing side in the seven-game Stanley Cup Finals series. The two were teammates for the Spartans in the 1983-84 season - where they were also teammates with current Spartan coaches Tom Anastos and Kelly Miller.
Former Edmonton forward Craig Simpson won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers, in 1988 and 1990. He also reached the Stanley Cup Finals as an assistant coach with the Oilers in the 2005-06 season. Joe Murphy was also on that 1990 Edmonton team, the final Cup-winner of the great Oilers dynasty which won five at the latter part of the decade.
In 1995, former Spartan Danton Cole was a part of the New Jersey Devils organization when it swept the Red Wings in the Finals. It took a decade for another Spartan to get his name on the Cup, but it happened twice over as the Carolina Hurricanes roster featured both Rod Brind'Amour and Andrew Hutchinson. MSU had another pair in 2007, with forward Drew Miller and assistant coach Newell Brown.
Justin Abdelkader left school following his junior campaign in 2007-08 - a year after his heroics in the NCAA Championship game delivered a title to East Lansing - and signed with the Detroit Red Wings. Abdelkader played some games for the Wings' AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids before being called up to the parent club for the playoffs as one of the team's "Black Aces" (practice players).
While no Spartans were on the 2009 Penguins championship team, Lord Stanley regained its Spartan ties when Duncan Keith won the Cup - and later, the Norris Trophy as the NHL's Best Defenseman - as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
In all, seven former Spartan skaters took part in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs as players or coaches.
Photos courtesy of BostonBruins.com
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