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Drop the gloves during the playoffs with SI.com's writers in the NHL Cup Blog, a daily journal of hockey commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
1:03 PM ET, 6/19/06

The captain's crunch time

Posted by Michael Farber
If the Carolina Hurricanes are going to win the Stanley Cup tonight, they better play this one like it's a Game 7.

The margin for error dissipated when their nerves seemed to fail them at home in Game 5 and their nerve totally deserted them under a physical onslaught in Game 6 when they were run out of Edmonton's rink like some garage-league outfit. While the Hurricanes have home-ice advantage and fans louder than Don Cherry's sports jackets -"Given a choice between momentum and home ice, I'll take the ice," Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore said Sunday - they also have the weight of knowing that they have wilted under pressure.

If coach Peter Laviolette can't help the Hurricanes gather themselves in Raleigh, then redneck hockey is going to have a matching red face on Tuesday morning.

The burden also falls on Rod Brind'Amour, the Carolina captain who did not make it to a media session late Sunday afternoon because he wanted to be with his children on Father's Day. This might qualify him as a finalist for the NHL's Father of the Year, but certainly not the NHL's captain of the year. This is the one sport in which the captaincy means something more than calling heads or tails. In the NHL, the captain speaks for the team. He is its voice if not always its face. With Carolina suddenly on the brink, it was entirely appropriate for Brind'Amour to have devoted 20 minutes of his day to lay out the situation, especially after his indifferent play late in the series.

What Brind'Amour would have said - changes in attitudes, changes in platitudes - would have been less significant than the fact that his mouth actually moved. This is the kind of thing that, if the Oilers win tonight, goes down on what your high school teacher called a permanent record. (Indeed, Eric Lindros has not been exonerated since ducking out of a back door of the visitor's dressing room in Detroit before Game 4 of the 1997 final after Philadelphia coach Terry Murray described his team as being in a "choking situation." Left to respond in the absence of the captain, defenseman Eric Desjardins uttered one of the most famous lines in recent Stanley Cup history: "Aiy, yi, yi, yi, yi, yi.")

Brind'Amour was a lock for the Conn Smythe Trophy midway through the series, but he won't win it if the Oilers take Game 7. Indeed, if Brind'Amour does not regain his faceoff touch or pot a goal or at least set one up, there is an outside chance that Oilers defenseman Chris Pronger will be voted the playoff MVP even with a Hurricanes win.


Posted: 1:25 PM   by Anonymous
Thanks for a completely bland post that did nothing to tell any reader what he or she didn't already know. The Canes need to play well or Edmonton will win. If Edmonton wins tonight, it will be a big deal for them. (Maybe I should get my own blog!) You came across as whinning and immature about a player who has a personal life and dissed the media, as is his right to do. Thrilling.
Posted: 2:45 PM   by Anonymous
The conversations that matter are the ones Brind'amour had with his fellow players and coaches. The hours between games 6 and 7 are hard to fill, but please try to find something to do besides creating a story out of nothing.
Posted: 2:52 PM   by Will, Philladelphia
Generally speaking I hate Annonymous. His comments are always so torpid and he lacks any sense of accountability (sorry Anonymous, but it is true, I've read your posts on other blogs). Anyway, in this case, I'm with him. This is the second time Brind'Amour has not shown up for a press conference in this series and the media reaction both times reminded me of the time I took my kid's toy away because it was bedtime and he cried until he alsmost passed out. Give me a break. We love to read about hockey, sure, but you're not exactly saving lives out there. Instead, you're regularly interviewing people we fans never get to meet. Rod didn't show up? No big deal, you've already had the chance to see him 100 other times this season, and probably 10 this series. Me? Not even once. Not even in person at the RBC Centre with a ticket. "A captain is the voice of his team"? You're not covering the war in Iraq, buddy, settle down, grab another doughnut, and repeat to yourself "An interview with Brind'Amour is not that important."
Posted: 2:56 PM   by Anonymous
The conversations that matter are the ones he had with fellow players and coaches. Sorry your feelings were hurt. Try to fill your time between games by being productive, not by creating
Posted: 2:58 PM   by Anonymous
Well said. This Farber guy's 'analysis' has been a joke all playoffs.

