Thursday, June 16, 2011

Victory Dance

It's mid-June, it's 80 degrees out and yes, hallelujah, the hockey season is finally over. The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup with a decisive 4-0 Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Despite going the limit, the series didn't seem that close. The Canucks were favored heavily going into the series and won the first two games in Vancouver by one-goal margins, but the Bruins roared back by taking the next two in Boston. The Canucks took a 3-2 series lead with a shutout win in Boston, but the Bruins won the last two games of the series in commanding fashion.

It was the first Cup win in 39 years for the Bruins, who last won when the names Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito were uttered on a nightly basis around here. The championship capped a remarkable run by Boston teams in the last decade, as the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all won their respective league titles since 2001.

I'm a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but I was happy for my friends who are Bruins fans and indeed rooted for the B's. I watched the ill-fated Cup runs in 1988 and 1990 that ended in crushing defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers; I even watched the Bruins lose to Montreal in the late 1970s. It was a long drought that didn't appear to be ending anytime soon when the Bruins lost the first two games of the playoffs to Montreal before storming back to win in 7. After sweeping Philly (who came back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat Boston last year), the B's had to go 7 games again to beat Tampa Bay.

Going into the Vancouver series, I predicted the Canucks would win in 6 games. They just seemed more talented and deeper than Boston. But I quickly grew to hate the Canucks, who employed whining, diving and cheap shots like biting in addition to their obvious skill. It was great to see the Bruins use a complete team effort to take the Canucks out. It was not great to see the riots that ensued in Vancouver after the Bruins won last night. I'll never understand why people do that sort of thing.

I was happy to see Tomas Kaberle, the longtime Maple Leafs defenseman who was traded to the Bruins at the deadline, win his first Stanley Cup. He took a lot of heat around for not being to turn around a struggling Bruins power play, but he played well in the Final. I also enjoyed the spotlight that hockey received around here in the last few months, usually overshadowed by baseball and basketball in the spring. A lot of folks jumped on the bandwagon and were rewarded with an amazing playoff run, highlighted by a performance for the ages by goalie and playoff MVP Tim Thomas.

Meanwhile, my Maple Leafs are preparing for the NHL draft next weekend and hopefully a playoff spot next season. They haven't played in the postseason since 2004, but they've put together a good young team that looks like it's ready to get back to the playoffs soon. It has been 44 years since the last Leafs' Cup winner. Hopefully the end of that drought is in sight. But until then, I'll be happy for my Boston friends.

The Cup presentation:

The Bruins' pregame warmup song this year:

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