Hungry for redemption. Fed by the greatest draft class ever. Boosted by the lockout. A perfect storm created the best world junior team in history. Ten years later, they share their story.
With Ken Campbell & Matt Larkin
The night is always darkest just before the dawn, and Canada’s greatest anguish on the World Junior Championship stage came one year before its greatest triumph. Flash back to Helsinki, Finland, 2004. Canada desperately wanted to be crowned hockey’s best under-20 nation after six long years in the cold. Since a five-year run of golds that ended in 1997, the Canadians had finished eighth, second, third, third, second and second, with each heartbreak worse than the last. They blew a 2-1 lead to Russia on Canadian ice to lose the 2003 final. Then, in Helsinki, the nightmare continued. Canada led upstart U.S. 3-1 entering the third period of the gold medal game. The U.S. stormed back to tie it and, with less than five minutes remaining in a 3-3 contest, Canada goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s clearing attempt bounced off teammate Braydon Coburn and into his own net. The Americans won their first world juniors ever. Canada’s drought reached seven years.
BRAYDON COBURN, D: With Marc-Andre, it was just unlucky, I don’t even know how to explain it. It was just one of those things that happened.
SIDNEY CROSBY, LW: You dream about playing for that team as a kid and winning gold, and to be up two goals going into the third, you think you’re in pretty good shape. All of a sudden, things turn quickly and you’re disappointed. You don’t know if you’ll get an opportunity to do it again.
BRENT SEABROOK, D: It was fast. Once it started rolling downhill, it kept rolling, but you’ve got to give the Americans a lot of credit. They had a great team that year. Once they smelled blood, they kept going, but it’s a tough one to lose.
NIGEL DAWES, LW: We really couldn’t believe what just happened and the way it happened. It took a bit of time to honestly get over it. We were at a loss for words and very disappointed with the way it went.
BLAIR MACKASEY, HOCKEY CANADA HEAD SCOUT: It’s funny how the loss will stay with you a lot longer than the wins do. I remember someone congratulating me on winning two gold medals in a row at the juniors (in 2005 and 2006). The first thing out of my mouth was, “Yeah, but it should have been three.” I remember (Hockey Canada president) Bob Nicholson saying to me, “Get over it.” But I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.
COBURN: It’s heartbreaking. It’s the world juniors, it’s the pinnacle of junior hockey, and it’s a tough pill to swallow, but one of the things you learn in hockey right away is you move past those things. So it was a good thing for us returning guys that we got another crack at it, and I feel sorry for the guys who didn’t.
The 2005 WJC would be held in Grand Forks, N.D. It wasn’t Canada’s backyard, but it was awfully close. The team brain trust, led by Nicholson and MacKasey, knew it had a strong opportunity to win gold. It was just a matter of finding the right personnel to do it.
MACKASEY: A lot of good things came out of that series in Helsinki. One of them was: we always have a debrief after, and one of the things I brought up was if we are going out to bring in the very, very best players we can find in Canada to play in this tournament, we have to surround them with the very, very best coaches, the very best training staff, and the very best medical staff. It has to be right along the board. It can’t just be good players. We’re not good enough in Canada anymore to just show up with an average team or an average group.
The rebuild started with coach Brent Sutter, brought in to succeed Mario Durocher. Sutter was perfectly equipped to connect with the players, as he was a 1,111-game NHL veteran, and he had their respect after several years coaching Red Deer in the Western League.
BRENT SUTTER, COACH: We wanted to change the culture of the way things were done. Bob and I sat down in the summer about some changes that could be made and probably needed to be made. The important thing was Bob was very up front and said, “Brent, just run the team the way you run your team in Red Deer.” And so the first thing we discussed was making sure we brought in the right coaching staff.
The handpicked group included Ontario League coaches Peter DeBoer of Kitchener and Jim Hulton of Kingston.
COBURN: With Brent Sutter coming in, there was a confidence built in the team right away. It almost dispelled some of the pressure coming in, just knowing we had such a good team and chemistry.
SEABROOK: He treated us like professionals. Yeah, he made us work, and we had fun when we could have fun. It was my first taste of that. I remember being in North Dakota and not knowing what to do with myself, because I’m the junior kid and whatnot. ‘Sutts,’ he was awesome. I have a lot of respect for him, the way he does things and how he coached that team.
DAWES: If we weren’t pulling our weight, he’d come to tell you. You knew that. It was a two-way street and there was a lot of respect going both ways, from player to coach and also coach to player.
