Hockey playoffs are just around the corner. I’m surprised no one asked where all my Bruins posts were hiding yet. Oh wait, no I’m not. Most of my readers have no interest in the Bruins or hockey. Well, sorry, you’re getting it anyway.
First of all, if you do like hockey, know anything about the Bruins or just want a good laugh, this video is a must see.
Classic, right? Well I think it is, and I know my Aunt thinks it is as well because we’re both complete and utter dork fans who are in love with how the Bruins personnel/player’s personalities come shining through in the video. And who doesn’t love Bears? Especially Bears that vacuum and use a typewriter.
Watching this and receiving the email in the picture at the top of this post really got me thinking about a couple things in the past week.
The team has struggled on and off this season. It started out being called the Stanley Cup hangover. Then they won every single game in November. For those keeping track that’s thirteen straight games. Then they won another 9 out of 12 in December. The team literally went from worst to first in a matter of weeks. And we’ve been pretty content to hover near the top of the Eastern Conference standings for the rest of the season.
But something was still off. Something wasn’t really clicking, it didn’t feel the same as last season’s magic and it was like everyone, including the players, could feel it.
Last week I figured out exactly what it was - they became way too serious and they lost their fun.
During most of last season there was the infamous jacket that Andy Ference bought on eBay. The jacket got passed around from teammate to teammate after each game to congratulate who they felt had a stellar performance. At the Stanley Cup banner raising the jacket was presented as a final parting gift to Mark Recchi who retired after last season. I think I cried a little as the jacket, and my favorite player, would no longer grace the locker room. The jacket was hideous and barely fit any of the guys. But it was inspirational, and hilarious. It was just plain fun.
Last year The Bear and his cantankerous attitude owned Boston, he was everywhere. He ran around making commercials that berated those who did not respect the game. He told fans that it was never okay to date a Philly fan, even if she shaved her moustache. He did a victory dance after every win.
He was the epitome of the attitude of Boston – yeah I’m tough but I’m too cute for anyone to worry about that…unless they poke me, then all bets are off. The Bear was just fun.
The guys pranked each other and we heard about it all. They became the people’s team again. And an entire city stood behind them as they won a Cup that was a long time coming. Despite bitten fingers and scary as hell concussions in the Finals, the team pulled together, tossed out any thoughts of dirty play, and simply, flat out, won.
They went out on that ice and worked hard but mostly they just had fun.
This year has been different. Despite one or two funny, locally seen commercials for retail outlets, injuries plagued almost half the starting lineup by mid-season and it took an emotional toll. New guys did and didn’t seem to gel with the style of the team’s play (I’m looking at you Corvo, get it together man!). Refs once again seemed to have it in for us this season (Read: every season since our induction into the league, sorry but I speak the truth).
But unlike last season where we brushed it all off and just laughed about it, this year everyone seemed to take it to heart and let it in. We stopped having fun. Even Thomas started to look off his game.
Then a funny thing happened. We lost a game in such grand fashion a couple weeks ago to the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning that even I was questioning my team. Our backup goalie Turco got the start, was pulled for Thomas (who desperately needed a night off after Rask was injured a few games before), and then Turco went back in because Timmy couldn’t get it done either. No one seemed to know how to skate, puck handle, pass, or connect with each other. But that’s not the funny thing. The funny thing was that the entire team seemed to share a collective sigh.
I think someone finally poked The Bear because since then we’ve only lost 2 games.
Something in the team clicked. A light bulb went off. The fear of not making the playoffs wasn’t it. The chance of a defending Cup team not getting to the big dance wasn’t it. They all got a good healthy fish-slap and started smiling again.
That’s when “The Bear & The Gang” video came out. The Bear was back. The fun was back. The vibe was rekindled. The guys were back to their old selves again. They got on the ice and for better or worse they just remembered to have fun.
With playoff tickets going on sale tomorrow I’m brought back to last season when my Aunt and I spent a small fortune on tickets to Game 4 against Philly. A game I just knew in my heart we were going to win. A series I just knew in my heart we were going to sweep. A series win that we’d be in the building to experience. It was magical. It was inspired hockey. It was FUN.
As we come into the last week of the regular season I’m hoping the team can keep the vibe of fun going. That they can keep enjoying each other out there on the ice again as the season wraps up and we move into the playoffs. I hope they keep their spark of good fun and go out there to show Boston we can do it all again.
And hey, if it’s any kind of fate, one of the Cup wins in the 70's was during the years ending in a 1 & a 2. Not sayin’ anything, just sayin’.