I don’t want to sound too trite here, but seriously. It doesn’t even feel like the season has ended—doesn’t it always end in a loss?
Some bullets, because my head is pretty much everywhere this morning:
- Full disclosure: I totally cried last night when they showed Teemu’s tears. Sure, I was drunk, but it really struck me how much I love the guy, who showboated and popularized the Mighty Ducks for many years (including my formative years as a hockey fan). Finally, this year, he went ahead and took it a step further, and bled for the Ducks. If you ask me who I’m happiest for this morning, it’s Teemu by a longshot. Sure, others were way more important in winning the games, but Selanne got me hooked on the Ducks, and it’s awesome that he was able to deliver its first Cup / his first Cup in front of the home crowd. I’m totally going to name my daughter Teemu.
- Looking back, it’s tough to think how well the Ducks dominated some really strong competition. Arguably facing the best four regular-season teams since Christmas, the Ducks dispatched three teams in five games and Detroit (the only team that had home ice against Anaheim) in six. The Red Wings certainly gave the Ducks a battle, but really, the team that I thought was best-built to beat the Ducks got knocked out in the 2nd round again. Next year we finally going to have this Battle, Sharks?
- As for my current man-crush, Sammy Pahlsson played a whale of a game again last night, picking up an assist and a +3, to boot. Of course it wasn’t enough, as Scotty (my second choice) won his first Conn Smythe. People have been asking me how pissed I am, that Sammy, despite being worthy of both a Smythe and a Selke, is likely to win neither trophy (the Selke votes were in before he got noticed by eastern voters in the playoffs). I tell you the truth—I’m not pissed at all. I’d rather have the trophy-worthy performances than the trophy any day of the week, and really, my hope is that Sammy never leaves Anaheim. He signed a two year extension already this season, but when that runs out, it’ll be easier to re-sign a guy who’s got one less Selke and one less Smythe than he probably deserves.
- There is a worthwhile saying in hockey: “You have to lose before you can win” (or some variation on that), and it certainly proved true for the players and the team. Six players had been to a G7 of a SC Finals and lost, and to watch them carry the cup around after bitter teases earlier in their career was thoroughly enjoyable. From a fan’s perspective, too, I think this adage holds true. I recall very strongly the bitterness that followed the team’s heartbreaking G7 loss in 2003, but this year I’ve gained some perspective on that. Had the Mighty Ducks won that cup, would this team have ever gone for Scott Niedermayer? For Chris Pronger? Or would I be cursing the lackluster postseason play of Paul Kariya right now? It’s really hard to see at the time where losing gets you, but I can certainly say that blown opportunities in ’03 and last year have really made last night all the more special for me and other Duck fans.
- Well, as strange as it is not to end a season with a loss, offseason work will begin soon enough for the Ducks (probably after the rally on Saturday). Really, there are three critical questions: 1. Will Teemu retire, or will the thrill of defending the Cup lure him back? 2. Will Giguere re-sign with the Ducks, or will he hit a huge payday with another squad? 3. Has Chris Pronger requested a trade yet? I figure on the last issue, we have about a two-week window until we can breathe easy, so as I’ve been saying at the end of a lot of close games this postseason: GO CLOCK GO!