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
Draft
Top draft pickRick Nash
Picked byColumbus Blue Jackets
Regular season
Presidents' TrophyOttawa Senators
Season MVPPeter Forsberg (Avalanche)
Top scorerPeter Forsberg (Avalanche)
Playoffs
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
No. CR GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 2 New Jersey Devils 82 46 20 10 6 216 166 108
2 4 Philadelphia Flyers 82 45 20 13 4 211 166 107
3 8 New York Islanders 82 35 34 11 2 224 231 83
4 9 New York Rangers 82 32 36 10 4 210 231 78
5 14 Pittsburgh Penguins 82 27 44 6 5 189 255 65
Northeast Division
No. CR GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 1 Ottawa Senators 82 52 21 8 1 263 182 113
2 5 Toronto Maple Leafs 82 44 28 7 3 236 208 98
3 7 Boston Bruins 82 36 31 11 4 245 237 87
4 10 Montreal Canadiens 82 30 35 8 9 206 234 77
5 12 Buffalo Sabres 82 27 37 10 8 190 219 72
Southeast Division
No. CR GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 3 Tampa Bay Lightning 82 36 25 16 5 219 210 93
2 6 Washington Capitals 82 39 29 8 6 224 220 92
3 11 Atlanta Thrashers 82 31 39 7 5 226 284 74
4 13 Florida Panthers 82 24 36 13 9 176 237 70
5 15 Carolina Hurricanes 82 22 43 11 6 171 240 61
Eastern Conference[2]
R Div GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 P- Ottawa Senators NE 82 52 21 8 1 263 182 113
2 Y- New Jersey Devils AT 82 46 20 10 6 216 166 108
3 Y- Tampa Bay Lightning SE 82 36 25 16 5 219 210 93
4 X- Philadelphia Flyers AT 82 45 20 13 4 211 166 107
5 X- Toronto Maple Leafs NE 82 44 28 7 3 236 208 98
6 X- Washington Capitals SE 82 39 29 8 6 224 220 92
7 X- Boston Bruins NE 82 36 31 11 4 245 237 87
8 X- New York Islanders AT 82 35 34 11 2 224 231 83
8.5
9 New York Rangers AT 82 32 36 10 4 210 231 78
10 Montreal Canadiens NE 82 30 35 8 9 206 234 77
11 Atlanta Thrashers SE 82 31 39 7 5 226 284 74
12 Buffalo Sabres NE 82 27 37 10 8 190 219 72
13 Florida Panthers SE 82 24 36 13 9 176 237 70
14 Pittsburgh Penguins AT 82 27 44 6 5 189 255 65
15 Carolina Hurricanes SE 82 22 43 11 6 171 240 61

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

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

Western Conference

Central Division
No. CR GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 2 Detroit Red Wings 82 48 20 10 4 269 203 110
2 5 St. Louis Blues 82 41 24 11 6 253 222 99
3 9 Chicago Blackhawks 82 30 33 13 6 207 226 79
4 13 Nashville Predators 82 27 35 13 7 183 206 74
5 15 Columbus Blue Jackets 82 29 42 8 3 213 263 69
Northwest Division
No. CR GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 3 Colorado Avalanche 82 42 19 13 8 251 194 105
2 4 Vancouver Canucks 82 45 23 13 1 264 208 104
3 6 Minnesota Wild 82 42 29 10 1 198 178 95
4 8 Edmonton Oilers 82 36 26 11 9 231 230 92
5 12 Calgary Flames 82 29 36 13 4 186 228 75
Pacific Division
No. CR GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 1 Dallas Stars 82 46 17 15 4 245 169 111
2 7 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 82 40 27 9 6 203 193 95
3 10 Los Angeles Kings 82 33 37 6 6 203 221 78
4 11 Phoenix Coyotes 82 31 35 11 5 204 230 78
5 14 San Jose Sharks 82 28 37 9 8 214 239 73

[3]

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
R Div GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
1 Z- Dallas Stars PA 82 46 17 15 4 245 169 111
2 Y- Detroit Red Wings CE 82 48 20 10 4 269 203 110
3 Y- Colorado Avalanche NW 82 42 19 13 8 251 194 105
4 X- Vancouver Canucks NW 82 45 23 13 1 264 208 104
5 X- St. Louis Blues CE 82 41 24 11 6 253 222 99
6 X- Minnesota Wild NW 82 42 29 10 1 198 178 95
7 X- Mighty Ducks of Anaheim PA 82 40 27 9 6 203 193 95
8 X- Edmonton Oilers NW 82 36 26 11 9 231 230 92
8.5
9 Chicago Blackhawks CE 82 30 33 13 6 207 226 79
10 Los Angeles Kings PA 82 33 37 6 6 203 221 78
11 Phoenix Coyotes PA 82 31 35 11 5 204 230 78
12 Calgary Flames NW 82 29 36 13 4 186 228 75
13 Nashville Predators CE 82 27 35 13 7 183 206 74
14 San Jose Sharks PA 82 28 37 9 8 214 239 73
15 Columbus Blue Jackets CE 82 29 42 8 3 213 263 69

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.

