Hey, Hey, Let's Win One for Ray!
Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals: New Jersey Devils vs. Colorado Avalanche
By Mark Weisenmiller
 
Can a game so recent be defined as great? Yes, especially given the cast of players who took the ice that night. The goaltenders -- the Avalanche’s Patrick Roy and the Devils’ Martin Brodeur -- were perennial All-Stars and along with the other 10 starters in the game would eventually be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. How often has that happened?

From the moment the 2000-01 National Hockey League season began, the Avalanche was expected to win the Stanley Cup. They had the winningest goalie in NHL history (Roy, who earned his record setting 448th win during the season), arguably the sport’s best all-around player (center Peter Forsberg), the classiest and most talented captain (center Joe Sakic) and the most promising group of young defensemen in the league (Greg DeVries, Adam Foote and Martin Skoula).

Yet, Avalanche president and general manager Pierre Lacroix felt his team needed more depth on the blue line to earn a trip to the Cup finals that year. So he acquired hard-hitting and hard-shooting Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings and Raymond Bourque from the Boston Bruins.

After almost 22 seasons with the Bruins, Bourque had the dubious distinction of having played the most games in NHL history without winning the Stanley Cup. He would retire after the 2000-01 season with more goals (410), more assists (1,169) and more points (1,579) than any other defenseman in league history – all in 1,612 games.


 

Despite its talent, the Avalanche was stretched to six games by the Devils, the defending Stanley Cup champions. The New Jersey club led three games to two and had home ice advantage for Game 6. Bourque predicted the Avalanche would rebound from its worst game -- a 4 to 1 loss in Game 5 – to play their best.
He was correct. Four Avs players scored in Game 6 -- Foote, Ville Nieminen, Chris Drury and Alex Tanguay -- and Roy stopped 24 shots for his record 19th career playoff shutout. Final score: Avs 4, Devils 0.

Game 7 was played on June 9 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Avs did not have the services of Forsberg, who had undergone emergency surgery to have his spleen removed after Game 7 of the team's playoff win against the Los Angeles Kings.
As he was getting dressed in the locker room for Game 7, Bourque, 40, bellowed a refrain he had often sung before big games: "Hey, hey! Let's win one for Ray!" None of his teammates minded that Bourque sang off-key; they were focused on winning the game.

The opening period featured heavy hitting by both clubs, with the Devils taking the first penalty. The Avs’ Tanguay scored the first goal of the game on a beautiful wrap-around effort. Then the Devils attacked, but Roy made two good saves on low shots and Petr Sykora ripped a booming slap shot that beat Roy but the puck clanged off a goal post. At the end of the period, the superstitious Roy kissed the post to show his appreciation.

In the second period, the Avs took the lead when Sakic, speeding into the Devils’ zone, fired a quick wrist shot that Brodeur stopped. But the rebound went right to Tanguay, who shot it into the net for his second marker of the game. The Avs scored again in the period, with Sakic beating Brodeur with a wrist shot on the glove side. Sykora countered for New Jersey to trim Colorado’s lead to 3-1 at the intermission.

The Devils peppered Roy again in the third period, but the All-Star netminder, one of the NHL’s most effective when his team was leading in a playoff game, turned aside every shot.
When there was a stoppage in play with 30 seconds left in the third period, Bourque left the Avs’ bench for what would be the final shift of his NHL career. The pro-Avalanche crowd boisterously counted down the final 10 seconds.
At the buzzer, Bourque and Roy embraced, then the goalie jumped up and down in celebration -- not for himself, but for his friend, Ray Bourque. 

Roy was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player for the third time in his career. Then, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, standing next to the Stanley Cup at center ice, spoke into a microphone: "This is the most magnificent trophy in all of sports and the hardest to win. There's one player who's waited a long time to hoist this. Joe Sakic, come get the Stanley Cup so he and the rest of your teammates can hoist it."
Sakic accepted the Cup, paused momentarily for photographers to photograph him and Bettman, then turned and handed it off to Raymond Bourque.
Arguably the best NHL player of his generation raised the gleaming Cup over his head with both hands and shut his eyes long enough to absorb the moment. Ray Bourque was finally a champion.





 
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