VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup is unarguably hockey’s greatest achievement, for championships trump individual rewards and history favors the carriers of the Cup as well as the men who doggedly pursued its capture, yet failed in doing so.
It’s with this thought in mind that I believe being on hand for the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup title win – a dominant 4-0 Game 7 victory over the host Vancouver Canucks — is a moment I won’t soon forget.
I shot video of the on-ice celebration right in the thick of one of sports’ most precious moments. That thought hasn’t escaped me since I watched a geared up Nathan Horton – despite being unavailable due to a concussion – hug it out with his teammates, capping a grueling and spectacular championship run. It clicked for me right then and there that this is a moment which will be ingrained on my cerebral to the end of my days.
For a sports journalist, it’s easy to think I could have the moment while sitting in the press box, or pregame, or any of those other oft-repeated game situations I’ve encountered. It being a Game 7 of a championship series, one would think that the situation at hand would normally suffice the mnemonic tape recorder to begin its obligatory duty. For me, I guess not so much. It’s the celebration that I’ll always remember, and I think the same can be said for those watching at home around the world.
It’s not the game, per se, that matters. It’s the stakes involved. Seeing the celebration played out in front of my own two eyes – in my face – and through the lense of my camera triggered my mental recorder in a manner that I hadn’t felt since similarly being at the NBA Finals. It got me thinking about the awesomeness of what had been accomplished by the Bruins and my own supreme luck and blessings in being able to cover them.
They say memories of this sort extend the longevity of the conscious mind. For that, and much more, I am forever grateful.
I remember being on hand for the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2006 World Series clincher and how the city of St. Louis erupted in joy. Those stuck in traffic on the streets of Saint Louis were glad to be, honking their horns in a celebratory manner for everyone’s pleasure. Music was played, shots were ordered and high fives were incessant. Now, I’ll also remember how Vancouver erupted in displeasure, rioting, looting and burning cars in some misguided reaction to a hockey game. The extremes of joy and discontent trigger the memory recorder as well.
On the ice after the Bruins began their celebration handing the Stanley Cup off to one another to skate around with, as one player turned to give the Cup to Patrice Bergeron, a soda was tossed onto the ice. It came so close to the Bruins, the contents sprayed the legs of the third and fourth lines. It was a small takeaway on a night of incredulity in Vancouver. But what stuck with me the next day was not how the few poor sports wanted to piss and moan all over the party for the Bruins, but how the vast majority of Canadians were enraged by the rioters and how a stable of young people volunteered in the effort to clean up the city’s downtown the next day.
In my hotel room, after ordering room service so I could finish up some work before flying back to Boston, the server came in to deliver my food as I was watching the news of the riots unfold. What would normally be small talk turned into him apologizing for his Canadian brethren. “That’s not how we are,” he said. “This is embarrassing for us.” He didn’t have to apologize, obviously, but he did. And I won’t soon forget that, much less any of it.