And so we pick up the thread of last week, when the Ducks celebrated the 10th anniversary of their Stanley Cup . . .
Fan favorite Giguere was so kind. He talked a little bit about goalie gear, but then I steered him to the Cup. “I wouldn’t say I think of it every day, but you’re often introduced or talked about as a Stanley Cup winner. I’m involved about minor hockey back home, so if anybody talks to their kid about me, they’ll say he won the Cup. Otherwise, I’m very proud of it, but it doesn’t get me far in life if I talk about it every day. If somebody wants to talk to me about it, I’ll talk to them about it, but that’s about it.”
He said that the son born the year of the Cup run (Giggy missed some games due to birth time complications, you might recall) is ten now and a goalie. “Doing it with one eye”—the kid had eye troubles that they thought after his birth might render him blind. Seems like that’s all in the past now.
Giguere said that he enjoyed his Denver (Avs) years as a backup goalie. “I was able to help a goalie like Varlamov. It was a good way to finish my career.”
He said his Conn Smythe year, 2003, was disappointing since the team lost the Finals that year to New Jersey, but “part of the experience. The second time around, you make sure you seize the opportunity.”
I asked him about whether people remember how good this team was for so long, and he concurred, crediting GM Murray for drafting so many good players. “We had put the name of the Ducks on the map, and how it was easier to go get guys like Scotty [Niedermayer] and Pronger. What we had here was a great place to come and live, but we didn’t have a good team. 2003 gave the team a good reputation. 2003 really put us on the hockey map, whether it was around the NHL or even in California. We gained a lot of fans in those days. You build by winning. You have to build to gain respect.”
One final tidbit: I asked him about Ottawa’s cockiness coming into the Finals in 2007, and he indicated I was right about the assessment. “We felt like they were cocky. We felt that vibe, but we knew that we had a good team. We knew that the way that we played, they wouldn’t like it. And they definitely didn’t like it. We were finishing every check. These guys were skilled guys who didn’t have any room on the ice. And they were very frustrated by the end of the series.”
That leaves just one guy, and one question that I’d been dying to ask. It went something like this: Doesn’t this at some level remind you of your mortality? Doesn’t it say that good times are fleeting, that we’re all just getting older, with all that that entails?
I asked Brad May about life and getting older, and he had a good response, because he’s one of those guys with worldy wisdom. The kind of guy that, 100 years ago, would have sat around the stove at the local general store and talked about life to whoever happened in.
“Retirement’s been great for me. I got right into the media, doing work in Toronto,” he began. Then we got philosophical, “Life changed? Of course. But I think you get an immediate respect from people.”
“I can’t quantify how often I think of the Cup, but for my family, I refer to it as, not the happiest we’ve ever been, but we did it together. A wife, children, it brought us together, since my wife and kids moved around to different cities when I was traded. They’d have to re-create what they had, and build their life, and it was the culmination of all of that. The successful result of what we were chasing. For our family, it was incredible, and some of our greatest family photos are around that time. The summer, celebrating. Just a ton of fun.”
And as if to say, hey, stop thinking so hard about the fleeting nature of life, and Cups, the team gave out cookies in the press box. They were shaped like little Stanley Cups. The unstated message—eat, enjoy, but don’t treat these as something permanent. They’ll be stale in a couple of days otherwise.
Maybe that’s what the team’s co-owner (with his spouse) was thinking about when he said that he wished these heritage players would, “Please rub shoulders with the guys in that locker room so some of that Stanley Cup fairy dust rubs off on them.”
Note that the cookies that were tiny replica Stanley Cups came in a pair. Hmmm—is that a prediction?