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So this is what it feels like to collapse across a finish line. Normally I collapse well before the yellow tape. Prematurely, the doctors like to call it. But here I am, on the plus side of a 6-2 Stanley Cup clinching victory by the Anaheim Ducks.

It was quite a ride. There was a certain amount of gratification "covering" the Stanley Cup Finals for LAist. I use the term "covering" in the most Chatsworth of senses (i.e. loosely). First of all, I simply love writing about hockey. Second, I got to be that guy who posted every day about a sport that (as "Deke" recently put it) nobody gives a rat$ a$$ about. I can't tell you how much joy that gave me. When you march to your own drummer, no one complains when you change the beat.

Despite the fact that the Stanley Cup champion now resides somewhere in Los Angeles, I am not foolish enough to believe that Disneyland will be leveled to make way for a Hockey SuperPlex. But maybe just maybe those fans inside the building that witnessed history will spread the gospel of the greatest game on earth. Or, perhaps they'll just leave their Southern California vacation homes and return to Canada...

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The game had a little everything. Great goals, crazy plays and more dudes with beards than an Afghanistan poppy farm. The Niedermayer brothers looked like freakin' clerics, it was amazing. Teemu Selanne broke down in tears after finally winning the Cup after 15 years. Pronger had seperated his shoulder in last nights game but was still able to hoise the Cup high. Young guns Perry, Getzlaf and Penner are probably thinking this Stanley Cup gig is a piece of cake. As an example of how young these guys are, Getzlaf was asked who he was thinking of during this time of glory. He said he wouldn't be here today if it weren't for his friends, family and girlfriends.

Plural. Girlfriends.

Atta boy Ryan. This is the same Ryan Getzlaf who I ran into while houseboating on Shushwap Lake in B.C. In the infinite wisdom of a young hockey player on vacation, he decided to host a wet t-shirt contest on his boat. He had the hose so I guess that made him master of ceremonies. Needless to say, I didn't win. Now that he has a Stanley Cup who knows what debauchery will go down this summer on the lakes of B.C.

After all the fuss I made about anthems, I'd be remiss if I didn't say a few words about last night's performances. Canada's national anthem was executed (emphasis on "executed") at a pace that would make Busta Rhymes jealous. Then the U.S. anthem was sung by a Marine who stole a page out of the Canadian playbook. In mid song he lifted the microphone to the crowd, imploring this wild throng of Americans to take up the anthem with gusto. And guess what. You knew the words. Nicely done. That said, it might have been pushing it to ask last night's crowd to correctly spell "USA".

If you watched for the 5 things that I laid out at the start of the series then you probably enjoyed yourself: Dany Heatley, Don Cherry, Ray Emery, Chris Pronger and crazy Canadian people. Every one of those things was worth watching, except maybe Dany Heatley. And come to think of it, they're all Canadian. Even Canadian people are Canadian. I'm Canadian. You're Canadian. The whole damn world is Canadian!

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Ah, sorry, a little uncalled for patriotic fervor. Like a good Canadian kid, I feel shame.

So, what else to say. Anaheim is the Stanley Cup champion for 2007. And that's it really. I am going to ride off into the sunset on a horse named Victory generously donated after Game 2 by the readers of LAist. I'm told this horse can really move and is apparently itching to get going. Thanks guys. It must really mean you care, making sure I get out of town quickly and efficiently.

Good night.

And good puck.

AP Photo by Chris Carlson