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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.
1:52 AM ET, 6/18/06

A triumph for the NHL

Posted by Allan Muir
I can't be certain, but as I got into my car tonight after the game, I think I heard the Brass Bonanza, playing softly in the distance.

Might have been my mind playing tricks on me but, hey, whose head wasn't swirling after the 60-minute sprint of end-to-end drama that was Game 7? Give me a few more like this and I'll stop complaining about the overly long 82-game regular season. Promise.

What a triumph for the league. This was the New NHL at its finest: low scoring but plenty of scoring chances, speed through the middle and brutal collisions in the trenches, bright young stars and twilight-year veterans, all playing with the skill and heart that the heroes of our youth employed, no matter when that was.

It was one of those games that'll cause the converted to say, "If American audiences had tuned in tonight, they'd fall in love with hockey." That's crazy, of course -- as a whole, Americans are more likely to trade in their SUVs for Yugos with cloth seats and no A/C than give this sport the respect it deserves -- but, yes, the game was that good. And, to a lesser degree, so was the series.

The best moment of the night? Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour's unwillingness to let Gary Bettman's pandering speech to the locals delay his 17-year wait to touch the Cup even one second longer. (And didn't Bettman use a variation on that same speech in 2003 in Tampa and 1999 in Dallas?) This wasn't just some kid on Christmas morning -- Brind'Amour was the guy who Santa bypassed for all those years finally getting to taste the joy of waking up and finding presents under the tree.

The look on his face when he finally hoisted it over his head? Someone else will have to find the words. No matter which team you were cheering for, you've got to get caught up in emotion as raw as that. Guys who win the Cup over and over always say "this one" is sweeter than the first, but compare the faces of previous winners Mark Recchi and Aaron Ward to first timers like Brind'Amour and Glen Wesley and Peter Laviolette and you know that can't possibly be true.

Other moments from this series that I'll remember? How about Cam Ward's miraculous glove save late in the lost cause of Game 6? A perfectly executed three-on-one is as rare as a Don Cherry sighting at The Men's Wearhouse, but execute one the Oilers did, finishing it off with a tight snapper labeled for the yawning cage.

If Ward's concentration had slipped by that point and he had waved as it went by, no one would have thought anything of it. But there he was, snapping out that glove hand like Patrick Roy, another rookie who led his team to the Cup back in the day. And though the stop itself meant nothing in the scheme of the game, it was one of those defining plays that probably helped him capture the Conn Smythe.

And what of his counterpart, Jussi Markkanen? Eight weeks ago, the guy wasn't deemed dependable enough to dress as a backup to Dwayne Roloson. Tonight, after winning three games in the Stanley Cup Finals, he kept his team within a goal of capturing a fourth until the dying seconds. In the long line of unlikely Cup heroes, few can match this mutt's "pedigree."

How about the relentless physical play of Raffi Torres and Chris Pronger, culminating in the elimination of key forward Doug Weight in Game 5? Speaking of Pronger, what of his cool customer approach to the first successful penalty shot ever taken in the Finals in Game 1? And what about the Game 5 short-handed OT goal by Fernando Pisani, the surprising sniper who authored five winners over the course of the playoffs and was Edmonton's most consistent offensive threat throughout?

And then there was the shocking return of Erik Cole in Game 6. To see a man come back less than four months after suffering a broken neck, and not only contribute to the cause, but shrug off a couple of massive hits -- well, that gives you all the ammo you need for your next "which sport has the toughest athletes" debate.

Given time to reflect, I'm sure other moments will come to mind, but I'm happy with these off the top of my head for now. How about sharing some of yours?

Comments:

Posted: 2:33 AM   by Anonymous
Congratulations to Carolina.
Well played, well deserved...
Best wishes to both teams - great hockey.
- an Edmonton fan
All I can say is. My God....what a game. I dont care if you are a hockey fan, a Badminton fan, or a fan of Lime Jello. To watch the intensity, commitment, and passion in this game 7 (Carolina's 107th game of the season ...if my math is correct), was amazing. I had goose bumps for a good 20 minutes after the game.

Go Canes!!!
Posted: 3:43 AM   by Anonymous
The Oilers played a tough game, but Carolina won. Brind'Amour getting a cup is well deserved, just as Dave Andreychuks in 2003. Congrats to Carolina
Posted: 4:00 AM   by Anonymous
Its all well and great that hockey is back and the series was competitive and well played. It produced some memorable moments and players....

However, being a longtime Whalers fan this series has left me not wanting to watch hockey again. Seeing that SMUG Gary Bettman who was the ringleader on getting the Whalers to move to Carolina, give his rambling speech at the end of the game just turned me off....

Then to hear how its been 27 years for Carolina to finally win. NOOOOOOOO, its been 9 years. We in Connecticut who supported the Whalers for 25 years starting from their WHA days are the ones who suffered, not the NASCAR newcomers....

If I sound bitter I am. The Whalers were always supported and even got a parade in '86 just for winning a playoff round. The only reason fan support went down at the end was the horrible trade of Ronnie Franchise which led to 4-5 horrible seasons.

This celebration should be happening with the team still wearing Whalers colors, not the red of Carolina. I am happy for guys like Wesley and Brind Amour, but I just wish I didnt have to see the two smug weasels named Bettman and Karmanos.

Good series, but hockey will be run into the ground with David Stern wannabe Bettman in charge. Give it a few years and it will be in the toilet again with teams bleeding money.

