2002–03 NHL season

The 2002–03 NHL season was the 86th regular season of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup winners were the New Jersey Devils, who won the best of seven series 4–3 against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

2002–03 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 9, 2002 – June 9, 2003
Number of games82
Number of teams30
Top draft pickRick Nash
Picked byColumbus Blue Jackets
Regular season
Presidents' TrophyOttawa Senators
Season MVPPeter Forsberg (Avalanche)
Top scorerPeter Forsberg (Avalanche)
Eastern championsNew Jersey Devils
  Eastern runners-upOttawa Senators
Western championsMighty Ducks of Anaheim
  Western runners-upMinnesota Wild
Playoffs MVPJean-Sebastien Giguere (Mighty Ducks)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsNew Jersey Devils
  Runners-upMighty Ducks of Anaheim

Regular season

As always, the regular season saw several surprises. The San Jose Sharks, who many felt would be one of the elite teams in the West, stumbled early and badly disassembled much of the team. The two-year-old Minnesota Wild, on the other hand, got out to an early start and held onto their first-ever playoff berth throughout the season, winning coach Jacques Lemaire the Jack Adams Award.

The elite teams of previous years such as the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils, were joined by two younger Canadian teams, the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks. The Dallas Stars, which had missed the playoffs the year before, returned as a major power, backed by the record-setting goaltending of Marty Turco.

The most surprising team was probably the Tampa Bay Lightning, which many had predicted to finish last, winning their first Southeast Division title and making the playoffs for the first time in seven years. The most disappointing teams, other than the Sharks, were the New York Rangers, who finished out of the playoffs again despite bearing the league's leading payroll, and the Carolina Hurricanes, who finished last overall after a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final the year before. On January 8, 2003, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Michael Leighton gained a shutout in his NHL debut in a 0–0 tie versus the Phoenix Coyotes. Coyotes goaltender Zac Bierk earned his first career shutout, although it was not his NHL debut. It was the first—and with the abolition of ties two years later, the only—time that two goalies in the same game both earned their first career shutouts.[1]

At the midpoint of the season, the Canucks lead the Western Conference and Ottawa lead the East. Vancouver stumbled somewhat over the stretch and lost the Northwest Division title to Colorado and the Western Conference to Dallas. Ottawa continued to dominate, having the best season in franchise history and winning both the Eastern Conference and the Presidents' Trophy.

The season was also marred by financial difficulties. Despite their success, the Ottawa Senators were in bankruptcy protection for almost all of 2003, and at one point could not pay the players. Owner Rod Bryden tried a variety of innovative financing strategies, but these all failed and the team was purchased after the season by billionaire Eugene Melnyk. The Buffalo Sabres also entered bankruptcy protection before being bought by New York businessman Tom Golisano. The financial struggles of the Pittsburgh Penguins continued as the team continued to unload its most expensive players.

The season was marked by a great number of coaches being fired, from Bob Hartley in Colorado to Darryl Sutter in San Jose and Bryan Trottier of the New York Rangers.

Worries over the decline in scoring and the neutral zone trap continued. The season began with an attempted crack down on obstruction and interference, but by the midpoint of the season this effort had petered out.

Final standings

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
12New Jersey Devils824620106216166108
24Philadelphia Flyers824520134211166107
38New York Islanders82353411222423183
49New York Rangers82323610421023178
514Pittsburgh Penguins8227446518925565

Northeast Division
11Ottawa Senators82522181263182113
25Toronto Maple Leafs8244287323620898
37Boston Bruins82363111424523787
410Montreal Canadiens8230358920623477
512Buffalo Sabres82273710819021972

Southeast Division
13Tampa Bay Lightning82362516521921093
26Washington Capitals8239298622422092
311Atlanta Thrashers8231397522628474
413Florida Panthers82243613917623770
515Carolina Hurricanes82224311617124061
Eastern Conference[2]
1 P- Ottawa SenatorsNE82522181263182113
2 Y- New Jersey DevilsAT824620106216166108
3 Y- Tampa Bay LightningSE82362516521921093
4 X- Philadelphia FlyersAT824520134211166107
5 X- Toronto Maple LeafsNE8244287323620898
6 X- Washington CapitalsSE8239298622422092
7 X- Boston BruinsNE82363111424523787
8 X- New York IslandersAT82353411222423183
9 New York RangersAT82323610421023178
10 Montreal CanadiensNE8230358920623477
11 Atlanta ThrashersSE8231397522628474
12 Buffalo SabresNE82273710819021972
13 Florida PanthersSE82243613917623770
14 Pittsburgh PenguinsAT8227446518925565
15 Carolina HurricanesSE82224311617124061

