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Twice as Nice!

"Because of Vladdy's accident, we had a challenge. We didn't have to be satisfied with last year because it is already history, and it is a new year, and we have a new goal to do it again." Igor Larionov's words not only sum up the 1998 Stanley Cup champions, but they also describe the driving force behind the Wings to take another championship. The 1996-1997 Stanley Cup Champs' summer of celebration was cut short by Vladdy & Sergei's Limo accident, but the Wings used the pain that they suffered from that tragedy to fuel their drive to win another championship. The Wings went into the 1997-1998 season with the league's best record despite missing one of their key players (Sergei Fedorov) to a contract holdout. But the Wings regained their 'Russian Star' just in time for the last stretch of the regular season. And when the playoffs began, the Wings were ready. The first round of the playoffs proved to be a physical test for the Wings as the Pheonix Coyotes took the Wings to 5 games. But Detroit was far from home free after they defeated the Coyotes and moved on to the St. Louis Blues. Chris Osgood's abilities were tested as well as the rest of the Wings during the 6-game St. Louis series, but the Wings perservered and moved on to round 3 to take on the team with the best record at the end of the regular season. The high-scoring and highly defensive Dallas series went on to 6 games as the Wings were physically tested over and over again. "Dallas was definately the most physical series, and we knew that the best way to answer them was to answer them head on," Said Red Wings forward Darren McCarty. And the Wings did anwer them head on, to take the Western Conference Championship, and move on the the Stanley Cup Finals. The Washington Capitals Proved to be less of a threat than the previous 3 rounds had been for the Wings as Detroit swept all 4 games to win the Stanley Cup and fulfill the dream and the drive to dedicate the cup to Vladdy and Sergei. As Darren McCarty explains,"We obviously had different reasons this year, we wanted to do it for Vladdy and Sergei." And as Vladdy wheeled the cup around the arena sporting a cigar and a Stanley Cup Champs hat, he and everyone else knew that the Wings had acheived their dream.