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Detroit — The noise inside Joe Louis Arena.

That’s the one memory that still resonates first and foremost when thinking back to that night, 25 years ago, on June 7, 1997, and the ear-splitting reaction to Steve Yzerman getting the Stanley Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman.

Or, wait, the moment the game ended, and the Red Wings had officially defeated the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years. The pure, unfettered relief and happiness at that moment was difficult to describe. 

No, there’s another one. Darren McCarty’s miraculous, highlight-reel goal in the second period that pretty much clinched the outcome. It would be tough to duplicate the joy inside JLA at that moment.

So many memories from that particular evening, and each of them produces a smile. 

Yes, it’s been 25 years now since the Wings ended that drought, overcame so much disappointment, suffering and pain, and instigated such a beautiful, unforgettable party on a warm Saturday night in Detroit.

If you were lucky enough to have been there inside JLA that night, it still raises the hair on your arms.

What a night.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary, let’s single out 10 of the best memories and highlights from that evening. 

► The anticipation: Everyone sort of knew the series was going to end that evening, and the Wings were finally going to be Stanley Cup champions. You just knew. Everyone did.

Just walking to JLA and seeing the fans celebrating, drinking, listening to music, and drinking some more. And all the Wings’ jerseys. Everywhere, Red Wings shirts, jerseys, shorts.

“It was crazy,” Kirk Maltby said after the game. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. Never seen that kind of traffic and people in the streets. I’ve never seen so many jerseys. Just awesome.”

► The Grind Line contribution: The line of Maltby, Kris Draper and Joe Kocur was so good, not just that evening, but the entire series.

Maltby and Kocur scored first-period goals in Game 1, setting the tone, somewhat, for the Wings.

It just spoke to the contributions of everyone up and down that Wings roster that entire series, and the depth it possessed.

And remember, Kocur was playing in a 30-and-over beer league in December of that season, waiting for a call from any NHL team. Kocur will forever be known for his ability to fight and intimidate opponents. But take another look, one time, at Kocur’s Game 1 goal. 

Pretty nifty in its own right, indeed.

► Nicklas Lidstrom’s goal: McCarty’s goal, obviously, is the one that all Wings fans talk about coming out of that evening.

But it was Lidstrom’s slap shot at 19 minutes, 27 seconds of the first period that gave the Wings a 1-0 lead, started the party and ended whatever dim hopes the Flyers had.

It was a slap shot from the blue line that somehow, inexplicably, got through goaltender Ron Hextall. As did a lot of other goals in the series.

► Mike Vernon: As bad as the Flyers’ goaltending was during the series, you tend to forget how good Mike Vernon was for the Wings in those four games.

In fact, remember, Vernon was named the Conn Smythe winner as the playoff Most Valuable Player. Vernon allowed only six goals in the four-game series and had a .944 save percentage and 1.50 goals-against average.

Some of Vernon’s best was saved for Game 4 with some big early stops. 

“Anybody in this locker room definitely hasn’t overlooked Mike and what he’s done for us,” defenseman Larry Murphy said of Vernon.

► Darren McCarty’s goal: Everybody in Detroit who is a sports fan, and maybe even isn’t, has probably seen a video of it. They’ve seen it, smiled, maybe shook their head given McCarty probably couldn’t score a goal like that again if he tried, and understood the significance of that goal.

It pretty much clinched Game 4, if there was any doubt. It provided an exclamation point to the series, the playoffs, the season. It erased all the agony leading up to regaining the Stanley Cup.

“Every blind squirrel finds a nut,” McCarty said in the bedlam of the locker room afterward. 

Wings fans are always, always going to remember and love Darren McCarty. That goal, obviously, is a big part of why.

► Eric Lindros’ goal: Lindros scored with 15 seconds left, cutting the Wings’ lead to 2-1. 

The crowd at JLA was beginning to go nuts and the expectation and excitement was building.

Lindros knocking that puck past Vernon put a cork momentarily on the celebration. Not many people really believed Philadelphia was going to score another goal and tie it — that wasn’t likely to happen.

But it did spoil the mood for a brief second, and cost Vernon his shutout. 

For a team that was used to things not coming easy, it was one more temporary obstacle.

► The shocking outcome: Let’s take a moment to remember the Wings were considered underdogs in this series. Philadelphia, with Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg, had one of the best lines in the game. The Flyers were bigger and younger, and they appeared to have better depth.

But the Flyers’ goaltending was a question mark, and it badly faltered in the series. Hextall and Garth Snow weren’t able to match Vernon — not close at all — and that was a huge factor.

As the Wings gained momentum in this series, it really showed the gap between these two teams.

“We’ve got to find a way to stop the bleeding,” Flyers coach Terry Murray said after the Wings’ 6-1 victory in Game 3. “The game was an embarrassment.”

From the Flyers’ perspective, the entire series became that.

► The buzzer: Many reporters were stationed in a working area near the Zamboni entrance. It was interesting to hear the reactions from the crowd, the highs and lows. You definitely knew if someone had scored.

You knew when the game was over, too. Especially this night. And as the seconds were ticking off, and the game ended — at 10:50 p.m. — to this day, if you were inside JLA, it’s difficult to find something measurable to that release of excitement after Game 4.

The Magglio Ordonez home run to get the Tigers into the World Series, sure, maybe. The Pistons’ titles, for sure. 

But it still brings chills just remembering the thunderous ovation when the clock read 0:00.

► Yzerman lifting the Cup: And, then, there’s Bettman passing the cup to Yzerman. 

So many Wings fans had felt all of Yzerman’s great and crushing moments through the years, and revered him for his place in Wings’ history.

The disappointments hurt, especially the previous two years.

Seeing Bettman hand the Stanley Cup to Yzerman ended a lot of waiting and pain for Yzerman, the Wings’ organization, the city and the fan base.

“Sometimes, you hold your dreams way out there and you wonder if it can ever be as good as you dream,”  Yzerman said near his locker room afterward. “It was almost like I wanted to sit back and watch it all and not miss a minute of it.”

Who did Yzerman pass the Cup to next? Slava Fetisov and Igor Larionov.

► Scotty Bowman’s twirl with the Cup: This was one underrated cool moment from that evening. 

Fesitov passed the cup to Bowman, 63 at the time, and believing this was going to be his last time as a head coach.

During the chaotic celebration on the ice, Bowman laced on his skates and went for a lap around the ice, lifting the Stanley Cup to the sky.

“I always wanted to be an NHL player and skate with the Cup, and you never know how many chances you’ll get,” Bowman said. “So, I figured I’d go for it. It was pretty heavy, but light, too.”

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Twitter: @tkulfan

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