Thursday, June 10, 2010
Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Words Don't Do It Justice
I'v spent the better part of the last day trying to decide how I was going to handle this post. How do you describe the indescribable? The rush of emotions that come with the raising of the Stanley Cup is the culmination of so much energy, effort and passion that it is quite difficult to properly detail.
After good 'ole Gary handed the Cup off to Jon Toews, the media lined up in a queue to rush onto the ice and interview the Blackhawks. The Hawks are jumping up and down, friends and family are joining the rush I ended up standing in line next to former Ranger and current Sportsnet broadcaster Nick Kypreos. I turned and asked him, "you've won one of these - thank you for that by the way - what were you feeling at this moment?" Kypreos turned to me and solemnly said "it was surreal, like you are on a cloud" before turning his attention to his Blackberry.
Now I was at the Finals last year for a few games but was not there to see Sidney celebrate (thankfully); this evening was the first time I've witnessed the Cup awarded in person. As a lifelong hockey fan it has, of course, always been a dream to see Stanley raised and - even though it wasn't the Rangers - the experience was a dream come true. I'm not a religious person but the Cup is like Jerusalem: it means an awful lot to a wide variety of people and much blood was spilled trying to take control of it. Seeing the latest conquerors revel in their victory ... well, it is a religious experience in the church/mosque/temple of hockey.
When they finally opened the Zamboni door to let the media frenzy begin, I looked down and stepped onto the Wachovia Center ice. I would like to say it was like 'walking on a cloud' and that I had a spiritual or mystical experience but I almost slipped and fell on my ass.
After laughing off the near-fall, I waded into the fray and went about business joining in scrums, getting quotes and soaking up the scene. Even with an attempt at focusing on work, part of my head was grossly aware of just how wild things were. One second I am standing there talking with Scotty Bowman, then next I am stepping back from John Madden so he can share the moment with his wife and kids.
I navigated through the scrums to find Antti Niemi talking to a pair of reporters and joined in the interview. While I was waiting for my chance to ask a question, I kept getting hit with something hard in the shoulder from behind - I turned to find that it was the Stanley Cup. The Stanley freakin' Cup. Cristobal Huet was trying to pose with it and his family before a phalanx of photographers and I was in the way.
I think that being shoved with the Cup doesn't count as my intentionally touching it so I still have that going for me. Whew.
But that brings up the point that, if anything, the experience has made me want the Rangers to win the Cup that much more. I want to be one of the fans reaching over the boards begging for a touch. Knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that at that moment, my team is the best in the world. Now that would be surreal ...
Some other notes on the night:
*Jeremy Roenick is coming under fire by some people for what they say is grandstanding with his tearful display on NBC after the game. Personally, I think that is a load of crap. Roenick gave blood, sweat and tears to the organization and was never able to win, so the tears were a culmination of everything - his failure, his passion and the Stanley Cup. I have a hunch that the ones who are maligning JR the most are the ones that don't fully grasp what it takes to win one and what players sacrifice for that chance.
*That being said, he was more emotional than many of the Hawks themselves. They have a lot of young guys who are winning way early in their career so the 'chase' is foreign to them. The vets were a mixed bag. Brian Campbell seemed to be one of the most excited, because he had gone through over 500 games without winning. Andrew Ladd and John Madden had the been-there-done-this attitude while Brent Sopel just seemed to be enjoying his young daughters' wonder. As for Marian Hossa, for all of the hype about him not winning, he said "I am very happy." Now I know that he is European but his english is good enough to articulate his excitement ... had it been the Olympic gold medal, I think he would have been a tad more excited than "very happy." (And that is ok, he just grew up with different priorities.)
*I tried not to be very happy walking along the concourse after the buzzer while seeing Flyer fans openly weeping. It was difficult not to revel in their misery. I hate the Flyers. I hate many of their fans. Why shouldn't I be grinning ear to ear? Because I know that if it had been the Rangers losing, I would have been utterly inconsolable. That being said, I did manage a smirk, haha.
*One fan kept repeating "next year we'll have Carey Price" like the Hab will be the difference maker next year for Philly. Now I am not about to predict the future but I have a hunch that Jesus Price won't be carrying the Flyers to victory in '10-11. At least I hope not.
*I don't believe that goaltending was the difference in this series as both teams got mediocre netminding at best. I do have a bone to pick with Michael Leighton though. I was raving about his five overtime, 98 save AHL performance from a few years back when he gave up the game-winning goal. Nice, right? I turned to the guy and said, "Kane thinks that is in. The Blackhawks are thinking it is in. Did you see it go in? Did anyone? Where is the puck? Oh my. Chicago just won the Stanley Cup. Cool."
By my count, Game 6 finished a season where I caught 72 live games - NHL, AHL, juniors and Olympics - and watched a good number more on tv and the net. What the hell am I doing to do until September? At least we have the schedule release on June 22nd, the draft on the 25th and 26th and free agency on July 1st. Expect the usual coverage from your not-so-humble scribe ...