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Jonah Keri says that no one outside of Boston wants the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. His reasons include the snobbishness of Boston sports fans, regional rivalries with teams such as the Flyers and Rangers, and international solidarity between Vancouver and other Canadian cities.
Keri says that essentially the entire city has long since abandoned sport-specific loyalties, and so every person longing for the Bruins to reclaim the Cup should be more than satisfied with three Super Bowls, two World Series and an NBA Championship since 2001.
Keri is an idiot.
Yes, there are a large number of Bostonians who attach themselves to each sports team as the season merits it. The Celtics and Bruins own the winter, the Red Sox the spring (except for winter playoffs) and summer, the Patriots the fall. When each team is an exciting, competitive product, can you blame someone for wanting to experience all of them?
Those kind of sports fans occupy the lower tier of loyalty. To be a true fan requires an emotional investment on top of a time commitment. True fans feel pain when their teams lose and joy when they win. Prolonged failure causes melancholy and depression; prolonged success causes confidence and often arrogance. No one can be a true fan of four teams, because to do so would be to give up all control one’s emotions the whole year round.
So, just like in any other city with multiple sports (Los Angeles, Chicago, New York), every citizen in Boston prioritizes one team over another. For me, the Red Sox and Patriots are the only teams that I actually care about. The Celtics and Bruins? I just root for them because they’re entertaining. That’s my order. For many others, the Bruins come first, and have for quite some time. And trust me, the pain of 39 years without the Stanley Cup for those fans is not at all helped by a Red Sox rolling rally or Kevin Garnett screaming and crying in triumph.
Were it another team, a team of honorable and clean hockey players, Keri’s argument that the world roots for the Canucks simply to deny Boston another title would have more merit. This Canucks team is not filled with honorable and clean players: it is filled with little children and dirty hitters.
Alex Burrows’ bite. Maxim Lapierre‘s finger wag. The Sedins introducing Burrows as a “vegetarian.” Aaron Rome slamming Nathan Horton so hard that he fell head-first to the ice and lay there, the “fencing response” to a concussion eerily holding his arm straight up. These are the players the world roots for? Bullies, cheaters and fools?
The fact is, the world is not rooting for the Canucks. Just ask Gord McIntyre of The Province, a Vancouver-based paper, who tells a very different story. Versus commentator Mike Millbury called the Sedins “Thelma and Louise.” A Chicago hockey writer saw a picture of Cher at Rogers Arena, pointed at it and said “Luongo.” Montreal Gazette writer Elliott Papp wrote Friday that the Canucks are not panicking, but the tone of his article clearly indicates he thinks the Bruins currently have the upper hand.
The media certainly aren’t rooting for the Canucks, or at the very least they do not believe the Canucks have the advantage right now. What about the players?
McIntyre writes that former NHL player Jeremy Roenick, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney and Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland have all publicly come out against the Canucks. They agree that much of the NHL sees Vancouver as the villains of the series, especially Burrows and Rome. Bolland said they played “like a little girl,” McIntyre writes.
So any argument that other teams, even other Canadian teams, are blindly supporting the Canucks is clearly incorrect. That just leaves the fans. All those Canadian fans must surely be rooting for a Canadian team, right?
Nope. McIntyre points out an Ontario-based blog called “Crash the Crease.” The blog has been pointedly anti-Canucks recently, and it’s run by a Canadiens fan and a Maple Leafs fan. Could some Canadian hockey fans be rooting for Vancouver? Sure. But Keri’s assertion that “No one in Canada wants you to win” is just foolish.
The media aren’t all rooting against the Bruins. Other NHL teams aren’t all rooting against the Bruins. Non-Vancouver hockey fans aren’t all rooting against the Bruins. Maybe it’s just you, Mr. Keri, who is rooting against the Bruins.
You and Vancouver.