The Days of Y’Orr staff pretty much took yesterday off to let everything sink in. Really, it still hasn’t. We’ve spent so much time trying to find the words for what this means to us as fans (and when we say “we” or “us” in this post we don’t just mean the DOY staff… we mean all of us….Bruins fans).
We keep watching the highlights over and over and over. It is never going to get old. Never. We all saw our dear Bruins hoist the Cup.
The Stanley Cup Win puts everything in perspective. Some of us have been waiting 40 years. Some 30 years. Some 20 years. Some still not quite old enough to fully understand what this historic win meant to the players, to this city, to us.
We’ve all lived and died with this team for years. When the Patriots won Superbowls, when the Red Sox won World Series, when the Celtics won an NBA championship…for us puck heads, something was still missing. There was a 35 pound, Cup shaped hole in our souls that no other championship could fill. And quite frankly, most of the DOY staff doesn’t care about baseball or basketball. We wanted a Cup by any means necessary.
Boston’s lessons really began in 2008. The lessons, the hard earned lessons they needed to know, started then. That classic series against the Canadiens that made the building vibrate but that ended in a sound defeat in Game Seven against the hated Habs. This journey all began at that moment. Various Bruins GM’s had begun to assemble what would end up being the 2011 Stanley Cup champions but the hard, emotional lessons needed to win a Cup began with that series.
The Bruins were simply a team that needed to fall as far as possible in order to learn how to rise again. It wasn’t easy. They were taken to school more times than we cared to remember before Wednesday night. But they were studying and learning and preparing.
In 2009 the Bruins fell to the Hurricanes in overtime of Game Seven in the second round. In 2010 they fell to the Flyers in Game Seven after holding a 3-0 lead in the series. Our years of waiting for a Cup made us extra bitter about those defeats. What we didn’t know at the time is that it was all necessary, all part of the process.
And that brings us to this season.
After the jump….. our Bruins are Stanley Cup champions…..
They were wildly inconsistent throught the first few months of the season. Rask couldn’t buy a win, aided by a defense that apparently didn’t like playing in front of him. Tim Thomas was tearing it up, squeaking out victories when his team didn’t feel like scoring. One game they’d look like the best team in the NHL and the next game they’d look like a lottery team. While we were sitting here wondering what was going on, why they just didn’t seem to get it, the wheels were turning in their heads. They were becoming the team they needed to be and we just didn’t know it yet.
Then it happened. Like a light switch. A late December game against the Atlanta Thrashers put them on the path. Boston had previously been criticized for not sticking up for each other, for having too many passengers. But one Atlanta cheapshot sparked something. Lucic was hit and before he could even get up for revenge the Bruins had swarmed. Pairing off, giving the Thrashers fistic justice. There it was. You mess with one memeber of the brotherhood, you mess with them all. Everything that had been missing, all the lessons that apparently went unheard started to make things fall into place.
Their play immediately picked up after that game. There were more ups and downs, as there is for every team, but there was an aura around this team. There was something we just couldn’t put our finger on, but we had hope.
Thomas cotinued to be a wall. Boston’s supposed fourth line was playing better than a lot of team’s first lines. Chara looked like a man possessed. Bergeron was everywhere. Lucic was taking his game to new heights. Campbell was showing why he was one of the most underrated pick ups in the NHL in a long time. Captain Planet Andy Ference was having a quiet, underrated and injury free season on the blueline. Boychuk was still ending lives. The list goes on and on. There were casualties along the way. Savard’s season prematurely ended again. Fan favorites were sent packing. But it was all part of the process. The Bruins were still in school, learning what they needed to learn to be the best.
The trade deadline came. Kaberle, Peverley and Chris Kelly came on board at various points leading up to the deadline. The Bruins front office meant business. They knew the Bruins needed depth and a little bit of change. And change things they did. The team was stuck on a long road trip as the new guys became acclimated. They had no idea what was in store for them. That road trip bonded these brothers further. They adopted an attitude that it didn’t matter what happened outside of that locker room, as long as they believed in each other.
