No Silver on the Table (written June 2010)

Witnessing a sports team, or individual for that matter, choke on a big stage is nothing new to most sports fans.  The streets are littered with papers of yesteryear in which countless people have made bonehead decisions that either lead to the team shattering or the playing cracking under pressure. The thought of a “choke job” is more common in golf than any other sport played, with players like Mickelson and Van de Velde topping the list. The idea of losing a series after having a 3 to nothing lead is more common in hockey than any other sport, but not unfathomable.  We’ve been on both sides in the past.  Sure there was Buckner’s mishap in 1986, but I know we haven’t forgotten about 2004 and the epic battle against the dark side already, right? Call it karma, call it dumb luck, call it whatever you want but it was inevitable that we would have to repay that amazing feat with one from the other side of the coin.

Our beloved Bruins were so kind as to grant us with another Boston sports catastrophe that we will undoubtedly be talking about for years to come, unless a Cup is bestowed on the TD Garden soon with the Bruins hoisting it.  If the Bruins came out flat in game seven and didn’t tease us with three first period goals the sting of defeat would not hurt so much.  It’s as if the team knew that a simple loss in the final game wasn’t enough, they had to make it epic.  They surely succeeded, but in doing so they created a buzz.  You can’t lose that way and not make waves.  The aftermath isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The team feels that there is unfinished business to attend to, and the belief to go out and right a wrong can go far on the ice.

Is it worse that we choked, or that we choked against one of the most poorly viewed hockey franchises ever?  Does it even matter?  We lost, and as a Bruins fan I have become pretty familiar with that feeling.  Yes, the Bruins have won the Cup five times in their history, but the last was in 1970, 15 years before I was born.  Would it have hurt a little more if it were deeper in the playoffs? Absolutely, because that hope would have built up to an even higher level, but the loss doesn’t mean that I won’t be cheering from the arena seats once again next October for the start of the season.

If it’s one thing that sports fans can hang their hat on, especially Boston sports fans, it is that we don’t give up.  We stood around and cheered for 86 long drought filled years, all the while blaming an inanimate idea of ‘the curse’, until finally our faith was rewarded with a World Series.  Our city is certainly not championship deprived.  In recent years we’ve seen the Vince Lombardi trophy held up three times, the Commissioner’s World Series trophy twice, and the Larry O’Brien trophy once, but lost in that shuffle are the underachieving Bruins.  It’s one thing to not contend, it’s another to continue to lose.  Perhaps the feeling was that they wouldn’t compete for airtime or television love if they just lost in a ho-hum manner.  Perhaps they just really couldn’t take the pressure that is growing every year they come home empty handed.  Whatever the reason is, we have to believe that there is a silver lining around the dark cloud that is the most recent “big-choke” for our city.

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