A few weeks ago, youtube was flooded with viral videos of various people reacting to the Red Wedding finale of Game of Thrones. Like most of you reading this, I laughed at these people and shook my head and wondered aloud how anyone could react with such horror at the demise of a group of people they didn’t know. Then last night happened.
As noted earlier on Balls.ie, the Chicago Blackhawks overturned a one goal deficit Monday night against the Boston Bruins with under a minute left with two quick fire goals in the space of seventeen seconds to win the Stanley Cup. Those seventeen seconds were my Red Wedding, as I watched in horror through the fingers shielding my eyes at the visceral, violent and sudden ending to Bruins season.
Bill Simmons likes to call losses like that gut punches. That is far too soft a choice of word. What I experienced last night was more like a good hard kick to the balls.ie. As sports fans, all we can ask from a team is that they care or seem to at least about the task at hand as much as we do as fans. It is what separates us from rooting for what Jerry Seinfeld once famously referred to as “just laundry” and instead for people.
The Bruins, as a collective, cared. They cared about winning, exemplified in the form of Greg Campbell and Patrice Bergeron who both did their best Paul O’Connell impressions during the playoffs.
Campbell had his fibula shattered by a puck he courageously blocked with his body as he knew his stick wouldn’t get the job done. Not satisfied with that effort he proceed to stay on the ice for a further twenty seconds on one leg to help his team defensively before gingerly skating off to a standing ovation from the home crowd. Bergeron played Monday’s Game Six with torn rib cartilage and a separated shoulder.
They cared about the city they played in. One of the great stories in the aftermath of the horrible tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings was that the Bruins went for drinks in a local pub with some of the first responders on their own accord, because it was the right thing to do.
How can you not root for a team like that? In sports we all have our favourite teams but there will always be one version of that team stands out from the others. I will always remember this version of the Bruins: gritty, tough and skilled players who have given me some incredible memories. A Stanley Cup win in 2011, a miraculous comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one this year.
Impending free agency means this is likely the last run of that band of brothers together. It’s the reason why in seventeen seconds I finally realised why those Game of Thrones fans reacted in such physical horror. When you follow people week in and out and it all comes to an end so suddenly it’s a pretty painful thing to endure. Worse than a punch in the gut.