Congrats to Wesley and Brind Amour and a few others. But now that I had to endure the Bettman-Karmanos dual headed beast once again, I wont be back. Time for me to give up the NHL and turn my attention to a real sport like the WNBA, ESPN paintball, ESPN dominoes, or maybe the spelling bee. Can you spell RAT....Yes, B-e-t-t-m-a-n/K-a-r-m-a-n-o-s.
Posted: 5:14 AM   by Anonymous
It was the best series in NHL history ...... period.
Well put. I am a Canes fan since their 1st game in Greensboro...orginally from New Haven...now living in Europe. There are two things that make this extra special. (1) The Canes on ice leadership - from the coaches to the Captains - they have had consistently first class leadership. Ronnie Francis and then Rod Brindamour - they lead by example both on and off the ice and are deserving of all the accolades - and trophies they can get. (2) The fans - the media has said it frequently...but people outside of Carolina don't realize how intense the fans are in North Carolina. This is true for Nascar, Basketball, and even Hockey. An entire nation may not be behind them...but 18,978 sure were...I missed the series this time...had to catch some reruns on French Cable, and follow it the words of the journalists covering each series. Thanks for the excellent coverage - I especially enjoy reading Allen's columns.
Posted: 7:07 AM   by Van
Very nice blog Allan. I think you've captured the spirit of the series and the season. You are "right on the money" on one thought. While I give due credit to athletes in all sports,I marvel at the toughness,conditioning and unrelenting determination of hockey players. Congratulations to everyone connected with the NHL for "getting it right". Finally, to hockey fans all across the great nation of Canada: while the NHL is becoming more and more international,these are still your boys,your Cup and your game. Thank you for sharing it. A hockey fan in Macon,Georgia.
Posted: 7:45 AM   by Wannabe Slim
Congrats Hurricanes!
Congrats Raleigh for bringing NHL hockey and the Cup to NC while Charlotte and its mayor built new arenas for a loser NBA team.
The Cup now resides on Tobacco Road!
Posted: 7:48 AM   by Anonymous
First the Tampa Bay Lighting, Now the Carolina Hurricanes. Stanley Cup Championships in regions and citites such as these help bring a new electrifying light to the NHL. I believe we are witnessing an NHL Renaissance, Right before our eyes!
Posted: 7:52 AM   by Anonymous
One of the best cup finals ever. This is exactly what hockey needs and should be all the time. As a canadian I wish it would get the respect it deserves down south. I think the city of edmonton deserved the cup more, but in saying that I hope the people of North Carolina have woken up to the excitement of hockey and will truly support that team. It's alot more exciting then watching a car turn left for 3 hours.
Posted: 7:54 AM   by Olsonic
Unreal Game. I would have liked to see overtime, THAT would have been the greatest Triumph for the NHL, but I'm not complaining. The "new NHL" was definately worth the wait.
Posted: 7:55 AM   by Anonymous
This was the first hockey game I've watched since the strike. I was amazed and impressed at the speed, flow, great passing and checking - items not inherent to the game before the strike. I will take it with a grain of salt, this being game 7 of the finals, but I will certainly be watching games next year based on what I saw last night. Still have a hard time picking up the puck on a non-HDTV, but the play was outstanding.
Posted: 7:59 AM   by Anonymous
Sheer majic! Best games of the year this yawner is now a FAN!
Posted: 8:03 AM   by Anonymous
Great Series, Great Game, Great Celebration. What more can anyone say.
Posted: 8:33 AM   by Anonymous
What can be said, other than "great finish to a great series". I didn't have any loyalties to either team, but was glued to the TV for every game. I don't care what the TV ratings were for this series any more than I care what the sales figures are for the latest Jessica Simpson CD, neither figure speaks accurately to the quality of the product.

Congrats to Brind'Amour, Wesley, and all of the other 'Canes players. Condolances to the Oilers guys, who must be devestated right now after such an amazing playoff run. I hope they can build on this success next year.
Posted: 8:37 AM   by Anonymous
A truly great game. Then I read your piece and you stated - "That's crazy, of course -- as a whole, Americans are more likely to trade in their SUVs for Yugos with cloth seats and no A/C than give this sport the respect it deserves-" - and totally offended me. That is certainly no way to get fans and those that are not fans yet, to rally behind hockey. Think twice next time. Without us capitalitic Americans you wouldn't be watching hockey on prime time television.
Posted: 8:39 AM   by Anonymous
That was one of the best Cup Finals in recent memory. As a Canadian would have been nice to see the Oilers and Ryan Smyth hoist the Cup, but I am happy it was such an entertaining final....glad to see old school hockey back at its finest. As for one of my favourite moments, it has to be the Samsonov give and go goal in Game 5/6....dont remember whcih one.....anyway great Finals!
Posted: 8:45 AM   by Anonymous
what a series! To lose your number 1 goalie in game one of the finals and to take it to a 7th game is something. Hats off to both teams but especially Craig MacTavish and the Oilers. Even though they lost, they could of packed it in but they almost won it! You talk about a team rallying around eachother when a key teammate gets hurts, that was special. Hopefully the Chicago Cubs were watching! Maybe they learned something.
Posted: 8:50 AM   by Anonymous
My favorite part of the series was the part where all the Canadian fans on all the hockey blogs and message boards around the internet said that the Hurricanes couldn't win and that the Cup did not belong in the South. Heh, heh, heh.
Posted: 8:59 AM   by Flyers waiting since 75
It was awesome to see Rod Brind'Amour lift the CUP!!!! Truly a stellar NHL postseason culminating with a fantastic 7 game series. The new NHL is great product. Are you listening Bobby Clarke????
Posted: 9:07 AM   by Anonymous
Unreal playoffs followed by an unreal finale. That leg save Ward made was amazing. Move these games to NBC permanently!!!
Posted: 9:13 AM   by Keg
You're right about watching Brind'Amour hoist the cup. I was watching with my 7 year old and we were rooting for Edmonton. Obviously he was dissappointed, but I told him that whoever you root for, watching the winning captain lift the Stanley Cup over his head is as moving a sporting experience as you will ever get.

Keg
Lr. Sackville, NS

P.S. "... tight snapper labled for a yawning cage" is an oxymoron.
Posted: 9:15 AM   by Roy in Raleigh
The Carolina Hurricanes are the Stanley Cup Champions! The Holy Grail of Hockey now resides in Tabacco Road. For those of you who are going to say that this franchise does not deserve it must remember this: This club is more than the Carolina Hurricanes, it is the Hartford Whalers as well. I grew up 30 minutes from Hartford in Agawam, Mass. I now live in the Raleigh area and have seen hockey grow here. I just wish that Ron Francis had been able to win one last cup before retiring. Many of the die hard fans are New Englanders who, like me, moved here for one reason or another. We remember the Whalers and have been fans since we were children.
Posted: 9:16 AM   by Anonymous
What a Game 7!! Say what you want about Bettman (and yes, thank you thank you thank you Roddy for keeping his words brief!!), the level of play in this Finals vs. 2004 was off the charts better. To any "hockey fan" outside of Edmonton or Carolina that can't still appreciate the thrilling nature of that game and/or series, even if their hometeam wasn't playing, shame on you. Maybe you ought to find a new sport.

