The 2003-04 NHL season was the 87th regular season of the National Hockey League. Thirty teams each played 82 games.
The Stanley Cup champions were the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the best of seven series 4–3 against the Calgary Flames. This was the first season since the 1969-70 season that teams would wear their dark jerseys at home.
It was also the final NHL season before the 2004-05 NHL lockout and the final season in which games could end in ties.
The 2003-04 season was one overhung by concern over the expiry of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. It would lead to a shuttering of the league for the entirety of the next season.
On September 26, 2003 (just before the season began) young Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley crashed his Ferrari in suburban Atlanta. The passenger, Thrashers workhorse Dan Snyder, was killed. Heatley himself was badly injured and eventually charged with vehicular homicide.
The entire NHL thus began the season in mourning.
Going into the season the two favorites were the Ottawa Senators in the east, who had won the Presidents' Trophy and come within a win of the Stanley Cup finals the year before; and the Colorado Avalanche in the west, who despite losing legendary goaltender Patrick Roy to retirement, added both Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya to an already star-studded lineup.
The greatest disappointments were the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who, despite making it to game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals the year before and adding Sergei Fedorov and Vaclav Prospal, failed to make the playoffs.
In the East, the star-studded New York Rangers again failed to make the playoffs.
The Washington Capitals (who were regarded as a contender) also stumbled early and never recovered. The end of the season saw two of the most extensive housecleanings in league history as the Rangers and Capitals traded away most of their stars and entered rebuilding mode.
The Lightning (who had a remarkable season with only 20 man-games lost to injury) finished atop the Eastern Conference.
The Sharks (who were firmly in rebuilding mode after a disastrous 28-37-9-8 campaign the last season) came second in the Western Conference and won the Pacific Division.
Two other teams that did better than expected were carried by surprising young goaltenders.
At the same time, long time back up Manny Legace put up better numbers than both veterans and won the starting job in the playoffs.
Of note is the fact that the Nashville Predators made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
They put up a valiant effort but were unable to overcome the Hockey Hall of Fame-bound roster of the Red Wings in the first round.
Template:Fontcolor clinched the other conference.
Template:Fontcolor clinched the other four divisions.
Template:Fontcolor clinched the remaining ten playoff berths.
Numbers in parentheses indicate ranking in conference. Division leaders are automatically ranked 1-3. These three, plus the next five teams in the conference standings, earn playoff berths at the end of the season.
|Philadelphia Flyers (3)||40||21||15||6||229||186||101|
|New Jersey Devils (6)||43||25||12||2||213||164||100|
|New York Islanders (8)||38||29||11||4||237||210||91|
|New York Rangers (13)||27||40||7||8||206||250||69|
|Pittsburgh Penguins (15)||23||47||8||4||190||303||58|
|Boston Bruins (2)||41||19||15||7||209||188||104|
|Toronto Maple Leafs (4)||45||24||10||3||242||204||103|
|Ottawa Senators (5)||43||23||10||6||262||189||102|
|Montreal Canadiens (7)||41||30||7||4||208||192||93|
|Buffalo Sabres (9)||37||34||7||4||220||221||85|
|Tampa Bay Lightning (1)||46||22||8||6||245||192||106|
|Atlanta Thrashers (10)||33||37||8||7||214||243||78|
|Carolina Hurricanes (11)||28||34||14||6||172||209||76|
|Florida Panthers (12)||28||35||15||4||188||221||75|
|Washington Capitals (14)||23||46||10||3||186||253||59|
|Detroit Red Wings (1)||48||21||11||2||255||189||109|
|St. Louis Blues (7)||39||30||11||2||191||198||91|
|Nashville Predators (8)||38||29||11||4||216||217||91|
|Columbus Blue Jackets (14)||25||45||8||4||177||238||62|
|Chicago Blackhawks (15)||20||43||11||8||188||259||59|
|Vancouver Canucks (3)||43||24||10||5||235||194||101|
|Colorado Avalanche (4)||40||22||13||7||236||198||100|
|Calgary Flames (6)||42||30||7||3||200||176||94|
|Edmonton Oilers (9)||36||29||12||5||221||208||89|
|Minnesota Wild (10)||30||29||20||3||188||183||83|
|San Jose Sharks (2)||43||21||12||6||219||183||104|
|Dallas Stars (5)||41||26||13||2||194||175||97|
|Los Angeles Kings (11)||28||29||16||9||205||217||81|
|Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (12)||29||35||10||8||184||213||76|
|Phoenix Coyotes (13)||22||36||18||6||188||245||68|
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
|Martin St. Louis||Tampa Bay||82||38||56||94|
|Patrik Elias||New Jersey||82||38||43||81|
|Cory Stillman||Tampa Bay||81||25||55||80|
|Robert Lang||Washington / Detroit||69||30||49||79|
|Brad Richards||Tampa Bay||82||26||53||79|
Note: GP = Games Played; Mins = Minutes Played; W = Wins; L = Losses: OT = Overtime Losses; GA = Goals Allowed; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals Against Average
|Martin Brodeur||New Jersey||75||4554||38||26||11||154||11||.917||2.03|
Stanley Cup PlayoffsEdit
The 2004 playoffs were considered to be wide open with no clear favourite. All of the top teams had weaknesses.
Tampa Bay and Boston were both young teams with no history of recent postseason success.
Detroit, Ottawa, Colorado, and Philadelphia all had major questions in goal. New Jersey was marred by injuries to Scott Stevens and Brian Rafalski, while Vancouver was missing the suspended Todd Bertuzzi.
The first-round Eastern Conference matchups were notable for the number of heated rivalries.
