Boston now is officially a powerhouse sports town. And by extension, fans of Boston sports teams living throughout New England can take pride in that success and share in that glory. The Bruins, in exciting, dramatic, seven-game fashion, became NHL champions, hoisting the Stanley Cup trophy over the Vancouver Canucks’ ice Wednesday night.
The Bruins join the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and Red Sox in achieving the top spot in their sport, a feat worth noting and celebrating. In the last seven years, the Patriots won three NFL championships, the Red Sox won two World Series and the Celtics won an NBA title. Take that, New York and Los Angeles.
Sure, it’s only sports, but teams are closely linked to a city’s and region’s self-identity. And Boston has struggled with a self-image problem, for many years seeing itself as second in the Northeast to New York. No longer.
The finals were exciting, especially given the ups and downs the Bruins endured through the year. The team lost the first two games of the first-round series at home, lost its best player, Patrice Bergeron, to a concussion later in the play-offs and was pushed to the limit by facing game 7 elimination three times in their playoff run.
Nathan Horton took a dirty hit in Game 3 that left him with a concussion and bumped him from the rest of the series, but that seemed to light a fire under the team. Responding with a scrappy determination and commitment to team play — and repeated spectacular performances by goalie Tim Thomas — the Bruins came out on top.
Mr. Thomas, now 37, was drafted 217th by the Quebec Nordiques but didn’t make it to the NHL until he was 28. His consistently excellent work in the net earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup finals.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, in congratulating the team on its win, hit on the importance of team play in its success.
“Throughout the entire series, Boston displayed true heart in their determination,” she said in a prepared statement. “Their workmanlike approach to the game was a critical factor in the team’s success. Indeed, this team showed what can be achieved when everyone works together toward a common goal and it will stand as a wonderful example to hockey players of all ages on rinks and ponds across our great state of Maine.”
So the Boston Bruins — and we — are the champions. Savor it. Let the pride put a little extra bounce in your step, at least for a few days.