Near the end of the season the Bruins had an embarassing defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers. The players were pissed at themselves. Claude Julien was pissed. Fans were pissed. It seem a bit absurd in a way for us to get so mad at one loss but it was the way in which they lost, the apparent lack of effort and heart that produced the loss. But as we would all come to learn it was just another chapter in the Bruins training book, another reminder that they needed before the real season began. They were learning. We didn’t know it, but they were learning.
The playoffs began. Redemption time. We waited almost a year for this. How would the Bruins respond after their epic defeat the year before? Where the changes the front office made enough? Did the players want it bad enough? Making the second round again wasn’t going to be enough. We wanted a Cup.
Boston faced Montreal in the first round as the road to redemption started. It had to be this way. If the Bruins were going to win a Stanley Cup, we wanted them to go through Montreal at some point. The hockey gods made it so. But soon our hearts would sink.
The Bruins found themselves in a quick 0-2 hole. Two losses at home, with efforts completely absent of the type of game we expected from our Bruins. We knew they were better than this but the hole was big. There were calls to fire Julien mid series. History told us the Bruins were 0-26 when going down 0-2 in a series. We would soon find out this Bruins team laughed at history and used stat sheets to wipe their asses.
Boston roared back. They won two in a row at Montreal, a place that had been a house of horrors in the regular season. They were starting to show what they had learned. They didn’t care what history said. They were writing their own book based on the lessons they had learned. The Bruins refused to buy into the hype before those games and now the series was tied. They had the look of a team of destiny. We had hope in our hearts. More importantly, we believed.
Boston took Game Five. They controlled the series. They were dominant, confident in overtime games. This WAS a different Bruins team. When the stakes where at their highest, they were coming through for themselves. For us.
Montreal took Game Six in a nail biter. Game Seven was looming. Not again, we thought. Not again. But we had to believe. They needed us to believe.
Out came the stats again. Out came the supposed history lessons. The Bruins were not great in Game Sevens. We knew this. We didn’t need a reminder. But we were reminded and we didn’t care. We believed.
The Bruins held a lead late in the third when Montreal scored. “Not again!” many fans in the TD Garden and at home groaned once again. History was repeating itself, we were told. But the Bruins didn’t buy that. Again, the Bruins were too busy making their own history.
Nathan Horton had struggled at times during the regular season but the playoffs were a different story for him, and for all the Bruins, as we were all quickly finding out. In overtime, the puck came to Horton’s stick. He cooly, calmly, confidently picked his spot, and shot the puck. The red light was on. The Bruins were celebrating. We were hugging strangers in the crowd. Boston was moving on.
History told them an 0-2 lead was too much. History told them Game Sevens were their Achilles heel. Literally and figuratively, Boston raised a mighty middle finger and stuck it in history’s face. We believed. So did they. Something special was happening and though we were constantly reminded of “history” the Bruins still didn’t care.
As fate would have it, the Redemption Tour pulled through the scene of the crime. Philly beat Buffalo in a Game Seven and the Bruins were headed to Philadelphia. We couldn’t escape talk of last year, “highlights” of last year. The script could not possibly have been written any better.
Boston vanquished Montreal. Now they stood before us with a 3-0 lead on Philadelphia, making Brian Boucher their play thing as he broke his neck from constantly looking behind him to see all the rubber that was piling up. Game Four was at TD Garden. History told us the Bruins had blown this before. History told us the Bruins may not have had the killer instinct to finish off the Flyers. But we believed. And once again the Bruins raised a giant middle finger towards history.
Our dear Bruins went for the throat, completing what they should have the year before. They held brooms instead of hockey sticks. Demons were being exercised left and right. Boston was headed to the Eastern Conference Finals.
We couldn’t believe it. The last time they were here, most of us were not even old enough to really understand how hard it is to get to the Conference Finals, never mind the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Lightning, fresh off a sweep of their own, were waiting.
Admittedly we got a bit overconfident. A lot of the experts were picking the Lightning. They said their offense was too much for the Bruins. The Bruins powerplay had been atrocious and many said they were lucky to make it this far with such horried special teams. But we still felt like destiny was calling. These Lightning are nothing we said.
