I'm having trouble going to sleep tonight. The last time the Bruins were in the Cup finals, I was ten years old. My biggest concern was where my next glass of Kool-Aid was coming from and whether or not I could ride my bike for just five more minutes, Mom!
I've always been proud to be a Bruins fan. I've had t-shirts, hats, jerseys and posters. When all of my buddies jumped ship and started cheering for hometown boy John LeClair as he skated for the Habs, I remained with my team.
It hasn't always been busy. For a long time, the Bruins were just good enough to keep fans interested. They never payed for talent and Harry Sinden more than once drove players of town. So many coaches...Bowness, Sutter, Ftorek...the Bruins just couldn't seem to put together a team that was capable of stringing together the wins needed to advance as far as the playoffs.
The only constant on the team was Raymond Bourque and Donny Sweeney. And every single Bruins fan had their heart broken just a little when Bourque was traded west to realize his dream of winning the Cup. It was great to see him finally hoist the Cup after so many amazing years manning the blueline, but it was in a different uniform. And that cut us to our core.
And then things started to get better. Peter Chiarelli came in and Julien came on board. It seemed that the organization was finally tired of icing a team that barely drew interest from a city that has long been disappointed with the mismanagement of one of hockey's most storied teams.
Chara and Savvy came in and we started feeling our hopes raise. After so many years of watching a team seemingly cobbled together at random, stakes were being placed in concrete. Bergeron began to mature into the bedrock player that he is today. Some smart drafting turned up a monster from East Vancouver named Milan Lucic. Some kid named David Krejci came up from the Baby B's and had an impact, sticking with the team due to his crafty passes and deft skating.
Through Claude's steady, no-drama style, the Bruins progressively got better. They regained their sound defensive play that they've always been known for. After ripping through more goalies than we fans care to remember (Casey, Lacher, Grahame, Blue, Dafoe, Carrey, etc.) the Bruins "took a chance" on a man that was the veteran of about a dozen different leagues and just as many teams. Tim Thomas signed his contract with the Bruins and we true fans rejoiced, because we had seen this kid cut his teeth at UVM, earning All-American honors while wearing one of the goofiest helmets we had ever seen. We knew what this goalie brought to the table and that when his skills were in doubt, he played his best hockey.
All of these years brings us to tonight.
The Bruins will line up against the Canucks one last time, in the most important Bruins game that I can ever remember. With Timmy's help, they've stood tall against the "most powerful team in the league," the team with "the offense that can bury any team." Every road game has been close and every home game has been an absolute killing.
Being the fan of a team such as the Bruins isn't always easy. This isn't the Blue Jackets, where they have yet to build a strong tradition. They aren't measured against the names of players past...Schmidt, Shore, Orr, O'Reilly, Bourque, Neely...these names are almost impossible to measure up against. Many see anything less than a Stanley Cup as a failure, and when you're compared to names like that, it's easy to see why.
The players will step on the ice tonight wearing the spoked B on their chest. On their shoulders will be not only their hopes and wishes and dreams, but also the cheers and claps and joyful screams of so many fans of the Boston Bruins, spread to all corners of the world. I love wearing Bruins gear, whether it's in this country or abroad and see how many people will give me a thumbs up. It always stops me in my tracks and makes me proud to be a supporter of such a team.
Whatever happens tomorrow night, I will be proud of my chosen team. They will have no reason not to hold their heads high. They've left it all on the ice up to this point...and all we're asking for is one more game, boys.
One more game. Go out there for sixty minutes and cement your place in the history and tradition that is Boston Bruins hockey. Wear that sweater proudly and make every Bruin past, present and future proud.
Black and gold. It doesn't get more classic than that.
Go, boys. Go. One more game.