CROSBY: It was great. He established that competitive atmosphere. I remember the summer camp, we had a ton of returning guys and he made it clear that nobody was going to be given a spot in Year 2.
DANNY SYVRET, D: He was really intense. In a short time frame, you need someone to come in and just grab the bull, right?
The team was more complex to assemble than in most years, as the NHL was mired in a lockout. If it ended before December, many potential world junior participants would end up on their respective NHL clubs instead of playing for their countries. Canada had to hold its breath on Sidney Crosby, the decade’s most hyped prospect, and other standout Canadians such as Ryan Getzlaf, Dion Phaneuf, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, all of whom had strong chances to go pro.
SUTTER: We had to have two plans: one if the lockout was going to continue on and we were going to have these players, and one if we didn’t have these players. You really think about that team, if the lockout ended and there was NHL hockey, there was a possibility of six, seven, eight guys who wouldn’t have been there.
The lockout didn’t end, and when Canada settled on its final roster, it had its oldest team ever, at an average age of 19 years, five months and 28 days. It had a dozen returning players from Helsinki, each hungry to erase bad memories and feeling the pressure.
RYAN GETZLAF, C: When you’re playing in Canada, there is always pressure. Everything we do, every event we go to, you expect to win gold. When we didn’t win the year before and got the chance the next year, it was obviously the best team I’ve been a part of in a long time, so we knew we had to win.
DION PHANEUF, D: We knew the feeling of when we lost it, and how close we had gotten, and the heartbreak that goes on when you a lose a game like that. The returning guys knew. It wasn’t talked about publicly, but we knew what was at stake.
The 2005 tournament MVP was a Canadian who wasn’t on the 2004 squad: Patrice Bergeron. He missed Helsinki because he was too busy in the NHL, amassing 39 points with Boston as the league’s youngest player. The lockout afforded him the chance to join Canada as its most seasoned member, with 71 NHL games under his belt.
ANDREW LADD, LW: To me he was the one who really stood out. Obviously he was still young at 19, but you could tell the talent and skill level he brought to the game, and everything was brought at high speed. With Bergeron having a year of pro, he was dominant from start to finish at both ends, pretty much the way he is right now.
PATRICE BERGERON, C: I was kind of the new guy coming in, just trying to share some of my experience and translate that on the ice and also trying to help my team to win. So I really was just trying to fit in and be another piece of the puzzle. I didn’t feel like I was taking a step back at all. To me, being part of the world juniors was always a goal. I can remember, at Christmas time, always watching it with my family, with my brother. Actually being part of it was a dream come true.
CROSBY: I was able to learn a lot from Bergeron. He was coming back from Boston that year, so to be able to learn from him, spend time with him, I probably asked him a thousand questions. He was great about it and we’ve been friends ever since. I have a lot of respect for him, putting up with all my questions at a young age. He was a great leader. For a guy to come back from the NHL and handle it the way he did, that was a big part of everyone gelling, too.
BERGERON: We clicked right away. We became friends pretty quickly, I was just trying to help. (Crosby) was such a great player on the ice – he didn’t need much help with that. It was more answering questions about what it was like to play in the NHL. He had a few questions like that, but it wasn’t one after another. We were having fun talking and chatting. It was just great conversation.
JEFF GLASS, G: Bergeron played a year in the NHL, so he dressed nicer than us. He acted like a pro. Like, everything about him, you just looked at him and went, “Wow, this guy is the team.”
DAWES: He was so smooth offensively, but almost even more defensively. He just did everything right, from practice, to games, to hanging out, even. He was just one of the most relaxed guys I’ve seen, and nothing really got his heartbeat up – not in a bad way. He was just so even-keeled, so calm. Everyone fed off that.
Once the team was finalized, Sutter had mere weeks to bond his team together. The first step to get total buy-in: having them all cut their hair short.
SYVRET: It was, “We’re all going to look the same, and we’re all going to play the same, and we’re going to do whatever I say,” and obviously it worked. Maybe it didn’t play a big role in us winning, but it set the standard for, “You’re the boss and we’re going to listen to you.”
COREY PERRY, RW: (Sutter) called me up, and he goes, “How bad do you want to make this team?” And I said, “I’ll do anything.” And he goes, “OK, go cut your hair.” So I went, chopped it off, and I made the team.