Then the Bruins dropped a bomb in Game One. Where were OUR Bruins? That wasn’t them. But the theme was there again. Redemption doesn’t come easy. Lessons are learned the hard way. Nothing worth having comes easy and the Bruins were still in school, still studying, still learning.
Boston won the next two games and were quickly up 3-0 in Game Four. There was plenty of time left, sure, but the way the Bruins were playing one couldn’t help but consider the fact that after this game was over the Bruins were going to be one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals. Just one win….
Then it happened. Tampa stormed back. We couldn’t believe what we were watching. The Bruins offered little resistance to Tampa’s furious attack. Instead of being up 3-1 in the series, the Bruins were coming home tied 2-2. The hockey gods can be cruel and and sometimes you have to make your own destiny. Game Four was another cruel, but necessarily lesson. Again the Bruins took this lesson to heart. Never let up, never let a hurt opponent back into the fight. Go for the throat.
Boston rebounded and won Game Five. The Lightning won a wild one in Game Six. Here we were again. One game, winner goes to the Stanley Cup.
We sat through two scoreless, agonizing periods. We had been conditioned to think the worst was going to happen but we believed different this year. Why shouldn’t see? So far through the playoffs the Bruins had done the exact opposite of what they had done in their recent history. Overcoming 0-2 series decifits, coming up big in Game Sevens… we believed.
Then it happened. Krejci fed our new hero, Nathan Horton, cross crease. Horton collected and again calmy put the puck in motion past Roloson. 1-0 Bruins.
There was still time left. We bit our nails, pulled our playoff beards, held onto our seats. Time took forever to go by. Seconds felt like hours. No insurance goal for the Bruins. No tying goal for Tampa. Thomas was standing tall. This redemption story perhaps meant more to him than any other Bruin.
Mercifully the third period ended… and our Bruins won. They won! They were going to the Stanley Cup Finals! We couldn’t believe it. The dream was alive and well. We watched each handshake, each high five, each fist bump.
When Chara went to claim the Prince of Wales trophy, he called the ENTIRE team over, a moment not lost on us. This is what defined the Bruins. What made them great. And what would eventually make them champions.
They were going to the Finals and the mighty Vancouver Canucks awaited them.
The “experts” and media predicted a short series for the most part. Vancouver was too much for the Bruins they said. The Bruins terrible powerplay would be too much for them to over come. Vancouvers offensive, powerplay and depth was too much. It was a magical run but it was soon coming to a disappointing end, we were told. We believed a lot this post season, but we never believed that. We couldn’t. These Bruins had a look, a hunger. A feeling of destiny. We continued to believe.
Recent history repeated itself. The Bruins got in their own way. They looked nervous, timid. They were quickly in an 0-2 hole against the supposedly mighty Canucks in the series. But we noticed something in those losses. The Canucks were not better than our Bruins. Not even close. The Bruins did more to beat themselves than the Canucks did to beat the Bruins. We kept believing. We had to. This was their year. This was OUR year. And the Bruins were getting ready to apply all the lessons they had learned through heartache and triumph.
The Bruins took both games at home in dominant fashion. They used and abused the Canucks. The Canucks were cocky. They acted like the Cup was theirs before the series even started. They took their cheap shots and ran. They poked, and poked and poked the bear. Their cocky arrogance was soon to be their downfall.
Back in Vancouver, the Bruins offense suddenly dried up again. Luongo got the shut out after looking like a sieve in Boston. The Bruins were on the brink. If they could only force a Game Seven, we thought, they had this. They had to. Game Sevens were their bread and butter this postseason. These Bruins knew how to finish. Finally. We were convinced they learned their lessons. We believed.
They rewarded our belief. They dominated Game Six. Vancouver tried to answer late but the Bruins shut the door. They remembered what happend in Philly, in Tampa. They had to go for the throat in Game Six and they did. They finished off the Canucks. Once again, they were going to a winner take all game but this time it was for the ultimate prize. A drought ending, thirst quenching prize.
