May 15, 2009
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. Gone but not forgotten, we've asked for these losers to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is Robert Lefebvre from the Montreal Canadiens blog Eyes on the Prize, fondly remembering the Boston Bruins.)
By Robert Lefebvre
First off, before I urinate some in the Bruins chowder, I want to thank them for desperately wanting forward Paul Reid from the Canadiens so badly all those ago that they traded a bespectacled, near-sighted goaltender named Ken Dryden, for him.
Reid, of course went on to a stellar career as a truck driver, then a window washer, a Maytag repairman, and whatever else. Dryden became, well...you know.
As a Canadiens fan, it is hard for me to muster up a giant-sized venomous hatred for the Bruins and dance on their grave; because in my lifetime, Boston as an opposition, have provided the Habs with an abundant list of cherished memories thicker than Don Cherry's collar and longer than Harry Sinden's ghost call rants.
For instance, I haven't heard a word spoken by Cherry (lucky me!) in close to 30 years. Why? Because each time I see his face, I grin so wide my ears go numb.
I mean really, when was the last time the Bruins caused me, in a season where the Habs were legit contenders, all that much grief?
This season? Not really!
While the Bruins literally steamrolled the Habs this playoffs, and I mean pummeled in every sense of the word, it never felt like they had taken something away from Montreal. The Canadiens were a lame duck club who would have been easy pickings for just about any team with names on the back of their jerseys. The Bruins acting as the Habs brooms in 2009 provided the same service as a mercy killing, as this wasn't a season in which the Canadiens were going to excite anyone.
But as weak as Montreal were in the series, I get the sense that it played into the Bruins second round elimination, as it looks now that Boston may have suffered from too much of an easy first round ride. Now that the Bruins have been eliminated by the sixth seeded Hurricanes, the question can be asked whether Montreal softened up the Bruins by being so lame, or whether Boston physically drained themselves by submitting the Canadiens to such a malicious pounding.
I mean truthfully, how in the heck could the Bruins -- masters of the regular season -- lose to Carolina?
I was pulling for them for crying out loud, cause I can't stand Carolina.
Maybe that jinxed them!
Maybe Paul Maurice -- who's looking a lot like Michael Douglas in "Falling Down" these days -- outcoached the guy who looks like a swollen thumb behind the Bruins bench?
Maybe it's coach Julien and Michael Ryder -- both Habs alumni -- who are to blame?
I just don't get it. I'm as flabbergasted and befuddled as Bruins fans right now. Like I know why Montreal screwed up, but figuring out why the Bruins will be polishing golf clubs or climbing Mount Kilimanjero next week is beyond me.
Maybe that is the Bruins function in hockey -- to leave fans wondering WTF!
I watched the game with a Bruins fan friend of mine named Steve, and once he saw Walker bat the winner in, bent forward and leaned his forehead down on the table in front of him. I thought he was about to bang his head back to a 1972 mentality.
"I thought this was the year. I gave up hope almost, after Game 4, but then the wins in the next two games made everything look like destiny. This really sucks it."
Knowing I was tasked to write the Bruins obituary, I asked Steve which words came to mind when he saw Thomas launch from the net faster than a Guy Lafleur slapshot.
"Gloom. Despair. Hopelessness. Discouraging. Unconsolable. Dejection. Bummer. Ripoff. Dispirited. Cursed...."
I seized that last adjective. "Cursed from what?", I asked. "You mean cursed a la the Red Sox curse of the Bambino?"
"Bobby Orr. They never should have traded Orr! You don't trade your greats away."
I tried to console the poor [expletive].
"Come on, Steve. The Habs traded Newsy Lalonde, Howie Morenz, George Hainsworth, Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey, Steve Shutt, Guy Lapointe, Pierre Larouche, Stephane Richer, Chris Chelios(notes) and other greats. That can't be it."
"Yeah, and Patrick Roy", he chirped.
"Christ, we're both cursed!" I couldn't help adding.
I thought I'd soothe matters by adding that the Bruins won two Cups long after they had traded Ken Dryden away, but it didn't help.
"So it's not the curse of Dryden, but how many times did he lose to Boston in the playoffs?" Steve inquired.
Yes, Dryden owned the Bruins over his nine season career, for whatever that is worth in bygone memories. It matters little now, in a sense.
Grasping at straws of consolation, Steve then took a dig at me. "At least the Bruins beat the Habs."
Okay Steve, my friend, I'm sure that will be talked about for years to come! I informed Steve that Boston had not beaten Montreal and gone on to win a Cup since 1929. I told him that maybe Montreal losing to Boston isn't such a good thing. Maybe that is the curse.
"Still", Steve insisted, "beating the Canadiens is always an accomplishment for Boston."
"I'm sure it is, Steve, from the point of view of a Bruins fan, but in Montreal, they don't hang Eastern Conference regular season winner banners from the rafters. Your team's successes are still my teams failures. I didn't make the rules."
My buddy went on about how the Bruins blew the Habs into orbit, and I let him talk. It made him feel better, I guess. When he was done, all I could say after such a soliloquy was "carve all that in your Cup and drink from it, why doncha!"
A thought ran through my mind on the walk home from wobbly pops with Steve. My thinking was that if the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup, it would have somehow legitimized the Canadiens first round loss to the eventual Cups winners. Such an unfolding of events, does alter the perspective somewhat. Perhaps it makes the Canadiens look a little less incompetent, in the big picture.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I'm not sure how such a thought would sit with Bruins fans. They might not even care on the morning after. One thing that did amuse me slightly happened two blocks away from me as I walked home. A black 4 X 4 pickup truck, with a Bruins logo in the back window, was pulled over by the local cops for speeding. If Bruins fans this far from Beantown are riled, it's gotta be hell in the Hub. (This morning, that same GMC Sierra was still parked where it was stopped last night, allowing for the clearer picture. Check out the trailer hitch on the thing! Looks like it picked up the Habs testicles when it ran them over!)
Although I was cheering for as many Original Six franchises reaching the final 4 as possible, the Bruins elimination once again helps put a smile on my face in one way.
Thankfully, in my playoff hockey pool, I didn't get to draft any Bruins. I wanted to, but perhaps in retrospect it was a good thing seven Bruins were snapped up by Steve and other other participants, as it allowed me to load up on Penguins and Red Wings like I did last season. I almost grabbed Tim Thomas as one of my two required goalie picks, but he was chosen right before my selection came up.
I had to settle for Cam Ward, who was all that was left of quality puck stoppers.
I have nine players left in the pool, three more than anyone else. With a solid lead, the money is all mine!
Always a Canadiens fan, the Bruins once again are my friend.
This season is just another in a long line of seasons where the Bruins have left me thankful.