VANCOUVER, British Columbia — They won it for every New England mom and dad who ever woke up to drive kids to the rink at 6 a.m., and drank hot chocolate while they waited in the cold.
They won it for the Revere girls with the big hair and O’Reilly sweaters; for the shot-and-beer guys who pour every dollar of expendable income into the hockey budget.
They won it to avenge losing Bobby Orr to Chicago, too many men on the ice in Montreal, free agents never signed, trades that went bad, unspeakable injuries, and Game 7 disappointments.
They won it for you.
The Boston Bruins last night won the Stanley Cup, shocking the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, capping an epic seven-game series and bringing the holy grail to the Hub of Hockey for the first time since 1972. The goals were scored by Patrice Bergeron and Brad (Little Ball Of Hate) Marchand, two apiece.
The non-goals were stopped by playoff MVP Tim Thomas.
At this hour, Everyman Thomas is Tom Brady, Bill Russell, and Curt Schilling. And the Bruins are Stanley Cup champs. They outscored the favored Canucks by a whopping 23-8 over seven games.
Thomas addressed Cup-starved Boston fans, saying, “You’ve been waiting for it a long time, but you got it. You wanted it, you got it. We’re bringing it home.’’
“It’s surreal,’’ said Marchand. “I don’t know if it will ever kick in.’’
Marchand is a rookie. He is from Hammond Plains, Nova Scotia. He is 23 years old. How could he possibly know what this moment is like for longtime Bruins fans? How could any of the champion Bruins know?
“It’s unreal,’’ said club president Cam Neely, a man who skated and suffered through some of the tough years. “You dream about a moment like this and you don’t know how you’re gonna feel. I’m so proud of the whole group.’’
“I guess there is a Santa Claus,’’ said Jeremy Jacobs, who has owned the Bruins since 1975 and earned a reputation as the Montgomery Burns of Boston sports.
No more. It’s all good now. The kind folks inside Rogers Arena let the Bruins hang around the ice with the Cup for almost an hour after the game and played “Dirty Water’’ and “Tessie’’ over the public address system as Boston players embraced their families and friends and posed with the Cup.
Too bad they didn’t play “We Are The Champions.’’
Today would be a good day to call your out-of-town friends and tell them you live in a city that just won its seventh championship in 11 years. You live in the only hamlet that’s won the Grand Slam of North American trophies within seven years.
It is the High Renaissance of New England sports. Our Duck Boat tires are balding. The vaunted Patriots just became the Boston franchise with the longest championship drought. The Patriots, the NFL’s team of the decade, haven’t won a Super Bowl since way back in 2005.
Let the record show that the Bruins’ long-awaited return to the circle of champions came on a perfect June evening, 2,500 miles across the continent from Causeway Street. A season that started in Prague ended on Game No. 107, as the Bruins became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in a single spring. It was the Bruins’ first Game 7 road win in their 87-year history. And it was stunning.
A seven-game series that had finger-biting, taunting, trash talk, and embellishment ended with Bruin dominance. After losing three one-goal games at Rogers Arena, the Bruins took the fight out of the locals in the finale. Vancouver’s only fight was demonstrated by nitwits who rioted after the game — fires raged and tear gas was released, giving the city another black eye.
The Bruins were inspired by the presence of Nathan Horton, who scored the game-winner in both of Boston’s first two Game 7s, then was felled by Aaron Rome’s late hit in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Horton splashed some Boston water on the Vancouver ice for good luck long before the start of last night’s game.
“This is the chance of a lifetime to be with my teammates,’’ he said afterward. “I couldn’t miss this.’’
The Canucks were strong at the jump, but with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first period, the Bruins lost a faceoff in the Vancouver zone, but Marchand got the puck. The Ball Of Hate controlled it nicely, and centered the puck to Bergeron, who one-timed it past Roberto Luongo. Good omen. The team that scored first won every game of the Final.
Late in the second, Zdeno Chara made a crucial save. That’s right. Save. After giving up the puck right in front of the Bruins’ net, he assumed the goalie duties when Thomas was faked out of position. Looking like a treetop Gump Worsley, Chara stopped Alex Burrows’s shot with his left knee. Nice save for the big guy.
With 7:47 left in the second, Marchand made it 2-0 on a wraparound at the left post. Once again, tire-pumpin’ Luongo was not agile enough to stop the puck.
Then the Bruins struck with a shorthanded goal — the clincher. With Chara off for interference (first penalty of the night), Bergeron found himself on a shorthanded partial breakaway. As he was dragged down by Christian Ehrhoff (chasing with Alex Edler), Bergeron somehow steered the puck past the shell-shocked Luongo. The goal was reviewed and when it was announced that the goal would count, it sounded like 18,860 were taking their college boards. The Bruins had three goals on only 13 shots. Both Sedins were on the ice for all three scores. At that juncture, Luongo had whiffed on six of the last 21 shots on net.
Back in Boston, the countdown was underway. Marchand potted an empty-netter with 2:44 left. Claude Julien made sure Mark Recchi was on the ice at the end.
To the finish, Thomas remained in full Battlefly, wielding his Reebok war club like Russell Crowe in “Gladiator.’’ Kevin Bieksa fired the puck the length of the ice as the whistle sounded. Perfect. Thomas had the puck and the Bruins had the Cup.
As for the other goalie? Here’s the new joke in British Columbia?
Q: What time is it in Vancouver?
A: It’s 20 past Luongo.
Actually, it was party time for the Boston contingent on the Rogers Arena ice.
At 10:52 (Boston time), the Cup appeared and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman beckoned Chara. The captain skated toward the commissioner, hoisted the chalice, skated in a circle, then presented it to 43-year-old Recchi.
Recchi had just played his last game. The veteran forward took his turn, then passed the Cup to Bergeron, who relayed it to Thomas. On and on it went. They’re probably still passing it to one another as you read this.
The Bruins were scheduled to fly home late last night (Stanley Cup belted into seat 4-C) and arrive at Logan early this morning. It should be a great moment at customs when agents ask Neely, Julien, and Chara if they have anything to declare.