Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not Such Deep Thoughts: Special Stanley Cup Edition

Well, it’s that time again; the old noggin is filled to ‘esplodin’ with unvoiced thoughts, so let’s get right to it, and there’s no better way to start this off than by saying:

How ‘bout those Bruins, eh?

They took us for a long and wild ride on their quest for the cup, and the victory was made that much sweeter by its sheer unexpectedness. Sure, they were a pretty good team this year, but after their epic collapse in last year’s playoffs, I just didn’t think they had it in them. Boy was I wrong. In retrospect, it played out a lot like our other sports team’s recent championships; the dark horse team that rose to every occasion, time and time again, always managing to get the job done. No trash talk, no false bravado, just blood, sweat and hustle. It’s become standard operating procedure for our Boston teams. Shut up and play is our mantra here, and it’s served us well.

Speaking of the Bruins, could these guys be any more likable? They just keep surprising me with the things they do, mainly because they’re so down to earth. Out and about with the general public after the victory, walking the streets, stopping in at a barber shop to have their beards buzzed, putting the Cup in a baby stroller and taking it down to Tia’s to hold court, beautiful. You just don’t see that type of behavior in professional sports these days and it’s very refreshing.

Anyone know where I can get one of those Locker Room hats? Damn they’re hard to find.

Not to diminish this year’s feats in any way, shape or form, but while we’re on the subject of the Stanley Cup, I’ve been weighing this years Championship victory against what I’ve always considered to be the most exciting hockey moments of my life; the 1970 Bruins quest for the cup.

Orr, Sanderson, Espo, The Chief, Hodge, Pie and The Cheese, that was quite a team, my team, and they were having an incredible season. My Dad and 2 of my Uncles were long time season ticket holders back then, so I got to go to a lot of games, but when it came to the playoffs, nuh-uh, no one was giving those babies up, so my buddy, his little brother and I packed up our lawn chairs, sleeping bags and street hockey sticks and headed on down to the Gah-den to get us some tickets.

We spent three days waiting in line; two camping in the alley between the Garden and the Registry, and one night sleeping in the Garden itself. Our parents would come by a couple of times a day to drop off food and generally check on our well being; it was long before the cell phone, no way to check on Junior except in person in those days. We kept ourselves busy playing street hockey in that alley, there was always a game going on, or playing cards with our neighbors in line. Barrel fires lit the night, and the only thing to fear were the rats (great big rats). We’d sit there at night clutching our sticks, trying in vain to stay awake.

On the last night they herded us all inside and sat us in sections according to our place in line. We ended up exploring every inch of that place before the night was through, us and about a thousand other kids. Pure nirvana for a 15 year old Bruins fan. We walked out of there the next day clutching tickets to games 3 and 4 of the finals, feeling like we had just hit the lottery, and we had, of course, because we were standing high in the gallery during the game 4 overtime period, screaming and yelling ourselves hoarse, when we all learned that number 4 could fly.

Ah, memories. As I said before though, I don’t bring this up to diminish what this year’s team has done; it’s just hard to think of any Bruins team without measuring them up with The Big Bad Bruins of my youth. This season was just as exciting, but for much different reasons.

That 1970 team seemed predestined for coronation; the Orr era Bruins were akin to the Montana era Niners, you just knew they were going to win, and we ate it up. The excitement they generated with their spectacular play and bloody fights, combined with the unabashed hero worship of my youth and the new found freedom our parents had afforded us that spring was totally intoxicating, and it left an indelible mark on me.

This 2011 Bruins Championship was exciting because the outcome was always in doubt. Close, hard fought games, incredible plays, incredible hustle, and incredible determination. They personified team, and made you proud to be a fan.

As I said; just as exciting, but for much different reasons.

On a sad note; I lost 2 of those Bruin loving, larger than life Uncles during this past season, one of them passing just before game five. I like to think they went to join my Dad, and they were all watching from the gallery as that final horn sounded and bedlam ensued. In my mind’s eye I can see the pure joy and excitement on their faces. It’s such a clear and beautiful image that it has to be true.

That is all.