I'll try to be analytical about this by comparing players.
1997 had a top 4 of Murphy, Lidstrom, Fetisov and Konstantinov. 2002 had Lidstrom, Olausson, Chelios and Fischer. The bottom pairing in 97 was Rouse and Ward, while in 2002 it was Dandenault and Duchesne. I don't think anyone will argue 97 was stronger in the defensive part of the ice, as well as more physical. We're talking three Hall of Famers and one in Vladdy that was one of the best in the league.
Hasek is better than Vernon. You can say Osgood was a better backup than Legace, but technically it shouldn't matter since Hasek won all 16 games. In terms of starting goalies, 2002 wins easily.
This is where things get interesting. Fedorov, Yzerman, Shanahan and Larionov were all better players in 97 than in 2002. The Grind Line is pretty much a wash, although I could argue they were more physical in 97, hence more effective. At the same time, I think Draper and Maltby were both better defensively by 2002. Also, I think Kozlov was a better player offensively in 97 than Robitaille was by 2002, as Luc was past his prime. That leaves Kocur, Brown, Lapointe and Sandstrom for 97, and leaves Datsyuk, Deveraux, Hull, and Holmstrom for 2002. Obviously, 2002 would have more skill there, while 97 would have more grit. At the end of the day, I think the offensive advantage goes to 2002, because there was a little more firepower, and even though the top 4 forwards were better players in 97, they were good enough in 2002 to still dominate in the playoffs, which they did.
I'll have to go against my fellow grit loving posters, and actually say that 2002 would probably win a best of 7 series. Too much firepower and a better goalie that could steal a playoff series. Also, I'd be amiss to mention that they had a much better regular season, meaning they had a better overall season from beginning to end. I don't think the 97 team even won the division if I'm not mistaken.
I think the Divealanche organization is also to blame for this.
What the f*** were they thinking? They know this guy is fragile physically and would be a distraction to a team he never joined in training camp. There are harder working players in the minors who try to make it to the big leagues, while this drama queen gets a free pass mid season whenever he wants.
What in his recent history made them think this would work? Now they've got a pathetic joke on their hands and an explanation they owe to their fans.
I disagree with you, I'm sorry if you want to watch two people just beat the s*** out of each other just to make a show watch UFC or WWF. I think fighting is part of the game but the token goon has no place in Hockey anymore, its time to get over it and move on. Its not fun to watch two guys fight for the sake of fighting, its adds nothing to the game and at best its a distraction. Now if its two players who in the heat of the moment or to protect a player and they fight thats great, that passion is what makes hockey great, not the goons who fight for their paycheck.
There is no more WWF.
The goons who fight for the hell of it are often in the heat of the moment and are trying to protect players. Gillies has done that numerous times. Every now and then, however, things get carried away. Only way to prevent these things is to get rid of fighting altogether. You can't have it both ways.
And Milbury beat a guy in the stands with hisf****** shoe. Who the hell is he to talk about shameful actions?