SYVRET: ‘Pers’ and Braydon Coburn had noticeably longer hair, like coming-out-of-the-helmet hair. We had to all go get, not a crew cut but like the Yankees clubhouse.
COBURN: I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something like “no hippies on the team.” It was like an executive order that all the boys keep it high and tight.
GLASS: The way Sutter commanded the room, you just had so much respect for the guy, from where he came from and what he’s done, and you knew he had the greater goal in mind. I’m thinking now, if my coach told me this year to cut my hair, you know where I would tell him to go. So it’s kind of contradictory, because he treats us like pros but made us cut our hair, but at the same time you respected him and knew that it was for the right reasons.
MACKASEY: He’s funny like that. He had a very, “This is the way he’s going to be, and we’re going to have haircuts, and we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do that.” And yet he ran that thing very much like a professional team. It’s funny, Brent can be a hard guy. I remember in Vancouver, just yelling and screaming at somebody during the game and benching them, and then two minutes after the game, he’s got his arm around the kid’s shoulder and talking to him, a little bit of that fatherly thing. Brent did a great job with that team, the whole coaching staff. We still talk about it to this day. He and I are good friends. A lot of good memories.
Power forward Anthony Stewart was a menacing presence on the ice but played the role of court jester off it.
GLASS: He was hilarious and a really loud, funny guy, and he never went at it with anyone. He was just always yapping and the guy you wanted to have on your team.
DAWES: Oh yeah, it was always in fun. It was never really taken too much to heart. At the same time, no one was off limits. He wasn’t afraid to go after everyone, but then again, no one was afraid to go after him, so it made for a lot of fun both ways.
The next step in team bonding: spending Christmas at a log cabin. It belonged to retired NHLer Ted Irvine and his wife, Bonnie, who were friends of Sutter and parents of the WWE wrestling superstar Chris Jericho.
SUTTER: Building a team isn’t just putting skates on, going out and putting a system in place and saying, “Go do this” and “Do it the right way” and “Do it together.” You’ve got to be close off the ice. We thought of different things, and Teddy and Bonnie opened their house for us in northern Manitoba, north of Winnipeg. All their neighbors cooked us Christmas dinner. Going up there, I thought that was awesome. That was certainly a highlight, one of many you look back on. It was really unique, really cool.
COLIN FRASER, C: Chris was not there, but he had made a video with many of the Canadian wrestlers at the time and they filmed, what do they call it? A cameo? Just them on the camera saying good luck or whatever. I can’t remember which guys were Canadian, but Chris Jericho was one of them, obviously. And a couple others, Edge and Christian.
SYVRET: I’m a pretty big wrestling fan, so for me it was cool just going there, and then they just put on this DVD that was pretty much all the Canadian-born wrestlers in the Federation and a 1-on-1 with the camera and sort of a pump-me-up. They’re still doing it in character, which was really funny.
BERGERON: We sang karaoke there. I could barely speak English, so it was one of those things I was really nervous about doing. It was all fun, just trying to be part of it and establishing a connection and a chemistry right away, because it’s a short turnaround.
COBURN: A lot of my memories, whenever we were doing something, it was usually with Danny. He was a great teammate and a great roommate, and I was thankful to meet him through that experience. “Little shoes!” We were joking around the other day, because we had Christmas presents, little gag gifts, a secret Santa thing. I had Danny’s name, so I got him little baby shoes because he was a small guy. He told me he still has them to this day. We were laughing about it the other day.
GLASS: I had Bergeron. I think I got him motor oil, because he had jet-black hair. Something cheesy like that.
PHANEUF: Those team-building events are extremely important. The world juniors, the tournament and the whole experience for me as a player is one of the top hockey memories I have, and it starts with, it’s your first time being away from home at Christmas time. So you’re together with the team right from early December all the way through the finish of the tournament.
Galvanized by their team building, the Canadians embarked for North Dakota. They felt oddly confident for a team with a seven-year monkey on its back. They were determined to right a previous wrong and felt a sense of invincibility that came with a roster loaded with first-round NHL draft picks.
BERGERON: Some of the things I talked about with Sid during the downtime in our room…redemption was on everyone’s mind. It was just awesome to me. All the guys so determined, so ready for every game. I didn’t want to let anyone down. You never want to be the weakest link, right?
CROSBY: Being in North Dakota, there were a lot of people from Canada that made the trip, so yeah, we felt the pressure a bit, but we also were fortunate enough to almost feel like it was at home.
