PITTSBURGH — The Penguins’ last-gasp shot skidded along the goal line,
carrying their Stanley Cup fate in the final seconds of Game 6. The puck finally
wobbled past the net as the clock ticked to zero.
The Detroit Red Wings were champions.
The Red Wings littered the Mellon Arena ice with sticks and gloves and filled it
with emotion they had kept in check for so long after their 3-2 victory
With four Stanley Cup victories in the past 11 years and annual marches deep
into the playoffs even when they do not win, the Red Wings know more than most
teams how hard these championships come. The record books will record this
series as a four-games-to- two-victory, but the numbers hardly convey how it
“When they had that chance, I didn’t know how many seconds were left,” said
Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the
playoffs’ most valuable player. “When I saw the puck and looked up and it was
0.0 on the game clock, I was a pretty happy man.”
The Penguins had returned the series here with a spectacular comeback in Game 5
in Detroit, tying the game with 34.3 seconds left and winning in triple
overtime. They fell behind, 3-1, in the third period here on a goal by
Zetterberg that trickled through the pads of goaltender Marc-André Fleury, who
made 55 saves in Game 5.
But the Penguins kept charging, scoring a power-play goal in the final minutes
on a deflection by forward Marian Hossa.
Their final gasp was so close to extending this game. In a frantic rush, forward
Sidney Crosby fired a shot that glanced off the glove of Detroit goalie Chris
Osgood and landed behind him. Hossa poked at the puck and it slid along the goal
line before the horn echoed through the arena.
“First of all, it’s never easy,” said Osgood, who won his third Cup with
Detroit. “It was chaotic that last 40 seconds. They have a really good team.
Crosby was flying. I think time had run out before it started rolling over the
side of the net, but I was happy to see the ref yell time was up.”
Crosby, the 20-year-old captain, said he believed for a second the puck would
roll in. But the comeback ended there.
Later, Crosby sat at his locker, still in full uniform, his eyes red and his
voice wavering. He could think of little but the pain of losing in his first Cup
“It was tough,” he said. “It’s one of those things where, I don’t think we were
going to be guilty of not leaving it out there, not giving our all. We were
going to go down fighting.”
On the ice at the time, the Red Wings were still passing around the Cup. It is a
celebration that never becomes routine, even for the Wings, who cried tears of
joy. The first player to get it was captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who became the
first European player to be the captain of a Stanley Cup winner. He in turn
handed it to forward Dallas Drake, a 16-year veteran who won his first title.
Four other players joined Lidstrom in winning their fourth Cup with Detroit —
forwards Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty — and the
roster was filled with veterans of many of these playoff drives.
It was that experience that the Red Wings leaned on in tackling this game,
bouncing back from that heartbreaking loss, in which the Cup was mere seconds
from being carried onto the ice.
“When you have some players who have been through it before, they know what to
expect,” Lidstrom said. “I think that gives the whole team some calmness, that
we’re not going to panic. The main thing is, we didn’t get rattled.”
Lidstrom is rattle-proof. He has always been a huge calming influence, even
before he took over as captain when Steve Yzerman retired in 2006.
“Coming here on the plane yesterday, everybody was relaxed,” Lidstrom said. “We
felt confident as a group.”
They showed it in taking a 2-0 lead, first on a power play goal by defenseman
Brian Rafalski in the first and a rebound goal by forward Valtteri Filppula in
the second. Pittsburgh cut the lead with a power-play slap shot by center Evgeni
Malkin — his first goal of this series — but it was Zetterberg’s goal that made
Fleury was helpless on Zetterberg’s wrist shot, which trickled though his pads
with 12 minutes 24 seconds left in the third. The puck sat loose in the crease
behind him until Fleury fell backward, pushing it into the net.
The final twist, though, did not come until the final seconds. That is when the
Penguins’ last magic act rolled just short.
N.B.C. announced that its ratings for Monday night’s Game 5 in Detroit — the 4-3
triple overtime victory by the Penguins — had a 3.8 national rating and a seven
share, a 111-percent improvement over last year’s little-watched Anaheim-Ottawa
clincher. According to the network, it had the best ratings of any Game 5 since
Carolina-Detroit got a 4.2 rating and an 8 share in 2002.
July 6, 2007
The New York Times
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN
FIRST of all there’s the sound, or near lack of it, when the ball slides
across grass. It’s not like the cracking “thok” of a ball hitting a hard court
or even clay, which syncopates with the noises of balls smashing off racquets.
This sound is gentler, cushioned, endearing. And in lieu of clomping feet,
there’s a shuffling, like rustling silk, of carpeted steps. You can imagine in
the old days when pros used wood rackets, which made a delicate “plonk,” why
tennis on grass — watching or playing it — seemed downright pastoral.