In terms of memories, I must say the first time I heard the Edmonton crowd singing both national anthems like they were their own, I thought that was about as classy as it gets. Kudos to the Oilers fans!!

Don't forget Cam Ward's equally stunning saves in Game 1 on Horcoff to preserve a victory that got the Finals off to a rocking start. Until about Game 5, I thought Brind'Amour should get the Conn Smythe, but by the end I was convinced ... Cam Ward was THE man of the playoffs.

I know there are many veterans on the Oilers that wanted dearly to touch the Cup (Pronger, Peca, etc), but how can you not be thrilled for Brind'Amour, Wesley, Hedican, Weight, and Whitney? Combined I believe they had toiled for 78 seasons, coming close but never getting there. What a total thrill for those guys!!!

Thank you hockey gods for a great finish!!
Posted: 9:21 AM   by Anonymous
What I always find inspiring as a Canadian, is the graciousness in victory that the players exude. Compare that with the often one upmanship that goes on in US sports (particularly basketball and football). But what all non-followers would most admire about our game is the determination of these guys to go at in for 2 long months of battering the body to win the greatest trophy in all of sport.
Posted: 9:25 AM   by Bookboy007
Cole may have made the play of the night drawing the penalty on Spacek that led to the game-winner on the PP. On the replay, you can see Spacek try to sweep the puck of Cole's stick; before he can get his stick back, Cole clamps down on it with his elbow. Spacek actually turns away, left arm flailing. Maybe 20% of the time, that penalty goes against Cole for holding the stick. This time, it meant a two-goal lead. Great game, though, eclipsed any concerns over the interpretation of the new rules.
Posted: 9:28 AM   by mafiaman
I always tell people this about hockey: If you've never watched a game, tune in to just ONE and you'll be a fan for life. How people can stomach 50% free throw shooting in the NBA or steroid-ridden baseball is beyond me. The NHL is back, baby. Now USA, wake up and start watching!
Posted: 9:34 AM   by Anonymous
I've never seen such intense play and action in any sporting event it my life. The hits were huge, the saves were superb and the emotion was palpable.

Truth be told, I had the Canes pegged to win it in 4, but the Oilers were quite the diamond in the rough. Thanks to them, the series was one I'll always remember.

Cheers to the new NHL!

-Nicholas ( NYC )
Posted: 9:40 AM   by Anonymous
I will preface this statement by saying that I am a loyal canes fan and I have been for about 7 years now. More than that I am a sports fan, I can watch any sport any time and be engrosed for hours on end. With that said I have never seen two groups of fans with such respect and admiration for another team and another country. As I am sure most bloggers on here have noticed, there is no love lost between canes and sabres fans. They are a bunch of whiners that can't accept the fact that they got beaten, there is no if's or but's... they got beaten. But the Oiler's fans and Caniacs have done their team and their countries proud by the way that they have handled this series. The respect that was shown by singing both national anthems goes beyond anything I have seen before in professional sports. So congratulations Canes on a great win and congrats to Edmonton for carrying yourself like winners.
Posted: 9:43 AM   by SCIENCE
You're comments are spot on. As an impartial fan, this was a fantastic series! No matter who you're rooting for, seeing the cup raised (especially by a player who has worked so hard) never gets old!
It has always been hard for me to fathom why Americans (which I am one) only embrace this sport regionally. Those so called fans who stopped watching when their team dropped out missed a beauty!
Posted: 9:44 AM   by Anonymous
What a game! My 2006 Championship locker room tee is on order and headed up to Connecticut!
Glen Wesley, you finally got your cup...thanks for the memories!!
Posted: 9:48 AM   by Anonymous
What other sport has a stadium of people standing, that's right standing for most of a game because the action is so relentless. The new NHL is a better game now and if anyone doubts it is the most exciting spectator sport, I'd like to see a random 2 minutes of this game 7 played split-screen opposite a random 2 minutes of the world cup. For that matter against 2 minutes of any sport.
Posted: 9:51 AM   by Anonymous
Gary Bettman wasn't in Dallas in 1999 when he gave that speech.
Posted: 9:52 AM   by Anonymous
Such good hockey, best in long time, no? Not just dump and chase with no one stick on puck and slow game, not just trap like terrible Jersy game, no bad rules with stupid box, no foot in crease garbage like bad Dallas game. I'm very happy with the play this season very happy. NHL deserves pat on back, no? May be Bettman deserves slap upside head, but still NHL make up for bad year. Canes did good job, smart play, wanted cup more. Oilers are good bunch, may be wake up call make them better for next season- I can no say they work harder, they work extremely hard this season! Maybe smarter and not so much tight, eh? All good boys. All them and fans deserve big hug, eh?
Posted: 9:59 AM   by Anonymous
the 1999 speech was in Buffalo, not Dallas.
Posted: 10:14 AM   by skicrazer
POW!

From OUCH! to WOW! The Hurricanes came out firing on all cylinders and provided the most entertaining and exciting hockey game I have ever seen. The steal and score in game 5 was disturbing to say the least, but watching game 6 made me want to just give up on my home team. Except for Ward, they looked like the Hurricanes of old and unable to get any kind of control over the game.

BUT, and this is what professional sports and good coaching is all about, they got a reset, realized how good they REALLY are and played an inspired game 7. I thought that every aspect of the game went Carolina's way - the puck stayed in Edmonton's end of the rink most of the game, Carolina stayed out of penalty trouble (which KILLED them in game 6), Ward was unbelievable, and they out-skated the Oilers all over the place. It was just a gem of a game to watch!

I am just thrilled beyond belief!

