Sigh. This one stings to write.
I still remember the anguish like it was yesterday. I was only 10 years old at the time and had just truly fell in love with hockey that year in thanks to my dad letting me stay up to watch Edmonton’s usual late-night games. (I really owe it all to him).
There I sat in my Oil drop Tommy Salo jersey with plans to make a paper-mache Stanley Cup to bring to school in the coming days.
Instead, I ended up crying on the floor of my parents’ bedroom. Thanks, Carolina.
But no matter the outcome, it was a huge game and a huge season for the Oilers. It was the first time Edmonton made the cup finals in 16 years so in and of itself that was a significant accomplishment.
Couple that with the fact the Oilers were a number eight seed who: beat the number one seed Detroit Red Wings, number five seed San Jose Sharks and number six seed Mighty Duck of Anaheim, Edmonton really didn’t have a place in the finals that year. It was improbable, to say the least.
Instead, it was a storybook tale of how a mishmash of players somehow all clicked at the right time. I talked a little bit about the building of that team in an article last week where I highlighted Kevin Lowe’s time as general manager, but here’s a quick excerpt from that piece:
Lowe was the architect behind the Oilers fairytale run in the 2006 playoffs and the work started not long after he was hired. His second trade as the Oilers GM was flipping Roman Hamrlik to the New York Islanders in exchange for Eric Brewer, Josh Green and a 2000 2nd round pick used to select Brad Winchester.
Brewer, of course, was a key piece of the Oilers acquisition of Chris Pronger years later. In 2003, he acquired Brad Isbister and Raffi Torres for Janne Niinimaa and second and fourth-round picks in 2003.
And on August 2nd 2005, he made his biggest trade as GM by acquiring Pronger for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka. Pronger was a monster and an absolute vacuum for the Oilers in those playoffs and they likely wouldn’t have had the run they did if he wasn’t on the back end. The work was from over. A day later he brought in Michael Peca for Mike York.
Come January 2006, he made trades to acquire Dick Tarnstrom and Jaroslav Spacek, then key deadline deals to acquire Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov.
That’s all to go along with the likes of Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll, Ryan Smyth and others.
Lowe did a damn fine job bringing together that 2006 team and made some shrewd acquisitions. But in game seven, it just wasn’t enough.
Already down star goalie Dwayne Roloson who was injured in game one, the Oilers scratched and clawed their way to game seven. The ‘Canes got out to an early lead and never looked back.
Aaron Ward scored 1:26 into the game and Edmonton had to fight to try and stay in it. Frantisek Kaberle scored a powerplay goal at 4:18 in the second to extend their lead.
Playoff hero Fernando Pisani got the Oilers on the board early in the third, but it wasn’t enough. Edmonton eventually fell 3-1 and had to watch the Hurricanes lift Lord Stanley.
On Twitter: @zjlaing