SEABROOK: We had more fans there than the Americans had in Dakota. I think for the games we averaged more fans than them. We had a nice side crowd there for us and that made it a lot of fun.
SHEA WEBER, D: Our belief was we were going to be the team to end (the drought). And you know you have to believe you can win and play with confidence, but you don’t want to get arrogant and drift away from what you need to do to succeed. We stuck to our philosophy and stayed within ourselves.
SYVRET: Going in I was like, “This is looking good” (laughs). It’s almost like the first two rounds of the NHL draft, literally, and looking back, now 90 percent of the guys are NHL all-stars. I knew we had a really good team. Everyone for the most part was pretty much the top scorer on their junior squads. When you get into a tournament like that it’s tough to find, I don’t know if it’s chemistry that you’re looking for, but the buy-in of guys playing outside their usual elements. Not taking a back seat but taking on a different role. Our coaching staff did a great job of manipulating lines, and the players bought in to the different styles of playing that they are not accustomed to with their junior squads.
That rang especially true for Crosby and Perry. The two ranked first and second in all of major junior in scoring entering the WJC, but Sutter deployed them with Bergeron on a shutdown line. Perry was a late addition after Jeremy Colliton went down with an injury.
SUTTER: Corey struggled through the training camp in December and we kept hoping he could come through. We went into the last (exhibition) game and there were going to be some decisions. He was one. I remember very vividly sitting down with Corey and just telling him, “Tonight, this is what we expect from you, this is the way we need you playing,” and he went out and had three goals and three assists. It was an easy decision at that point to name him to the team.
Canada started the round-robin in style on Christmas Day, 2004, beating Slovakia 7-3. Then it steamrolled Sweden two days later 8-1, humiliated Germany 9-0 and capped off the group stage by pumping goalie Tuukka Rask and Team Finland 8-1. The Crosby-Bergeron-Perry line did its job, and the top scoring line of Ryan Getzlaf between Jeff Carter and Andrew Ladd was a force.
SUTTER: Sidney was 17 and I had such an admiration, so much respect for Sidney with the way he handled everything there. You could tell he was going to be a superstar, and you could tell he was going to be an elite player. You could tell he was going to be captain of a team someday.
GLASS: I remember one time Crosby was able to “lacrosse” the hockey puck with his stick, things you would get in trouble for if you ever did. I think he got in trouble on Coach’s Corner for doing it in practice, and he would just do it freely at will and guys wouldn’t do or say anything, because it was great. Then when we got back to more being watched, none of that stuff would go on.
GETZLAF: Me and Ladd played together all year (with WHL Calgary), so we had that chemistry. Me and ‘Carts’ have always fit together. He’s a goal scorer. He shoots the puck a lot. Having that on my line helped me and helped his game as well.
COBURN: Brent was rolling four lines, and we were rolling six ‘D,’ and it was wave after wave of attack.
SUTTER: It didn’t matter how many goals we were up. We kept playing the same way.
SYVRET: The style of play is so much different than what you’re accustomed to. I remember playing the Finns, and they were real passive and just trying to prey on turnovers. The Swedes played an all-around game and then the Russians played that puck-possession game all those NHLers are trying to get into now. But there was never really that smashmouth style of hockey that we were accustomed to in the OHL, Quebec League and the WHL. Going into every game, you don’t know what the other team is bringing and you don’t know that much about a player, if he’s a speedster or ultra-skilled, or has great vision, or a cannon, or hits hard, the ins and outs of every player. It’s going in with a bit of the unknown early, but our team was pretty dominant, so it didn’t matter who was on the other side. We were a pretty efficient machine.
Flames draftee Phaneuf was a star on defense, blowing up opponents with hard hits. Goaltender Jeff Glass was an unsung hero, appearing in five of Canada’s six games, winning each and posting a 1.40 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
GLASS: Phaneuf was Brent’s captain in Red Deer. He was outspoken. He was really outgoing. So Brent kind of leaned on Dion and Colin Fraser to amplify what he was looking for and used them as his liaisons to the team. With the reputation Phaneuf had, plus the confidence, without being a captain he was a leader, and he did a good job for us.
PHANEUF: I was comfortable in talking to (Sutter), and he would talk to me, yeah. I had to relay messages about what he wanted to get through to the team. He’s an intimidating coach, but all he wants from his team is to play hard and play the right way. If you give him a hard effort night in, night out, that’s all he asks for.
