Every Boston Bruin hockey fan should sign a petition in favor of erecting a statue in honor of Aaron Rome. If Rome had not hit Nathan Horton in Game 3 of the Final, the Vancouver Canucks might be celebrating their first Stanley Cup victory. Boston’s offense was absent for the first two games. Then the series shifted to Boston. Aaron Rome blindsided Horton, finishing him for the series. The NHL handed Rome a four game suspension, but more than that, it ignited the Bruins. They didn’t just beat Vancouver, they humiliated them. A series that proved to be anything but exciting suddenly came alive. The rivalry was intense and totally visual.
Until Wednesday night, it was a homer series. Each team had won every home game. Then game seven happened in Vancouver. Luongo, the star goalie for the Canucks was totally porous. Even basketballs might have eluded him. Vancouver’s offense had gone elsewhere as well. The team was flat. Yet, thousands upon thousands of loyal and hopeful fans were there to cheer them on. Standing for hours on city streets, they watched the games on huge TV screens. This was a right of spring in Vancouver, in Canada actually. When many American cities have turned their attention to baseball, NASCAR, the NBA playoffs, MMA, and gardening, Canadians by the millions are watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, ever hopeful of one of the six serious contending teams (now that we have a team again in Winnipeg — and please, Toronto is never a serious contender, even when they make the playoffs) will hoist the Stanley Cup on Canadian soil once again.
To the fans in Vancouver, this year, the mountains that surround the city were but anthills compared to their hopes. Across the country, Canadians hoped with a pessimistic cynicism that this might be the year, the first in almost twenty, when a Canadian team would win the Stanley Cup. For the first year in many years, the officiating was above reproach. This seemed to be Vancouver’s year, Canada’s year.
Personally, I turned the game off at the end of the first period. Why sit through a rout? Boston’s first goal was not insurmountable, but the second one was. Vancouver had never scored more than two goals in any game against Thomas, so it was unrealistic to expect that they would do it in game seven. Thomas wasn’t so solid as he was lucky. Vancouver probably couldn’t have scored on an empty net, let alone one with Thomas in it. Thomas was lucky that Vancouver’s offense suddenly became cold. They had many chances, but could not convert any into goals.
The riots that erupted after the game were predictable, considering the emotional high the fans had been on for weeks. Suddenly the unbelievable, the unthinkable had happened. They lost. Not only did they lose, they were truly humiliated. Boston were ugly winners too, which made it even more difficult. These teams hated each other. They were not just competitors, they actually hated one another, and it showed in the way they played the game.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has made his prejudice toward Canada well known over the years. While Mr Bettman may be horrified at the violence on the streets of Vancouver, I am sure that he rested peacefully knowing that the Stanley Cup resides once again in his beloved United States of America.
The Boston Bruins, not my choice, but definitely the better of the two teams, won the Stanley Cup. Congratulations.