Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Simon Dingley at CBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Blog,
It is something few reporters experience.
Behind the scenes, at the Stanley Cup final. Outside the winning team’s dressing room in the moments leading up to the trophy being awarded.
Wednesday night during the second period of Game 6, I parked myself beside the Red Wings’ room at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena. Usually I cover NHL games from the press box. But I feared if I didn’t get down to the Wings’ room early, I may not get in at all because of the huge crush of media.
Press Release from the Penguins:
The Pittsburgh Penguins set a new team total attendance record with 888,653 fans through 52 games of the 2007-08 regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Penguins’ average attendance through those 52 games was 17,089. Seating capacity at Mellon Arena is 16,940, but the Penguins sell a limited amount of standing-room-only tickets for each game.
The team’s previous attendance record was 847,204 over 53 games during the 1990-91 regular season and playoffs. The average attendance that season was 15,985.
The Penguins have sold out 67 straight games dating back to last season. The 2007-08 season marked the first time in franchise history that the Penguins sold out every game.
Pittsburgh Penguins fans also helped the team raise over $85,000 for the Mario Lemieux Foundation (for cancer and neonatal research) by coming to Mellon Arena to watch playoff road games on the Jumbotron, for a $5 admission fee.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Last night was surely about the Detroit Red Wings and their remarkable organization, now defiantly the class of the Original Six, usurping the unofficial title held for a quarter-century by the Montreal Canadiens after the NHL expanded in 1967.Winners by a 3-2 score last night, they’ve now won four Cups in 11 seasons.
But it was also about Crosby, Malone and the Penguins, very much so. They proved they were more than the ‘83 Oilers, for they weren’t swept, as many feared they would be after Games 1 and 2. They scraped and clawed their way into the final seconds of play last night as a Crosby shot bounced tantalizingly in the crease, but stayed out.
To understand how much players and coaches and every member of an organization pours into taking a serious run at the Cup, you need to sample the atmosphere and emotion of the loser’s dressing room.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Where the Red Wings—or Penguins—were born or learned to skate wasn’t important.
This series will be remembered as the rebirth of engrossing, play-until-you-drop hockey, a gift conjured up by the supposedly doddering Red Wings and a precocious Penguins team that matured by the day and will be heard from again and again and again.
Cherry would prefer a team built like Anaheim to win the Cup but says Detroit will be the favorite again for next season…
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
I said before this series that the big factor that the Detroit Red Wings had on their side was experience. That’s not just the experience of 23 Cups to just four on the side for the Pens. It is the experience of the last four seasons that twice saw the Wings capture the Presidents’ Trophy and then have dismal post-seasons.
That’s the type of experience you need to win the Cup. Whenever things got tough, the Wings had something to draw upon. Pittsburgh didn’t have that, and that was the difference in this series.
From Ron Cook at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Bob Errey, as recognizable a hockey name in Pittsburgh as just about any short of Lemieux and Crosby, laid out the hard truth before the Stanley Cup final.
“Only one team can win,” he said. “Two weeks from now, you’ll either be the happiest guy in the world or the forgotten bridesmaid.”
Kind of makes you sick this morning, doesn’t it?
With the Detroit Red Wings the kings of the hockey world and the Penguins, well, you know?
From Chuck Carleton at the Dallas Stars blog at the Dallas Morning News,
This time, Pittsburgh ran out of miracles and the Detroit Red Wings claimed the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 nail-biting win.
1. Detroit remains a hard team to figure. The Red Wings were the best team in the NHL in the regular season and the best team in the playoffs—great skill, veteran leadership, smart coaching and the most accomplished braintrust in hockey. At the same time, they were capable of lapses that could make you wince, like Game 5 and almost in Game 6. Give them credit for rebounding from what could have been a catastrophic triple-overtime loss.
more thoughts on the game from the former Wings beat writer
And some reflections from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet.ca:
Hossa’s effort just missed Detroit goalie Chris Osgood’s glove and had it hit it, it likely would have gone in, setting off a debate as to whether or not there was any time left on the clock.
It was that close.
As finishes go, it was more dramatic than most of the game that featured a gritty effort from both sides, but one that was clearly marked by fatigue on both sides, something that took away from the overall contest.
And from Mitch Albom at the Free Press:
“We always have to make it interesting,” Osgood would tell the TV cameras.
Interesting? That ending would have killed most mortal men. But here, in enemy territory, the Wings used the courage and the pounding heart that got them this far, and in their 104th game of the season, they took it over the mountaintop.
All’s well that ends red.
And from Bob Wojnowski at the Detroit News:
They took it in gasping, grasping fashion - fitting fashion, really - with Chris Osgood swiping at Pittsburgh’s final, desperate shot. As the puck slid perilously past the open goal, the crowd shrieked and the final horn sounded, and then the Wings leaped in celebration and launched another rollicking Detroit summer.
Q. What was harder, the last 30 seconds or the long wait before the game began?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: You know, even in the last game, the last minute and stuff like that wasn’t long or harder, it was just doing what you do.
The interesting thing is when you’re playing in the Stanley Cup Final like this and it’s a closeout game, the emotion on your bench is so much more than you’ve had to deal with. Getting guys on and off the ice is more difficult, and yet we have a real committed group.
Nicklas Lidstrom, in my opinion, is a phenomenal leader and captain. And with his poise and his skill. And then the support group in Chelios and Draper. And Datsyuk and Zetterberg, for their leadership. You know, we have a very special team, and we’re thrilled to be in this situation, obviously.
Q. Coach, first of all, congratulations on a great season. Your assessment of the game, and what did you tell your players after the game?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I’m almost speechless. It’s tough. We were that close. It is really tough, because this is a group that gave what they got. They deserve a lot of respect. We got beat by a quality team. They showed it all through the regular season and through the playoffs. They played really well. They were tough to play against, and the hockey god was not on our side tonight.
But they deserved to win the Stanley Cup.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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