Playoffs

2003 Stanley Cup playoffs logo

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.

Final

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

Anaheim vs. New Jersey
Date Away Home
May 27 Anaheim 0 3 New Jersey
May 29 Anaheim 0 3 New Jersey
May 31 New Jersey 2 3 Anaheim OT
June 2 New Jersey 0 1 Anaheim OT
June 5 Anaheim 3 6 New Jersey
June 7 New Jersey 2 5 Anaheim
June 9 Anaheim 0 3 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.

Awards

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 Forsberg Colorado 75 29 77 106
Markus Naslund Vancouver 82 48 56 104
Joe Thornton Boston 77 36 65 101
Milan Hejduk Colorado 82 50 48 98
Todd Bertuzzi Vancouver 82 46 51 97
Pavol Demitra St. Louis 78 36 57 93
Glen Murray Boston 82 44 48 92
Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh 67 28 63 91
Dany Heatley Atlanta 77 41 48 89
Zigmund Palffy Los Angeles 76 37 48 85
Mike Modano Dallas 79 28 57 85
Sergei Fedorov Detroit 80 36 47 83

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 Turco Dallas Stars 55 3203 92 1.72 31 10 10 7
Roman Cechmanek Philadelphia Flyers 58 3350 102 1.83 33 15 10 6
Dwayne Roloson Minnesota Wild 50 2945 98 2.00 23 16 8 4
Martin Brodeur New Jersey Devils 73 4374 147 2.02 41 23 9 9
Patrick Lalime Ottawa Senators 67 3943 142 2.16 39 20 7 8
Patrick Roy Colorado Avalanche 63 3769 137 2.18 35 15 13 5
Manny Legace Detroit Red Wings 25 1406 51 2.18 14 5 4 0
Tomas Vokoun Nashville Predators 69 3974 146 2.20 25 31 11 3
Robert Esche Philadelphia Flyers 30 1638 60 2.20 12 9 3 2
Manny Fernandez Minnesota Wild 35 1979 75 2.24 19 13 2 2

Playoffs

Scoring leaders

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

Player Team GP G A Pts
Jamie Langenbrunner New Jersey Devils 24 11 7 18
Scott Niedermayer New Jersey Devils 24 2 16 18
Marian Gaborik Minnesota Wild 18 9 8 17
John Madden New Jersey Devils 24 6 10 16
Marian Hossa Ottawa Senators 18 5 11 16
Mike Modano Dallas Stars 12 5 10 15
Jeff Friesen New Jersey Devils 24 10 4 14
Markus Naslund Vancouver Canucks 14 5 9 14
Sergei Zubov Dallas Stars 12 4 10 14
Andrew Brunette Minnesota Wild 18 7 6 13
Wes Walz Minnesota Wild 18 7 6 13

Coaches

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Milestones

Debuts

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:

Player Team Notability
Tom Barrasso[5] St. Louis Blues 2-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 Flames Over 1000 games played.
Pavel Bure[7] New York Rangers Olympic silver and bronze medalist, 7-time NHL All-Star, 2-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner, Calder Memorial Trophy winner.
Sylvain Cote[8] Washington Capitals Over 1100 games played.
Ken Daneyko[9] New Jersey Devils 3-time Stanley Cup champion with the Devils, Bill Masterton Trophy winner, over 1200 games played.
Adam Deadmarsh[10] Los Angeles Kings 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche, Olympic silver medalist.
Kevin Dineen[11] Columbus Blue Jackets Over 1100 games played.
Theoren Fleury[12] Chicago Blackhawks 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Calgary Flames, Olympic gold medalist, 7-time NHL All-Star, 4-time Molson Cup winner, over 1000 games played.
Brent Gilchrist[13] Nashville Predators 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings.
Doug Gilmour[14] Toronto Maple Leafs 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Calgary Flames, 2-time NHL All-Star, Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, over 1400 games played.
Adam Graves[15] San Jose Sharks 2-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[16] Toronto Maple Leafs Olympic silver medalist, 7-time NHL All-Star, over 1400 games played.
Uwe Krupp[17] Atlanta Thrashers 2-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avanlanche and Detroit Red Wings, 2-time NHL All-Star.
Sylvain Lefebvre[18] New York Rangers 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche.
Kirk Muller[19] Dallas Stars 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens, over 1300 games played.
Shjon Podein[20] St. Louis Blues 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche, King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner.
Paul Ranheim[21] Phoenix Coyotes Over 1000 games played.
Mike Richter[22] New York Rangers 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Rangers, Olympic silver medalist, Olympic silver medalist, 2-time NHL All-Star.
Patrick Roy[23] Colorado Avalanche 4-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[24] New Jersey Devils 1-time Stanley Cup champion with the Devils, Olympic gold and bronze medalist.

