“We got the Cup.”
Wow. It still sounds too good to be true. I would say I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement but the words themselves would sound unspeakably lame for an occasion like this.
Many have waited 39 years for this moment. I have waited 25. Yes, I was born into this New England obsession we call “Boston Sports,” and the latest chapter to this book of fever pitch and celebration rivals the sweetest of sweet victories this region has ever known.
The Boston Bruins are the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions. Let me say that again, for those still in a state of surreal shock, like myself: The Boston Bruins, for the first time since 1972, behind a 37-year-old goaltender, are the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions!
Much like the 2004 Boston Red Sox – minus 47 additional years of waiting – the 2011 Boston Bruins captured the hearts and souls of even the most casual hockey fans throughout the region and in some cases, the country, on what will forever be an unforgettably historic postseason run that culminated on June 15 in Vancouver when Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup high above his head.
“We got the Cup.”
Just under 30 miles North of Medfield, I travelled to Boston, the “Hub of Hockey” Wednesday, to watch Game 7 in anxious anticipation of the Bruins’ opportunity to win the Cup. As it turns out, the $17 for parking and $32 in gas were well worth the celebration that ensued.
With my younger brother and a few friends, we made our way to Hurricane O’Reilly’s on Canal Street – across from the TD Garden – to set up shop and watch the winner-take-all final game of the 2010-2011 NHL season.
We got in the door at 5:30 p.m. and quickly were notified there would be no tables available for the game. On any other night, this would have resulted in a quick 180-turn and a walk out the door. But on this night, the news was expected and certainly a small inconvenience for what we had came to see, came to experience.
So for 2 hours and 48 minutes before the puck even dropped, we stood, amongst a sea of black and gold and continued to stand with our fraternity of Bruins’ fans for the entirety of the game.
This was the establishment I watched the Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and I had returned to the scene of the crime for another go, because as we Boston sports fans know, our superstitions can never be overlooked.
Of course the Bruins WOULD win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals if I watched the game at Hurricane O’Reilly’s.
OK, that’s definitely over-stated and simple logic reasons there’s no truth to what I just said. But simple logic would have also said a roster full of blue-collar grinders and a 37-year-old goaltender coming off hip surgery would not win the Cup.
Bruins (and their fans) 1, Logic 0.
O’Reilly’s, like many bars and other public places with a TV in the area, were packed with fans feverishly awaiting the start to Game 7.
What I liked most about O’Reilly’s, aside from the tremendous crowd full of Bruins’ Pride, was it brought the atmosphere from a game at the Garden into the bar. Many of the songs you hear at the Garden during a game were played in the bar and Bruins’ fans responded with towel waving, cheering and chants – an incredible scene to be apart of.
When Patrice Bergeron took a Brad Marchand pass and beat Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo at the 14:37 mark in the first period, a goal horn sounded and the popular Bruins’ song celebrating a goal (“Kernkraft 400 Sports Edition” by Zombie Nation) began to play throughout the bar. All of us watching – and standing – erupted, hugging and high-fiving strangers, fist pumping and clapping to the beat and jumping out of our shoes like we were going up for a rebound or pre-game dunk.
That celebration continued with second period goals by Marchand and Bergeron before intensifying with Marchand’s empty-netter in third period to secure the 4-0 victory.
We refrained from celebrating too early, understanding all too well that no lead is ever safe in sport, especially in the NHL. When that clock hit 00:00 and the Bruins mobbed Tim Thomas, we in Hurricane O’Reilly’s mobbed each other as well.
Strangers had become friends, beer showers and standing on tables were encouraged, celebration kisses occurred, hugs were exchanged and songs were sung.
After seeing Chara, Thomas, Mark Recchi, Bergeron and Nathan Horton raise the Cup, we left O’Reilly’s and took to the street, which was relatively quiet when we first arrived across the way from the Garden as we beat the mob that later followed.
In that quiet moment of awe, pride and satisfaction, I spoke with my parents, lifelong Bruins’ fans … these were the conversations held:
“Woo … ahh … woo … the Cup, we did it,” my mom said in utter excitement. “I am in an awe, get the [Stanley Cup Champions] hat … Boston brings it [home] we get a parade.”
“The Cup is coming home … unreal,” my dad said.
Both my parents often remind me of how blessed I am as a sports fan because in my lifetime I have seen two Red Sox World Series titles, three New England Patriot Super Bowl titles, a Celtics’ NBA title and now, a Bruins title – adding the B’s to complete the list that now reads four teams, four championships in the 21st century. Looks like we are all blessed.
I thought about those other championships I’ve seen and thought a lot about this one. There’s no sense in ranking any of them because they were all so sweet for different reasons and on Wednesday night, there was nothing sweeter than celebrating in Black and Gold on the streets of Boston with 1,000s of my new friends.
“We got the Cup.”