My deepest apologies for abandoning my Blog for the past few weeks. For a few days, I was just too busy. But then the Sens lost to the Ducks in the Stanley Cup Finals, and ever since I've been trying to create an appropriate tribute to my team and their glorious season, while also capturing the grief and pain I experienced as a result of the Game 5 loss last Wednesday night.
I went back and read some of my Blogs from last October and November, when I was literally freaking out over this team. They were playing some pretty bad hockey, and not living up to any expectations I had for them in '06-07. I never gave up on them, but I have to admit, by mid-December, I was pretty sure it was going to be my first year as a Sens fan without an appearance in the Playoffs.
Then, all of a sudden, there was this miracle of sorts. A bunch of our guys - including Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, and Antoine Vermette - got hurt around Christmastime, and somehow, instead of crumbling, the rest of the team blossomed. They started to buy into the coach's system, they began playing like a cohesive unit, and by the time April rolled around, they had one of the best records in the second-half of the season in the NHL.
The playoffs were a blast through three rounds, as we rolled over the likes of the Penguins, Devils, and Sabres. Those were some pretty fun months. I'll never forget how I felt watching Daniel Alfredsson score that OT goal in Buffalo to clinch the title of Eastern Conference Champions and send the modern-day Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time. It was like a dream finally coming true - the sweetest poetic justice, and for once, glory seemed so close, I could almost touch it.
Alas, it wasn't meant to be. As easily as we defeated three of the strongest teams in the East, the Ducks man-handled us, and claimed the Cup in just five games. The only night where it felt like we were even close was Game #3 in Ottawa when the Sens won 5-3. Watching them lose last week was heart-breaking. As time ticked down in the third period, tears streamed down my cheeks, and I cried right through the handshakes, the on-ice interviews, and the presentation of the Cup. I didn't feel happy for the Niedermeyer brothers, or Teemu Selanne, or Chris Pronger. It wasn't special to me in the least. For me, it was like watching someone having their teeth pulled. The only reason I stayed to watch it all was because I never missed one moment of these Stanley Cup playoffs, and I figured I had to see it right through to the bitter end.
In the days since, I've been able to put aside a lot of that hostility and disappointment, and reflect on what an awesome year it has been. People keep trying to put a damper on my spirits, though, by insisting that Wade Redden's going to be traded to Edmonton over the summer. I've got more post-season paranoia than ever before, but at least this off-season will be a short one, and before I know it, the boys will be back (and hopefully Wade will be too).
And a special thanks to those of you who sent me thoughtful messages of "condolences" in the wake of the loss last week. I know it seems silly, but when the Sens lose, it really does devestate me, and you guys rarealy make fun of me for it - you just seem to understand. So thank you so much for that! Enjoy the next few months of (mostly) hockey-free Blogging, because it'll be back before you know it!
Summer can now officially begin!