What's the traditional three year anniversary present? I googled it and I kid you not, the answer is...GIFs. GIFs are the traditional third anniversary present. Happy Cup-a-versary! Just skip over the text if you're here for GIFs rather than my ramblings recalling the day the Bruins won the Cup.
On June 15, 2011, I experienced the greatest joy a sports fan can possibly experience. As someone born after 1972 (15 years later, actually), I never had the privilege of seeing the Boston Bruins win a Stanley Cup in my lifetime - a lifetime that has been spent as a devoted Bruins fan above all else. I always said I just wanted to see the Bruins win the Stanley Cup before I died.
The 2011 playoff run was ridiculous and amazing in hindsight. I remember how stressful it was in the midst of it. Being down 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, I distinctly remember how upset I was as I desperately watched the Bruins futile attempt to tie up Game 2 as time winded down. A 2-0 deficit to the Canadiens was going to be a death wish. My dad saw my emotional state of distress and shook his head, commenting how angry the Bruins made him. "It makes me so mad that they do this to you," he said (or something like that). "This" was playoff disappointment ever year - years they made the playoffs, that is. I was irritated that he was talking to me while I was trying to watch my team implode and destory my life.
I never imagined they would have it in them to return and beat the Canadiens. In Game 7. In overtime. How I didn't die from stress is a mystery. But the elation of that Nathan Horton overtime goal was amazing. I didn't recognize it yet - that the Bruins were a special team. I immediately started freaking out about the Bruins next opponent: the Philadelphia Flyers. The heartbreak of 2010 in which they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in the second round, topped off with blowing a 3 goal lead in Game 7 before blowing that too and joining the history books as just the third (now fourth) team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. Ever. (You feel me, Sharks fans). I was terrified it was going to happen again.
I never imagined a sweep. It was when I realized David Krejci is amazing. (Sidenote: the Czechs have their own award every year for Best Czech Hockey Player and voting ends before the Stanley Cup playoffs end, so Krejci did not win in 2011. They changed the rules after that so that voting ended after the Stanley Cup final. Krejci: Literally so good that the Czechs change the rules for him. He won the trophy in 2013).
Another 7-game series in the Conference Final versus Tampa Bay was so stressful. And so full of hate when that radio DJ rallied to force the Bruins marketing department to take down those hilarious Bear ads ("In Tampa, a 'hip check' usually comes from your insurance.") That Game 7 OT winner from Nathan Horton (again) was another triumph. I couldn't believe how far they were going.
The Stanley Cup Final is the ultimate stress on the fan of the teams involved. Fortunately, I experienced the win before the loss. Actually, forget it. 2013 Never happened. Anyway, going down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks - the so-called juggernaut of the NHL - was another death sentence. Although they had done it against Montreal, I wasn't optimistic. After Alex Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron, didn't get suspended, and scored the OT winner in the next game, I thought I might expldoe from anger. The emotions of the playoffs are ridiculous, and impossible to describe or even fully grasp in retrospect.
Like the anger of seeing Nathan Horton out cold on the ice, eyes glossy, one arm unconsciously raised in the air. Wanting to win it for him. Wanting to win it for Marc Savard. Wanting to win it because it's the freaking Stanley Cup and two blowouts at the TD Garden in Games 3 and 4 energized me in a way that gives me goosebumps now. (Okay, it all gives me goosebumps now. And tears.)
By the time the series got to Game 7, I was convinced that Tim Thomas was the greatest thing that ever happened to the world. And then Patrice Bergeron scored twice, reminding me that he is also the best thing to ever happen to the world. Bergeron, who I vividly remember being hit from behind and knocked out cold on the ice with a broken neck. Who I remember from his very first game in his very first season, where I already adored him as an 18 year old rookie despite the rest of the team being pretty crappy. The whole team was built around him and I loved every single one of them - YES, EVEN KABERLE.