"Here is a recap/preview with a dramatic tone! Winners will win! Losers will lose! A loser lost last time, will they lose again?"
Posted: 3:02 PM   by Anonymous
Redneck Hockey - Hell Yeah, and we're going to paint the walls red tonight as the Hurricanes post at least 4 goals on that backup goalie of their's.
What a crock of a blog. Brind'Amour has been a leader all through the playoffs; he was the one that stepped up in Buffalo, and he stepped up again early in the series against Edmonton. Besides, what was so important that you had to harrass him on Father's Day? You know what the answers are going to be, and you had the chance to badger him after Gm. 6. As as former sportswriter (including the Hurricanes beat many years ago), GET A LIFE! Maybe YOU should have been at home on Father's Day -- I was, with my family, because I am a "former" sportswriter!
Posted: 3:32 PM   by TB
Yes, this is a case of a writer trying to create news. While it is agreed that Roddy didn't have the impact he probably would have liked to over the past two games, that doesn't erase the fact that he has led his team all season long; and has led them this post-season to Finals, with a game seven game-winning goal against Buffalo; and solidified a seemingly impossible comeback with the game-winning goal in game one of these finals. Try to write about something more substantive, like the fact that 11 of 13 home teams in game sevens in the Finals have won, including all three of those who squandered a 3-1 series lead.
Posted: 3:49 PM   by Anonymous
In Rod's defense, what can you say to these guys that they don't already know after that debacle on Saturday. I had to look close to see if Curly, Larry and Moe were skating around out there...put a tent on that circus. Them boys better bring EVERYTHING tonight and try to pull this off. Go Canes!
Posted: 4:03 PM   by Anonymous
To Will in Philly, Anonymous is several different people...just in case you missed that. I posted the first comment you see here, but not the second or any after that (until now). I'm not sure if you were being smart by saying you hate anonymous (you hate people that post anonymously?) or if you really thought that one person posted so often. Either way, I'm glad you too agree that an immature article about a Captain not appearing at a 20 minute press confrence on Father's Day is NOT news and it's really not even relevant to the series!
Posted: 4:08 PM   by mikes1160
Farber, how ridiculous. Rod is a great captain AND a great dad. What else does he have to say?????? It's all been said. It's game 7. Let 'er rip Rod!!!!!!!
Posted: 4:15 PM   by JD
Another example of people in the media trying to make themselves the story. Brind'Amour's duty in this situation is to his teammates. NOT the media. The series isn't going to be decided over who gave more interviews. Carolina's in trouble whether Rod talks to the press or not. I don't think a single person on his team cares that he missed a media session, or thinks that missing it in any way detracts from his committment to the team. He's in a slump - it happens in sport. Admittedly, it's a bad time for one, but that's life. He's been the heart of this team all season, and he'll continue to be. The 'Canes should have lost Game 1. They didn't. Rod Brind'Amour stepped up when it counted. Big goal, big speech - WHAM - big win. You're right, forget about the kids on Father's Day. You think his teammates would respect him more or less if he told his family to stick it so he could waste 20 minutes with the press? Watch for a big game from #17. Then crumple up a printout of your blog, smother it in your choice of condiments, and eat it.
Posted: 4:38 PM   by Jay T.
Brind'amour might not have "disappeared" if the hits the Oilers are taking would be mostly legal and called. Officiating did not cost them game 6 but it did not help. Let's get an evenly called game and see what happens tonight
Posted: 4:52 PM   by Anonymous
Funny how Brind'amour doesn't have anything to say now. In contrast to running his mouth about Lindy Ruff afer the Canes beat the Sabres. Karma is a funny thing, huh Rod.
Posted: 4:53 PM   by Anonymous
Hello!?!!? Why aren't people talking about Pisani as a Conn Smythe candidate? He only scored two game winning goals in the series with Anaheim and added another 2 game winners against Carolina. Can you say, "clutch"?
Posted: 4:59 PM   by Anonymous
What a disappointment this article is. And the media wonders why there is less excitement generated by hockey than the other "major" sports after posting this type of in-depth analysis. *cough*