SUTTER: With Glass, we knew he was going to be our starter, but we didn’t need someone who would have to stop 30 pucks a night for us. We needed someone who could mentally keep himself in the game when we were only going to give up 15 to 20 shots. He had to stay sharp. He came from Kootenay. At that point in time they were the best defensive team in the country, and they weren’t giving up much more then 20 shots a night. It was really important and any time he needed to make a big save, he was there and made it for us.
FRASER: No one ever talks about Jeff Glass, because our team was so good. Look at our defense corps. Name the players there. There were Norris candidates that are just great, great, all-star defensemen. Glass was a good goalie. Look at his numbers in the Western League. I played against him.
GLASS: Watching (Carey Price in the 2014 Olympics), it’s exactly how I felt, too. Heaven forbid anyone got close to Price. It wasn’t a question of whether they were going to score. It was getting into a position to even get a chance. And I remember that same feeling, being like, ‘I just have to make my saves,’ like it was going to be 15 or 20 shots and just make your saves, because there isn’t going to be a breakdown of 2-on-0 or 2-on-1 or high-scoring chance. It was going to be just normal hockey plays that happen, and I just needed to make saves. To me I remember just watching Weber, Phaneuf, Coburn and guys in front of me and it was just so smooth. It was a lot of fun.
Canada earned a bye to the semifinal, where it met what turned out to be its toughest opponent: the Czech Republic, backstopped by Marek Schwarz and led on the attack by Rostislav Olesz.
LADD: We won 3-1. I remember that game being the toughest and most nerve-racking. The thing about us is we could have had a few more goals that game, but it was pretty machine-like how we played the exact same way the whole time. We rolled four lines and it was just one after another, and teams couldn’t sustain pressure against us.
DAWES: After each game we won, it was right onto the next one. Never got really a chance to sit back and think about what we were doing and what was going on as it was happening until it was all over with. And then we could kind of sit back and be like, “holy, that was a pretty unbelievable performance.” But with Brent there, he kept our eye on the prize and really it was a day-by-day approach. That helped us to not to get too far ahead of ourselves and just look at the next game coming up.
GLASS: I remember nights before games and getting together. We’d call it an evening snack and guys would all meet back at the cafe or boardroom and there would be oatmeal and fruit for us to eat. We’d all meet and guys would all hang out. It was pretty cool. There was never a rush to get back to the rooms, because there wasn’t a whole lot you could do in the rooms, but it really had the team feel of guys wanting to hang out with one another.
Then came the match everyone was waiting for: Canada versus Russia in the gold medal game. The Russians were armed to the teeth with several generational talents of their own, including Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. As dominant as the Canadians had been, they knew they needed a strategy to contain the dynamic offensive duo.
PERRY: It was one of the most hyped games in a long time.
COBURN: We knew they had two guys who they really relied on a lot and that we had to give special attention. And the thing is, we had so many guys that matched up so well against those two guys that they kind of became a non-factor in our team game after that.
SUTTER: The plan was to play our game, but don’t give a guy like Ovechkin any time and space, making sure that he knew every time he touched the puck, there was going to be some kind of punishment pushed his way. The guys did a great job with it, doing it with discipline.
Canada stuck the Bergeron line on Ovechkin’s unit. Bergeron smothered ‘Ovie,’ eventually knocking the big Russian from the game with a thundering hit.
FRASER: I just remember them going head to head, Bergeron having that NHL experience to play straight up against a guy like that, and he’s still doing it today, 10 years later.
SYVRET: It was Bergeron’s line against them and then we matched up Phaneuf and Weber, and good luck coming up the middle with them.
SUTTER: The guy I admire the most through that whole group is playing in Pittsburgh right now: Malkin. He was a younger kid. He was 18 in that tournament. To me, he was the best player in that game. Ovechkin left halfway through, banged up the shoulder, never returned. But Evgeni played very well for them in that game. You could tell he was going to be an elite player, too. You could see it. He was playing against what we had and how we played, the top-gun players we had, he was right there with our team.
But Malkin’s efforts weren’t nearly enough. Canada led 2-1 after the first period and broke Russia’s spirit in the second, scoring four unanswered goals. The game ended 6-1. The drought was over. Canada was back atop the junior hockey mountain after its most dominant performance ever.
GLASS: We’re playing the Russians in the final and it’s like, something’s going to happen, right? Except Brent kept it going, “stay focused, stay determined.” And it was almost like the tournament went by before we had to face adversity. Like we kept waiting for something to happen and then, bam! We won it.
