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Iconic Stanley Cup Photos — and the Stories Behind Them

Hockey legend Bruce Bennett shares his favorite images from finals past.

For close to four decades, photographer Bruce Bennett has been a Stanley Cup finals fixture, documenting and immortalizing hockey's most iconic moments. He's captured dramatic victories, heartbreaking losses, and the endless emotions (and booze) that flow after winning the most famous trophy in all of sports. Here, Bennett shares the stories behind some of his all-time favorite finals pictures.

2014, KINGS vs. RANGERS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 2014, KINGS vs. RANGERS The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. You've heard the phrase countless times. Some of the greatest sports images in history feature both jubilation and dejection in the same frame. This one, taken from the Staples Center rafters in 2014 perfectly captures the Los Angeles Kings celebrating their championship next to defeated New York Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist. 1980, ISLANDERS vs. FLYERS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1980, ISLANDERS vs. FLYERS As a Long Island resident, there was no place like home for Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup. The New York Islanders earned their first of four straight Stanley Cups when Bobby Nystrom put home the series-winning overtime goal, sending Nassau Coliseum into a deafening frenzy — and giving me one of the greatest memories of my career. 1984, OILERS vs. FLYERS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1984, OILERS vs. FLYERS The greatest hockey player of all time celebrating with the most iconic trophy in North American professional sports should be memorable enough. But beyond the pure joy of Gretzky lifting his first career Stanley Cup, this picture will always remind me of the physical battles photographers once had to wage for good post-game positioning on the ice. Thankfully, after losing a watch and breaking off a flash, the NHL restored order for future presentations. 2010, BLACKHAWKS vs. FLYERS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 2010, BLACKHAWKS vs. FLYERS Not many people in Philadelphia's Wachovia Center — including me — immediately realized when the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (right) scored in overtime of Game 6 to win the Cup in 2010. My biggest memory is that it happened so fast, I forgot to put on my ice cleats for the trophy presentation. Somehow I managed to shuffle around the slippery ice for the next hour without going down. Now that's a Stanley Cup miracle. 1979, CANADIENS vs. RANGERS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1979, CANADIENS vs. RANGERS When my inexperience prevented me from getting out on the ice for the 1979 Stanley Cup presentation, I thought my career was doomed from the start. But sadness turned to joy when Montreal's Bob Gainey was hoisted upon his teammates shoulders, allowing me to get this shot from atop a chair in the stands. Nearly 40 years later, the picture has withstood the test of time as emblematic of the sport's ultimate achievement. 2015, BLACKHAWKS vs. LIGHTNING Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 2015, BLACKHAWKS vs. LIGHTNING The netcam is like a box of never know what you're gonna get. So when the game's final horn sounds, you lean on the trigger button, hoping to perfectly capture the end-of-series celebration or dejection. In this case, the United Center lights added to the gravity of the victorious moment for the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks. 1991, PENGUINS vs. NORTH STARS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1991, PENGUINS vs. NORTH STARS People sometimes say that ‘youth shall be served’, but in Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992, it was the other way around. The young and talented Mario Lemieux (left) and Jaromir Jagr carried the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, the latter sporting one of the greatest mullets of all time. 1996, PANTHERS vs. AVALANCHE Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1996, PANTHERS vs. AVALANCHE When the Florida Panthers took on the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, the fans in Miami were months into their custom of tossing (thankfully plastic) rats onto the ice following goals. After one score, I noticed people beside me ducking as if taking part in an air raid drill. Moments later, I figured out why as I got pelted with one. 1994, RANGERS vs. CANUCKS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1994, RANGERS vs. CANUCKS There's nothing like the electricity of a do-or-die game seven, especially in the Stanley Cup finals. For the New York Rangers the stakes were made even higher by the fact that the franchise hadn't won the Cup since 1940. I've shot thousands of hockey games in Madison Square Garden but nothing compares to that night. When Brian Leetch (bottom right) scored the game's opening goal, the building was literally shaking. The Rangers went on to win 3-2, finally putting their long-suffering fans out of their misery. 1989, FLAMES vs. CANADIENS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1989, FLAMES vs. CANADIENS It's generally never good to get a picture of a guy with his eyes closed. But this 1989 image of Calgary's Lanny McDonald is certainly an exception, as it remains a perfect representation of the emotion — and exhaustion — that go hand in hand with winning a Stanley Cup. 1983, ISLANDERS vs. OILERS Bruce Bennett/Getty Images 1983, ISLANDERS vs. OILERS Repeating as Stanley Cup champions is a tough task, but winning four in a row hasn’t happened since the New York Islanders completed the feat in 1983. As important as the photos of players parading the Cup are, capturing the atmosphere inside the building is equally impactful. In this classic shot, Bryan Trottier took his unbridled and infectious joy to the Nassau Coliseum faithful.

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