COLUMN: Playoff run a drain, but well worth it

Reporter's Viewpoint

That rush of air you might have felt June 15 was just my heavy sigh of relief as the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoff run came to and end.

And, I might add, as a Boston Bruins’ fan, an absolutely perfect end it was.

But it was all so emotionally draining.

It started by quickly falling behind two games to none and then coming back in seven to beat the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Then there was the sweep the Flyers, exorcising the demons from last year and needing other seven games to dispatch Tampa Bay.

In between all that, I was cheering for Vancouver as a Bruins/ Canucks final would be a dream come true.

And as any Canucks fan will tell you, the team didn’t just breeze through their Western Conference rounds either.

I have mentioned in previous columns the trials and tribulations of cheering for Boston in Canuck country, but it ramped up considerably when the final pairing was decided.

Previous to the final, I was the little kid on the block. Someone you knew was there, picked on occasionally but basically ignored.

Suddenly, my Boston car flag, T-shirt, hat or jersey are attracting some attention. No longer are the Bruins just another team competing in the weak-sister Eastern Conference. Now they’re the enemy standing in the Canucks’s way of a Stanley Cup. And by association, so am I.

The final couldn’t have started out better for the Canucks with a winning goal scored with 19 seconds left in Game 1 and 11 seconds into overtime in Game 2.

The cockiness of Vancouver fans and radio and television announcers (not to mention certain family members) was in full force. It was no longer “if” the Canucks win the cup, it was now “when”.

Everyone knows what happened then as the home team prevailed through to Game 6 and the championship came down to one game, winner take all.

Depending on who you talked to, the series was the worst in years with the Big Bad Bruins of the past showing up, playing an in-your-face style, ruining what was supposed to be the new era of hockey.

Others called the Canucks the most hated team in the NHL with embellishments in hopes of getting a penalty call in their favour and the Alex Burrows biting incident.

Both teams gave as good as they got in terms of the rough stuff throughout the series. Vancouver media went on about the referees not calling the infractions after the whistle which favoured the Bruins.

It was interesting that Toronto media didn’t see it that way – that if you looked at it without any emotional attachment, the refereeing was pretty good.

But keeping emotions out of the series was nearly impossible.

Both teams played with emotion and brought emotion out in their fans who have waited so long for their team to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Game 7 didn’t see much in the way of rough stuff. The Bruins threw the Canucks off their game enough during the series.

Boston got that all-important first goal and you could almost tell right then it was over. And, as it turns out, it was.

As a Boston fan I was ashamed when hearing the stories of how some Vancouver players and fans were treated in Beantown. As a British Columbian I was horrified at the riot that took place in Vancouver after Game 7.

Neither, I’m sure, reflected truly what either city is all about. The riot certainly took the shine off what was a great playoff season.

After 39 years my team finally won the Stanley Cup. I’ve got the championship hat and T-shirt and still get a kick from the looks and comments I get from Vancouver fans. But I’m glad it’s all over.

Football season is upon us and, yes, I cheer for B.C.’s team.

Go Lions.