The New York Rangers are back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since their magical 1994 title that ended a 54 year drought.
The run has been miraculous, especially when the Rangers, who were amongst team like the Bruins and Penguins, were not considered a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference as champions. It looked that way...until May 8th.
The New York Rangers were down 3-1 in their second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. One day before they played a win or go home Game 5 in Pittsburgh, Martin St. Louis' mother, France, died of a heart attack at the age of 63.
St. Louis was in the lineup for Game 5 as the Rangers dominated Game 5, beating the Penguins 5-1 and forcing a Game 6 on Mother's Day back at Madison Square Garden.
That Sunday, it was an inspiring moment as St. Louis scored the first goal early in the first period of another elimination game that New York won to force a Game 7 back in Pittsburgh. The Rangers would finish off the comeback with a 2-1 Game 7 win and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.
Martin St. Louis has 4 goals and 3 assists since that game on Mother's Day against the Penguins. While it has inspired him, it has brought inspiration to the rest of the blue shirts.
In times when a member of the squad experiences a personal loss or tragedy, there seems to be a natural reaction to rally around that individual, especially when in the case of St. Louis, that person is playing during one of the troubling times of their life.
Whether or not you agree, the death of St. Louis' mother did provide the Rangers with some motivation. Especially when he continued to play days after her passing, perhaps inspiring his teammates to get behind him in his time of mourning and play in honor of his mother.
There are other reasons why the Rangers turned their playoff run around. The play of veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, as well as a strong effort from everyone on the squad helped them reach the Final, but we have seen story much like St. Louis' before.
Of course, this story of inspiration needs to come with a disclaimer, especially since this one ended in "catfishing."
The 2012 Notre Dame Football team was inspired by by Manti Te'o and the team playing in honor of his girlfriend (who we later found out was fake) that passed away early on in the season. Te'o stayed with the team and much like Mother's Day in Manhattan, Notre Dame's home game against Michigan saw Te'o have one of the best games of his college career, picking Denard Robinson twice on the way to a win and undefeated season.
Of course, many felt deceived by the Manti Te'o's girlfriend being fake and him being "catfished" by a man, but it's an example of how personal tragedy can bring people together and provide inspiration and something to play for.
In this case, we do know that St. Louis' mother actually did pass away, but much like when Irish players heard about Te'o's girlfriend (who at the time everyone thought was real), it made them feel like they were playing for something more than themselves.
So while it sounds like something you read in a Hollywood screenplay, tragedy and adversity does have an effect on people, especially sports teams.
It provided a spark that the New York Rangers needed, now they'll try to bring the Stanley Cup back to Manhattan for the first time in two decades.
-On a side note of overcoming personal tragedy, the Rangers' Dominic Moore, who scored the game-winner in Game 6 against the Canadiens, lost his wife, Katie, to a rare case of liver cancer in January 2013.
Moore, who has played for nine different NHL teams, and is in his second tenure with the Rangers, sat out the shortened 2012-2013 season following his wife's death.
-His story was told by ESPN's E:60 earlier this spring.