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This Week in Ducks History: Off The Floor, On The Board!

Hockey is a nasty, ugly, dirty, dangerous, stupid, beautiful, glorious inspiring game and that's how I like it.

Robert Hanashiro, USA Today

This Week in Ducks History:

June 3, 1966
D Doug Houda born in Blairmore, Alberta, Canada

June 2, 1970
LW Marty McInnis born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, USA

June 2, 1976
C Josef Marha born in Havickuv, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic)

June 2, 1978
RW Lance Ward born in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada

June 8, 1979
C Michael Holqvist born in Stockholm, Sweden

June 4, 1980
D Francois Beauchemin born in Sorel, Quebec, Canada

June 7, 1988
LW Matt Beleskey born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada

June 6, 1996
Announced Assistant Coach Al Sims was leaving the club to become head coach of the San Jose Sharks.

June 2, 2003
Steve "Stumpy" Thomas scores the only goal of Game 4 in the Stanley Cup Final 38 seconds into overtime, knotting the series at two and making Jean-Sebastien Giguere the first goalie in the history of the NHL to win his first seven playoff OT games.

June 5, 2003
The Devils regained the series lead with a 6-3 victory back at the Meadowlands. This was the only game of the series in New Jersey that the Ducks were able to beat Marty Brodeur, but they still lost by three goals. Steve Rucchin, Sammy Pahlsson and former Devil Petr Sykora scored for the Ducks.

June 7, 2003
Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, perhaps the most iconic moment in Ducks history. The Ducks led 3-0 going into the second period thanks to two goals by Steve Rucchin, the first of which deflected off of Scott Stevens’ skate. Apparently that made him angry… you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. The third Ducks goal gave Paul Kariya only his second point of the series as he rang one off the post and Stumpy buried the rebound. Jay Pandalfo got the Devils on the board early in the second and with 13:45 to go in the period… It happened.

Kariya picked the puck up in the neutral zone, cut across the middle of the ice, laid a backhand pass off to Petr Sykora and got annihilated by Stevens. He lay on the ice unconscious and not breathing for what felt like hours, but must have lasted less than a minute. The image burned into my mind of his first breath fogging up his visor is still one of the most frightening things I’ve ever seen. He rose to wobbly legs and was helped to the bench by the trainer, Sandis Ozolinsh and Adam Oates. As shocking as the hit was, NOBODY could have expected what came next.

Not only did he return to the game, with 2:45 left in the second he scored one of the prettiest goals you will ever see in your life. The passing in the neutral zone from Oates to Sykora to Kariya was magic and it gave Paul the space to fly down the left wing like a man possessed. As he crossed the blue line he placed a slap shot right over the elbow of Brodeur into the top corner. The shot, the pandemonium and the call from Gary Thorne "OFF THE FLOOR! ONT THE BOARD! PAUL KARIYA!" were all perfect.

Sykora and Grant Marshall added goals for the Ducks and Devils, respectively to give the Ducks a 5-2 win and force Game 7 in New Jersey, but nothing could top that moment.

I think it would take me years of therapy to adequately express how I feel about that hit/goal. It was simultaneously one of the greatest and one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. For me it’s really what makes hockey great, the juxtaposition of brutality and beauty, taken to an extreme level. I’m glad that something like this really can’t happen anymore, but I’m also glad that I got to see it. Then again, just saying that I’m glad a human being’s brain was so severely damaged brings me great shame.

It was brave, stupid, horrifying and inspiring, but most of all sadly ironic that Paul Kariya can’t remember the goal that defined his career, while so many of us will never forget it.

June 8, 2004
Named Al Coates Interim General Manager, replacing Senior Vice President/General Manager Bryan Murray, who accepted the head coaching position with the Ottawa Senators.

June 2, 2007
Game 3, 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Ottawa earns their only win of the series by a score of 3-5. It was back and forth for the first half of the game, but Ottawa took control with two goals late in the second and cruised to a win in the third. However, the lasting image of this game is right up there with the Stevens/Kariya hit in terms of brutality, as Dean McAmmond took a shot and attempted to skate around Chris Pronger, the key word being attempted, as Pronger elbowed him directly in the face.

If that elbow was thrown today, Pronger would be strung up by his toenails, back in 2007 he was given a one game suspension. McAmmond didn’t play for the rest of the series. It’s great that the league is starting to attempt to curb this kind of thing (in the case of both Pronger and Stevens) but they’ll never get rid of cheap shots entirely, and as terrible as it sounds when talking about plays like these, that’s fine. Sure, hockey can be fluid and beautiful and graceful, but it's also dangerous, nasty, dirty game and whether you like it or not, that's part of the draw.

June 4, 2007
Game 4, 2007 Stanley Cup Final. The Ducks take a stranglehold on the series with a 3-2 win. Ottawa completely and utterly dominated the first half of this game. The only reason that the Ducks were even in it was the brilliance of J.S. Giguere. The Sens out shot the Ducks 13-2 in the first period and only scored with .3 seconds remaining. The Ducks came out much better in the second and midway through, Andy McDonald put his bid in for the Conn Smythe Trophy, scoring twice in exactly 60 seconds to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead that they still didn’t deserve. Dany Heatley tied it up with his only goal of the series, but it was Dustin Penner with the game winner in the third period.

One other notable moment from this game came when Daniel Alfredsson shot the puck at Scott Niedermayer in the final seconds of the middle frame.

Of course he did it on purpose. There is no excuse for a player with 291 goals (regular season) to that point in his career missing the net by that much, even if he did check the clock to see how much time he had left. Unlike some Ducks fans, I’ve forgiven him. As stated above hockey is an ugly, dirty, stupid game and that’s just more evidence. On the other hand, legend has it that Scotty went into the dressing room during that intermission and forbid anyone from taking runs at Alfie in the third, but just go out and win the game. A true captain, if there ever was one. Also Alfie got his comeuppance when the Ducks finished off the Sens in the next game.

June 6, 2007
So, I kind of already covered this on Thursday, but if you’re still unclear, this was the day that the Ducks won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history!!!!!! The Ducks got out to an early lead (goals from Andy McDonald and Rob Niedermayer in the first), and even when Ottawa tried to come back with two goals by Daniel Alfredsson in the second period, the result was never really in doubt. The Ducks showed their killer instinct even if the official game winner was an own goal by former first overall pick Chris Phillips, credited to Travis Moen. Francois Beauchemin, Moen (again) and Corey Perry added insurance markers to make it a comfort cruise to the cup in the final ten minutes of the season.

One of my favorite moments of the celebration was Scotty’s impatience with Gary Bettman, whose speech prior to handing the Conn Smythe and Cup over ranks up there with the most condescending thing’s I’ve ever heard. Scotty forgets/tries to avoid shaking his hand and then poses for the slightest of seconds before attempting to rip the cup from Bettman’s grasp.

As funny as that may be after the fact, for me, the entire postgame celebration hinges on Teemu Selanne. I talked a lot in my post on the anniversary about how emotional it was for me, I cannot even imagine what must have been going through his head. Also, as much as everyone hates on Pierre Maguire, and he says some stupid stuff, I can never fully get on board because I’ll always associate him with the image of Teemu crying tears of joy in his wife’s arms on the ice that night (1:35:10 of this full game video).

As the Niedermayer brothers said time and time again after that game, "You couldn’t have written a better script."