Finding an assessment of the decisive game 7 in the US media is harder to than the elusive black puck that many novices claim they can't follow in a tv broadcast.
Posted: 5:00 PM   by Anonymous
Nobody wants to read what you have to say. Your article is pointless.

Will, Raleigh
Posted: 5:00 PM   by Anonymous
This blog is a JOKE!
Find something better to cry about.
Posted: 5:03 PM   by Anonymous
Reporters have to stop believing that not sharing with you is an indication of a player or coach panicking or in some other form of emotional collapse. The media does not play as large a role as you would like to believe
Posted: 5:04 PM   by Bob
Look folks, I agree this is not exactly earth shaking stuff here. But, let's give Mr. Farber a break and try to be realistic. It's not really his fault that all he had was this nonsense to report. It's the atmosphere of smothering a story to death that we see every day. Is there really 24 hours of news to report? Of course not. And there isn't enough relevant information to put on daily blogs for sporting events. I suspect Mr. Farber does it because he likes to get a paycheck. To me, it's Sports Illustrated that needs to get with it and tighten it's coverage so we don't waste time reading posts that don't add anything of interest to the subject at hand.
Posted: 5:05 PM   by Anonymous
Yes, it was entirely appropriate for Brind'Amour to have devoted 20 minutes of his day to lay out the situation. But it was not at all inappropriate for him to spend time with his family. Shame on you, Mr. Farber.
Posted: 5:09 PM   by Kael
Oilers are gonna win tonight. They are the underdog and they have come so far. We are so proud of them. The cup belongs in Canada and it will be returned to us tonight.
Posted: 5:19 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe an evening off with his kids is what he needed to recoup. Personally I don't give a rats behind, because i'm routing for the Oilers.
Posted: 5:19 PM   by Anonymous
just nuts - why even bother bashing Brand'amour for staying home on fathers day...in my book, that is a sign of a great leader. Knows his priorities and the team will respect that more than having to deal with the media...which hardly a single play has an ounce of respect for.
Posted: 5:21 PM   by Joe form Philly
Rod needs to talk to the media? Why is that? He needs to talk to his team mates and light a fire under them. I believe some reporters feelings got hurt that a man would rather spend time with his children instead of answering the same questions over and over again on a Sunday afternoon. Get over it. I am sure Rod did.
Posted: 5:22 PM   by Anonymous
Irrelevant. Oilers will win.
Posted: 5:24 PM   by Anonymous
it's spelled RBC Center, remember...it's in NC and not in State #51 (Canada)
Posted: 5:26 PM   by Anonymous
The Cup is going home North of the border. Bettman had messed up the leaque long enough! You shouldn't be able to buy the cup, you should always earn it. Just look at the Edm. crowd! That is an ICON of hockey in Canada. It's shameful to see empty seats in some of the previous series south of the border. I just hope the Fans in N.Carolina can remain true even if their team is scored on. They were pretty quiet in game 5. Not the same in the previous games where Edm. Lost to Carolina at home. The fans still cheered them on. Now that's Hockey!.
Posted: 5:32 PM   by Anonymous
Posted: 5:33 PM   by Anonymous
Don Cherrie!

I have not heard that name since he dropped the racial slur on Richard Park.

The NHL swept the issue under the rug with Cherrie the last 5 months. Why would you ever speak of him during the Stanley Cup?

