So, it’s come down to Vancouver and Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals has it?
While watching Boston triumph 1-0 in Game 7 over the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night, my wife asked me, “Why are you getting so upset over Boston winning?”
It’s a question I’ve been asked many times lately.
As many of you loyal readers know, I grew up outside of Boston. My whole family is from New England. By rule, I shouldn’t even be a Penguins fan.
Thank Mario Lemieux for saving me from being a Bruins supporter with his domination of Boston in the first game I ever watched.
I had just started playing hockey when my father sat me down to watch a Pens/Bruins matchup in order to explain the game to me.
From that day forward I have rooted for Pittsburgh.
I realize some of that sounds sappy and you’re probably saying, “Okay, where are you going with this?”
At this point in time, I figured if Pittsburgh can’t win I might as well support the home team so my family doesn’t completely disown me.
I really started to turn on the Bruins after attending several games at the TD Bank North Garden (Formerly known as the Fleet Center. Seriously, has a professional sporting arena ever had more name changes? The building changes names as often as the weather changes in New England. It’s ridiculous.)
My father brought me to my first NHL game when I was around 12 or 13-years-old. I don’t remember the actual age because I’m still dealing with the mental anguish of the events that transpired.
It was near the end of the regular season and Pittsburgh had locked up a playoff spot. The Bruins were also in the playoffs and were battling for position.
I wish the Bruins winning the game 4-2 was the worst part of the night.
Alex Kovalev scored Pittsburgh’s first goal in the game and I jumped up all excited. The cascade of boos raining down on me was not something I ever dreamed would happen.
I’d expect that kind of treatment walking into that building today, but at that age, come on.
I was wearing my Jaromir Jagr jersey. He scored a late goal, which prompted me to jump up and endure a second round of booing.
One guy even yelled out, “Sit down Jagr!” and some other things that aren’t fit for print.
As the final buzzer sounded, people started raining empty beer cups on me from several rows behind us. I’m not even kidding. My father was less amused than I was, but the perpetrators got away.
Flash forward a few years to the dark ages of the Penguins.
I was back home from college for winter break and went down to Boston for another Bruins/Pens game.
I mentally prepared for the verbal abuse being that I was now old enough to fire back authoritative retorts at will.
As I’m paying for my parking, NESN’s Tom Caron is at the window next to me.
One of his tech guys asks him, “Who do we have tonight?”
“Pittsburgh,” Caron replies.
“They any good?”
“Why don’t you ask this guy?” Caron says as he points in my general direction.
I’m barely inside the building and I’ve got a NESN personality drawing attention to the fact I’m wearing the wrong black and gold colors. Thanks Tom.
I kept my chin up and found my way to the seats I would endure three hours of torture in.
The starting lineups get announced and Jean-Sebastien Aubin is in goal, which pretty much tells you how the game ended.
However, the real treat was being seated in Row A in the upper bowl with an entire Marine unit behind me. any thoughts of engaging in a war of words went right out the window.
I’ve done some dumb things in life, but going down that road with a bunch of Marines was not going to happen.
One such fellow felt it necessary to mock my Lemieux jersey for the entire game. I’m 99 percent sure he was a drill sergeant because I felt compelled to drop and do 50 pushups on multiple occasions.
How I’m not deaf in my right ear is beyond me. He was yelling at the top of his lungs in my ear all night.
Is this starting to paint a picture for why I want Boston to never lay claim to the Stanley Cup again?
Let’s also factor in the constant barrage of taunting phone calls, text messages and Facebook messages from family and friends back home.
The handshake line after Game 7 last night wasn’t even completed before my phone went off with a text from a buddy saying, “How about them Bruins baby?!”
That message has me seriously debating whether I should just turn my phone off for the next two weeks. That, or change my number.
Believe me, I’d love to root for the hometown team in this matchup, but I can’t. Their fans and the bandwagon/fairweather ones that go along with them have turned me off of this team for good.
One buddy of mine claims to be a fan and yet calls me to ask what time and channel the games are on. You know who you are.
With that said, I have a few words for the Vancouver Canucks:
On behalf of myself, please knock off the Boston Bruins and win the Stanley Cup. I can’t stress to you how much my summer will be ruined if you were to fall in this series.
If you can pass the puck like you have through the first three rounds, you’ll have Tim Thomas at your mercy.
Take notes of how aggressive he is and exploit it.
Tampa Bay’s power play was lethal against Boston, especially in Game 6, and your power play is far more dangerous.
So, good luck and I sincerely hope that you bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993.
Check Back Tomorrow For My Stanley Cup Finals Prediction
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens.