Who would of thought that a City existing in the deep South would be the site of hockey. Remember first the Flames with the Boomer, Cliff Fletcher both Montreal boys who became men playing or directing hockey, then the Knights with the Berkmans, Felixes, Adlers and Bucchino, along with Gene Ubriaco the first head Coach (thanks Ubie for helping prepare this team), the Tampa Bay Lightning group of the Espositos, Crisp, Cashman, Campeau, Murdoch, etc. and now the Thrashers.
But the memory of a Championship year cannot never be erased as it will remain
an integral part of Southern History, one where a child born in a small
neighborhood called Curry's Corner in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the real birthplace
of Hockey, used to dream of playing the game, coaching and winning of course
it all became reality and the biggest moment happened in the Southern United States, where during the after parade I was asked by the Atlanta Journal Reporter if I understood the importance of this moment and all that was being represented by being acclaimed as head coach on Martin Luther King Blvd. and I replied like a winning coach who happens to be black by nature, but with a special thought for what his words meant I said under my breath , thank-you , as I registered every moment and word that I could, of the thank-you's and tears that I saw on many black and white faces, while truly knowing that I could at that moment not fully understand the extent of what was going through their minds , only that each and every one had a special reason for their message to me and the team as a whole.
Atlanta will always remain a special place for me, Knightmare on Peachtree (expression) as well as the Knights truly became a solid reality and a part of Southern History during our cup winning run, We were on a mission and prepared ourselves to make our run at the Cup, having a solid dressing room of players lead by their Captain Drulia, we started on our quest, the opposing teams fell one by by one until we reached what we were all striving for, one win away from the Cup, the hysteria that went on that evening of the sixth play-off game was mind boggling, outside of the Omni the area was full of already encouraging fans when we arrived early for our pre-game preparation, also thousands of fans screaming and chanting at six (06:00pm), we could hear just a steady roar from our dressing room area, we knew that this was too be an evening to remember, when Stan Drulia scored the go ahead goal, I and all knew it was just a question of time and every player on that team knew and understood their role and the word selfish had no meaning , only - do not get outnumbered and make the right decisions at and away from the puck mattered. Ownership with tears in their eyes, Joey Bucchino making the tour with me around the ice surface, the players with the huge smiles and wide eyes, jumping all around and embracing each other, made us all aware that, the hardships of hard fought battles on ice through the previous series, the individual meetings with players, late night video searching for an edge, the travel, hotel rooms, practices and pre-game skates to come to this moment, this is what it is all about and that so many never get within skating distance of , a championship of this magnitude and more so that dreams do sometimes come true. To all the players, fans, media, City of Atlanta and surrounding areas, Thank-you.
To the wives, girlfriends and families who sacrificed their moments to help prepare for this by putting the players first during the play-offs, they all were an important asset towards our cup run. Thank-you.
To Joe Bucchino (GM) / Phil Esposito (Lightning) who made certain that I could
concentrate on Coaching and for allowing me to make the final decisions
concerning players during the cup run. and last but non the least the booster
club and the entire Knight staff from top to bottom who accomplished their
tasks with expertise, Thank-you.
I say enjoy hockey, encourage the sport and most of all Go Knights GO as the booster club and fans would greet us with upon our departures and arrivals at the airport.
YES ! YES ! YES !
John Paris Jr.