1981 Stanley Cup Finals

The 1981 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League's (NHL) 1980–81 season, and the culmination of the 1981 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was contested by the Minnesota North Stars, making their first Finals appearance, and the defending champion New York Islanders, in their second Finals appearance. The Islanders would win the best-of-seven series, four games to one, to win their second Stanley Cup championship. This would be the last all-American Finals until 1991, when the North Stars faced the Pittsburgh Penguins. Butch Goring won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.

1981 Stanley Cup Finals
12345 Total
New York Islanders 66725 4
Minnesota North Stars 33541 1
Location(s)Uniondale: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (1, 2, 5)
Bloomington: Met Center (3, 4)
CoachesNew York: Al Arbour
Minnesota: Glen Sonmor
CaptainsNew York: Denis Potvin
Minnesota: Paul Shmyr
DatesMay 12 – May 21
MVPButch Goring (Islanders)
Series-winning goalWayne Merrick (5:37, first, G5)
NetworksCBC, Simulcast in the United States by USA Network
SportsChannel New York (Games 1,2,5; New York Area)
WOR-TV (Games 3 and 4; New York Area)
AnnouncersBob Cole, Mickey Redmond, and Gary Dornhoefer (CBC/USA)
Jiggs McDonald and Ed Westfall (SCNY)
Jiggs McDonald (Game 3),Tim Ryan (Game 4) and Ed Westfall (WOR)

Paths to the FinalsEdit

Minnesota defeated the Boston Bruins 3–0, the Buffalo Sabres 4–1 and the Calgary Flames 4–2 to advance to the Final.

New York defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3–0, the Edmonton Oilers 4–2, and the New York Rangers 4–0 to reach the Final.

Game summariesEdit

Dino Ciccarelli of the North Stars set a rookie record (since tied by Ville Leino in 2010), scoring twenty-one points (14 goals and seven assists) during the year's playoffs. The Islanders' much deeper lineup, however, won the day.

New York Islanders vs. Minnesota North Stars

Date Visitors Score Home Score
May 12 Minnesota 3 New York 6
May 14 Minnesota 3 New York 6
May 17 New York 7 Minnesota 5
May 19 New York 2 Minnesota 4
May 21 Minnesota 1 New York 5

New York wins the series 4–1.


The series aired on CBC in Canada. In the United States, this was the first of five seasons that the Cup Finals aired on the USA Network. For the 1981 Finals only, USA simulcast the CBC feed instead of producing their own coverage.

Team rostersEdit

Minnesota North StarsEdit

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
2   Curt Giles D L 22 1978 The Pas, Manitoba
3   Fred Barrett D L 31 1970 Ottawa, Ontario
4   Craig Hartsburg D L 21 1979 Stratford, Ontario
5   Brad Maxwell D R 23 1977 Brandon, Manitoba
6   Paul Shmyr (C) D L 35 1979 Cudworth, Saskatchewan
7   Neal Broten C L 21 1979 Roseau, Minnesota
8   Kent-Erik Andersson RW R 29 1977 Örebro, Sweden
9   Kevin Maxwell C R 21 1979 Edmonton, Alberta
10   Gordie Roberts D L 23 1980 Detroit, Michigan
11   Tom McCarthy LW L 20 1979 Toronto, Ontario
14   Brad Palmer LW L 19 1980 Duncan, British Columbia
15   Bobby Smith C L 23 1978 North Sydney, Nova Scotia
16   Mike Polich LW L 28 1978 Hibbing, Minnesota
17   Tim Young C R 26 1975 Scarborough, Ontario
20   Dino Ciccarelli RW R 21 1980 Sarnia, Ontario
21   Jack Carlson LW L 26 1979 Virginia, Minnesota
23   Greg Smith D L 25 1978 Ponoka, Alberta
25   Al MacAdam RW L 29 1978 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
26   Steve Payne LW L 22 1978 Toronto, Ontario
27   Gilles Meloche G L 30 1978 Montreal, Quebec
28   Steve Christoff C R 23 1978 Springfield, Illinois
29   Tom Younghans RW R 28 1976 Saint Paul, Minnesota
31   Ken Solheim LW L 20 1981 Hythe, Alberta
33   Don Beaupre G L 19 1980 Waterloo, Ontario

New York IslandersEdit

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
1   Roland Melanson G L 20 1979 Moncton, New Brunswick
3   Jean Potvin D L 32 1979 Ottawa, Ontario
4   Bob Lorimer D L 27 1973 Toronto, Ontario
5   Denis Potvin (C) D L 27 1973 Vanier, Ontario
6   Ken Morrow D R 24 1976 Davison, Michigan
7   Stefan Persson D L 26 1974 Bjurholm, Sweden
8   Garry Howatt LW L 28 1972 Grand Centre, Alberta
9   Clark Gillies LW L 27 1974 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
11   Wayne Merrick C L 29 1977 Sarnia, Ontario
12   Duane Sutter RW R 21 1979 Viking, Alberta
14   Bob Bourne LW L 26 1974 Kindersley, Saskatchewan
16   Mike McEwen D L 24 1981 Hornepayne, Ontario
19   Bryan Trottier C L 24 1974 Val Marie, Saskatchewan
22   Mike Bossy RW R 24 1977 Montreal, Quebec
23   Bob Nystrom RW R 28 1981 Stockholm, Sweden
24   Gord Lane D L 28 1979 Brandon, Manitoba
25   Billy Carroll C L 22 1979 Toronto, Ontario
26   Dave Langevin D L 26 1974 Saint Paul, Minnesota
27   John Tonelli LW L 24 1977 Hamilton, Ontario
28   Anders Kallur RW L 28 1979 Ludvika, Sweden
29   Hector Marini RW R 24 1977 Timmins, Ontario
31   Billy Smith G L 30 1972 Perth, Ontario
91   Butch Goring C L 31 1980 St. Boniface, Manitoba

Stanley Cup engravingEdit

The 1981 Stanley Cup was presented to Islanders captain Denis Potvin by NHL President John Ziegler following the Islanders 5–1 win over the North Stars in game five.

The following Islanders players and staff had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup

1980–81 New York Islanders


Coaching and administrative staff

Stanley Cup engraving

  • ^-Steve Corais was included on the team, but name was left off the Stanley Cup.[citation needed]
  • † Lorne Henning (Center) played nine regular season and one playoff game. He was the last playing-coach to win the Stanley Cup.
  • †† Jean Potvin 18 games regular season games and did not dress in the playoffs. He spent the rest of year as a broadcaster. Potvin's name was put on the cup in 1981, even though he did not officially qualify.
  • A new ring was created in 1993 for the winners from 1979 to 1991. New York Islanders was misspelled. NEW YORK ILANDERS missing the first "S". Name was spelled correctly on the Replica Cup also created in 1993.

See alsoEdit


  • Total Stanley Cup. NHL. 2000.
  • Podnieks, Andrew; Hockey Hall of Fame (2004). Lord Stanley's Cup. Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-55168-261-7.
Preceded by
New York Islanders
New York Islanders
Stanley Cup Champions

Succeeded by
New York Islanders