In May of 2003 I was a high school senior that had submitted my Statement of Intent to Register to UC Irvine and had nothing else left to do besides wait out my last two months in school and watch the Anaheim Mighty Ducks grab their first Stanley Cup Championship. Four years and more than $80,000 worth of fees later, I once again find myself a senior in school waiting for the Ducks to claim that Stanley Cup Championship that they let slip through their fingers after a seven-game series against the New Jersey Devils.
A lot has changed in the last four years. The Ducks dropped the ‘Mighty’ from their name and replaced their old jerseys, while the Arrowhead Pond has been officially renamed the Honda Center. In addition, the National Hockey League added some new rules and regulations as a result of the 2004 season-canceling lockout. Not to mention that the former head coach of the Ducks, Mike Babcock, left the team and signed with the Detroit Red Wings, who ended up claiming a 2-1 victory in their first game against Anaheim last Friday.
And who can forget Paul Kariya, the captain of the Ducks back in 2003? After Anaheim lost in the 2003 finals, Kariya was asked why a great player like him stayed with Anaheim when he could probably make his way onto any team in the league. One of his responses was that he dreamt of winning the Stanley Cup while wearing a Ducks jersey. That dream quickly faded away when he wasn’t promised another season with a $10 million salary. Unwilling to settle for anything less, Kariya declared himself a free agent and eventually signed with the Colorado Avalanche.
There was one benefit to Kariya moving on from the Ducks: The decision to become a free agent gave him the chance to reunite with former teammate Teemu Selanne in Colorado. What was the result of this reunited dynamic duo? Well, Kariya was eventually sent to Nashville to join the Predators while Selanne returned to Anaheim and is now on his way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Of course, the chances of a getting into the finals for Selanne and the Anaheim team depends on how well they do against Detroit in the next week and a half. Based on the last two series against the Minnesota Wild and the Vancouver Canucks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Ducks and the Red Wings carry on to another long series.
The Western Conference No. 1 Red Wings and No. 2 Ducks have faced each other four times during the regular season, with each team claiming two games.
Selanne has outscored Detroit’s leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg by 15 goals. Selanne also leads the two teams in points accumulated with 94 so far, beating out Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk by seven.
In the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators claimed game one of their series against the Buffalo Sabres. A 4-3 double-overtime win Saturday night in Buffalo. Despite the win, I have a feeling that the Sabres are going to be the Eastern Conference champions.
Regardless of which team wins the Eastern Conference, both the Sabres and the Senators create a threat towards Anaheim.
But that’s jumping ahead a bit too far