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by Dave Strader / Arizona Coyotes
CHICAGO -- It’s been just over a month since the Coyotes’ magical season ended with a Game 7 loss to the Red Wings. That means it’s been just over a month since I worked a hockey telecast. But I will be back to work on Saturday night at the United Center here in Chicgao for Game 1 on the 2010 Stanley Cup Final as the Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers.

For the 13th consecutive final, dating to the 1997 series between the Red Wings and Flyers, I have the privilege of calling the SCF for NHL International. This is a telecast that goes out to about 150 countries. I’ve heard from many people over the years who have heard our call in places like Japan, England, South America and South Africa. I worked the first two years with my former partner on Red Wings TV, Mickey Redmond. Ironically, Detroit won the Cup both years. In 1999, I worked with Eddie Olczyk. Since 2000, I’ve been paired with Joe Micheletti. Here’s a quick look back at some of the highlights from each year:

1997: Detroit ends a Cup drought that dated to 1955 by sweeping the Flyers. Darren McCarty’s game-winning goal in Game 4 was a highlight-reel move.

1998: Detroit makes it back-to-back titles with another sweep, this time against the Washington Capitals. The post-game ceremony was very emotional as captain Steve Yzerman handed the Cup to Vladimir Konstantinov whose career ended in a tragic limousine accident following the ’97 Cup victory.

1999: Dallas defeats Buffalo with an overtime victory in Game 6 on Brett Hull’s goal that was controversial because of the “in the crease” rule that existed at the time.

2000: N.J. wins in Dallas on an overtime goal in Game 6 by Jason Arnott. In the post-game ceremony, N.J. coach Larry Robinson wore the jersey of injured Devil Petr Sykora who was taken to a local hospital earlier that night after taking a hit from Stars defenseman Derian Hatcher.

2001: Colorado defeated N.J, in a memorable seven-game series. Ray Bourque caps off his Hall of Fame career with a Stanley Cup.

2002: Detroit makes it three Cups in six seasons with a five-game series win over Carolina. Game 3 was a triple OT classic that ended on Igor Larionov’s goal. Detroit became the first team in NHL history to win the Cup after losing their first two playoff games on home ice (Detroit lost Games 1 & 2 of their first round series vs. Vancouver at Joe Louis Arena.)

2003: The home team won every game in this seven-game final as the Devils defeated the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Losing goalie J.S. Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

2004: Tampa Bay came back from a 3-2 series deficit in the SCF to defeat Calgary in seven games. The Lightning won Game 6 at Calgary in 2 OTs and took a tense Game 7 by a 2-1 score.

2006: With the 2004-05 season wiped out by the lockout, everyone was looking forward to the 2006 playoffs. The SCF was a seven-game classic as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers, the eightth seed from the West.

2007: Anaheim defeated Ottawa in five games to become the first west coast Stanley Cup champion since the 1925 Victoria Cougars (and no, I DIDN’T cover that series!).

2008: Detroit wins its fourth Cup in 11 seasons by defeating the Penguins in six games. Nick Lidstrom became the first European captain of a Stanley Cup champion.

2009: The same two teams met in consecutive SCF series for the first time since the Oilers and Islanders in the mid-1980s. This time the Penguins prevailed by winning Game 7 on the road after the home team had prevailed in the first six games of the series.

So, who will be the hero of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final? This is an intriguing matchup for many reasons, especially when you consider what the Philadelphia Flyers went through to get here:

• A mid-season coaching change
• Qualified for the playoffs on the last day in a shootout
• Trailed their second-round series vs. Boston three games to zero
• Kept their hopes alive with an OT goal in Game 4 vs. Boston
• Overcame the loss of another goalie (Brian Boucher) in Game 5
• Trailed Game 7 vs. Boston by a 3-0 score before rallying to win 4-3

The Blackhawks haven’t won the Cup since 1961, the longest drought in the NHL. This will be their sixth SCF appearance since their last Cup win. The Flyers won back-to-back Cups in the mid-1970s and also make their sixth SCF appearance since their last Cup in 1975.

My initial reaction to this matchup was that the Blackhawks should win in a four- or five-game series. But, the more I’ve thought about what this Flyers team has been through, I now see this going six or seven games. And, despite the fact that these teams only saw each other once during the season, I don’t think it will take long for this series to get physical and emotional. Both teams have players that will make sure that happens. I still like the Hawks to win the series.

Be sure to check out NHL Network and before and after all the games. I’ll also have updates on my twitter page:

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