Winners know what it takes

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:50 PM ET

Mike Commodore learned his lesson the hard way.

A healthy scratch before Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final as a member of the Calgary Flames and his club trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in games, the 6-foot-5 blueliner was so sure his team was going to come back to win, he bought a box of cigars.

Then, when the Flames forced Game 7 against the Bolts, Commodore started thinking about his 24 hours with the Cup.

Looking back, Commodore now knows he got too far ahead of himself. He had to watch as the Bolts won, had a huge celebration and the Flames went home empty-handed.

In some cases tomorrow never comes, but Commodore was fortunate enough to be with the Carolina Hurricanes when they won the Cup in 2006. By then, he'd learned some valuable lessons.

"The biggest thing I learned from the first one was not to get ahead of myself. You are close to living your dream," said the Senators defenceman. "I was a lot more prepared the second time around. I knew what to expect about the intensity and the whole experience.

"It's a big two-week production. To go through it once, helped me learn a lot and be more ready for it," he said.

Commodore and veteran winger Cory Stillman came to the Senators from the Hurricanes in a deal in February that sent defenceman Joe Corvo and winger Patrick Eaves to Carolina for a reason: The Sens wanted players with Cup rings.

They know what their role has to be in the post-season. They have both spent time discussing their experiences with Ottawa players, but don't forget the Senators went to the final last year against Anaheim and they're aware of what it takes.

Stillman won back-to-back Cups. He carried the Cup with the Bolts in 2004, then signed with the Hurricanes and was there in 2006, the season after the lockout. That taught Stillman about winning.

"We're guys that bring in different experiences. There are guys here who have been on the winning end and the losing end," Stillman said.

"Everybody is a little piece. It's not necessarily how much you say, but when you say it. You make your point and you get it across," he said. "You try to help guys get through this by offering support and giving tips."

Commodore said there is no feeling like winning a title.

"There is a sense of accomplishment because you've reached the ultimate goal," he said.

"When the horn goes, there's just mayhem. You raise the Cup and there's so many things going through your head. You try to cherish the experience, but you won't really know what it meant until later."


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