And then there’s the smell, the scent of a newly mown lawn. Lovely. The court,
close shaven, has a few slight undulations — the unavoidable consequence of
wrestling nature into a Cartesian plane — but surprisingly there are fewer bad
bounces than on an unswept clay court. With the soft ground under your feet and
the smell and the sound, you can wonder why grass isn’t the most popular surface
in tennis, until the sliced ball skids away from you or drops dead at net, and
you’re left flatfooted on the baseline with a stupid grin on your face.
Three of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments used to take place on grass.
There was Wimbledon, of course, and the Australian Open in Melbourne, before it
switched to hard courts. And until 30 or so years ago the United States Open at
the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills.
Now there’s only Wimbledon, which, if the weather cooperates (it mostly hasn’t
so far), reaches its climax this weekend. A retractable roof is being added to
an expanded Center Court there, and players already have recourse to instant
replay. The grass at Wimbledon has been cut to make the courts act more like
hard courts or clay. They’re slower than they used to be, and the balls make
bigger bounces. Here in America grass courts have become as scarce as polo
fields and almost exclusively private.
The other day, with Wimbledon in mind, I phoned West Side, a private club but
welcoming to outsiders, and reached Bob Ingersole, the dry-humored, bluff,
Australian-born director of tennis. He oversees 38 immaculate courts: a mix of
grass, hard and clay. I asked about finagling an hour or so on one of the grass
So it was that I hopped the E train and found myself beside a patient, friendly
young pro named Ben Gologor, dressed in tennis whites (still a club
requirement). Ben brought two fresh cans of balls, one yellow, one white. Who
even knew there still were white balls? They looked like cream puffs.
We started by rallying at the net. Watch out, Ben reminded me. Balls die on
grass. No big backswings. No sitting back on your heels. No problem, I said. I’m
I missed a forehand that fainted at my ankles. I smiled. Then I missed another.
I looked around to see if anyone was watching. Back in the 1970s, visiting these
same courts as a fan during the Open meant joining a tony, white-clad scrum
jostling for sightlines behind the fences and along narrow passages between
courts. It meant Jack Kramer wood rackets and the new Wilson T2000 metal ones,
which seemed positively space age then, and it also meant Mr. Peanut hawking
salted snacks beneath the concrete stadium.
The club was small and familial, timber and stucco. Players mingled easily with
fans — this was long before top pros moved behind a phalanx of bodyguards — and
they signed autographs while sauntering to and from the cramped changing rooms
in the clubhouse, with its striped awnings and its broad, stony veranda,
overlooking the lawns. The clubhouse, mock Tudor, like much of the neighborhood
of Forest Hills Gardens, resembled a country inn.
Some of the greatest matches took place in the stadium, not far from where I was
hitting, after a fashion, with Ben. During the men’s semifinals in 1975, by
which time the Open had briefly switched from grass to clay, Guillermo Vilas,
the long-haired, brooding Argentine poet, was far ahead and serving match point
against Manuel Orantes, and the stadium had nearly emptied. Then, miraculously,
Orantes rallied to win. Two years later Vilas grabbed the title. That turned out
to be the last time the Open was played at Forest Hills.
It moved to Flushing Meadows, a few miles away, more suited to television and
enormous crowds, became once and for all a hard-court event, and big matches
came to be played in the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium, with its pumped-in music
and glassed-in luxury boxes. The more intimate grass-court era in America
gradually faded from public consciousness.
With Ben’s indulgence I accustomed myself to the bounces on the lawn. My old
continental grip, the equivalent of a CB radio in an era of e-mail, finally came
in handy. Flat shots and heavy slice work on grass. More than once I stared
dumbfounded when Ben ended a practice baseline rally with a short shot or a
slice to a corner and I was too lethargic to react.
I did manage to ace him once, slicing my serve, or maybe he had just stopped
paying attention for a second. In any case as the hour wore on, I was the one
panting and gulping Powerade, and I appreciated the enormous backcourt, which
let me take unseemly breathers while I slowly walked to the fence to pick up the
balls I had missed.
Clay courts nearby were occupied by teenagers playing a tournament, and a few
parents sat scattered on lawn chairs overlooking the games. The day was sunny
and warm, and the only noise, aside from my cries of despair, came from an
occasional train rumbling on the elevated track just outside the club grounds.
Before middle-class housing projects meant plain brick apartment blocks like
Co-Op City and Stuyvesant Town, Forest Hills Gardens was developed, a century
ago, to resemble an old English village. It’s still like St. Mary Mead, a little
slice of Miss Marpledom in the middle of Queens: a hamlet of red-gabled,
Tudor-style buildings surrounding a cobblestone square with a Tudor rail station
and covered bridge.
