In the summer of 1971 my family temporarily moved north across the border to Vancouver. Yes, that Vancouver. I had seen a Hockey game before but it was in Vancouver that I was first truly bitten by the bug. It was there I first held a stick and learned to shoot left. And it was there that I discovered NHL hockey.
With a few exceptions I recall Vancouver as dull and lifeless. I remember standing outside in the rain waiting for the school bus in the mornings. It rained almost every morning, yet it never really rained. It just sort of misted a lot. Everything was perpetually wet. Summer lasted a few weeks at best. A lot of the people were like the weather: dreary and whiny. On the whole, I didn't really like it much.
It was thirty nine years ago that I walked into my 7th grade art class. My classmates were rowdy. Our teacher was new and just out of school. He told us he'd forgotten something and that we should all sit down. He went out the door and down the hall, leaving us to our own devices.
Someone started chanting quietly, "Rangers... Rangers... Rangers..." This was quickly met by others chanting, "Bruins... Bruins... Bruins.." Soon the class had split into two groups on opposite sides of the room. I remember sitting on a wide windowsill chanting "Bruins" with about half the class. It was the day of game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins were up 3 games to 2 and going into New York with a chance to win it all. A lot of people all over the continent loved the Bruins back then, mostly due to Bobby Orr. Soon we were chanting ever more loudly and I remember banging something on the windowsill in time with our chant.
The teacher came in and weakly tried to get us to stop, but we all just ignored him. Exasperated and upset he ran back into the hallway. That just made us chant more loudly. The whole school must have been able to hear us by then! After a while the teacher returned with the Principal and he managed to make us stop and sit down. Needless to say the Principal was pretty angry.
Later that night I watched Phil Esposito resume his battle in front the of net with the evil Walt Tkaczuk. Espo didn't score a goal that series, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Bobby Orr put on a clinic as usual, scoring the first goal. In the end it was a dominating win. Cheevers got the shut out and the Bruins won 3-0. Bobby won the Conn Smythe again, of course.
From that day on I have been a die-hard Bruins fan. We've been through a lot over the years. The close calls, the games that were lost that could have been won.
Thirty nine years. My oldest son will start 7th grade next year. He loves the Bruins too, of course. I wonder, what would it mean to him to see Big Z raise that cup on Wednesday?
But win or lose this has been a great ride! Win or lose on Wednesday I will remember this season as one of the best and this team with great fondness. They don't need to win it for me. I'll be back next season no matter what. But I'd sure like to see them win it for each other.
Thirty nine years ago Bobby Orr was my childhood hero. But that was so easy... he was everybody's hero. He dominated the game like no other player has before or since. My "adult" hero is Tim Thomas, and his winning would be much more sweet. After all he's been through and after all the idiots who said again and again that he wasn't good enough, it would make me so happy to see Tim Thomas take home a cup, two Vezinas and the Conn Smythe!
Maybe someday I will take my sons on a pilgrimage to Boston. Maybe, just maybe, we will watch as the number 30 is raised to the rafters to join number 4.