Divisions: AT – Atlantic, NE – Northeast, SE – Southeast

P – Clinched Presidents Trophy; Y – Clinched Division; X – Clinched Playoff spot

Western Conference

Central Division
12Detroit Red Wings824820104269203110
25St. Louis Blues82412411625322299
39Chicago Blackhawks82303313620722679
413Nashville Predators82273513718320674
515Columbus Blue Jackets8229428321326369

Northwest Division
13Colorado Avalanche824219138251194105
24Vancouver Canucks824523131264208104
36Minnesota Wild82422910119817895
48Edmonton Oilers82362611923123092
512Calgary Flames82293613418622875
Pacific Division
11Dallas Stars824617154245169111
27Mighty Ducks of Anaheim8240279620319395
310Los Angeles Kings8233376620322178
411Phoenix Coyotes82313511520423078
514San Jose Sharks8228379821423973


Note: CR = Conference rank; GP = Games played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; OTL = Overtime loss; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; Pts = Points
         Bolded teams qualified for the playoffs.

Western Conference
1 Z- Dallas StarsPA824617154245169111
2 Y- Detroit Red WingsCE824820104269203110
3 Y- Colorado AvalancheNW824219138251194105
4 X- Vancouver CanucksNW824523131264208104
5 X- St. Louis BluesCE82412411625322299
6 X- Minnesota WildNW82422910119817895
7 X- Mighty Ducks of AnaheimPA8240279620319395
8 X- Edmonton OilersNW82362611923123092
9 Chicago BlackhawksCE82303313620722679
10 Los Angeles KingsPA8233376620322178
11 Phoenix CoyotesPA82313511520423078
12 Calgary FlamesNW82293613418622875
13 Nashville PredatorsCE82273513718320674
14 San Jose SharksPA8228379821423973
15 Columbus Blue JacketsCE8229428321326369

Divisions: PA – Pacific, CE – Central, NW – Northwest

Z – Clinched Conference; Y – Clinched Division; X – Clinched Playoff spot Source: McCarthy, Dave, ed. (2009). NHL Official Guide and Record Book 2009. NHL. p. 156.


Note: All dates in 2003.

The 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs was one of shocking upsets in the Western Conference and hard fought battles in the Eastern Conference.

The most closely watched series in the first round was that between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers. Two teams built around physical play with high salary and front-page trade deadline acquisitions. The series did not disappoint and the Flyers ousted the Leafs in seven games. The Senators easily dispatched the New York Islanders, who had traded away their starting goaltender (Chris Osgood) before the playoffs. Despite losing the first two games, Tampa Bay rallied and defeated their division rival the Washington Capitals. New Jersey easily defeated the Boston Bruins, effectively shutting down star player Joe Thornton.

In the west, the first round was one of unmitigated shock to all hockey watchers. The defending champions and perennial cup favourite Detroit Red Wings were swept by the underdog Mighty Ducks of Anaheim behind the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere. After losing three out of the first four games, the Minnesota Wild came back and defeated the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche in game seven. Vancouver also lost three of its first four games with the St. Louis Blues, but then rallied and won game seven. The only round that surprised no one was round seven of the Dallas StarsEdmonton Oilers grudge match that saw the first place Stars oust the Oilers with only some difficulty.

The second round in the west brought more upsets. The Minnesota Wild again fell 3–1 behind while playing Vancouver, but rallied and defeated them in seven games. Giguère's stellar goaltending continued to triumph as the Ducks ousted the Stars in six games. The Western Conference final was a meeting of two dark horse teams, but the superb goaltending of Giguère and the Ducks triumphed over the tight checking of the Minnesota Wild. This was the first time since 1994 that a team other than Detroit, Colorado, or Dallas had won the Western conference and earned a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. These playoffs also signaled an end to the dominance of the afore mentioned three teams and shift the balance of power in the Western conference towards teams like Anaheim and San Jose. Of Detroit, Colorado, and Dallas only Detroit has returned to the Stanley Cup Final since, winning the Stanley Cup in 2008 and losing the Final to Pittsburgh in 2009.