The West Side Tennis Club, founded in 1892, moved here in 1913, from Manhattan,
where it had played host to Davis Cup matches in the early 1900s. The crowds
became so big there that the club couldn’t handle them, so it bought these 10
acres in Forest Hills for $77,000, spending another $25,000 to build a
clubhouse. A concrete stadium was added in 1923, modeled after the Yale Bowl, a
horseshoe with 14,000 seats.
Today the rambling, wood-paneled clubhouse is lined with black and white
photographs of champions who won here. Bill Tilden took the last three of his
six straight United States titles in the stadium during the ’20s. Women’s tennis
emerged at Forest Hills from the era of hobble skirts, floppy hats, underhand
serves and fainting spells. (There were six defaults of the women’s finals
between 1891 and 1901.) Margaret Court, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert all won
Bob Ingersole and his wife, Dina, showed me around the stadium after Ben and I
finished playing. Dina, a cheerful woman from Mamaroneck, N.Y., who remembers
coming here to watch the Open as a young girl, oversees with Bob a women’s pro
tournament each August, just before the Open starts at Flushing Meadows, and a
slew of other events.
There’s a hard court in the stadium. (It replaced the Har-Tru clay that replaced
the grass court.) But the building’s a wreck, and the stands too dangerous to
open to the public. A few years ago club members (there are 850 now) voted not
to sell the site, although it’s worth a fortune, and try to preserve it as a
civic landmark and historic one for the sport. They still haven’t decided how to
When we wandered over, a few kids were fooling around on the court, smacking
balls at one another and over the stands, laughing in the empty, echoing
stadium. Dina pointed out where a tent, next to the court, used to be for
V.I.P.’s in the days when V.I.P.’s dressed up for tennis in white gloves, suits
We gingerly clambered over some rickety scaffolding, up the old stairwells,
painted royal blue, and sat in the bleachers on peeling wooden benches high
above the court and checked out the view. A velvet expanse of green spread out
beyond the open end of the horseshoe toward the clubhouse. Sculptured eagles,
escutcheons and empty flagpoles rimmed the stadium. A train rumbled outside the
Heading back below the stands, Bob pointed out the concessions, now empty, like
fairground booths after the carnival left town. The tiny old ticket booth at the
former front gate, still there, was painted green with white trim, “STADIUM BOX
OFFICE” stenciled over the ticket windows. Bob unlocked a door to a storage room
where plaques, inscribed with bygone winners, gathered dust amid piles of
tarpaulins, lawn-care equipment and dead tennis balls. The air was dank, like a
musty bunk at sleep-away camp.
Bob talked about how expensive it is to hold a Tour-level tournament and how
difficult it is to maintain grass courts. “We’ll roll and mow twice, sometimes
three times, a week,” he said. “Of course you’ve also got your fertilizer and
watering. You water too much, you get fungus; too little, dead grass. Then every
time you cut the lawn, you have to remark it: paint the lines back on.”
No wonder grass has gone out of style, I thought. But then, as I had discovered,
there’s nothing quite as magical as playing on it.
I asked him if he thought the kids playing on the stadium court had any idea
which champions had won there. He just laughed.
So on my way out, I stopped Jacob Bass, an 8-year-old from Queens, whose father
was playing on one of the clay courts. He said he had never heard of Bjorn Borg
or Rod Laver but he knew Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Kelly Dodd, a 12-year-old from Old Greenwich, Conn., who had come for the youth
tournament, said she had never heard of Rod Laver or Margaret Court. Her mother,
Julie, walked over at that moment, shrugged, as if to say to me, What do you
expect?, then recalled visiting the Open as a girl. She remembered watching
Evonne Goolagong and Chris Evert and eating Dannon yogurt bars.
A trio of 14-year-old boys were leaning against a fence nearby, munching pizza.
David Tom and Giancarlo Maurello were from Rego Park, Queens, they said, and Ren
Henehan lived just around the corner.
Had they ever heard of Rod Laver?
They nodded, suspiciously.
Billie Jean King?
Sure, they said, the Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows is named after her. They
looked at me as if I were an idiot.
What about Roy Emerson? Ken Rosewall? Margaret Court?
They just shook their heads.
I shook mine, and thanked them. The grass courts shimmered in the late afternoon
light, and I headed out of the clubhouse, past the rows of fading photographs.
Tournaments open to the public free at the West Side Tennis Club include the
U.S.T.A. Women’s National Grass Court Championship, to be held Sunday through
July 15. Matches begin daily at 10 a.m. The club is at 1 Tennis Place, Burns and
Dartmouth Streets, Forest Hills, Queens; (718) 268-2300, foresthillstennis.com.
April 1, 2007
Filed at 6:46 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Michael Phelps equaled the most hallowed mark in
swimming, winning his seventh gold medal at the world championships Sunday night
with his fifth world record.
