I don’t think that I’m a selfish sports fan. I don’t need my teams to win every year. I can be patient waiting for that next championship and not be too disgruntled when a rival wins, except if its a New York team. I am a Celtics fan but I can feel good about the Mavericks winning the NBA title this season, and not just because I despise the Heat. All that being said, there is still one sports-related thing that I really want: I want the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.
I’ve been blessed as a sports fan. I have enjoyed two MLB titles from the Red Sox, four NBA titles from the Celtics, three Super Bowl victories from the Cowboys and five Premier League titles plus a Champions League title from Manchester United. It has been a rewarding lifetime of sports fandom, with the Celtics dominating my youth in the Eighties, followed by the Cowboys dominance in the mid-Nineties. There was a lean run until I hopped on the Manchester United bandwagon following the 2001-02 (non-title-winning) season but then the Red Sox ended 86 years of misery and Sir Alex Ferguson officially completed his goal of knocking Liverpool off its perch by winning a record 19th title this past season. The only thing missing is a Stanley Cup for the Bruins.
Now, I can’t say that I’ve been a devoted fan for all these years. I lived and died with the Bruins in the Eighties and early Nineties when I lived in New England and could watch most games on NESN. I was as big a fan of Cam Neely as I have been of any other athlete. I remember the 1988 finals loss to the Gretzky’s Oilers, a disappointment but understandable as he was the Great One. Two years later I was in the old Boston Garden for game one of the 1990 finals, the triple-overtime game that the Bruins lost, which effectively ended the series. That was harder to take. Gretzky was no longer with the Oilers and we had Neely and Bourque. It was crushing. Still, I thought we’d be back again. But Neely got hurt the next season and things got so bad that Bruins fans actually felt good when Bourque finally lifted the Cup in 2001, for the Avalanche.
I drifted from hockey in the Nineties. Unlike my contemporary Bill Simmons, I didn’t drift away because the on-ice product deteriorated, although it did, or because the Bruins’ owner was cheap, although he was. I drifted away for the reason that most of us drift away as we grow older: real life takes precedent. For those of us who don’t watch sports for a living it becomes impossible to schedule our marriages and children and jobs around sports which last all year long. My wife never asked me to give anything up but it became clear that something would have to go. Living in New York, the Bruins were the first casualty.
As an aside, I think part of the reason that NFL football retains its popularity, at least until this coming season, is because the season is short by professional sports standards and is heavily concentrated on one day a week.
Last night the Bruins evened the Stanley Cup final series against the Canucks at three games apiece. Everything will be decided in game seven in Vancouver tomorrow. I’ve had everything else but I haven’t had this: the Bruins lifting the Stanley Cup. It won’t make my life complete or anything and I will still have to face reality on Thursday morning. I want to know how it feels for my team to win the Stanley Cup.
I just want this one last thing.
Until I want the next thing, that is.