For Part I, click here.
Our next guest is taking a break from wishing death upon the Dan Cleary family to share his experience of Game 7 in 2003. He's a Ducks fan, he's using the Internet and he's not a douche bag, so that must mean that he's Earl Sleek from Battle of California. Sure as fuck isn't Adam Brady.
If you're wondering what horror potentially awaits us Wings fans tomorrow night, than continue reading at your own risk.
Wow, ain't this a nice square kick to the nuts. To open the vaulty attic of my brain and unearth the painful memories of G7 2003. The game where the impossible dream died, the unstoppable goalie got beaten but honored, and the days of regularly pinching yourself came to a jarring close.
For this Ducks fan, it was a real crash to earth, because I couldn't help feel that entire playoffs that we were somehow living through a real-life Disney movie -- a so-so team discovers itself late in the season and rides an unheralded goalie phenom to the franchise's first real taste of playoff success. The Ducks had slaughtered their nemesis the Red Wings in a first-round sweep (why wouldn't you have me reminisce about that series?), ousted a top-seeded Stars team in round two, and flat-out humiliated the Wild in the conference finals, and J.S. Giguere was unbelievable throughout.
But then came the New Jersey Devils, the machine from the east, and Ducks' fans dreams were quickly dashed after two shutout losses in Jersey to open the series. But the Ducks rallied back at home, edging the Devils slightly in G3 and G4, thanks to some heroics by Steve "Stumpy" Thomas. The Devils took G5 in a scorefest, but then came G6. I think G6 was the best hockey experience I've ever had (2007 included) -- the game where Scott Stevens murdered Paul Kariya in front of a hushed Anaheim crowd, but then returned to score a laser past Brodeur, and Anaheim erupted like it had never done before. (TTD Note: This was probably the coolest non-Wings moment ever.) Nothing was going to stop the Ducks -- the Disney storyline was magically pulling through.
And those were two fantastic days of head-in-the-clouds unbridled optimism -- but then came G7, the splash of cold water that jolted us back to reality. After a tense scoreless first, Mike Rupp (damn his soul) deflected a puck past Giguere, and the Devils would add two more later in the game to complete their third 3-0 win of the series. Even late in the game, though, I was still stuck on the hope of a Disney ending ("Just you watch. This is exactly how the game started in the movie.") But the final horn was surreal and depressing -- old man Oates and Stumpy, each playing in their first cup finals, had to retire cupless. That truly sucked.
Looking back a few seasons later, I do have a changed perspective on G7. Had the Ducks won, there probably wouldn't have been any Brian Burke, Randy Carlyle, Scott Niedermayer, or Chris Pronger in the franchise's future -- so in that sense I've come to peace with the game's outcome. But I still have a deep-seeded grudge for New Jersey. Going into the series, I thought I really had it made -- I was actually a rare Ducks-and Devils fan, and everything that playoffs had been going my way. But a G7 really makes you come to grips with your priorities, and now I hope the Devils rot in hell (heh). Within those 60 minutes of G7, they plummeted from my second-favorite team to my thirtieth-favorite.
So that's my perspective on one of the stinkiest days of my hockey-rooting life. Thanks for asking, asshole.
Don't mention it, Earl.
Thanks again to our participants, and remember to tune in next year for Lord Stanley's Masterpiece Theatre.