Now, wouldn't you know it...my anniversary is today and I don't think I'll be able to drag my wife out to the parade this evening.!! Dang!

GO CANES!!!!!
Posted: 10:27 AM   by Anonymous
Good catch by Anonymous and Anonymous--that 1999 speech was in Buffalo. Might have been the 2000 speech when the Devils actually won the Cup that I'm remembering where Bettman talked about Norm Green and then Tom Hicks believing hockey could work in Texas.
Al
Posted: 10:35 AM   by Anonymous
It should've been Buffalo's Drury/Briere lifting Lord Stanley's Cup. Not that ridiculously ugly Brind'Amour.
Posted: 10:35 AM   by Anonymous
As a Carolina sports (and now hockey) fan I say thanks to Canada for this great sport, thanks to the Oilers - fans and team - for a superb series. Too many great moments to catalog here, just great drama from start to finish.

And as great as the action was, that amazing moment after the game when both teams line up like ten-year olds and shake hands truly captures the spirit of the game. The level of professional respect and real emotion is fantastic. Compared with other preening self-centered professional athletes, this IS the greatest TEAM sport.
Posted: 10:40 AM   by Anonymous
One of the greatest series ever!
Congrats to both teams!
Posted: 10:41 AM   by Anonymous
Great playoffs, great series, great game 7! Hopefully the Canes will finally get the NHL respect they deserve.

I give lots of credit to Edmonton fans for their positive attitude and openness to Canes fans (unlike bitter Sabres fans). I do think it was unsportsmanlike of them to goon it up in game 2 and go headhunting. As it was to dig up the "Whatever it takes" coin embedded at center ice by the Canes. Props to the staff for placing another one in the ice before Game 5.

So one thing to remember when being poor sports....Karma.

One last comment to all the whiners....scoreboard!
Posted: 10:52 AM   by Anonymous
I applaud Rod Brind'amour for depriving Bettman his "photo op". My pet peeve these past few years is how Bettman lifts the cup, hands it to the captain of the winning team, and then won't let go until the press has snapped 9 or 10 photos. (photos that are never published except on Bettman's office wall). The photo we all want is the captain, in all his joyous glory - hoisting the cup up over his head.

#17 eliminated the B.S. and took it upon himself to capture the moment. Kudos, Brind'amour!!!
Posted: 11:05 AM   by Anonymous
Kudo's to Edmonton. Classy fans, even in defeat. A worthy opponent.

Good job.
While our club self-destructed with the "always lower payroll, every day" approach (no thanks to the worst team owner in NHL history, Bill Laurie), it was nice to see former St. Louis Blues Brind'Amour, Hedican, Stillman, and Weight hoist the chalice.
Posted: 11:09 AM   by Anonymous
INTENSITY, INTENSITY, INTENSITY. What a series, and what a game 7. Congrats Canes. Now let's see if the NHL can springboard off this to gain a larger audience.
Posted: 11:09 AM   by Anonymous
A game for the ages. Well played by both teams. Conrgatulations to Carolina, and Edmonton for playing one hell of a series.
Posted: 11:09 AM   by Anonymous
speaking of the toughest players, how about Keyvn Adams playing with broken bones in his wrist (which he suffered when he dove head first to block a shot by Pronger, who has to have one of the hardest slap shots in the league) and yet, didn't miss a shift... talk about tough! GO CANES!!!
Posted: 11:14 AM   by Anonymous
Great Blog! What a game! Love the NEW NHL.
As a Winnipeg Jets fan, I have little to worry about. Coyotes are not near vying for the cup to bring tears to my eyes soon. Nevertheless, the return of the Jets to Winnipeg is around the corner!
Posted: 11:17 AM   by nightfly
I got to see about half the game, and it was amazing. Nothing beats playoff hockey. Congrats to the Canes for their championship, and to the Oilers for being magnificent in defeat. Now, if Brind'Amour can just drop the cup on Karmanos' foot things will be perfect!
Posted: 11:26 AM   by Owen
Alan, I can't help but think there were some politics at play with Rod Brind'Amour's taking the Cup before Bettman gave it to him. Every year Bettman gives a little speech and every year the guys wait. I believe Brind'Amour didn't wait because of the lockout and the fact the players got killed in the deal.

Great game though.
Posted: 11:40 AM   by Anonymous
Thank was the luckiest Stanley Cup win in hockey history.

Koivu goes down and Canes get all kinds of flukey goals in Montreal, the Jersey just folds, then half of Buffalo's team is injured, and then Roloson goes down in game 1.

Hard to give much credit to Carolina. Props to Cam Ward though.
Posted: 11:43 AM   by Anonymous
The Best Team Won!!!
Go Canes!!!!!
Posted: 11:58 AM   by Mario
FYI... Dallas won in 99, but it was in buffalo... i was there :-(
Posted: 12:13 PM   by JD
Gary Bettman is such a Muppet. Mr. Muir, you're right, could that man be any MORE of a phony? He's got the same boring canned speech for every champion, and he delivers it with such little enthusiasm, you have to remind yourself he's the commissioner of the freaking sport! I almost wish Brind'Amour went so far as to knock the mike out of his hand before he grabbed the Cup.

You're also right when you say that was the best game of the series. I'm 27, and I've been a hockey fan since my family moved to Hartford when I was 6 - and I'll go so far to say that was one of the best games I've ever seen. You'd never know it was a #2 seed and a #8 - that was as high-level a matchup as I've seen in a long while. And the Erik Cole comeback is about as good as it gets. That's playoff hockey right there.

