We are mere hours from the start of Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. No matter the outcome a team will be lifting Lord Stanley for the first time anyone under 35 can remember. Does either team really deserve it?
The Boston Bruins have the chance to lift their first Cup in 37 years. An historic franchise saw the likes of Neeley and Bourque go without lifting the Cup in the spoked B and yet it's extremely easy to dislike the Bruins.
They became a wholey suffering city that was home to four teams that couldn't get over the hump. The 90s saw the Bruins make the Conference Finals, and lose, the Red Sox watch the Yankees win title after title, the Patriots lose the Super Bowl to the Packers, and the Celtics greats slowly retire. The already annoying fans became the most obnoxious suffering fans in the world. Then came The Hoodie.
The rise of Belichick brought about a surprise Super Bowl win for the Patriots, the dink and dunk Pats using a formidable defense and an unlikely heroes arm to best the high flying St. Louis Rams and the "Greatest Show on Turf".
In that time the Red Sox made the ALCS, only to lose in brutal fashion to the hated Yankees off of a home run by Aaron #*%@!$ Boone. Things seemed right until the next season when the Sox came back from a 3-0 series hole to beat the hated Yankees 4-3 in the 2004 ALCS and sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The first title for the franchise in more than 80 years. They would follow it up by another ring in 2007.
Almost on cue the Celtics shed salary and draft picks to take the team out of the basement. Surrounding the Celtics franchise face Paul Pierce with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett they expected to compete right away. The original Big 3 wasted no time, winning the 2008 NBA Finals by beating the equally hated Lakers.
The Canucks, the demure Canucks. Heading in to the season they were so bland. Dangerous but more apt to fall on their face than stick it in yours. Something has changed.
Going in to the Finals they were easy to like. American hero Ryan Kesler was one of their best players. The oddity of the Sedin Twins is one of the more interesting and under appreciated stories in sports history. And then the series started.
Game 3 added more fuel to the fire. A late hit to the head of Nathan Horton by Aaron Rome concussed the Bruins Horton severely and sat him out the rest of the series if not longer. While Rome was suspended the remainder of the series it dug the hole deeper and deeper.
Fast forward to the Finals and he changes temperature as unpredictably as Icy Hot. While in Vancouver he is stellar, 3-0 .663 GAA .977 Save%. While in Boston he plays like a beer league goalie, 0-3 11.50 GAA .738 Save%. What has he done to earn the right to lift Lord Stanley?
Once the favorite by the casual fan, the behavior has been an embarrassment to the sport of hockey and suddenly reminds one that they are the team, though far removed, which employed Todd Bertuzzi when he authored one of the NHL's darkest moments.
When all is taken into consideration it's a rather nasty affair. For the average fan the thought of the should-be-suspended Burrows or the neck breaking Zdeno Chara lifting the Cup is enough to make you wish that one of the Keepers of the Cup, Mike Bolt or Phil Pritchard, would light Lord Stanley ablaze before the B's or the C's sets finger on it.