The Agony of Defeat
Wednesday June 12 2019 I had my heart broken, not by a breakup with a significant other or the ending a friendship or loss of a loved one, but by the Boston Bruins. The Bruins lost the Stanley Cup on Garden Ice to what I must admit was a very special St. Louis Blues team. You see, anyone that knows me knows that I am a wicked big hockey fan and a rabid Bruins fan; during the course of the 82 game season it is rare that I miss a game. That Wednesday night, the Bruins were playing in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, winner take all, and they blew it, crushing the hearts of hockey fans across New England. Before you give me the line “Well New England has won enough. I’m glad someone else won” let me say yes, I am blessed to live and grow up during the Golden Age of New England Sports where the Patriots have won six championships, the Red Sox ended an 86 year old curse and won multiple championships, the Celtics ended a 22 year dry spell, and the Bruins ended a 39 year draught, but I can count on one hand the amount of regular season games I watch of the other 3 teams during that span. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy when they do well and I keep up on all 3 during their respective seasons but I’m more likely to catch the highlights the next morning on NESN. I of course pay attention during the playoffs and have jerseys from all the Boston teams and there is nothing better than giving a Yankee’s fan a good ribbing when the Sox bounce them from the playoffs. The Bruins are my team and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve stayed up late to watch the end of a game only go to bed frustrated that they blew a lead or couldn’t crack a hot goaltender, or the amount of times I couldn’t fall asleep because they mounted an epic comeback or because someone scored some impossible goal. Through the good and bad the Bruins are my team.
Back to that Wednesday night that the Bruins broke the hearts of New Englanders everywhere. The Bruins were never even supposed to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, they were suppose to lose in the second round to the best team in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lighting, who were a machine. When the Lighting were eliminated in the first round and the road to the Cup was wide open and ours for the taking, the Bruins seemingly mowed through rounds 2 and 3 to get to the Cup final where they renewed acquaintances with the Blues a team they beat 49 years ago to win the Cup and create arguably one of the most iconic sports moments in Boston history, the “Flying Bobby Orr”. It was a tight series, they split the first four games of the series, the Blues had the Bruins on the brink of elimination by 6 game and somehow some way the Bruins played their best game of the playoffs to force a game 7. I was nervous during each and every game as it's an emotional roller coaster, and game 3 in particular was especially nerve wracking. Game 3 I was away from home at our Spring Board meeting and I was not sitting in my lucky spot on the couch. I only had one jersey with me so I couldn’t do a wardrobe change if the game started to go south, and I had never watched a game with my Board sisters, let alone a game that carried as much weight as a Stanley Cup final game. Thankfully there was a handful of my sisters who were also in attendance who are also pretty big Bruins fans that were willing to watch the game with me, and game 3 ended in a win so we had a pretty good night soaking it in. Losing games 4 and 5 were rough, going into game 6 things were not looking good but they pulled off the win to force a game 7.
I started watching game 7 with my mom. I say started because I didn’t finish game; at the end of the 1st, the Bruins were down 2-0. They had the better of the play in the first but ended up trailing because they couldn’t finish and find the back of the net, versus a hot goaltender. By the end of the first I knew in my gut that tonight was not their night and this was not going to be their year. Sometimes as a fan you just know, and there was no way they were scoring 3 or more on that goaltender unless they ran him over with the zamboni first. I went to bed to lick my wounds, the Bruins were going to lose the Stanley Cup on home ice. I shed some tears, I beat up a poor defenceless pillow, I was devastated. Countless other sports fans know how difficult it is to watch your team lose a championship especially on their home turf, however, it's something hard to describe to the casual fan or someone who doesn’t watch sports at all. In the days since the loss, I’ve been told “it’s just a game” or “it’s just a sport” multiple times, and yes, granted it is not life or death if a certain team doesn’t win a championship, and there are much more important things happening in the world, but it is more than a sports game for the passionate fans. Those fans follow a team, and to them it is more than just a game, it is where we lose ourselves for a couple of hours a day and forget our troubles of the week. There is a sense of comradery in the agony of defeat or when we are crowned champions. There are hundreds of thousands of people that feel the same thing you are feeling in the moment, and that is a powerful feeling.
I’ve been lucky enough to see iconic numbers retired, to meet Garden Legend Rene Rancourt, to skype with goaltender Tuukka Rask, to freeze my butt off at a Winter Classic, to attend multiple games at TD Garden, and to see them hoist the Cup once in my lifetime. I pray to the Hockey Gods I get to see it a time or two more in my life. I’m still like a kid on Christmas morning when I get new Bruins jersey or merchandise, and I still get goose bumps and choked up everytime I get to see a game in person. Why? Because it really it more than just a game. So on June 12, 2019 my heart was broken by the Boston Bruins, it was not the first time and I’m sure it will be far from the last time, but that is why we love sports.