In the spirit of the ongoing NCAA tourney style bracket event features many of the 2005-06 stars right now, I am posting shorter write-ups on each of the Canes 2005-06 playoff players in two parts.
Craig Adams: Paired with Kevyn Adams and Chad LaRose, the trio which was maybe a little light on raw hockey talent made up for it with effort and brought fourth line energy every single shift.
Kevyn Adams: He was an alternate captain, a regular on the penalty kill and the epitome of the NHL role player willing to do absolutely anything to win the ultimate prize. He played most of game seven of the Finals with a wrist that was broken by a Chris Pronger shot in the first period.
Rod Brind’Amour: Nothing against Cam Ward, but the captain earned my Conn Smythe vote. He led the team in goals and game-winning goals and was very simply the best player on the ice most shifts despite logging 22-24 minutes per game in non-overtime games (and more in overtime games) and taking as many of the hard minutes as possible including penalty kill.
Erik Cole: In the regular season, he was as good as any power forward in the league before his injury. And while we will never know for sure what difference his improbable appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals made, there is a part of me that thinks his presence alone was the restart and positive energy that the Canes needed to start fresh in game seven even after a bad loss in game six.
Mike Commodore: Amidst the drama, stress and tension of the playoffs he brought the fun and tension relief with the huge afro and the crazy bath robe in the locker room that will forever be a part of the craziest of memories from the magical playoff run
Matt Cullen: His versatility made him the ‘any situation’ puzzle piece that seemed to fit wherever needed as the regular season and playoffs progressed and injuries and personnel changes created new requirements for piecing together the lineup.
Martin Gerber: While Cam Ward ended up being the playoff star, Gerber’s 38 wins during the regular season were key to building the confidence that carried through the entire season and also to winning home ice advantage. The Canes leveraged home ice advantage for two game seven wins including hoisting the Stanley Cup in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Bret Hedican: He was incredibly steady defensively throughout the playoffs and arguably the team’s best defenseman throughout the 2005-06 playoffs.
Frantisek Kaberle: He led the Canes defensemen in scoring in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 13 points and scored the huge game-winning goal in game seven versus Edmonton to put the Canes up two goals, build a small cushion and put the team on the path to winning it all.
Andrew Ladd: With the Canes and Oilers tied at four with only six minutes remaining in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals, Ladd barreled to the net and was upended by Oilers’ defenseman MA Bergeron right into Dwayne Roloson. The train wreck ended the series for Roloson and also put Conklin into a pressure-packed situation that saw his mishandling of the puck earn the Canes claim a 1-0 lead in the series.
It is also a great time of year to remember that the magic of 2005-06 came out of a summer when the Canes were picked to finish no higher than bottom five in the entire league. Anything truly is possible in the NHL, and the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes prove it.