Wiping a bead of sweat from his forehead, Ed Snider was relieved.
For the seventh time under his reign, and the first time in 13 years, the Flyers will play for Lord Stanley's grail.
"It's probably the most exciting season ever since the first Stanley Cup [in 1974]," said Snider, the chairman of Comcast-Spectacor. "What these guys have done, and what they've been through, it's incredible.
"There's so many stories that I can't even articulate. It's a series of things that have never happened before. And may never happen again. But we're having a helluva lot of fun. Now we're going to play Chicago in the finals, we're the two teams that ended up with [two of] the worst records in ."
Working around the crowded Flyers locker room and shaking hands like a neighborhood politician, Snider could not have been prouder of all of his players.
"Mike [Richards] is our captain for a reason, he showed it [last] night," Snider said. "I think Claude Giroux is a star today and a star of the future. He has everything. He reminds me of a young Bobby Clarke. He does it all. He kills penalties, he's on the power play. We're lucky to have a guy like him.
"But it's the whole team. The entire team fills a role, every single guy on this team, and that's a team. It's not a one-man thing. It's just incredible, what these guys have accomplished."
Under Snider, the Flyers were the first-ever expansion team to capture the Cup when they won in 1974. They followed that up with another Cup in 1975 and advanced to the finals again in 1976.
In the 35 years since they last won, the Flyers have advanced to the finals five times - in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987 and 1997 - and lost each time.
Winning twice in the first 8 years had Snider thinking it would be a regular thing.
"It does seem too long," Snider said. "When we won in our seventh year, I thought, 'Hey, we're OK.' Here I am, begging for another one. I love it.
"I think the sky's the limit. They just don't know how to quit. I think it's going to be a great, great final."
Habs deny problem
Two days after several Flyers observed some kind of sandlike substance in the tunnel outside their dressing room in Montreal - which, some say, forced them to repeatedly resharpen their skates during their Game 4 victory, and which resulted in towels being laid in the hallway later in the game - Canadiens coach Jacques Martin categorically denied that there had been a problem.
Flyers officials have gone out of their way to say that they knew nothing about any sand, and nobody has accused anybody of anything nefarious. But the implication - fueled mostly be media reports - has obviously offended Martin and the Canadiens.
"A complete fabrication," is what Martin called it yesterday at a news conference following the Canadiens' pregame skate.
"We did an investigation," Martin said. "The Bell Centre is really an impeccable building. We have some more important things to focus on and prepare ourselves for the game tonight."
Sticking to his pick
Mike Cammalleri came into this series drawing comparisons to Guy Lafleur. He exited it looking more like Guy Lombardo.
The Canadiens winger had 12 goals in the first two rounds, but was bottled up by the Flyers, who held him to one goal and an ugly minus-5. Despite all this, he's still leaning toward Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals. Cammalleri, who spent the first six seasons of his career in the Western Conference, is not in denial. He's just sticking to his guns.
"I picked Chicago this year to be the team to beat, but if Philly can stick with their style of play and that style works, then hopefully we are in for a good series," he said. "As a fan, I would just like to see it go seven. But I did pick Chicago at the beginning of the year."
Rich Hofmann and Ed Barkowitz contributed to this report.