The east was far more predictable as Tampa Bay's youth showed when playing the grizzled veterans of the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators dispatched a tired Flyers team for the second year in a row. The Eastern Conference finals were a contrast of styles between the offensively explosive Senators and the defense minded Devils. The Devils came out to an early lead in the series, Ottawa rallied, winning games five and six on the energizing play of rookie Jason Spezza, but then the Devils regained their form as goaltender Martin Brodeur helped them win game seven and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in four years.


The Stanley Cup Final was a duel between two elite goaltenders, but after seven games the Devils triumphed to win their third Cup in nine seasons. The series also saw Scott Stevens land one of his prototypical crushing hits on Anaheim captain Paul Kariya in Game 6, similar to the one that had knocked out Eric Lindros, then of the Flyers in the 2000 Playoffs. Unlike Lindros, Kariya dramatically returned to the game only ten minutes later and scored a goal that effectively put the game away for the Mighty Ducks.

Anaheim vs. New Jersey
May 27Anaheim 03 New Jersey
May 29Anaheim 03 New Jersey
May 31New Jersey 23 AnaheimOT
June 2New Jersey 01 AnaheimOT
June 5Anaheim 36 New Jersey
June 7New Jersey 25 Anaheim
June 9Anaheim 03 New Jersey
New Jersey wins series
4–3 and Stanley Cup
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Anaheim)
wins Conn Smythe Trophy

Playoff bracket

  Conference Quarterfinals Conference Semifinals Conference Finals Stanley Cup Finals
1 Ottawa 4     1 Ottawa 4  
8 NY Islanders 1     4 Philadelphia 2  
2 New Jersey 4 Eastern Conference
7 Boston 1  
    1 Ottawa 3  
  2 New Jersey 4  
3 Tampa Bay 4  
6 Washington 2  
4 Philadelphia 4   2 New Jersey 4
5 Toronto 3     3 Tampa Bay 1  
  E2 New Jersey 4
(Pairings are re-seeded after the first round.)
  W7 Anaheim 3
1 Dallas 4     1 Dallas 2
8 Edmonton 2     7 Anaheim 4  
2 Detroit 0
7 Anaheim 4  
  7 Anaheim 4
  6 Minnesota 0  
3 Colorado 3  
6 Minnesota 4   Western Conference
4 Vancouver 4   4 Vancouver 3
5 St. Louis 3     6 Minnesota 4  
  • During the first three rounds home ice is determined by seeding number, not position on the bracket. In the Finals the team with the better regular season record has home ice.


The NHL Awards presentation took place in Toronto.

Presidents' Trophy:Ottawa Senators
Prince of Wales Trophy:New Jersey Devils
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Art Ross Trophy:Peter Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings
Calder Memorial Trophy:Barret Jackman, St. Louis Blues
Conn Smythe Trophy:Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Frank J. Selke Trophy:Jere Lehtinen, Dallas Stars
Hart Memorial Trophy:Peter Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche
Jack Adams Award:Jacques Lemaire, Minnesota Wild
James Norris Memorial Trophy:Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
King Clancy Memorial Trophy:Brendan Shanahan, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:Alexander Mogilny, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lester B. Pearson Award:Markus Naslund, Vancouver Canucks
Lester Patrick Trophy:Willie O'Ree, Ray Bourque, Ron DeGregorio
Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy:Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche
NHL Plus/Minus Award:Peter Forsberg & Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche
Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award:Marty Turco, Dallas Stars
Vezina Trophy:Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
William M. Jennings Trophy:Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils;
Roman Cechmanek and Robert Esche, Philadelphia Flyers

All-Star teams

First team  Position  Second team
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils G Marty Turco, Dallas Stars
Al MacInnis, St. Louis Blues D Sergei Gonchar, Washington Capitals
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings D Derian Hatcher, Dallas Stars
Peter Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche C Joe Thornton, Boston Bruins
Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver Canucks RW Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche
Markus Naslund, Vancouver Canucks LW Paul Kariya, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim

Player statistics

Regular season

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts
Peter ForsbergColorado752977106
Markus NaslundVancouver824856104
Joe ThorntonBoston773665101
Milan HejdukColorado82504898
Todd BertuzziVancouver82465197
Pavol DemitraSt. Louis78365793
Glen MurrayBoston82444892
Mario LemieuxPittsburgh67286391
Dany HeatleyAtlanta77414889
Zigmund PalffyLos Angeles76374885
Mike ModanoDallas79285785
Sergei FedorovDetroit80364783

Source: NHL.[4]

Leading goaltenders

Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP MIN GA GAA W L T SO
Marty TurcoDallas Stars553203921.723110107
Roman CechmanekPhiladelphia Flyers5833501021.833315106
Dwayne RolosonMinnesota Wild502945982.00231684
Martin BrodeurNew Jersey Devils7343741472.02412399
Patrick LalimeOttawa Senators6739431422.16392078
Patrick RoyColorado Avalanche6337691372.183515135
Manny LegaceDetroit Red Wings251406512.1814540
Tomas VokounNashville Predators6939741462.202531113
Robert EschePhiladelphia Flyers301638602.2012932
Manny FernandezMinnesota Wild351979752.24191322


Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts
Jamie LangenbrunnerNew Jersey Devils2411718
Scott NiedermayerNew Jersey Devils2421618
Marian GaborikMinnesota Wild189817
John MaddenNew Jersey Devils2461016
Marian HossaOttawa Senators1851116
Mike ModanoDallas Stars1251015
Jeff FriesenNew Jersey Devils2410414
Markus NaslundVancouver Canucks145914
Sergei ZubovDallas Stars1241014
Andrew BrunetteMinnesota Wild187613
Wes WalzMinnesota Wild187613


Eastern Conference

Western Conference



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 2002–03 (listed with their first team):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note who played their last NHL game in 2002–03, listed with their team:

Tom Barrasso[5]St. Louis Blues2-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Olympic silver medalist, 3-time NHL All-Star, Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Vezina Trophy winner, William M. Jennings Trophy winner.
Craig Berube[6]Calgary FlamesOver 1000 games played.
Pavel Bure[7]New York RangersOlympic silver and bronze medalist, 7-time NHL All-Star, 2-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner, Calder Memorial Trophy winner.
Sylvain Cote[8]Washington CapitalsOver 1100 games played.
Ken Daneyko[9]New Jersey Devils3-time Stanley Cup champion with the Devils, Bill Masterton Trophy winner, over 1200 games played.
Adam Deadmarsh[10]Los Angeles Kings1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche, Olympic silver medalist.
Kevin Dineen[11]Columbus Blue JacketsOver 1100 games played.
Theoren Fleury[12]Chicago Blackhawks1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Calgary Flames, Olympic gold medalist, 7-time NHL All-Star, over 1000 games played.
Doug Gilmour[13]Toronto Maple Leafs1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Calgary Flames, 2-time NHL All-Star, Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, over 1400 games played.
Adam Graves[14]San Jose Sharks2-time Stanley Cup champion with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, Bill Masterton Trophy winner, King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner, over 1100 games played.
Phil Housley[15]Toronto Maple LeafsOlympic silver medalist, 7-time NHL All-Star, over 1400 games played.
Uwe Krupp[16]Atlanta Thrashers2-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avanlanche and Detroit Red Wings, 2-time NHL All-Star.
Kirk Muller[17]Dallas Stars1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens, over 1300 games played.
Shjon Podein[18]St. Louis Blues1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche, King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner.
Paul Ranheim[19]Phoenix CoyotesOver 1000 games played.
Mike Richter[20]New York Rangers1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Rangers, Olympic silver medalist, Olympic silver medalist, 2-time NHL All-Star.
Patrick Roy[21]Colorado Avalanche4-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens and Avalanche, 11-time NHL All-Star, 5-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner, 3-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, 3-time Vezina Trophy winner, over 1000 games played.
Richard Smehlik[22]New Jersey Devils1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Devils, Olympic gold and bronze medalist.

2003 trade deadline

Trading deadline: March 11, 2003.[23] Here is a list of major trades for the 2002–03 NHL trade deadline:

For complete list, see NHL trade deadline.

See also


  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
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