Scott Walker put it best. It was a heck of a ride.
From the opening night win over Florida to the 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh in the fourth and final game of the Eastern Conference finals, it was a long and often tiring and mostly rewarding ride for the Carolina Hurricanes. And, for an N&O rookie who was along for a lot of the ride.
What to the remember? Games are games and there were a lot of them. But it's all about the guys in the room and the men who coached them.
Let's go around the room:
Eric Staal: always a standup guy, even after the toughest defeats.
Ray Whitney: quietly intense, intensely proud of his season, his team.
Cam Ward: Mr. March, no one in the league was better in the stretch run.
Rod Brind'Amour: rough season, played with pain, gave all he had.
Tim Gleason: he's tough, he's strong, he's a leader.
Scott Walker: he's got your back, always.
Chad LaRose: the hustler, always.
Matt Cullen: so steady, so productive, so competitive.
Sergei Samsonov: thoughtful, streaky good on the ice.
Joni Pitkanen: the smile, the skating, the dependability.
Tuomo Ruutu: one of his favorite sayings is "carpe diem." He often did.
Jussi Jokinen: all trades should work out so well.
Ryan Bayda: soft-spoken off the ice, a hard driver on it.
Joe Corvo: introspective, proud, talented.
Dennis Seidenberg: the ultimate nice guy, underrated player.
Niclas Wallin: a solid season for the veteran defenseman.
Erik Cole: came back, gave Canes a needed lift.
Patrick Eaves: nasty wrister, maybe next year is his year.
Michael Leighton: wanted to play more, great teammate.
Anton Babchuk: the big shot, a silent man who often went his own way.
Frantisek Kaberle: tough injury early, he seemed to never fully recover.
Paul Maurice: the humor, the patience, the determination.
Ron Francis: has he found a home behind the bench?
Tom Rowe: always a friendly word, an offer to help.
Tom Barrasso: did so much to help Cam Ward improve.
Kevin McCarthy: disappointed to leave bench but a team guy.
And lest we forget, Peter Laviolette: direct, disciplined, organized.
Yes, a lot to remember. The look on Eric Staal's face after that Game 7 winner in New Jersey. Scott Walker's mad dash at Boston after his Game 7 overtime winner -- score one for me and everything will be all right, his wife had said that day.
In December or January, who would have ever thought the Hurricanes' season would end in late May, in the Eastern Conference finals?