GETZLAF: That place went crazy. It was a blast. We had all friends and family there. The whole city was filled with Canadians.
SUTTER: What was so cool about it was, afterward, seeing the smiles on their faces, the relief knowing it had been seven years since Canada won a gold. They were the ones that were responsible for changing that. At the end of the day, you coach, and you do it all for your players and give them the best chance to succeed, and the players took it all in and were marvelous with it all.
SYVRET: I remember the whole tournament, except when we got our medals. It was like, “I don’t even know where I am.”
SUTTER: For Bob Nicholson to be open-minded like he was and have the trust in myself and Blair, and our staff, Pete and everybody, it’s a credit to him. He had a good feel for it. He believed in us and that just got handed down through the process, the selection of the team and right through the tournament.
GLASS: We bussed it right back, because we were all underage in the States, right? So we got on the bus and they put a case of beer on the bus. We got to the border, and I remember they pushed us right through, and we headed to Winnipeg.
After staying up all night, Team Canada had to part ways on various flights. It was back to business, as each player’s junior team awaited his return.
GLASS: I just laugh, because guys were getting off the airplane and people were so happy to welcome them back to their teams, and we know no one slept on that plane. Everybody was looking a little tired.
COBURN: I remember one of the first games back, opening up a newspaper and reading something about Ladd and Phaneuf, and Fraser and Getzlaf, getting into a fight. It was funny seeing guys go from teammates one day to a line brawl the next.
The more years pass, the more the 2005 team cements its place as the greatest in world junior history. On top of the results that year, its players have won 14 Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies, two Selkes, two Rocket Richards, two scoring titles and 13 Olympic gold medals. But do the members of that team realize now just how great they were?
CROSBY: Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to take anything away from the other teams that have had great performances there, but I’d like to think we are right in that discussion. If you look at the guys who played on the team and the guys who have moved on, it’s pretty hard to argue.
MACKASEY: The funny thing is, with that team, I can still rhyme off the lines, one to four. I can’t do it with any other teams, as good as they were. Something about that team, you just knew it was going to be Crosby-Bergeron-Perry, Ladd-Getzlaf-Carter, Richards-Dawes-Stewart. And the fourth line was (Stephen) Dixon, Fraser and (Clarke) McArthur. You knew it was going to be Weber and Phaneuf on ‘D,’ and Seabrook and Coburn, and Belle and Syvret.
DAWES: There was so much skill on that team, and I still see it today with all those guys playing in the NHL, watching them in the highlights sometimes. I’m still shaking my head in awe at times seeing them do stuff in practice or the games. They’re just continuing to get better. They’re really dominating the league nowadays.
GLASS: The next year, Ladd won the Cup. I remember I had just finished my first year of pro, and I had just gotten home, and I had played most of the year in the ECHL. I was up and down that year, and this guy is hoisting the Stanley Cup, and I was like, ‘OK, there are going to be a few of these guys.’
LADD: You have aspirations that you’ll be high-end players in the NHL, but you just never know how things will work out. So, looking back now, to say that we weren’t surprised, to say it would work out or we’d have this many guys captains in the league or stars in the league who have won Stanley Cups, I don’t think any of us would have predicted that.
WEBER: It’s tough (to look back), because we’re all still playing. Maybe when we get older and everything slows down and it’s done, you’ll be able to reflect on it a little more.
CROSBY: We were so focused during the tournament, I don’t think we really realized how good we were. With the lockout, we had our own guys back, but there were a lot of other guys on other teams that were pretty capable of changing a game with one play. I remember every team being dangerous, goalies being able to steal one game. There’s so much that can happen. I don’t think you look that far ahead. After it was all said and done, and you looked at each game and how we played and how we carried the play, it was pretty impressive. When I look back, I definitely think it was one the best teams I ever played on.
MACKASEY: No disrespect to the other teams, but there was just something special about that team. It was just the buildup, we hadn’t won in seven years, the frustration from the year before. There was a lot of frustration also among Canadian fans because of the lockout. A lot of people were disillusioned with hockey. It was a long lockout. It went the whole year. There were a lot of negative things going on in hockey those days, the way people felt about it. In a lot of ways, that team picked up a whole nation.
PHANEUF: I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. Shows how fast time flies by. That team was very special to be a part of. The friendships I made will last a lifetime.