Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers hosted a conference call between Ethan Moreau, Jarret Stoll, and Dwayne Roloson where the trio discussed the miraculous run to the Stanley Cup Finals from back in 2006. For a diehard Oilers fan like myself, this conversation brought back so many memories from 2006 while also offering up some fantastic insight into how that team came together.
In case you’ve forgotten, the 2005-06 Oilers squeaked into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and had to go up against the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings in the first round, setting up what was one of the most unlikely Cup runs in recent memory. After handling the Red Wings in six games, the Sharks in six, and the Ducks in five, the Oilers fell agonizingly short in game seven of the Cup Finals and it’s a loss that still hurts all these years later. So to hear Roloson, Stoll, and Moreau walk us through the story was not only a wonderful dose of nostalgia but also a hard look back at one of the toughest moments in team history.
Going up against Detroit in the first round, the Oilers weren’t expected to get much done and that’s why I loved Jarret Stoll’s thoughts on how that series played out:
“To look at their lineup and I think they finished with 124 points and we had no business winning that series. But we outworked them and outplayed them and we had Dwayne Roloson. After that Game 6 win we all went to Hudson’s on Whyte Ave and the fans were all there. Enjoying, celebrating with them. And going back to my place afterwards. Couldn’t get Roli out of there for two days.”
For all of us that were lucky enough to watch and remember that run, we formed an incredible appreciation for Dwayne Roloson’s wizardry and it was fun to listen to his teammates saying the same thing. According to Stoll, the team noticed the difference right from the moment he showed up:
“The confidence that Rolly showed right from when we got him, he just instilled that in our team. We all know that in sports, especially hockey, confidence can do wonders. We all know that confidence can do wonders … and we were absolutely rolling when we went into those playoffs. It took us until the 80th or maybe 81st game to clinch … but we were healthy, we got some breaks, we had unbelievable goaltending and timely goals. That’s what it takes.”
From Roloson’s vantage point, the team made things easy on him by having such a warm and welcoming environment in which he felt comfortable almost right away:
“The way our locker room was when I first got traded there. it was just like a big family. You’d come into the locker room, you’ve got Joey (Moss) running around, you’ve got guys wrestling… It was relaxed and it translated to the way we played on the ice.”
Talking about 2006 Stanley Cup Finals is always going to be hard because of the way that the series started and obviously how it ended. From Moreau’s perspective, the team was confident and felt like the series was there for the taking before the plot twist came:
“We scored the first three goals (of the series) and I was sitting on the bench and saying in my head, ‘This is a joke. We’re going to win. Roli was such a big part of our success that losing him was insurmountable. We almost did it, through sheer will.”
Edmonton ended up losing that game after Roloson suffering a sprained MCL during the third period that ruled him out for the rest of the series. It proved to be a pivotal turning point, with Carolina winning the first two games in Raleigh to jump out to an early lead in the series. After helping to guide the underdog Oilers all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, Roloson was forced to watch from the sidelines.
“I was the biggest cheerleader from that point on, just trying to make sure the guys were ready to go day in and day out. I remember trying to keep these guys pretty relaxed and trying to get them to win a Game 7. It was an emotional roller coaster.”
So what went wrong? Ethan Moreau said what we were all thinking:
“It’s pretty obvious. We went from having the best goalie in the world at that time, and these comments have nothing to do with Jussi (Markkanen) or Ty (Conklin)’s abilities or qualities as teammates, but Roli was at a different level. I really, truly believe that when we entered the playoffs, we had the best goalie in the world and the best defenceman in the world.”
Even though Jarret Stoll went on to win a pair of Cups with the Los Angeles Kings, he says even that hasn’t erased the memories and pain of 2006.
“I’m still upset that we lost Game 7 in Carolina. We had the team, we had all the right ingredients and things were going well. The momentum switched, from when Fernando (Pisani) scored the overtime goal in Game 5 shorthanded, to bring it back for Game 6. We played our most dominant game in Game 6 probably, so going into Game 7 you feel it. We had it and we let it slip away. It still hurts for sure.”
EDMONTON IN THE PLAYOFFS
If you’ve been around the city of Edmonton during the playoffs then you already know how crazy it is and how much it means to everyone, and I will never get tired of hearing players talk about the vibe around here during those moments. When asked about Northlands and the city as a whole, Roloson didn’t mince words:
“The simple word is crazy. I think the city ran out of beer two or three times and everything was getting trucked in from Calgary. I don’t think I’ve been in a city that’s been that excited about anything.”
Despite doing plenty of celebrating of my own, I had no idea that the players went out with the fans until Moreau talked about it being a regular occurrence.
“We were on those streets and we were in those bars — probably too much — but we enjoyed it. We were part of it. After we’d win a series we went out and we’d celebrate with the fans. It was a little bit before social media, probably couldn’t do that now, but we enjoyed it because we were actually a part of it and we got to witness it first hand.”
Once again, social media ruins everything.
WATCH THE WHOLE CONVERSATION
If you’re looking for a way to spend half an hour today, then I highly recommend that you watch this entire conversation because it was a lot of fun. At just under 30 minutes in length, I obviously left out a whole lot from this conference call but I promise you that it’s definitely worth your time.