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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Teams in Western Conference finals defied the odds

From wire reports

It’s the first rule of Hollywood, and it’s also a reminder for hockey fans who can scarcely believe the cinematic matchup in the Western Conference finals.

Nobody knows anything.

The Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks are flourishing despite lacking every supposed necessity for NHL playoff success. They have low payrolls, low-profile rosters and not much postseason experience – and both teams were widely expected to struggle this season.

But after surprising regular seasons and semifinal victories over Detroit and Colorado, Calgary and San Jose will open the finals today at the Shark Tank.

One underdog story will continue, one dream season will conclude.

“Who saw this one coming?” Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren said. “These teams, who would have predicted it?”

In a league traditionally thought to be dominated by money and experience, it’s the most surprising playoff development since, well, last season, when Anaheim and Minnesota came from nowhere for a similar conference final.

The long-suffering fans in both cities are ready. The Flames blanketed their town in the team colors, including a “Sea of Red” in the Saddledome during their upset of the Red Wings – so the Sharks have countered with an “Ocean of Teal,” asking their fans to wear their signature color.

“It’s going to be a great series for decibels,” Wilson said.

Danton denounces family

Mike Danton called a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter from the Clinton County Jail on Friday night to read his first public statement since his arrest on murder-for-hire charges.

The statement fixated on his strained relationship with his parents – a subplot to the case that has gotten attention from the news media in recent weeks.

Danton’s statement outlines allegations of “constant physical and emotional abuse” and the squalid nature of his upbringing – all claims that his parents and friends of the family have contested in recent weeks.

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