I told people on my blog that if you're not a hockey fan, and are looking to see what this game is all about, watch this series. I hope people were reading.
Posted: 12:20 PM   by Anonymous
From Maryland - Congratulations to the Hurricanes. Ice hockey seems to be a sport that has not suffered the corruption and scandal in recent years that have made other professional sports - basketball, football, baseball, etc. - something that some parents feel not a good example for their small children. These hockey players are different. Even though they are hard and tough, and agressive, kids can look up to them as examples of honorable men. It's great to see success like this occur in my former hometown. The folks there should really appreciate what is in their midst.
Posted: 12:25 PM   by John
I can kind of feel the pain for the Whaler fan. I have been a Whalers/Canes fan since 1986. I stayed with them as I never blamed teh players on the move. This was a fun series to watch. The Canes have fought all year long and showed their true guts last night. Cam Ward is going to be a superstar in this league. How many outstanding saves can one make. I saw at least 10 unbeliveable, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Marty Brodeaur saves in this series. Rod got the Cup he truly deserves. Peter Laviolette did a great job all season with this team. The moment I did believe they could win the Cup was game 2 vs NJ, when Staal scored with 2 sec left to tie it and then the OT win with Wallin. This is so much better than 1995-2004 trap hockey. I just wish more people could enjoy this. This is 1980-early 90s hockey reborn!!! CANES WIN CONGRATS!!!
Posted: 12:39 PM   by Mark in Hartford
Canes fans, don't listen to the bitter Whaler fan from a few posts back. There are a lot of people here in the Hartford area that are thrilled that the Canes are the Champs. Also, congrats to the Oilers, our WHA brethren, who have been down this road several times before, and will undoubtedly be there again very soon. They played their hearts out, right until the final horn of game 7.

Congratulations to the Canes, to the fans of the Triangle, and most importantly to the players. You deserve it! See you in October when we raise the Stanley Cup Championship banner!
Posted: 12:45 PM   by CANIAC
It was an awesome game and series, but boy am I glad it’s over! The Stanley Cup playoffs are long and arduous for the players and the fans. We sat through amazing come from behind victories and painful losses during the Canes run to the cup. It was a great experience and one I will never forget.

PS-To the Whalers fan, the state of CT and every commentator on ESPN...get over it!! They are our team now, you had your chance, quit whining!!!!!!
Posted: 12:45 PM   by CANIAC
It was an awesome game and series, but boy am I glad it’s over! The Stanley Cup playoffs are long and arduous for the players and the fans. We sat through amazing come from behind victories and painful losses during the Canes run to the cup. It was a great experience and one I will never forget.

PS-To the Whalers fan, the state of CT and every commentator on ESPN...get over it!! They are our team now, you had your chance, quit whining!!!!!!
Posted: 12:47 PM   by Anonymous
Buffalo "fans", where arrrrreeee youuuuuu?!?!? Maybe we should nickname it the Dixie Cup now...just to iritate all of you who said the Cup didn't belong in the South. Apparently the 'Canes didn't agree w/ that. Heh, heh.
Posted: 12:50 PM   by Anonymous
I have been a hockey fan all my life. I grew up and live in Greensboro, NC. I am tired of hearing about how low the attendance was in Greensboro for the two years the Canes were here. First, the prices for tickets were actually increased from what they were in Hartford and more than they are now in Raleigh. Second, the team did nothing for the city no autograph sessions with players or anything else. Even when in Greensboro if you wanted to go to a team funtion they were held in Raleigh.
Posted: 12:51 PM   by Anonymous
As noted, a great series and a great game 7. Also, great stories within this cup win (Brind'Amour, Wesley, and all).
Part of what makes winning the NHL final so special is the way Lord Stanley's mug is handled. It is received by the team captain and raised by each of the players before it gets to the coaching staff and owner. The physical effort of the players is rewarded first. It is thrilling to witness what a visceral experience it is for these players. Tradition for most players forbids them from touching the cup unless they have won it and knowing they will be inscribed upon it for eternity puts them over the top.
Posted: 12:53 PM   by Anonymous
Two words to the 9:40 AM blogger who can't enjoy the Canes win without taking a shot at Buffalo: shove it. A real hockey fan would understand and empathize the Buffalo fans' frustration over getting to the conference finals in the play-offs only to see the dream evaporate in a ridiculous string of injuries to key players.
Posted: 12:54 PM   by Anonymous
Congrats to Carolina,

Favorite moment was Cam's toe save late in game 7 to preserve a one goal lead.
Posted: 1:04 PM   by Anonymous
We have been lucky the past two cup series have been great. I'll be the first to tell you I hate the southern expansion, Bettman is an idiot, he is the cancer of hockey, and should be run out of town, that teams like carolina and tampa bay should not be winning cups, their fans are bangwaggoners, that come next season we'll see if carolina will sell out more than 11 home games. But all that said, It was a great series, All i ask is to have a good series, and we were treated to one of the best. From the second period to the finish, i had trouble breathing, my heart was racing, the tension was intense. Regardless of what i've said above, it brings back those great memories when i was 13 running around the living room after the wings won in '97 with my carboard cup covered in aluminum foil. Its great seeing those guys carrying the cup truely enjoying the experience. Now.....now we hit the black hole of sports, baseball sucks, basketball sucks, Need football...need hockey!!! only 2 months to hockey training camp:) YEAH!!!! great season, looking forward to the next!!!!!
Posted: 1:29 PM   by Anonymous
I grew up in Connecticut as a diehard Whalers fan. I have followed the franchise even after the rat Karmanos lied to the fans and ripped out our hearts, because guys like Ron Francis and Glen Wesley deserved the support.

I went to the Finals in 2002 when they lost to Detroit and have waited for this day for 30 years. Congrats to the players who fought so hard to win. A great, great series.

I just have one question for Peter Karmanos - "ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH TO WALK THROUGH THE STREETS OF HARTFORD WITH THE CUP TO LET YOUR REAL FANS SEE IT?" Karmanos is a liar and a coward. I guarantee you he would never acknowledge the fans in CT who rallied to save the franchise. He'll sit back in Raleigh and laugh about how he took advantage of faithful, long-suffering fans and came out a winner.
Posted: 1:32 PM   by Raleigh
I'm a Canes fan in Raleigh and have been since the 'beginning', so this is sweet, BUT, I've got to hand it to whoever thought hockey had a chance in Raleigh competing against college BB - it did, obviously, and it's here to stay, but who woulda thought?! To say hockey doesn't belong in Tampa or Raleigh is like saying baseball doesn't belong in Canada.... uh, well now that you mention it...