The Ottawa Senators met the Toronto Maple Leafs for the fourth time in five years in the always passion-filled Battle of Ontario.
The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens met in a resumption of the most common of all NHL playoff series and one which the Canadiens have thoroughly dominated, including an upset win two years prior.
The Philadelphia Flyers also played a hated division rival in the New Jersey Devils. The only non-rivalry was the Tampa Bay-New York Islanders series.
The West saw the resumption of the Vancouver-Calgary rivalry, which had been somewhat dormant as the Flames had missed the playoffs for seven years in a row.
In a less passionate but still interesting matchup, Detroit played division rival Nashville, whom they had struggled against during the regular season in Nashville's first ever franchise visit to the playoffs.
San Jose met the St. Louis Blues while the always difficult four-five matchup saw Colorado and Dallas meet.
The Calgary Flames, a sixth seed, defeated three straight division champions, the Canucks, the Red Wings and the Sharks to become the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in ten years, since the Canucks lost to the Rangers in the Finals in 1994.
The Flames and the Lightning battled hard in the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually pushing the series to seven games.
By game 5, the Flames took the 3-2 series lead back to Calgary and in game six, a puck appeared to have gone into the net, which would have made the game 3-2, but the goal light did not go on, the referee did not signal that a goal had been scored and play went on, no goal counted.
Extensive replays showed the play was inconclusive.
The Lightning would win the game in over time, and go on to win the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 win in game seven with two goals from Ruslan Fedotenko.
Eastern Conference QuarterfinalsEdit
Western Conference QuarterfinalsEdit
Eastern Conference SemifinalsEdit
Western Conference SemifinalsEdit
- Main article: 2004 Stanley Cup Finals
|Tampa Bay vs. Calgary|
|May 25||Calgary 4||1 Tampa Bay|
|May 27||Calgary 1||4 Tampa Bay|
|May 29||Tampa Bay 0||3 Calgary|
|May 31||Tampa Bay 1||0 Calgary|
|June 3||Calgary 3||2 Tampa Bay||OT|
|June 5||Tampa Bay 3||2 Calgary||2OT|
|June 7||Calgary 1||2 Tampa Bay|
| Tampa Bay wins series|
4–3 and Stanley Cup
| Brad Richards (Tampa Bay)|
wins Conn Smythe Trophy
Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points
|Brad Richards||Tampa Bay||23||12||13||25|
|Martin St. Louis||Tampa Bay||23||9||15||24|
|Fredrik Modin||Tampa Bay||23||8||11||19|
|Vincent Lecavalier||Tampa Bay||23||9||7||16|
|Vincent Damphousse||San Jose||17||7||7||14|
The NHL Awards presentation took place in Toronto.
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 2003-04 (listed with their first team):
- Chris Kunitz, Anaheim Mighty Ducks
- Joffrey Lupul, Anaheim Mighty Ducks
- Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers
- Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
- Derek Roy, Buffalo Sabres
- Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres
- Matthew Lombardi, Calgary Flames
- Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
- Tuomo Ruutu, Chicago Blackhawks
- John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche
- Marek Svatos, Colorado Avalanche
- Nikolai Zherdev, Columbus Blue Jackets
- Pascal Leclaire, Columbus Blue Jackets
- Nathan Horton, Florida Panthers
- Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings
- Zbynek Michalek, Minnesota Wild
- Chris Higgins, Montreal Canadiens
- Michael Ryder, Montreal Canadiens
- Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
- Dan Hamhuis, Nashville Predators
- Jordin Tootoo, Nashville Predators
- Marek Zidlicky, Nashville Predators
- Paul Martin, New Jersey Devils
- Antoine Vermette, Ottawa Senators
- Antero Niittymaki, Philadelphia Flyers
- Joni Pitkanen, Philadelphia Flyers
- Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Ryan Malone, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Brad Boyes, San Jose Sharks
- Christian Ehrhoff, San Jose Sharks
- Milan Michalek, San Jose Sharks
- Tom Preissing, San Jose Sharks
- Kyle Wellwood, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 2003-04 (listed with their last team):
- Byron Dafoe, Atlanta Thrashers
- Felix Potvin, Boston Bruins
- Rob Zamuner, Boston Bruins
- James Patrick, Buffalo Sabres
- Dave Lowry, Calgary Flames
- Roman Turek, Calgary Flames
- Arturs Irbe, Carolina Hurricanes
- Tommy Salo, Colorado Avalanche
- Don Sweeney, Dallas Stars
- Ron Tugnutt, Dallas Stars
- Shayne Corson, Dallas Stars
- Valeri Bure, Dallas Stars
- Steve Thomas, Detroit Red Wings
- Adam Oates, Edmonton Oilers
- Donald Audette, Florida Panthers
- Joe Juneau, Montreal Canadiens
- Stephane Quintal, Montreal Canadiens
- Igor Larionov, New Jersey Devils
- Scott Stevens, New Jersey Devils
- Cliff Ronning, New York Islanders
- Kenny Jonsson, New York Islanders
- Mark Messier, New York Rangers
- Curtis Leschyshyn, Ottawa Senators
- Rob Ray, Ottawa Senators
- Kelly Buchberger, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Vincent Damphousse, San Jose Sharks
- Al MacInnis, St. Louis Blues
- Murray Baron, St. Louis Blues
- Drake Berehowsky, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Calle Johansson, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Mikael Renberg, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Robert Reichel, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Ron Francis, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Mike Keane, Vancouver Canucks
- Marc Bergevin, Vancouver Canucks
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- 2003 NHL Entry Draft
- 54th National Hockey League All-Star Game
- 2003-04 NHL transactions
- NHL All-Star Game
- NHL All-Rookie Team