In this slow sports time, Let us remember the Most Glorious June 20th that ever was ….
The Stars had waited for this moment since losing last season in the Western Conference finals.
They opened training camp with the Stanley Cup as their goal. And that was their guiding force through 82 regular-season games and 23 playoff contests.
It took 105 games, including a triple-overtime 2-1 victory in the finale against Buffalo on Saturday night, for the Stars to capture the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Stars, who began and ended the season against the Sabres, made sure they won the Cup in dramatic fashion, becoming only the fourth team ever to clinch the Finals in multiple overtimes.
Brett Hull's shot at 14:51 of the sixth period hushed the crowd of 18,595 at Marine Midland Arena and sent the Stars into a wild celebration on their opponent's ice. Some Stars jumped into teammates' arms, others pointed at the crowd, waving one finger.
The Sabres contended that Hull's skate was in the crease, and television replays indicated that it was.
"That's the worst nightmare," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said afterward. "His skate was in the crease. You can't explain that to me. Everybody saw it. Once you've got 200 people on the ice, they [the officials] aren't going to review it."
Ruff said the officials explained to him that Hull was in possession of the puck before he entered the crease, which would make the goal legal.
The celebration began immediately. Stars captain Derian Hatcher was presented the gleaming silver Cup, and he skated with it high over his head, bouncing it up and down as his teammates cheered. Each of the Stars carried it aloft. Some kissed the trophy of their childhood dreams. Others lifted it up to the crowd, which stood in respect but mostly booed.
Finally, the Stars knelt on the ice for a team picture, huddled around the Cup. That picture will forever live in their memories.
Stars center Joe Nieuwendyk, who had 11 goals in the playoffs, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the player most valuable to his team in the post-season.
It was amazing the Stars even had energy left to celebrate after the second-longest overtime game in Finals history. After three hard-fought periods, they played 54 minutes, 51 seconds of overtime.
Only three other Finals games have gone three overtimes, the last being Colorado-Florida in 1996.
On the game winner, Hull fought in front of Buffalo's net for a loose puck. In a mad
scramble, he sent a shot past Dominik Hasek.
Before the Stars realized their crowning achievement, they won the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record, then beat Edmonton, St. Louis and Colorado in the playoffs.
It seemed fitting that they closed the deal in the 12th game in Finals history to go at least two overtimes. The Stars had lived on the edge all season, wearing down opponents in close games with strong defense and forechecking, and the goaltending of Ed Belfour.
This was their eighth overtime game of the playoffs, including a triple-overtime game that clinched the first-round series against Edmonton.
Belfour stopped 53 shots and erased years of criticism for not winning the big one.
Thanks to the Stars Belo Blog for the above …
Next, there is no bigger buzzkill than going to another Rangers game where the other team fills the stadium, puts their feet on your furniture, and beats you …
Cameras flashed with each hack Sammy Sosa took Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Unfortunately for those in the crowd of 38,290 who came armed to capture history – most of them Cubs fans – they will have to wait another night for home run No. 600.
Sosa came up empty in four at-bats, and so did the Rangers in a 5-4 loss to Chicago.
All eyes were on Sosa, who struck out three times in his first game against the team for which he hit 545 home runs in 13 memorable seasons.
Sosa did have the crowd roaring on a big swing in the bottom of the eighth, but it produced nothing more than a medium fly ball to left-center field that Alfonso Soriano and Felix Pie almost collided on as Pie made the catch.
The fans streamed out of the ballpark as Sosa finished his night breathing heavily in the dugout on a humid evening.
"I didn't hit it very good," Sosa said of his final swing. "When I hit it, you'll know."
The Sosa drama at least gave the outnumbered Rangers fans something to get excited about. Sosa did come to the plate to a smattering of boos, more than likely from the Cubs fans who once fawned over him.
Take away Sosa, and the Rangers were left to watch starter Robinson Tejeda continue to allow too many runners. Tejeda again failed to last deep into a game, throwing 95 pitches in five innings and allowing 13 baserunners.
Tejeda’s Performance is going badly …
Tejeda 14 Starts, just 4 Quality Starts. 4/6, 4/17, 4/22, and 5/3.