The so called experts and media uttered the same mantra before Game Seven that they uttered before the series started. Boston couldn’t get it done in Vancouver. History dictated this Bruins team was going to lose. We were going to be disappointed, we were told. If we had learned anything this post season it was once again that these Bruins didn’t pay attention to history and that they were serious about redemption. We believed.
Vancouver tried to whine and cry and dive and cheap shot their way to a Cup. They were arrogant to a fault, acting like the series had already been decided before it even started. When the Bruins handed them the first two games they acted like the Cup was destined for Vancouver. Our dear Bruins had other ideas.
Rome left his feet to take out Horton and then said he wasn’t sorry. Kevin Bieksa called Boston’s Starter jacket pee wee and complained that the big bad Bruins were being too rough. Alex Burrows bit Bergeron. Lapierre, the ulimate pansy, taunted Bergeron over the biting incident. Roberto Luongo called out Tim Thomas. They kept poking and poking and poking the bear. And this bear fought back. Again.
Vancouver underestimated the brother hood that was the Boston Bruins. Vancouver had more skill but these Bruins were the ultimate team. They lived and died together on every shift and when Vancouver called them out and laid them out, they knew what had to be done. They couldn’t let the Stanley Cup fall into the hands of one of hockey history’s most disgraceful teams. Boston had to smack them in the face and TAKE the Stanley Cup.
Game Seven was finally here after two agonizing days. This was it. There was a nervous energy wherever you were. We didn’t want the Bruins to win. We NEEDED the Bruins to win. As nervous as we were there was a weird feeling circulating everywhere, however. A weird sense of confidence flowed through us. We would soon discover why.
Vancouver came out with a purpose. Thomas was forced to make a couple of great stops early. We knew immediately that he was in the zone. We knew nothing was getting by Thomas. All the Bruins had to do was give him a little support. We knew they had to get into LOLuongo’s head early.
The Bruins missed a couple of great early chances. In past games that made us nervous. In the past they got frustrated. Not this team. They were on a mission. They were no longer students. They were the teachers, ready to teach Vancouver a lesson in fortitude, togetherness and heart.
Then it happened. Marchand threw a pass to the front of the net that landed on Bergeron’s stick. We weren’t sure if it was meant to go to Bergeron and quite frankly we didn’t care. Bergeron pushed the puck towards the net and Luongo had no idea. Boston SCORED! The all important first goal. They had this look in their eyes when they scored. The hunger. The determination. This overwhelming confidence. There was no way they were losing we told ourselves.
They built a three goal lead, the most dangerous lead thus far in these NHL playoffs. History showed that the Bruins had blown their fair share of three goal leads. History would be wrong again. This Bruins team had the look of a champion. There were a few scary moments, some questionable calls. But Tim Thomas and the defense stood strong. Where they really going to do this? Was this FINALLY our time?!
With about four minutes left Luongo was on the bench. The Vancouver net was empty. They were desperate.
Then Brad Marchand put the dagger in their hearts and sent an entire city into celebration. They had it locked up. The Bruins were going to win the Stanley Cup. THE BRUINS WERE GOING TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP!
The time ticked down. The clocked reached zero. Gloves and sticks were throw to the ice. Tim Thomas’ crease because a blur of white jerseys and grown men celebrating like children. It became the most beautiful sight we’ve seen in our lives.
We all believed. Through the ups and the downs we believed. When Montreal went up 2-0 in the series, we believed. When the Bruins met the Flyers, we all believed this year would be different. When it was scoreless after two periods in Game Seven against the Lightning, we all believed. And when the Canucks went up 2-0 we still believed. History didn’t believe. History told a different story. But we believed and the Bruins wrote their own history.
And what a story too. Not just for the players, but for us. The Bruins had to go through Montreal. Then Philly. So many demons to exercise, so many bad memories vanquished in moments of supreme glory. Overtime goals, huge saves, big hits. With each shift, with each save, with each goal… we believed a little more. This was our year. It had to be. It just had to be.
