Throughout the 2004 American Hockey League Calder Cup Playoffs, Hartford Wolf Pack Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations Bob Crawford checked in with his thoughts and analysis during the AHL's 'second season.'
What a series!
Even though the Wolf Pack came out on the losing end of Game Seven’s 2-1 overtime final on Saturday, I don’t think anyone who saw these games could doubt that they witnessed some unbelievable hockey. The thought that kept dominating my mind as I drank in the action on Saturday was, man, it’s a shame one of these teams has to lose! It was that intense and that well-played.
I know that each and every member of the Pack team was heartsick about the season coming to an abrupt end and that it will take a long time for that to wear off. From the perspective of one who didn’t shed all the blood, sweat and tears that the guys inside the locker room did, though, I’d have to say it was a great effort and not a single one of the guys should be hanging his head one bit over how it turned out. The Pack were one bounce of the puck from winging their way to Milwaukee today for the start of the Finals, and it certainly didn’t look like any individual left anything in the tank. They gave it their all and the ultimate result didn’t go their way, but I for one feel fortunate that I was privileged to watch this team all season.
That’s not to take anything away from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They were the underdogs in the series, but they never played like there was any doubt in their minds that if they played their game they could beat the Wolf Pack. Bruce Berlet of the Hartford Courant
made the point that even to get this far, the Penguins had to beat the top three teams in the Eastern Conference: Bridgeport, Philadelphia and now the Wolf Pack. You do that and you deserve to be knocking on the door of a championship. Now if they can get by the regular-season champions of the whole league, the Milwaukee Admirals, then they’ll wear the Calder Cup crown. Not having seen the Admirals all year it’s hard for me to handicap that series, but I can’t picture Milwaukee playing any harder than Wilkes-Barre/Scranton played against the Wolf Pack, that’s for sure.
Even now as I write this two full days after Game Seven, it’s hard to believe it’s over. After so much back-and-forth you kind of envision it being a great, gallant play, an amazing display of skill that finally ends such an excellent battle. As it was, though, it came out of nowhere, a totally innocent-looking play (like so many overtime goals in hockey) that almost felt like you could just gloss over it and move on. As the reality sank in, it began to feel like a punch in the gut even to us supposedly-impartial observers on broadcast row, and I can only imagine the wave of despair that rushed over the players.
Still it was great fun to watch and I know I’ll never forget it. Hopefully once the guys decompress a little bit and some of the bitter taste washes out, they’ll feel a great measure of pride about what was an outstanding season.
Many thanks for visiting this space and taking the time to jump inside my head for a few minutes (as you can see from the photo, it’s a big melon and there’s plenty of space available). Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my scattershot ramblings throughout this playoff season … I’ve certainly enjoyed sharing them.
- Bob CrawfordRELATED LINKS:Crawford's Pack Report: Nothing Like a Game Seven (5/28/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Up Against a Wall in Game Six (5/26/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: A Best-of -Three Series Now (5/24/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Extra Rest May Benefit Pack (5/22/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Down in Game One, But Not Out (5/20/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Next Stop ... Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (5/17/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Looking to Stay Sharp, Focused (5/11/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Great Finish to a Hockey Marathon (5/6/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Looking to Close Out the Series (5/3/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: A Big Win to Open Round Two (5/1/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: On to the Second Round! (4/29/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: 'Road Warriors' Return Home (4/26/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Nothing Like Playoff OT (4/24/04) >>Crawford's Pack Report: Home Split, Off to Portland (4/21/04) >>