Boston Bruins on Paper: Strawberry Fields


No way this is happening.

Last I recall, I was laying on the couch counting down the last 20 minutes of the Boston Bruins’ season – roughed up by the Toronto Maple Leafs and about to blow a 3-1 quarterfinals series lead, the clock ticking down, 15 minutes, 14, 13, 12…

…then the whole thing went sideways – a short intense burst of something known as the “Extra Gear” kicked in, leaving Leaf’s goalie James Reimer sprawled on the TD Center ice, apparently victim of the same tryptophan-laced pregame turkey sandwich that got me.

And it had to be that, right?  Food coma spawned from delicious, thinly sliced turkey breast – a bad case of it, too, for when I woke up this morning I was still in the fog of delusion, groggy from the coma, hearing Barry Melrose off in the distance gushing about Zdeno Chara being a condor and the Bruins heading to the Stanley Cup finals.

It was too horrible.  Why do you torment me, imaginary Melrose voice?

Let me take you down, ‘cos I’m going to…Strawberry Fields, nothing is real…

…ah, but it is real, and it’s nothing to get hung about – that is, unless you are a fan of the Leafs, New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins, because when the Bruins train left the station with about 11 minutes left in Game 7 of the Toronto series, it kept rolling right through New York and Pittsburgh and is now steaming west, headed for either Chicago or Los Angeles.

And it’s been a proper roll, both as impressive and improbable as it has been brief:  After coming from three goals back to eliminate the Leaf’s, Boston has dominated in every contest since, posting an 8-1 record and advancing to the round where they give out the big beer chalice.

It has been used as an ashtray, a urinal and a feed bag and has traveled around the world – mistreated, disrespected by rock stars, submerged in swimming pools and filled with beer, bubble gum and geraniums…

…yet the Stanley Cup is still the coolest trophy going, this in spite of the countless tales of abuse and neglect – or perhaps because of them.

Stories abound of the misadventures of the Cup, from players having their infants baptized in it to infants baptizing it with urine and boom-booms, urban legend alone makes the one and only Stanley Cup the most revered and respected prize in the world of sports – and also one of the most abused.

Regardless, hockey’s Holy Grail is arguably the most difficult trophy to earn in professional sports and, thanks to sweeping the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, the Boston Bruins now have another chance to add their names to Cup lore.

Names like Campbell, Krug and Rask have become overnight sensations in these 2013 playoffs, joining the shades of Bruins’ past before even winning the Cup, their stories and accomplishments well documented and too weird to dismiss.

From Krug’s explosion onto the scene with four goals in five games against the Rangers to Gregory Campbell heroically remaining beside his line mates on the power play after having his fibula snapped in half – Rask stopping just about everything those teams have fired at him, each save provoking a chorus of “Tuukka, Tuukka” from the capacity crowds, awakening the eerie chills of the making of legend…

…and none of them touched the Prince of Wales trophy, superstition prohibiting the practice.  As great an accomplishment as jobbing the Penguins to take the Eastern Conference title is, the prize that comes along with it is akin to the homely protective friend that you have to get through to date her hot roommate.

Nobody wants it, and certainly no one wants to touch it because that would end any chance you have with the comely lass, but it has to be done – which is not necessarily true, but that’s the way superstition works, so we just have to roll with it.

Nevertheless, it has been our privilege to witness this championship run.  I know now that it is not delusion – that my turkey sandwich, while loaded with sleep-inducing enzymes, was only delightful sustenance, particularly with mayo and black pepper and a dill pickle on the side.

All that was missing was the Cup filled with ice cold beer to wash it down with – but now that I think about it, I’ll pass on drinking anything from that filthy thing – because legend has taught us that beer isn’t the only thing that’s been in it…