I was mad at Hockey this year. I was ready to sign the divorce papers and actually watch a basketball game unbidden. The lockout still lingers in the back of my mind as a reason to resent the league, the owners, the players and the sport in general. It is far in the back of my mind now, shoved to the back of the bus by the most exciting Cup Finals I have ever witnessed.
Heroism has been redefined by one man skating his shift on one leg. Look in the dictionary tomorrow and the new picture next to that word will be a Bruin with a broken leg. I saw sacrifice elevated. It has risen from whatever petty and pathetic value we assigned to it yesterday to something so indescribably sublime I can't even grasp it yet. I have seen in just the Cup Finals the athletic equivalent of a man jumping onto a grenade to save his buddy. We attribute war cliches like that to sports so often it has watered them down but in this point, I feel it entirely applicable. Honor was on display that would make any father proud.
It's so easy to say it was just a game. To force any kind of lofty meaning to this would cheapen it on any other day, but not this time. I find myself at odds with my own vocabulary when processing what I have just witnessed. There was no manufactured moment here. There was no instigated drama. There were no paper heroes on that ice.
We saw men.
The entire world got a front row seat to a lesson in Manhood. Respect your craft, honor your companions, commit all you have to your task and never give up. To any young man growing up today, I would be comfortable showing games 1 through 6 in lieu of 'The Talk' because I think Campbell showed sacrifice with one leg better than anyone I have ever known. Shaw showed an adamant refusal to quit when he returned to the game after being knocked unconscious, stitches still leaking his blood onto the ice.
The Honor these men showed after having victory denied them without warning when they shook their opponent's hands and congratulated them AND MEANT IT is a lesson I think every person can benefit from.
I know this may come across as heavy-handed. I don't care. I have been moved by what I have seen. From the victory of Chicago to the defeat of Boston, something transcendent happened on the ice. My boys may have lost the victory, but the have gained immortality.
It will take a lot to top this.
They will probably have to suit up a T-Rex and light the ice on fire for another series to come close to surpassing this one. I throw this one last thing out there to my Beloved Boston Bruins, and this goes out to everyone involved from players to coaches to management, vendors and even the fans at the Gahden who stayed and cheered the cup even though it was not to be theirs.
You have given me something I will forever cherish. Thank you for showing us what it looks like, that un-nameable thing. You have given everyone who struggles for the words they want to use to convey these things, “Do Better” “Try Harder” “Be Great” something that transcends words. You have given them the equivalent of the picture in the dictionary. Something that will explain to any and all who wish to know just exactly what Team looks like.
“That's it. Right there on the ice. Be that, and you can call your life well lived.”