The Stanley Cup finals are all about unexpected heroes, and this time it was defenseman Frantisek Kaberle, whose second-period goal gave Carolina a 2-0 lead and attracted this happy gathering.
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The Hurricanes were inspired by the dramatic Game 6 return of Erik Cole, seen here being taken down by Edmonton's Chris Pronger in Game 7. Cole was not expected to play again this season after suffering a serious neck injury in early March.
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Edmonton's Jarret Stoll is checked by Bret Hedican (6) and Mike Commodore (22) in the second period of Game 7.
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The tenacious Hurricanes defense put the clamps on Shawn Horcoff and the Oilers until early in the third period. Defenseman Glen Wesley (2), a former Hartford Whaler, won his first Stanley Cup after 18 seasons and 1,480 games, the most of any active NHL player.
5 of 11David E. Klutho/SI
Defenseman Mike Commodore, a local favorite for his bushy red beard, fright wig of red hair and personalized bathrobe, tries to keep the dangerous Fernando Pisani away from the puck. Pisani scored five goals in the finals, including Edmonton's lone tally in Game 7.
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Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was superb, stopping 22 shots and joining Montreal's Ken Dryden (1971) and Patrick Roy (1986) as the only rookie goaltenders to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (as playoff MVP) and the Cup.
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Winger Ray Whitney, nicknamed the Wizard, celebrates that magical Stanley Cup feeling for the first time in his 16-year career. Whitney's two goals in the third period of Game 1 ignited Carolina's dramatic 5-4 comeback win.
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Captain Rod Brind'Amour, the heart and soul of the Hurricanes, savors the sterling-silver reward for all of his grit and effort during the long postseason. Brind'Amour scored 12 goals, including three in the Finals.
9 of 11David E. Klutho/SI
Giddy Hurricanes fans congratulate defenseman Bret Hedican, otherwise known as Mr. Kristi Yamaguchi, who now has a championship to place alongside his wife's Olympic gold medal in figure skating.
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The bubbly tasted sweet again for clutch winger Cory Stillman, who won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
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Ladies and gentlemen, the 2006 Stanley Cup champion former Hartford Whalers. The Cup came to Carolina in the team's eighth season in its new home.
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