2003 trade deadline

Trading deadline: March 11, 2003.[25] Here is a list of major trades for the 2002–03 NHL trade deadline:

For complete list, see NHL trade deadline.

See also

References

  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
Notes
  1. ^ Hockey's Book of Firsts, p.19, James Duplacey, JG Press, ISBN 978-1-57215-037-9
  2. ^ "2002–2003 Standings by Conference". National Hockey League. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  3. ^ Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2009). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book/2010. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 163.
  4. ^ Dinger 2011, p. 156.
  5. ^ Goaltender Tom Barrasso retired after playing 19 NHL...
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Don Cherry says Bure retired early because 'he took chances'
  8. ^ 1992-93 Washington Capitals Sylvain Cote Jersey
  9. ^ HOCKEY; After 3 Stanley Cups, Devils' Daneyko Retires
  10. ^ Adam Deadmarsh retires from NHL due to concussions
  11. ^ Kevin Dineen confirms retirement
  12. ^ Johnson, George (September 28, 2009), "Fleury says he 'knew it was over'", Calgary Herald, archived from the original on October 3, 2009, retrieved 2009-10-10
  13. ^ Brent Gilchrist
  14. ^ Doug Gilmour announces retirement
  15. ^ Rangers retire Adam Graves' No. 9 jersey
  16. ^ HERE'S WHY IT TOOK SO LONG FOR HOUSLEY TO MAKE HHOF GRADE
  17. ^ Uwe Krupp
  18. ^ Sylvain Lefebvre named head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs
  19. ^ Montreal Canadiens hire Kirk Muller as associate coach
  20. ^ Where are they now: Shjon Podein
  21. ^ Paul S. Ranheim
  22. ^ HOCKEY; After 2 Concussions, Richter Is Forced to Retire
  23. ^ ROY SAYS HE'S 'COMING HOME' AS NO. 33 JERSEY IS RETIRED AT BELL CENTRE
  24. ^ Richard Smehlik
  25. ^ NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out Archived February 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine

External links

2002 NHL Entry Draft

The 2002 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft was held June 22–23 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Two hundred and ninety-one players were drafted in total: 35 from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL); 23 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL); 43 from the Western Hockey League (WHL); 41 from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hockey conferences; six from U.S. high schools and 110 from outside North America.

2002–03 Atlanta Thrashers season

The 2002–03 Atlanta Thrashers season was the Thrashers' fourth season. The Thrashers placed third in the Southeast, eleventh in the East to miss the playoffs.

2002–03 Boston Bruins season

The 2002–03 Boston Bruins season was the Boston Bruins's 79th season of operation.

2002–03 Buffalo Sabres season

The 2002–03 Buffalo Sabres season was the 33rd season of operation for the National Hockey League franchise that was established on May 22, 1970. The 72 points accumulated in the regular season was the lowest total for the franchise since the 1986–87 season.

2002–03 Chicago Blackhawks season

The 2002–03 Chicago Blackhawks season was the Chicago Blackhawks' 77th season of operation. Finishing ninth in the Western Conference, they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

2002–03 Detroit Red Wings season

The 2002–03 Detroit Red Wings season was the 77th National Hockey League season in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings scored 110 points, winning the Central Division, but just one point behind the Dallas Stars for the Western Conference's first seed.

Coming off their latest Stanley Cup victory, the Red Wings started looking towards the future. Dominik Hasek and Scotty Bowman had retired over the summer and captain Steve Yzerman was out for the first 66 games of the regular season. The weight of the team fell on Sergei Fedorov and veteran Brett Hull, who helped the Red Wings score the most goals of any team in the regular season. As newly acquired goaltender Curtis Joseph held steady in net, two more pieces of the Stanley Cup team would be traded over the course of the year. Maxim Kuznetsov and Sean Avery left in a trade for the Los Angeles Kings' Mathieu Schneider right before the trade deadline in an effort to push the Wings towards the playoffs. However, the moves did not come to complete fruition, as the Wings met the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the first round and shocked everyone by being swept in four games.

Three Red Wings were named to the roster for the 2003 All-Star Game: defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, center Sergei Fedorov and Head Coach Dave Lewis. It was Lidstrom's seventh appearance at the All-Star Game, Fedorov's sixth and Lewis's first appearance as a coach.The Red Wings sold out all 41 home games in 2002–03 as 20,058 fans packed Joe Louis Arena for every regular season and playoff game played in Detroit.