Rangers sign two top picks …
The Rangers have agreed to terms with RHP Michael Main, the 24th overall pick in the amateur draft earlier this month. Main is in town to undergo his physical and could be introduced as early as tonight. Main is expected to receive a signing bonus of slightly more than $1.2 million.
The club is still talking with RHP Blake Beavan of Irving, who was the 17th overall pick in the draft. It's not likely that Beavan will be in Arizona for the start of the Arizona Rookie League. Beavan is expected to receive about $1.5 million in bonus money, but that "slotted" figure is down from last year because MLB received a little more negotiating leverage in the recent collective bargaining agreement. As such, it's taking a little longer to reach agreement with some of the higher first-round picks.
Remember the Nashville Predators? …It’s a tough thing.
the Predators: adrift in a sea of uncertainty, needing desperately to appeal to fans in Nashville, but instead driving them away because of an ownership vacuum, a vacuum that saw the team trade away the signing rights to top free agents Kimmo Timonen, the team's best player and captain, and emerging two-way forward Scott Hartnell to the Flyers.
That'll have them busting down the doors at the Nashville Arena.
Somewhere, BlackBerry god Jim Balsillie is laughing at the city's expense and, indeed, at the expense of the NHL, which waits while one of its pivotal southern markets twists in the wind.
Not that we're prone to conspiracy theories, but it's hard to imagine this isn't exactly how Balsillie imagined it playing out.
The Canadian megamillionaire made an outrageous offer to buy the Predators (in the neighborhood of $238 million when all the fine print is figured in), knowing the sum would be attractive to Nashville owner Craig Leipold and to the rest of the NHL owners.
But he also had to know the process would drag on, which has allowed him to insist through his spokespeople he would have spent to the cap if he were the Preds' owner right now. But he's not. And the NHL, not wanting to be rushed into granting ownership to a man who clearly wants to uproot the team and move it to Hamilton, Ontario, where ticket packages are being sold by the thousands, is taking its time not wanting to make a mistake.
Given the league's history of inept owners, who can blame it for performing its due diligence? But in taking time to determine whether Balsillie is the right man to join the club, the NHL is helping create the perfect scenario in which the Predators will continue to fail in Nashville and hence speed a move to southern Ontario.
The Predators need to see the average paid attendance reach the 14,000 mark this season or the team's owners, whoever they might be by the end of next season, can pay a penalty and exit the current lease with the city of Nashville (at least that's the theory, although some city officials insist it's not that simple).
As one of the most exciting teams in the NHL last season, the Predators averaged 13,815 paid attendance. This season? What are the chances more fans will come out to see a team that, at least in terms of its profile, will continue to be battered in the coming weeks? Slim? None?
This weekend’s NHL Draft features two Americans at the top …
The focal point of this year's draft class is three deep - London Knight Pat Kane, James Van Riemsdyk of the U.S. Under-18 team and Burnaby Jr. A product Kyle Turris.
Barring a surprise, those forwards will be the top three players chosen in Columbus.
Certainly, our annual survey of NHL scouts to obtain TSN's draft rankings reinforces that, with Kane at No. 1, Van Riemsdyk at No. 2 and Turris at No. 3.
The diminutive Kane is the consensus No. 1, after dominating at the world junior championship for Team USA and lighting up the OHL with his offensive wizardry.
Van Riemsdyk, a big power forward with scoring ability, was a solid No. 2 in the eyes of the scouts, but of the more than a dozen scouts surveyed only one gave him the nod at No. 1.
Turris, on the other hand, a consensus No. 3 behind the two Americans, did receive more consideration at No. 1 than Van Riemsdyk, but not nearly enough to unseat Kane. Turris is a dynamic offensive talent with a great shot.
US Open Ratings …
Ángel Cabrera’s victory in the United States Open on Sunday attracted an average of 9.5 million viewers, 37 percent more than last year, and the most since Tiger Woods’s victory in 2002. While the final round produced a 6.4 rating, the final half-hour, in which Cabrera watched from the clubhouse as Woods missed a birdie putt to tie the tournament, spiked to a 10.1.
These Guys are Cooler than Me