I'm also sorry there are some bitter Whalers fans out there. We love the Whalers/Canes and we understand and respect the heritage of the team. Although we are sorry for your loss, we are thankful for our gain. Please, you can share in this with us.

Also wanna say something to the Edmonton folks. You're first class all the way, and Oiler fans will always be welcomed in Raleigh. We are also well aware that Cam Ward is an Edmonton native - thank you!
Posted: 1:32 PM   by Anonymous
Hey "Caniac" - you told Whalers fans to quit whining. Just remember one thing - Karmanos fooled people in Hartford. He can do the same to you, and will if he thinks he can make a buck. Just enjoy the fact that you have a team that has CT fans who STILL support it despite the complete disregard of the team's owner.
Posted: 1:42 PM   by Raleigh
I'm a Canes fan in Raleigh and have been since the 'beginning', so this is sweet, BUT, I've got to hand it to whoever thought hockey had a chance in Raleigh competing against college BB - it did, obviously, and it's here to stay, but who woulda thought?! To say hockey doesn't belong in Tampa or Raleigh is like saying baseball doesn't belong in Canada.... uh, well now that you mention it...

I'm also sorry there are some bitter Whalers fans out there. We love the Whalers/Canes and we understand and respect the heritage of the team. Although we are sorry for your loss, we are thankful for our gain. Please, you can share in this with us.

Also wanna say something to the Edmonton folks. You're first class all the way, and Oiler fans will always be welcomed in Raleigh. We are also well aware that Cam Ward is an Edmonton native - thank you!
Posted: 1:48 PM   by Anonymous
For "Anonymous" from Connecticutt, now you know how Cleveland fans felt when the Baltimore Modells won the Super Bowl a few years back, sick to our collective stomachs. The series was great entertainment, but franchise movement still leaves a fan base feeling jilted at the altar, especially on when the former team wins their league championship.
Posted: 1:53 PM   by Anonymous
Let's hear it for the new NHL! I'm in Raleigh and yes, I'm now a Canes fan, but as a Pittsburgh transplant I was a Pens fan back in the Lemieux, Jagr, Francis days in the early 90's and got turned off from hockey when the Islanders clutched and grabbed their way to a 7-game win over the President's Trophy winning Pens in '93. I used to ask old-time hockey fans why the refs never seemed to call holding or interference and nobody ever had a good answer, so I stopped watching. But man all that changed over the past couple of months and especially in the past 4 weeks. And by the way, many of the fans here in Raleigh ARE new to the game, but you'd be impressed at how they have educated themselves about the GAME, not just the Canes. And finally, hats off to Edmonton...all the experts, including many in Edmonton, wrote them off after Roloson went down, but they just kept coming.
Posted: 1:58 PM   by Anonymous
What a great way to cap a great year. There truly is not a more exciting game on the planet.

-player, coach, and FAN
Posted: 2:05 PM   by Anonymous
An amazing end to an amazing series. But how is this series any different than the Tampa - Calgary series of a few years ago? For all the rule changes and tweaks, I think these two series were extremely similar. Which is exactly the way it should be.
Posted: 2:14 PM   by Anonymous
Congrats to both Oiler and Cane fans ... you raised the "home ice bar" in the NHL to another level!

Never have I seen such enthusiasm, demonstrated in any sporting event. I've been to 3 Super Bowls, 4 World Series, 2 Stanley Cup Finals, and 3 Final Fours ... never have I've seen an entire stadium or arena stand and cheer through an entire game! Rexall and the RBC truly rocked during this series. Congrats to both set of fans for placing professional hockey front and center for the rest of the world to enjoy.
Posted: 2:30 PM   by Anonymous
A truly great series!!! The new NHL game is much more exiting.... I certainly hope that more fans in the US will turn on to the games next season, as the effort and dedication in the sport is tough to be matched anywhere.... In reference to the Canes selling out 11 games next season... I believe that over 16,000 season tickets had been sold prior to Game 6. Congrats to the Canes....
Posted: 2:50 PM   by Wingsfan
Congratulations to Carolina! It was a great series by both teams and their fans, exactly what the NHL needed.
Buffalo fans, quit whining.
Posted: 2:58 PM   by Anonymous
In the last 10 years, every Southeast Division team except Atlanta has played in the finals for Lord Stanley's Cup, with the last two Cup winners coming from the Southeast. Perhaps some well-earned respect finally will be accorded to the Southeast franchises because of what they have accomplished instead of the usual scorn heaped upon them by some of the snow-bound snobs of the "traditional" hockey markets. Congratulations 'Canes.
Posted: 3:21 PM   by Anonymous
I know the NBA will still get top billing. I know ratings for the Cup finals will be dismal. I know they won't be discussing this on national talk radio for more than a minute. Who cares? This was an instant classic. I'm not a fan of the Canes or the Oilers, but as a sports fan, you can't help but get goose bumps when you see guys like Brindamour, Wesley, and Hedican raising the cup. You know how much it means to them. What a beautiful game. What a beautiful trophy. It's at least 10 times better than that piece of dung the NBA calls their championship trophy. WHat is that? A ball stapled to the side of a garbage can?

