The NHL continued to tilt more toward the south, as the Hartford Whalers moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, and became known as the Carolina Hurricanes.
The season was interrupted to allow NHL players to take part in the Winter Olympics for the first time. Fans expected Canada and the United States to meet for the gold medal, since they boasted teams made up entirely of NHL stars. But the U. S. was knocked out early and Canada finished fourth. The Czech Republic won the Olympic championship, beating Russia 1-0, thanks largely to Dominik Hasek's great goaltending.
Hasek, who had won the nickname 'the Dominator,' also had a great NHL season, recording 13 shutouts and winning the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP for the second straight year. He was the first goalie to win the award more than once.
Jaromir Jagr should certainly not be overlooked. He was a teammate of Hasek's on the Czech gold medal team and he led the NHL in scoring with 102 points. It was the first time that only one player had scored more than 100 points since 1969-70.
The Dallas Stars had the league's best record with 107 points to lead the Central Division, 4 points ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. New Jersey was next with 107 points to top the Atlantic Division. Jagr's Pittsburgh Penguins led the Northeast Division with 98 points, while Colorado was first in the Pacific Division with 95 points.
The Western Conference playoffs pretty much followed the script, with Detroit and Dallas meeting in the final, where the Red Wings prevailed in six games. But the Eastern Conference was full of upsets. In the first round, Hasek's Buffalo Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal beat Pittsburgh, and Ottawa beat New Jersey. The Sabres then swept Montreal in the semi-finals, while the Washington Capitals eliminated Ottawa in six games. The Capitals and Sabres fought through a six-game conference championship series, with Washington winning three games in overtime to take the title
The Red Wings then swept the Capitals in the Stanley Cup finals, though it wasn't quite that easy. The first three games were all decided by one goal and one of them went to overtime, but Detroit then took a 4-1 win in the fourth and final game. The Red Wing captain, Steve Yzerman, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He led all post-season scorers with 24 points in 22 games.