Think!! Please Think!!!!!
Posted: 5:37 PM   by Steve
Give me a break! Brind'amour couldn't show up - who cares?! Who cares if the entire team didn't show up for 'meet the press'?
If Brind'amour had been there, what do you think he would have said? What cliches have not been used already?
I am a huge hockey fan but one thing this game lacks is flavor in the quote department. Hockey players are really nice guys almost to a fault.
I'd rather read articles that get me "behind-the-scenes." Get to know the players and their stories...isn't that what we were promised in the "new" NHL?
Posted: 5:40 PM   by Anonymous
GO CANES GO...Edmonton has done an excellent job, but the Canes will prevail. I think they have to guts to pull this thing off. Edmonton has had their glory days when the "protected" Wayne Gretzky, was able to do it all, well after all he was a "sacred cow" in the NHL, no one an I mean "NO ONE" was allowed to lay a glove on him, so naturally if you can roam the ice at free will I would think that anyone with a grain of talent could ring up the records. It's all BS, if he had been treated and boarded like the rest of the players he would not have those records at all.GO CANES GO...
Posted: 5:42 PM   by HS
I think Oilers will win tonite. They are playing fabulously and deserve to win. Canes have to really get their act together and with Cole back in the team, they have a slim chance. It's the crowd that will be the decisive factor. I am cheering for Edmonton, though.
Posted: 5:42 PM   by Anonymous
There's far worse peeps that Cherry you could be worrying about. What about Bettman? How the hell does he keep his job? I wish I cold suck and have everyone hate me and keep my job......
Posted: 5:46 PM   by Anonymous
Go Canes Go!!! Edmonton has had their time.....It's Carolina's Turn at the Cup.

Posted: 5:49 PM   by CorkyDiamond
Oilers will WIN tonight...cup is coming home where the game is trully appreciated.

And by the way.....it's Cherry with a "y"!!!
Posted: 5:56 PM   by Anonymous
Come on - Canes win? Weight a pylon with a stick plays? Doesn't matter. Oil win in a walk.
Posted: 5:58 PM   by Anonymous
RBC "Center" huh - well last time I checked, RBC is the Royal Bank of Canada who bought your NC bank.
Posted: 5:59 PM   by Love the New NHL
Blah Blah Blah, it's been a great series to the point where the so called experts have been proven to have less "expertise" than they would like you to believe they have. That said, although I believe Edmonton will pull it out, it's their game to win and Carolina's to lose. I 'd prefer a game that went down to the wire and not a blow-out -for neither of them.
Posted: 6:06 PM   by Lukas
I think M. Farber is right in criticizing Brind'amour for not beeing there to face the music. When your job is to play hockey, that you're paid millions and you don't play at the level you're supposed to... you HAVE to face the music afterwards. It's part of their job. Beeing a player doesn't stop at shooting and passing the puck. Public Relations is also an important part of their job... especially the captain of a team! Rod should have taken his time to answer all the questions. What would it have changed for him to get home 30 or even an hour later... it's his job.
Posted: 6:08 PM   by Anonymous
Do people out there really feel like Farber cares if he gets to hear Rod talk again in these playofss? I'm sure he doesn't. Its not that he feels slighted in any way.

The fact is that the captain's job is to take the pressure off the rest of the team with these media sessions, and Brind'Amour failed in job in this instance. Now the media will be looking for clips from other sources, players that maybe aren't up to the task. Fine, spend some time with your family. Is 20 minutes of your day, for GAME 7 of the STANLEY CUP FINALS really that big a difference? No its not. He should've given the media the same mundane garbage we always hear, which is his job as captain.
Posted: 6:18 PM   by Anonymous
Hey Carolina,
do you know what RBC stands for in "RBC Centre"? ROYAL BANK OF CANADA! And thanks to our nation's largest bank, we're bringing the Cup back north! :)
Posted: 6:18 PM   by Anonymous
Is there honestly anything that Rod would have said that isn't just the same "Well, we're gonna come out and give a 110% and play our game and hopefully the bounces go our way." Did you all really need to hear the same hockey quotes that get spewed out at this time of year. Seriously Farber, how did you get this job, did the guys in the bullpen at SI just close their eyes, spin in circle and when they opend their eyes, the first guy they saw they sent to cover the Finals? Terrible stuff
Posted: 6:25 PM   by BD in San Diego
I think all the comments here are on the same page... Who cares if Brind'amour gave the press interview time. Games aren't won behind the podium, they're won on the ice... and in the planning in the locker rooms and on the bench.