Phelps smashed his own world record in the 400-meter individual medley by 2.04
seconds, becoming the most successful swimmer ever at the worlds.
The 21-year-old American joined countryman Mark Spitz as the only swimmers ever
to win that many golds at a major international meet. Of course, Spitz'
achievement came on the sport's grandest stage -- the Olympics.
Phelps hopes to equal the feat or go one better at next year's Beijing Games.
A Polish swimmer staged the last night's biggest upset in the grueling 1,500
freestyle, where Aussie Grant Hackett's run of four consecutive titles ended.
Mateusz Sawrymowicz won the gold medal in 14 minutes, 45.94 seconds against the
fastest field in history.
Yury Prilukov of Russia took the silver. David Davies earned the bronze.
Hackett struggled home seventh, ending a disappointing meet for the world record
holder. He earned a bronze in the 400 free and was seventh in the 800 free.
American Larsen Jensen was fourth, and teammate Erik Vendt eighth.
Phelps never got a chance at an eighth gold in Melbourne after his U.S.
teammates were shockingly disqualified in the 400 medley relay preliminaries
Ian Crocker, who had been in position to derail Phelps in the 100 fly before
losing to his rival, dove in too early on an exchange, causing the DQ.
Phelps was gracious in his first public comments about Crocker's gaffe.
''When Team USA comes into a swim meet, we come as a team and we exit as a
team,'' he said. ''There are things that don't happen exactly as we want it to,
but it's better to happen now than next year.''
Still, Phelps closed out his eight-day run in style, winning the 400 IM in 4
minutes, 06.22 seconds -- easily improving his old standard of 4:08.26 set at
the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Ryan Lochte took the silver -- a whopping 3.52 seconds behind his teammate --
for his fifth medal of the meet. Luca Marin of Italy earned the bronze.
Phelps and Lochte dueled through much of the 400 IM. Phelps was under
world-record pace after 150 meters of butterfly. Lochte narrowly took over the
lead at 200 meters during the backstroke, his specialty.
But Phelps roared back on breaststroke, again dipping under record pace.
''That's probably my most improved stroke over the last six months to a year,''
He went 1.49 seconds lower on the first of his two closing freestroke laps
before powering home with the red line that indicates the world-record pace
lapping at his feet.
He checked his time and leaned heavily on the lane rope, holding up his right
index finger in the No. 1 sign.
''That was my last race, so I wanted to finish strong,'' he said.
Phelps' five world records equaled the number he broke at the 2003 worlds in
Barcelona. Back then, he won six medals, including four gold.
As Phelps soaked in the applause during his victory stroll, Crocker looked on
pensively from the stands, chewing gum.
Lochte couldn't resist breaking out his gold, silver and diamond-crusted grill
for the victory walk, getting cheers and laughs from other swimmers when he
flashed the metal mouth caps he wore earlier in the meet on a dare from his
Libby Lenton of Australia won her fifth gold medal, taking the women's 50
freestyle in 24.53 seconds. American Natalie Coughlin was last, closing out a
five-medal showing, including two golds.
The evening opened with finals in two non-Olympic events -- the men's 50
backstroke and women's 50 breaststroke.
Gerhard Zandberg of South Africa won the men's race. American Jessica Hardy took
the women's title, upsetting Leisel Jones of Australia, who won the 100 and 200
breaststrokes. American Tara Kirk earned the bronze, her third medal of the
Stirling Moss became the first British
to win the British Grand Prix narrowly defeating
the great Argentinian,
Juan Manuel Fangio
MOTOR racing in Britain reached a new level of
popularity on Saturday, when a vast crowd, estimated at more than 100,000,
packed the grandstands and enclosures at Aintree to watch the eighth Royal
Automobile Club British Grand Prix.
All the elements of a successful day were present — perfect weather and the
world’s fastest cars and finest drivers, and the only fault was the lack of any
serious opposition for the Mercedes-Benz team, which finished in first, second,
third and fourth places. But if German cars dominated the race, there was
consolation and not a little pride for Britain in the fact that the winning car
was superbly driven by Moss.
In spite of his acknowledged position in the front rank of drivers, this was his
first victory in an international grand prix. Simultaneously he became the first
Englishman to win the British Grand Prix. Of the two British teams in the race,
the Vanwall specials gave their best performance to date (although both cars
were beset with minor troubles), but the Connaughts were never in the picture.
Fangio led for a couple of laps, and it seemed that the usual Mercedes team
traditions were to prevail, but on the third lap Moss sent a murmur of pleasure
through the vast crowd when he passed the Argentine driver to lead the race. On
the 18th lap Fangio was in front again, but after a further eight laps, Moss
once more took the lead and held it to the end.