The new NHL rocks!!!
Posted: 3:36 PM   by Anonymous
To 12:53 blogger. I do feel for buffalo fans that are upset that their team lost to the hurricanes after they had a great season. I do not feel for the fans who think the only reason they lost was because they had players that were out. It is a team sport and the best "team" won. I know it is just the regular season but we found a way to beat that "team" with all of its healthy players 3 out of 4 times. We were consistantly one of the best teams all year long and lost the east to Ottawa on the last game of the year. Ironically that game was the only time during the regular season that we lost to Buffalo. In conclusion, I can say with all honesty that I feel for the Buffalo fans that are upset because their team lost. Hockey fans are the most loyal fans in sports and when your team loses it hurts. I know, I remember when the canes got manhandled by the wings 4 years ago. They were the better team and they won. But for the Buffalo fans that feel that they should have won or would have won had they had all of their players healthy....they can "shove it".
Posted: 3:37 PM   by Anonymous
I admit it. I can barely ice skate. Yet earlier this year I turned on the TV and hockey was on. I absolutely loved it. A late 30s mother of two could not leave the TV while Hockey was on. What a wonderful game. Now the entire family watches the game. We were on the edge of our seats during the playoffs. Congratulations to Carolina! More Americans need to turn this game on! Ohio, USA
Posted: 4:03 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe the best hockey game I've ever seen. I'm a Carolina fan, but Edmonton deserves kudos for playing a good series with hockey as it was meant to be played -- lots of good clean hits, lots of action, and good team efforts.
Posted: 4:11 PM   by Anonymous
The best moment of this whole season was the Brindamour finally winning a cup and the emotion he showed when finnally getting his hands on it. As a long time Flyers fan I'm extremely happy for him, I only wish he couldve done it here... but isn't that the story of Philadelphia? Congratulations Hurricane fans.
Posted: 4:15 PM   by CANIAC
To the Buffalo fan, and the city of Buffalo, you are obnioxous and your city is a blighhted, run down urban pit forever covereed by a dark cloud of doom. You came down here to watch your Sabres lose and were the epitome of what is wrong with sports today. The Edmonton fans were the polar opposite, respectful, good sports, and as intersted in a good game as the outcome! Good series Edmonton, you are welcome to come back and visit anytime.

Buffallo Fans, stop being so bitter, just because no Buffalo sports team has every won anything!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 4:26 PM   by Anonymous
I have been a hockey fan for 33 years and this was the best season I can ever remember and these playoffs were simply terrific - what other sport can have the number 1 and 8 seeds be so evenly matched! Kudo's to the officiating as well. Sure, there were some mistakes made, but they generally got it right throughout the season and I think we will see an even better season next year as a result. Congrats NHL!
Posted: 4:35 PM   by Anonymous
Congrats to Carolina.

I'm a huge Oilers fan and will be one forever. For the Oilers to bring this to a game 7 with a 3rd string goalie says a lot about this team.

The game that won the Cup for Carolina was game 1. If Rollie would of stayed healthy I have a feeling the Cup would belong to Edmonton right now although Jussi played really well for a 3rd string.

I only hope that once the Canes start losing sometimes in the future that the fans will continue to support them. That will be the sure sign of a hockey town because everybody cheers for a winner, especially in cities where hockey is secondary (i.e. most U.S cities in the south...Florida, Tampa). Those NHL cities are horrible when the teams aren't doing well.

Edmonton had extremely lean years in the 90's, however the arena was always sold out. That's a real hockey city in my book.

Oilers in 2007!!!
Posted: 5:26 PM   by Anonymous
CANIAC - your last comment, ridiculous. Us Buffalo fans are as loyal and classy as it gets. We cheer on our team at every game as if they're all game sevens. But then when you Carolina fans deliver your low blows and start thinking you're the better team. That's where you're wrong. My '05-'06 Stanley Cup winners are my Sabres. And that's how it should've been.
Posted: 5:26 PM   by Anonymous
Been a hockey fan for a long time...that was one of the best games I've seen...best game 7 since Rangers-Canucks in '94. Shame that NBC cut away relatively quickly after the Cup was awarded....almost like they couldn't wait to get off the air..
Posted: 5:33 PM   by Anonymous
As a Buffalonian, I really wish that the few obnoxious, bitter people would cut it out. Harry Neale said it himself last night on the CBC that he had never seen fans stand for that long at a game. I hate the Hurricanes, in the sense that they beat my team, but they deserve to have won. Their victory does nothing to diminish the achievements of Buffalo, Edmonton, et al. It'd be great if we could all appreciate the fact that hockey is back. So bitter buffalonians, knock it off. And all those who are criticizing my city, show some class and ignore the idiots , instead of acting like them.
Posted: 5:35 PM   by Anonymous
I was not a fan of NHL hockey before this year. I live in Raleigh. I see now what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. It is my belief that the Cup is the most difficult title to win in American professional sports and that hockey is a great game!
Posted: 5:35 PM   by Suzy
As Barney Fife would say, "nice to see we're finally getting some respect around here!"

Here's to my friends The Carolina Hurricanes in "the big town of Raleigh!"
Posted: 5:36 PM   by Anonymous
Well put, but how can you say that save by Ward of Pisani did not play a part in the scheme of the game!? That goal ties it up and clearly gives the Oilers the momentum after having come back from down 2-0 going into the third! Didn't play a part? It was the defining moment of the game!
Posted: 5:36 PM   by Anonymous
Great series and KUDOS to the Oiler Fans. Perhaps they and Carolina fans can teach the Buffalonians a thing or two about sportmanship.
Posted: 5:59 PM   by Anonymous
To Caniac, it's time to let the Buffalo issue rest. I am a huge fan of the Sabres, however I congratulate the Canes on a great season. They had the determination and drive to win a great series. It's a shame that you actually have the time to worry about what a vast minority of people from Buffalo have to say. I am sure that you have never been here and probably don't ever want to and that is fine. But leave the comments about this great area out and come up and see us some time, you might be surprised at the great people you will meet. After all there are so many other things to worry about in life. Congrats again to the Canes and especially Kevin Adams, Buffalo, Born and Bread....ask him what he thinks of Buffalo and I am sure you will see the true spirt of the majority of the people who live here. Next season promises to be a good one.
Posted: 6:00 PM   by mike t in raleigh
Buff fans, it's tough to feel sympathy when so many of you come off as "fill in the blanks". I was at both game 7's of the Cane's playoff run- the difference between the two? I was drinking w/ the Oilers fans and consoling them, and yes, I felt sympathy for them. I never wanted to punch them for their terrible attitudes, or felt like we had to make excuses for our win, or their loss. Very little class was shown by the fans representing your city. While I would hope this isn't indicative of everyone from up there, the differences between the Oilers fans and the Buff fans was night and day. Congrats to the Canes for a hard fought road, and a much deserved victory.