I think this will be a close game, more like game 5. Carolina won't just lay down and die like they seemed to do last game. But I think Edmonton will still take it.
Posted: 6:28 PM   by Anonymous
i just thank God Hockey is back and I get to watch the passion of a game 7!
Posted: 6:36 PM   by Anonymous
I'm in Edmonton. I've lived here my whole 24 years. I have no choice but to cheer for the Oilers. haha... I think they have a good chance. :)
Posted: 6:54 PM   by Anonymous
A Canadian NHL hockey team has not won The Stanley Cup since 1993, the year The Montreal Canadiens won it. Hockey is Canada's national sport and a victory by the Edmonton Oilers tonight, especially being ranked the eighth team of the Western Conference at the start of this years playoffs, would be an accomplishment that millions of Canadian hockey fans would celebrate! The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Detroit Red Wings, this years President Cup winners,the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Might Ducks, to become the first ever eighth ranked team to reach the Stanley Cup finals. Also, the Edmonton Oilers forced game seven in the Stanley Cup finals despite the fact that their lead goalie was injured in the first game of the Stanley Cup finals. An Edmonton Oilers win tonight would be an accomplishment for millions of Canadian hockey fans to celebrate!
Posted: 7:04 PM   by Anonymous
Caroline Wins = Yay in Carolina!

Edmonton Wins = Yay across Canada...

It's a very big deal in Canada..trust me..Hockey is the life of Canada as Baseball is the life of USA..now you understand how important it is to Canadians to win..watch the news and compare the fans..Carolina has a handfull, where Edmonton has a whole country behind them...big difference..
Posted: 7:16 PM   by Anonymous
Edmonton should win tonight. It's been a long battle for these boys. I support them 100%. They have to play like they did in game 6, and bring home the cup to where it belongs.
Posted: 7:40 PM   by Anonymous
Gretzky wasn't even with the Oilers when they won their last cup. Another Canes fan that started watching hockey three years ago.
Posted: 7:53 PM   by Colin Broughton
Tonight's game is about heart vs hurtin'. Remember Game 5, where the Canes were all smiles in the 3rd period, all set to sip from Lord Stanley's Cup. The Oilers didn't assume: they just kept on playing to a brilliant steal. Tonight you will see an Oilers team that is confident and disciplined. They will win because they RESPECT the Canes and because they never assume. Young legs will finish the job. Here in Edmonton, WE BELIEVE! Go Oilers Go!
Posted: 8:14 PM   by Anonymous
Reporters have no right to judge an athlete's decision to spend time with his family. When did you go from a reporter to social commentator status?
Posted: 9:39 AM   by Anonymous
Rod's responsibility was and is to his team and to his family, not to you and the press.
Posted: 12:29 PM   by Anonymous
Rod clearly did what he had to. Carolina came to game seven with the energy and the need to win. None of the players I saw interviewed hesitated for moment when asked who their leader was. It's the Stanley Cup, it's a big deal. But fathers day is about your kids. Rod wouldn't be much of a father figure to the kids in that locker room, if he walked out on his job as a father to reasure a nervous 20 year old.
Posted: 3:30 PM   by Anonymous
Is this as much insight as you need to be a writer at SI. I should have got a job at SI years ago. Obvious bias towards sun belt teams. WELL WE WON --WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER. Farber probably thinks baseball is more exciting than nascar. baseball is the only sport you can play while taking a nap.