A couple of us here in the office were reminiscing about the '09 playoffs, when the Ducks knocked off the top-ranked Sharks and went seven games in a grueling series with Detroit (the eventual champ). We remembered where we were and how much is broke our hearts when Dan Cleary scored the series-clinching goal for Detroit with little time remaining in Game 7.
It all prompted me to go back and look up my blog post from that day. Here's a portion:
After it was all over, Detroit coach Mike Babcock called it “the best series I’ve been in since I’ve been in the league. For sure, the hardest series, most even, the least room.”
Later, he added, “What made this series so hard, what people don’t understand, is the people that have won know what it takes to win and they don’t give in."
And that's exactly what you can say about the Anaheim Ducks the past two months, a thrill ride that has us all in disbelief that it's come to a seemingly sudden end. I watched the game last night in a Newport Beach sports bar with about 30 fellow staffers, and there was a mix of reactions when that final horn sounded on the season. Some gazed at the TVs in disbelief. Some stared at their feet. A couple of the girls even cried. All of us felt sick to our stomachs. "Well," a friend of mine said, "at least we didn't go down like [expletive]s." (And by the way, he and several of his fellow Ducks ticket sales guys shaved their playoff beards into mustaches and took this photo today.)
It's pretty ironic that we're heartbroken the Ducks didn't make the conference finals, when not too long ago we didn't even think we'd be here at all. But this team teased us by never quitting. They teased us by charging into the playoffs, knocking off the top seed and fighting to the finish in a Game 7 against what is probably the best team in the league. To come that far and to come that close only made the elimination that much more heartbreaking. But, you know what? We wouldn't want it any other way. Sure the ending was harsh, but my what a great ride.
“When you’re that close, when you’re tied with a few minutes left, it’s a tough way to lose," Niedermayer said. "There are no easy ways to lose, I guess. It’s pretty disappointing, and you always think you can do more, but you look around the room, how some of these guys battled. There are a lot of guys who worked extremely hard. So I’m proud of a lot of guys, for sure.”
I think we all are.
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