Work in Sports
From the Locker Rooms
Bubbly and beer for Devils, Stars hold heads high
Posted: Sunday June 11, 2000 04:18 AM
By Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated
It's all on film. More than television cameras were running in the Devils teeming, smoky dressing room. So many of the players' giddy relatives held camcorders of their own, and flash bulbs lit up the happy night.
John Madden and coach Sergei Fetisov posed together. Scott Niedermayer and his wife smiled for the photographers. Big Krystof Oliwa, the enforcer who did not play in these finals, snapped pictures with his own, absurdly small camera.
Now, some 40 minutes after the Stanley Cup first fell into the Devils' hands, rookie Scott Gomez is standing on a platform in the center of the room. The Cup looks large and weighty in his hands and seems nearly as tall as the 5'10'' Go-Go himself. With some effort he brings the Cup to his lips and takes from it a long drought of bubbly Wycliff champagne.
Gomez is 20 years old, a year shy of this country's drinking age. And yet he sloughed down the good stuff he had earned. It's all on film -- a crime! And while even the most law-abiding Texans might pardon Gomez this offense, they may want to make him pay for the heist he helped to perpetrate: Wresting the chalice from the champions' grip.
Dallas's rallying cry and enduring hope, The Cup Stays Here!, was fulfilled for the night. Only the Cup was in the wrong room.
In this room the floor was sticky with bubbly and beer and soda and Gretzky knows what else. The Devils were clad in T-shirts and baseball caps that announced their championship. Martin Brodeur, still in his gear, his wife Melanie beside him, took a cigar from a humidor and settled down to rejoice. And now Alexander Mogilny holds the Cup, and kisses it with a stogie in his mouth. When Madden has the Cup he fairly licks the thing.
In the packed room children ran underfoot, poking about in the empty champagne boxes. Mothers snatched bottles from their hands. Only Petr Sykora, in the hospital after sustaining a hard hit, was missing. When Patrik Elias first moved through the room he wore Sykora's sweater, turned so that the No. 17 faced front -- and said: "We wanted to win this game for Petr."
They were few hard questions from reporters. Indeed there was little more than congratulations and celebrations and hugs and cigars, and every now and then some whooping that might have impressed a crane. When several new cases of beer came wheeling in they were set upon immediately.
In the Stars locker room, of course, things were different. It was dry and empty place. Dallas had come up a goal shy in the deciding game and now as the Devils plotted what they would do with their day with the Cup, the Stars resigned themselves to life without it. Still, when they emerged from the back rooms they came with their heads held high. As they should have.
Guy Carbonneau stood before a group of reporters and talked about the game and the series, and then about the possibility of his own retirement. He said he didn't know what he was going to do about next year. "Right now," he said, "I am going to get drunk." Which means that even on this night the Stars and the Devils had something in common.