Welcome to my world, which primarily revolves around family, friends, sports of all stripes, and a passion for the written word! I'm a Boston-based freelance writer and editor, husband, father, hockey and soccer coach, and an unrepentant sports nut. And, like a lot of folks who refuse to grow up, I'm torn between Old School and "old's cool!" It's all about your perspective, and staying in the game.
I've been watching Stanley Cup celebrations since 1972 (when my current "hometown" team, the Boston Bruins, edged my first hockey love, the New York Rangers, in six). And it never, never gets old. Last night was a passing of the torch, as the upstart Pittsburgh Penguins, with three top overall draft picks (a testament to just how bad the team was a few short years ago), slipped past a veteran Detroit Red Wing squad in Game 7, 2-1, to take the hard-fought series, 4 games to 3. Admittedly, being an old jock myself, I was pulling for the aging Wings to have one last dance with Lord Stanley's Cup, and it looked like they were in command after a 5-0 drubbing of the Pens in Game 5. But the tenacious youngsters from Pittsburgh, led by three stars who couldn't grow a decent playoff beard between them -- goalie Marc-Andre "Gumby" Fleury, Evgeni "Gino" Malkin, and "Sid the Kid" Crosby -- came storming back to take the last two games. It was the stuff of champions, and Pittsburgh was a deserving champ.
But what really grabbed me, after the last crazy scramble in front of Fleury's crease and the final horn, was the sheer exuberance of the victory celebration. I only hope Crosby, shown in the accompanying photo (somewhere, Tony "Stale Bread" Davenport is weeping in his orange & blue Islander pajamas), the youngest captain to ever hoist the Cup, understands just how fortunate he is!
The Stanley Cup is, without question, the most revered and most coveted of any major sports trophy. Quick, name another championship named after the trophy?!! Lord Stanley's Cup has taken on iconic status; it is hockey's Holy Grail. It has the power to make grown men cry, and those who hope to one day raise it overhead won't even touch it. That's some powerful magic.
Some of the best players to ever lace up a pair of skates, including two of my all-time favorite netminders -- Tony Esposito and Eddy Giacomin -- never won it. Another favorite, Raymond Bourque, the second best defenseman to ever don a Bruins jersey, had to OK a trade to the Colorado Avalanche to get his chance, and he made good on that one opportunity (so relieve was Bourque after finally hoisting the Cup that he promptly retired, leaving $6 million on the table). The players on the winning teams, all of them, have their names engraved in the polished rings that support the original Cup. In hockey terms, that's akin to immortality. And these Penguins, the long-struggling offspring of the great Mario Lemieux, will now see their names preserved forever. That's how it should be.