PS- Game 1 set the tone for how the series would be "played out" by the fans. The Oilers fans were gracious before the game, not condescending at all when they were up 3-1 at the end of the 2nd period (you can't imagine how ugly the Buffs fans were when they were up after the 2nd period of Game 7- I saw several fights and almost fights, even in the restroom), and they showed great composure after a heartbreaking L, and the loss of their star goalie. As a result we were drinking together at the bar afterwards and talking up the game, not insulting each other's lineage, legacy, etc. Hockey is alive and healthy and we all were fortunate enough to witness a great team come through at the end. I just hope my 'Caps were paying attention and that this gives them some inspiration for next season!
Posted: 6:08 PM   by Anonymous
For all those posters who claim the South is full of bandwagon fans who don't "deserve" the Stanley Cup...please, get over yourself. I respect traditionalists of the game, but you guys need a reality check. Carolina's season-ticket sales are booming, Tampa Bay filled its arena to 103% capacity and finished 2nd in the NHL in attendance this year (20,509), Dallas sells out just about every game (96% capacity) and even Nashville has what many broadcasters consider one of the loudest arenas in the league. Heck, even a questionable sports town like Atlanta averaged a respectable 16,000 a game this season, along with an awful Florida team. The fact is, there are plenty of true hockey fans down here. Sorry if that upsets some people.
Posted: 7:17 PM   by Anonymous
I've enjoyed reading all of these great comments!

Glad the NHL seems to be back, and thanks to all for your support of hockey (my brother is part of the NHL and earns his salary off your generosity)
Posted: 7:28 PM   by Mike
Actually, I have plenty of sympathy for the frustration of Buffalo fans for how their season ended, with the injuries and a tough Game 7 loss. It's when I have to hear (a) how basically anyone south of the New York border doesn't deserve a team, much less to to have that team win the Cup, and (b) that your team is nothing but a bunch of lucky untalented stiffs despite winning 52 regular season games and 16 more playoff games ... that's when I start to lose my sympathy.

Be more gracious in defeat, whatever your frustration level, and we'll be gracious in victory, whatever our elation level. I personally shook the hand of a Buffalo fan after Game 7 and exchanged "good series" ... I still have plenty of sympathy for his pain at the time, because he didn't feel the need to call me ignorant or a jack***.

To the 5:33PM blogger/Buffalo fan ... my congratulations on your team's success, and good luck next year. If you're in Raleigh for a game next year, maybe we can share a beer after the game and talk some good hockey talk!

Go Canes!
Posted: 8:42 PM   by Curtis
I agree. At every home game in Raleigh, we had beers with random Oilers fans in the parking lot, and every one of them showed tons of class and a real sense of respect and love for the game of hockey and the playoffs. I don't think this series could have been any better, especially with the final win at home. Congrats Canes, and Congrats Oilers on an excellent run.
Posted: 9:37 PM   by Anonymous
Please, please, please... to the hockey gods, we need no more rule changes. The only thing that needs to be changed is to NOT allow Gary Bettman anymore airtime while the Stanley Cup is waiting for its new owner. I didnt think that game could be ruined by anyone, but the selfpromoting Bettman did it again.
When will he learn, true hockey fans want to see less of him and hear even less of him.

Sincerely,
The Impostor !
OK. I've kept quiet all through the playoffs, but the silly chatter about the Sabres fans in Raleigh has got to stop. Why were some (but by no means all or most) of the Sabres fans such jerks at the Carolina home games? Because Carolina could not sell out a home playoff game. Let me repeat that for full effect. Carolina could not sell out a home playoff game. By not selling out and then putting the tickets up for purchase outside of the Carolinas the day before the game, the Hurricanes unintentionally self-selected a disproportionate number of the rowdiest Sabres fans (i.e. young men w/o family/job/other responsibilities that would not allow them to drop everything and drive down). And please don't even think boorish behavior from young men is a Buffalo-specific thing. I've been in cities when Duke, NC and NC State basketball teams come to town. Their behavior is atrocious.
One more thing. I had a grudging respect for Brind'amour until his interview at the end of Game 7 of the Sabres series. How could a seemingly intelligent 17 year veteran NOT know that Ruff was saying those things in order to take the media attention off his players? Good coaching is more than standing behind the bench looking smug and condescending. Wouldn't you like to think that the first thing out of his mouth would be to compliment the other Hurricanes? No, he takes a stupid pot-shot at a coach he just beat.
Anyhow. My sincere congratulations to the Hurricanes fans (except for mouth-breathers like CANIAC - see Carolina has them too!). All 18,000 of you cheered your butts off. Hopefully in future years you'll convince a bunch of your friends. And look out for the Sabres in 07.
Posted: 10:31 PM   by Mike
First off, let me say that even though I am a Canes fan, I admired the passion of the Oilers fans for their team during the recent playoff series, and the classy act that they seemed to be from all appearances. Having said that ...

QUOTE: "I only hope that once the Canes start losing sometimes in the future that the fans will continue to support them. That will be the sure sign of a hockey town because everybody cheers for a winner, especially in cities where hockey is secondary (i.e. most U.S cities in the south...Florida, Tampa). Those NHL cities are horrible when the teams aren't doing well.

Edmonton had extremely lean years in the 90's, however the arena was always sold out. That's a real hockey city in my book."

Maybe these numbers are faulty, but looking at NHL attendance records in the 1990s, the webpage I'm looking at show that Edmonton had an average attendance, in '95-'96, of 12335, and that the four years before that the numbers never got past 15K. I find it hard to believe those numbers constitute "always sold out", no matter how fondly you remember those days.

Whether we like to think it can happen to our cities/teams/fans or not, the fact is that very few cities consistently sell out the arena when the team isn't going well ... that goes for teams on Tobacco Road, and teams in Alberta, apparently.

Here's hoping every team in the NHL has an increase in attendance next year to make this great sport a continued success.
Posted: 12:32 AM   by Anonymous
Hey mike t you can keep your sympathy we don't want it. I'd gladly have a drink with you though (no punches thrown) to discuss your Caps and thank you for Mike Grier. C'mon dude you can't sterotype all of us. Besides, if you think we're bad- why don't you take a road trip to Philly when the Caps are playing there and wear your Ovechkin jersey in Wachovia center. That'll give you some perspective.

KJ
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