New England professional sports teams have lost more championship games in the past decade than New York teams have won. Think about that for a minute.
A lot of people, us included, are quick to talk about the unmistakable good fortune of this generation of Boston-area fans. And there’s no doubt, with the recent success of our teams, we’ve been spoiled since the Patriots first won it all in the 2001-2002 season.
Five Super Bowls. Four World Series. One NBA championship. One Stanley Cup.
All of those victories help to ever-so-slightly ease — but don’t erase — the pain of the Bruins’ loss to the St. Louis Blues in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night. And our familiarity with losing big games like this one can also soften the letdown. Yes, we’ve been fortunate fans in recent years, but we’re also acutely aware of how it feels to come up just short.
Three Super Bowls lost in agonizing fashion. Two Stanley Cup Finals that seemed within our grasp. For all our celebrating, we’ve had our fair share of high-stakes heartbreak, too.
An under-appreciated element of the regional sporting success we’ve enjoyed in the last two decades is the accompanying familiarity with losing when a championship is within reach. That, of course, is a good problem to have. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t complain about having our seasons extended and filled with extra excitement, especially when we’ve still come out on top more often than not.
Given our embarrassment of recent sports riches, and the tough road St. Louis fans have been on, it’s hard not to feel good for them. Not only are they celebrating their first-ever Stanley Cup win, but they also suffered a devastating loss a few years ago. In 2016, St. Louis lost more than a game — they lost an entire football franchise. The Rams’ decision to pack up and head back to Los Angeles seems unimaginable here in New England, where our teams feel more like immovable institutions.
Let’s also not forget the way we’ve run roughshod over St. Louis in several different sports since 2002. The first Patriots Super Bowl win derailed a potential Rams dynasty. The Red Sox beat the Cardinals in 2004 to end the dreaded Curse of the Bambino, and won again in a 2013 World Series rematch. And this year’s Super Bowl couldn’t have been easy for St. Louis fans, either, watching the Patriots beat their now-former team.
Would it have been better for the Bruins to win Wednesday? Absolutely. We’re trying to be good sports here, but we’re not crazy. There’s no harm, however, in recognizing that this win means a lot for St. Louis.
This week’s Stanley Cup loss was a painful reminder of what it’s like to watch our teams fall just short. But can we really complain? These championship defeats are crushing, but they’re still better than not being there at all.