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Well, it’s been a week, and I’m just starting to get over the tragic loss of the 2010 Boston Bruins’ playoff run.
The past several days have really been a textbook lesson in the mourning process, as I went through all the standard Kubler-Ross stages of grief.
First there was denial: “I must be having an acid flashback, because there’s no way in hell I just saw the Bruins blow a 3 goal lead to lose Game 7 after being up 3-0 in the series.”
Then, anger. “Goddammit! Do you guys not know how to perform a line change? The Mighty Ducks managed it throughout three goddamn movies and they were a ragtag bunch of misfits that were coached by a dude with a couple DUI’s in his past. How f’ing dumb are you?!”
There was bargaining. “OK, I promise I’ll withdraw that anonymous tip that Dan Carcillo was riding around in a sketchy van and offering free candy to kids if you let this series go 9 games.”
Next came depression. “I’m going to drink all 21 of those Miller Lites in the fridge. But only after I take down this Old English 40. Does anyone have a razor blade handy by the way?”
Finally, there was acceptance. “Forget it. I knew this was going to happen. I knew this was just too good to be true. They’re never going to get over that hump.”
That’s when I realized—the Boston Bruins have now laid claim to the throne that was abdicated by the Red Sox in the fall of 2004. The Bruins are now our perennial loser. They’re our source of endless sorrow in this town. They’re the team that sprinkles the occasional dash of hope onto a generous helping of despair.
And last Friday night was their coronation as the king of the New England losers. What we saw happen was, without question, the worse tragedy in Boston sports since Aaron F’ing Boone. It was worse than the Celtics 58-loss season in ’06-’07. It was even worse than what happened to the Patriots on that Sunday in February of 2008. Because at least for those two teams, there were recent titles to fall back on.
While the Bruins aren’t nearly stricken with a title drought as severe as the Sox had, it has still been nearly four decades since a Bruin has lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup and two decades since they’ve even played in the Finals. So it’s only natural that I adopt those feelings of pessimism that were orphaned with the Sox World Series victory in 2004 and give them a nice begrudging home with the Bruins.
What I once expected from the Sox is what I now expect from the Bruins—failure. I’m not saying we’re “cursed” or that the B’s will unequivocally never, ever win a Stanley Cup, because it’s bound to happen, right? It just no longer surprises me when we screw something up. If our top draft pick (#2-overall) this year (either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall, two future superstars) pulls a Lenny Bias on draft night, I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say, “Only the Bruins.” I’ve trained myself to curtail any notions of fortune and patiently await for that stomach-punching moment of disappointment. It’s my immediate response to see someone put on the Black and Gold and think to myself, “This won’t end well.” In my heart of hearts, I don’t have faith in this team ever getting their crap together. And all this comes naturally for me, because I used to feel that way with the Sox.
Really, if you think about, being a Bruins fan follows the same routine as being a Sox fan prior to ’04. We start each new season optimistic. Like we did this year coming off a strong regular season and returning a group of stars and award winners. Like we’ll do again at the start of next year, with an inkling of optimism our new star draft pick and Tuukka Rask will help carry our team to a Stanley Cup title. We follow them faithfully, invest in them emotionally, all while trying to ignore severely deep-seeded doubts of them ever showing up when it truly matters–doubts that will be confirmed and manifested in a tortuous meltdown of epic proportions which will leave us scarred and reinforce our lack of faith in the team ever making us happy.
That’s what the Sox use to do to me. That’s what the Bruins do now. Can they prove me wrong? Perhaps. The Sox did on October 27, 2004. But I’m not much of a believer in lightning striking twice.
Through promising seasons and bleak ones, bad trades or good signings, it has all ended the same for our Bruins—in a loss. Combine that with traumatic events scorched into our collective memory, like seeing Ray Bourque (who will always be a Bruin) have to go to Colorado to win the Stanley Cup he so rightfully deserved, and now with Game 7, Bruins fans have assumed a self-loathing that I once thought was only capable from a Sox fan. Which goes to show, hopelessness is never lost, it just finds a new team.