The Bruins proved once and for all that stats mean nothing, that being “less skilled” than the other team means nothing. What really matters is being a TEAM, through the good times and the bad, and making the most of your opportunities. The Bruins spent three playoff years at school, learning lessons from bitter, bitter defeats. Learning what it takes to win. Finding the heart of a champion. While we thought it was just them breaking our hearts despite our undying loyalty, they were simply waiting and learning, biding their time until they had connected all the dots, until they were ready.
Their journey made them closer. It turned them into a team. Not a collection of players that play for the same team and have the same goal. No. The Bruins turned into a TEAM. A family. A brotherhood. They knew what was at stake. They weren’t just playing for themselves, to fulfill their dreams. They knew they were playing for us. They understand the heartbreak we, as fans, have endured dedicating ourselves to this team through the good times and the bad. They understood. They just needed us to be patient while they learned every heartbreaking lesson, while they prepared to flip history the a very intentional bird.
It was all so surreal. We say Ryan Kesler crying on the ice and it started to sink in as we cheerfully watched his pain, feelings developed from a series that bred loathing for the Canucks. As the handshake line started, it started to sink in even more but we still couldn’t believe it. Thomas patting each Canuck on the back, looking each of his vanquishe foes in the eyes. The players hugging each other. Everyone around us going absolutely crazy.
We had seen many of these handshake lines in recent years but not like this. In prior years the Bruins in this line we depressed, sullen. And we watched on in the stands or at home… completely speechless. And on this day we were still speechless, but we were locked in the grips of our friends and family, eyes misty as we watched, the widest smiles we’ve ever produced pasted to our faces.
We watched as Tim Thomas awkwardly held the Conn Smythe trophy, an award more than deserved. But like the rest of the boys wearing black and gold, he didn’t care about individual achievements. He wanted the trophy that mattered.
Suddenly two men in white gloves emerged, carrying the greatest trophy in the history of the world. This was really happening. It really, REALLY was happening. Gary Bettman gave a speech no one heard over the cheering and really that no one cared about. We all watched with eager anticipation of what we knew as coming.
Zdeno Chara skated towards Bettman, turned once again to face his teammates, pumping his fists and yelling. It was coming. Holy shit it was coming. Chara awkwardly shook Bettman’s hand and posed for a picture, his arms shaking with excitement, his lip quivering. Here it comes. Our eyes got a bit mistier. We hugged our friends a little harder, arms spread across each other’s shoulders ready to explode into fits of joy.
Then Chara grapsed the Cup and erupted with joy as he thrust the Cup high above his head. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Chara, with that black and gold eight spoked B on his chest, was raising the Cup. We raised our arms above our heads in unison at the bar, or at home or on the street or wherever we were. There it was. The Cup was in the Bruins possession. Chara passed the Cup to Recchi. And the line started. Passing to each Bruin. We chanted each player’s name as they held the Cup. Our voices raspy by that point from all the cheering. There were no other words. The moment was too great. The journey was over and finally, FINALLY our Bruins had a Cup.
It has taken us two days to find the words for all of this and none of these words can do justice to what we are feeling. Our Bruins, yes OUR Bruins, are Stanely Cup Champions. No matter how many times we say that, it is NEVER going to get old. Productivity at work Thursday was less than nothing. We all looked up pictures, videos… anything we could find to relive the previous night. And we’ll keep doing that all summer long. Each time we’ll feel the same, each time our eyes will get a little watery. We’ll never want this feeling to go away.
And we thank each and every one of you for sharing the ups and downs of this season with us. The journey the Bruins took this season gave us the pleasure of meeting a lot of good people to take the journey with. As Bruins fans we were all united in our love for the team. We’re not ashamed to admit the eyes still get a little misty watching the celebration, watching the post game interviews, watching that final History Will Be Made video.
The Bruins proved hard work and dedication can win a Cup over anything else. There are no “superstars” by definition on this Bruins team and they are fine with that. We are fine with that. We all love this team the way they love each other. They are the ultimate TEAM.
So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to each and every member of the Boston Bruins. Despite feeling as good as we feel, we can only imagine how the players feel. The best, and more importantly, most deserving team won this game. And now we’re going to party all summer long.
History was defeated and history was made. Lesson learned. Mission accomplished.