The night of June 15, 2011 was too intense to describe. I remember each goal. The first goal elicited a scream that is normally only appropriate when screaming for one's life or when one is actually at the hockey game and in the arena with other screaming fans. I remember the Marchand goal flooring me - and mocking Luongo mercilessly (sorry man). Then I remember the Bergero shorthanded breakaway. It was a 2-0 game in the second period - by no means was it anywhere near over. The Bruins had to kill a penalty. I probably was biting my nails. Then Bergeron got the breakaway...and all I saw was him go down, and the refs arm go up. I jumped up and screamed "PENALTY SHOT! PENALTY SHOT!" over and over and my mom shushed me. "IT'S A GOAL!" she informed me, and then I realized that Bergeron was celebrating and holy crap it was a goal holy crap how did that count holy crap how did that happen oh my god Bergeron is a perfect human being (this is my general Bruins game-watching stream of consciousness). 3-0.
All game long, Tim Thomas continued to prove how amazing he was. Although things turned out poorly the following year, that year was one of the greatest runs a goaltender may have ever produced in the history of the NHL. Saves. Calm. It was getting close. Luongo was getting pulled.
Then Brad Marchand sealed it with the empty netter, and I was in shock. I remember cheering, crying, tweeting, and then being in complete shock as the clock ticked down to zero. This was happening. This is happening. This happened.
On the phone with my dad, I heard my mom's side of the conversation as the Bruins celebrated around Tim Thomas, screaming and hugging and making me feel happier than I've ever been in my life. "I think she's in shock," my mom said to my dad, on the phone. That's all I remember hearing. I was in shock. But I was soaking it all in. Also, tweeting it all in. Probably keysmashing. And standing front of my TV crying the happiest tears - the type of tears a unicorn probably produces.
Thank you, Bruins. Thank you for letting me experience the greatest sports fan and probably human being feelings possible. Even though you've broken my heart since then, I remember that I survived the 2010 collapse and you repaid me with a Stanley Cup championship. I could survive any mental anguish.
On this anniversary of the day you made me the happiest fan on Earth, three years later, I want to thank you and celebrate and tell you to win another one because this is like crack. I need another fix. If not, we'll always have June 15, 2011. Thank you. And go Bruins! Also, Patrice Bergeron for saint status.
The celebration that ensued went into the night, which means I can celebrate June 16, 2014 as the 3 year anniversary of the Bruins still celebrating the Cup.
Something I find funny is that in interviews, when asked what they remember most about skating the Cup, every player says something along the lines of "seeing the look on the face of the guy you hand it off to." In the Bruins yearbook the following season, one of the questions was "who did you hand the Cup off to?" and over 50% of the guys didn't remember.
Here is the order it was handed off:
Chara -> Recchi -> Bergeron -> Thomas -> Kaberle (lol) -> Ference -> Thornton (hog. You already won it before.) -> Seidenberg -> Ryder (AND HIS EPIC "YES, SIR!" I love Newfies.) -> Kelly -> Horton -> Hnidy -> Campbell -> Paille -> Krejci -> Lucic (who received applause from the Vancouver crowd, although now VANCOUVER IS DEAD TO HIM or something stupid) -> Peverley -> Boychuk -> McQuaid -> Marchand -> Seguin (forgot he existed) -> Rask -> Black Aces -> Johnny Bucyuk -> A bunch of assholes -> Chirelli -> Cam Neely.
Finally, Cam Neely lifts the Cup. I hugged my dog, a miniature dachshund named Cammi. I got her as a Christmas gift when I was 10 years old in 1997. I named her after Cam Neely. I wanted her to see them win in her lifetime (not really, but let's pretend). At age 14, I held my forever puppy and watched my Bruins and was truly happy. (RIP Cammi, who passed away last August at age 16).
Here's to a lifetime of more Cup-a-versary's where I can look back on this day and be nostalgic and happy. Please give me another one next year, or any time in the near future? I love you, Bruins.