The headline is a snippet from Vancouver based rocker Matthew Good’s song “Alert Status Red“. Perhaps it’s a song that should have been blaring through the streets last night as angry hockey fans and cement-headed opportunists trashed Vancouver’s downtown.
The Boston Bruins have finally won a Stanley Cup. I never thought I’d have to come to grips with this reality, but alas here it is. It’s pretty bad…but I gotta say, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m back at work today, and I assume you are doing whatever it is you do on a daily basis. It’s going to be a sunny, beautiful 28°C here in Montreal today. I don’t know what the forecast is where you are, but it has to be somewhere in that neighborhood.
As a Habs fan, the thought of guys like Chara, Marchand, Ference, Lucic and Campbell hoisiting the cup is repulsive, and revolting. It’s hard to reconcile douchebaggery, outright barbarism, and classless behavior with “Stanley Cup Champs”, but that’s the reality today. Whatever we think of the Bruins, and what they were allowed to get away with this season, there’s no doubt that they were the better team in the Cup finals. We Habs fans can take a small measure of comfort knowing that the Canadiens pushed the Bruins harder than any other team, even though they also went to seven games against the Lightning and Canucks. We also can be fairly certain that if Max Pacioretty had been around, the outcome of that opening series would have been different…and no…that’s not to say that the Canadiens would have went on to win the Cup because that’s nothing but a BIG fat reach based in nothing but homerism. Arpon Basu had a great piece on this flawed line of thought.
Still, we have to give the Bruins credit no matter how much we believe they were aided by Campbell, Bettman, the refs or Hockey Gods Gone Mad. It’s clear that karma is a dead concept, but nevertheless, the Bruins accomplished some amazing things since the playoffs began. They were the first team to win a playoff series without scoring a single power play goal (vs Montreal). They’re the first team to ever win a Cup by winning three seven-game series (Montreal, Tampa and Vancouver). They were (I think) the first team to win the Cup when falling behind 0-2 in two separate series (they also had to come from behind against Tampa). Their even strength supremacy should be an indication to all teams relying on “special teams and goaltending” (coughHabscough) where their priorities should be.
The Bruins netminder also deserves credit. Let’s put aside his comment “Subban is a travesty to the game” comment for just a moment. Yes, it was dumb, especially when you consider that the Bruins had just knocked off the Habs. It’s called being a gracious winner, and the Bruins are woefully unfamiliar with the concept. It’s hardwired in to Bruin DNA (one needs to look at what happened to guys like Nathan Horton and Mark Recchi when they became Bruins). Still, we have to face facts. Thomas fought back from a mediocre 09-10 season where he pretty much lost his job to Tuukka Rask. He ripped the starting job back, and then faced down Carey Price (3 times in overtime, to boot), whatever the Flyers could muster in goal, Dwayne Roloson and Roberto Luongo to win the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup. Oh, and he’s also going to win the Vezina trophy, too. His numbers are astounding; .938 save percentage in the regular season, and a 35-11 record. Sure he only started 57 games, but if he had started 67, would his number have been any worse? There’s nothing to suggest that. Why? Because in the playoffs, he got even better at stopping the puck against superior teams. He posted a .940 save percentage over 25 playoff games, and was at his best in the Finals. When the pressure was at its highest, he gave up 8 goals in 7 games in the final series including a shutout in enemy territory. Against the league’s top team. Ladies and gents, that’s called dominance. We can sit back and hurl whatever names we want to in his direction, but they’re born of bitterness. Tim Thomas has just completed a season for the ages and there’s nothing anybody can say to refute that. He may be a tad overweight, but he’s not overrated. At least not in 2010-2011. We can twist stats to suit our agendas, but hockey is a result-oriented business, and who delivered better results than Thomas this year? The answer is nobody. For that, he has my admiration and respect.
Credit also has to go to Claude Julien for keeping the ship on course when it could have easily sunk after the first two home games vs Montreal. Some Bruins fans don’t like the conservative coach, but I wonder what they have to say today? Again, results matter. It’s all that matters in hockey, which at least partially explains why the Bruins choose to be the barbarians that they are.
Continuing along the getting results path, big kudos this morning for Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli. The work he has done to build up the Bruins has to be met with nothing but laurels. Confession: when he acquired Rich Peverley from Atlanta, I had a sinking feeling. Not because Peverley is a world-beater, but because when a guy of that quality is brought in to center the fourth line, you’re sitting pretty. His prime acquisition of Kaberle nearly cost him dearly…but there’s that word again: results. Chiarelli is getting a Cup ring for his troubles while every other GM is figuring out what to do next. Delivering the goods with Cam Neely breathing down his neck couldn’t have been much fun, but he pulled the right strings and put the puzzle together. Props.
So as the sun finally sets on what was an ugly NHL season, marred by horrific officiating, horrific injuries, and a nightmare ending for Habs fans (and I guess you, too Canucks fans), I offer my congrats to the Bruin players and management that I don’t want to skewer with a sharpened telephone pole: Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, Chris Kelly, Claude Julien, Doug Jarvis and Peter Chiarelli. Oh, and I can’t forget the few Bruins fans that I truly am happy for today: Doug, CJ, and a handful of others who deserve to know what being a champ feels like. Enjoy it! May you never feel like this again! ; )