2002–03 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim season

The 2002–03 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim season was the Ducks' tenth season in franchise history. The club qualified for the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history, falling to the New Jersey Devils.

Although the Ducks eventually won the Stanley Cup 4 years later, the Ducks failed to bring another championship to Anaheim, after their MLB counterparts, the Anaheim Angels won their first World Series title the year before.

2002–03 Montreal Canadiens season

The 2002–03 Montreal Canadiens season was the club's 94th season of play. The club struggled through the season, made a coaching change and did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

2002–03 Nashville Predators season

The 2002–03 Nashville Predators season was the Nashville Predators' 5th season in the National Hockey League (NHL).

2002–03 New York Islanders season

The 2002–03 New York Islanders season was the 31st season in the franchise's history.

2002–03 New York Rangers season

The 2002–03 New York Rangers season was the 77th season for the team in the National Hockey League (NHL). In the regular season, the Rangers posted a 32–36–10–4 record, finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division. The Rangers' ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference left them out of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth straight season.The Rangers entered the season under the supervision of former Colorado Avalanche assistant coach and New York Islanders star Bryan Trottier in his first head coaching role. With the team on the outside of the playoff picture, he was fired after 54 games and replaced with general manager Glen Sather.The Rangers saw a major milestone reached as goaltender Mike Richter won his 300th game with the team. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a concussion against the Edmonton Oilers when Todd Marchant accidentally struck his head with his knee. Combined with a skull fracture Richter suffered toward the end of the previous season when hit in the face with a slap shot, it was the second such injury he suffered in the previous eight months and caused him to miss the rest of the season. Richter retired before the start of the next season.

2002–03 Ottawa Senators season

The 2002–03 Ottawa Senators season was the 11th season of the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). This season saw the Senators reach the highest point in the playoffs until the 2006–07 season. They were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils, the eventual Stanley Cup winning team in the Eastern Conference final. On top of their larger success, with their total 113 points they won the Presidents' Trophy, the Northeast Division title and the Eastern Conference title.

After their long history of debt problems, the Senators filed for bankruptcy on January 9, 2003. They continued regular season play after receiving emergency financing from the NHL. Despite the off-ice problems, they had a successful year, compared to their early day woes. The Presidents' Trophy awarded to the Senators made them the first Canadian team to win it since the Calgary Flames in their championship season of 1989, and the first Eastern Conference team to win it since the New York Rangers' title in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. In the playoffs, they defeated their former teammate Alexei Yashin and his New York Islanders, then the Philadelphia Flyers before coming within one game of making it into the Finals, falling to the New Jersey Devils.

2002–03 San Jose Sharks season

The 2002–03 San Jose Sharks season was the Sharks' twelfth season of operation in the National Hockey League (NHL). The Sharks placed 14th in the Conference and did not qualify for the playoffs.

2002–03 St. Louis Blues season

The 2002–03 St. Louis Blues season was the 36th for the franchise in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues finished the regular-season with a record of 41 wins, 24 losses, 11 overtime losses and six ties, good for 99 points, and the team qualified for the NHL Playoffs for the 24th consecutive season, only to lose in the Western Conference Quarter-finals to the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.

2002–03 Tampa Bay Lightning season

The 2002–03 Tampa Bay Lightning season was the 11th National Hockey League (NHL) season in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning made it back to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1996.

2002–03 Toronto Maple Leafs season

The 2002–03 Toronto Maple Leafs season was the team's 86th season of the franchise, and the 76th season as the Maple Leafs.

Key dates prior to the start of the season:

The 2002 NHL Entry Draft

The free agency period began on July 1.

2002–03 Vancouver Canucks season

The 2002–03 Vancouver Canucks season was the Canucks' 33rd NHL season.

2003 National Hockey League All-Star Game

The 2003 National Hockey League All-Star Game took place on February 2, 2003 at Office Depot Center in Sunrise, the home of the Florida Panthers. It was the first All-Star Game since the 1997 All-Star Game to use the Eastern Conference–Western Conference format.

2003 Stanley Cup Finals

The 2003 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League's (NHL) 2002–03 season, and the culmination of the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs. The second-seeded Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils defeated the seventh-seeded Western Conference champion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in seven games and were awarded the Stanley Cup. It was New Jersey's first appearance since 2001 and third in four years. It was Anaheim's first-ever appearance. The Devils defeated the Mighty Ducks in seven games to win their third Stanley Cup in less than a decade.

The Devils' win was the last in a series of wins they, along with the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings, established in the era from 1995 to 2003. The three teams won a combined eight of nine Stanley Cups during that time. The Devils won in 1995, followed by the Avalanche in 1996, then the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. The Dallas Stars win in 1999 would be superseded by the Devils in 2000, Colorado in 2001 and Detroit in 2002.

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