Saturday, 18 June 2011

Best Father's Day Gift Ever

There are a lot of suggestions that people have given me over the years for Father's Day gifts, and a lot of them would be great if they actually knew my Dad. For example, I've had people suggest a nice tie, but Dad never once wore a shirt-and-tie to work, so why would a tie be a good gift? There aren't a lot of things that Dad gets really excited about, but I can tell you that the one thing he loves is hockey. Specifically, he loves Boston Bruins hockey. Therefore, I want to go on record and tell the 2011 version of the Boston Bruins that you may have delivered the greatest Father's Day present of all-time without having any involvement from me.

When I was little, Dad would tell me tales of the Bruins from the "good ol' days" when guys like O'Reilly, Esposito, and Cheevers were household names. He spoke glowingly of "numberfourbobbyorr", a defenceman that skated like the wind and was better than any hockey player before him including such lofty names as Howe, Hull, and Richard. Dad was all about 1972 when his Bruins captured the Stanley Cup, and he could celebrate with friends by finally being of age to legally purchase a few sudsy beverages.

Dad could talk forever about the Bruins: Don Cherry's glorious run as the leader of the team; Johnny Bucyk as the heart and soul and inspirational leader of the team; Rick Middleton's scoring prowess; Mike Milbury's insanity on and off the ice. He, like most men, lived and died by his team for the majority of his life. After he was married and had two little boys, Dad took to teaching us about the Bruins and hockey whenever he had the chance.

1990 was another big year in our household because the Bruins were the toast of the Wales Conference once again. Led by Neely, Bourque, and Craig Janney, the Bruins captured the President's Trophy as the NHL's top team, and opened the playoffs against the Hartford Whalers. While the Whalers put up a heck of a fight, the Bruins eventually prevailed in a 4-3 series win. A 4-1 series victory over rival Montreal followed, and the Bruins hammered the Washington Capitals in a four-game sweep to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Dad was on top of the world as Reggie Lemelin and Andy Moog were holding down the fort in net, and character players like Bob Carpenter, Andy Brickley, and Dave Christian were plugging away in the corners. Dad, like Don Cherry, loved the guys "who had guts" who weren't afraid to go into the corners and skate into high-traffic areas for potential goals. Dave Poulin and Brian Propp were two guys that Dad thought had the potential to put Boston over the top in 1990 after their experiences with Philadelphia, especially against the high-scoring Edmonton Oilers.

It wasn't pretty as the Oilers brought the fight to Boston's front door, and the Bruins couldn't match the firepower that Edmonton possessed. Five games later, Dad was a little down as the Bruins watched the Oilers hoist the Stanley Cup, and the drought without the Silver Chalice would continue. Incidentally, the Stanley Cup Final ended on May 24 in 1990, long before Father's Day was even near!

After another two decades of heartbreak, Dad admittedly never thought that this season would end as it did as his beloved Bruins captured their sixth Stanley Cup in history! While Dad can't name the entire roster like he once could, he still loves his Bruins. Milan Lucic is a favorite because he "plays the right way" - Dad still thinks the Bruins should play the "big, bad way". He loves Tim Thomas with good reason, and he's coming around to Zdeno Chara. But he's absolutely in his glory thanks to the Stanley Cup victory experienced this season.

While I congratulated them earlier in the week over their victory, I now want to say "thank you" to the Boston Bruins for making my father, a die-hard Bruins fan, one of the happiest men on the planet. He thought he would never see the Bruins win another Stanley Cup, and you guys came through for him. So I salute you, Dad, and you, the 2011 Boston Bruins, with a toast!

Enjoy the victory, Dad. You can savour the victory for another few months, and then it's back to trash-talking one another again about our respective teams. You let me trash-talk you a lot in 2009 after the Penguins won their third Stanley Cup in my lifetime, so have at it for the next few months, Dad. You, like the Bruins, certainly deserve to enjoy the victory!

Happy Father's Day, Dad, and there will be another special entry tomorrow in your honour!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the very enjoyable story of your Dad and his Bruins. You have definitely brought a tear to my eye. My Dad was retired and hobbled by a pair of bad knees and a bad back but he loved the Bruins also. The family was astonished to find out that Dad shuffled in to Boston, through the crushing throngs, to watch the parade for the Bruins of a previous Stanley Cup winner. It hurt him just to navigate out to the back yard in those years. My better half and I had the tears flowing towards the end of game seven ourselves. All the best to you and please give a howdy to your Dad from our crew in eastern Massachusetts.
Ron f/MA

Peter Santellan said...

As painful as it is to see the Canucks on the wrong end of the 4-3 series, I find some heart-warming stories within the Bruins, and your story about your dad proves that it goes beyond the Tim Thomases and Mark Recchis of the world. I'm sure there have been lifelong Bruins fans in the New England area that feel the same way, waiting to see their team win it all before they die. It's a positive thing to take from it when so much of the media attention was focused on the negatives that emanated from the Vancouver riots.

Teebz said...

Dad made sure I heard all about the Bruins today as well. I'm sure Dad will be around for a while yet, and his love of hockey won't be going anywhere. He's a good guy, and I'm glad to see him celebrating this win like he is a part of the Bruins squad.

Thanks for the well-wishes, guys. It means a ton to Dad!

Teebz said...

And Happy Father's Day to you and yours as well, gentlemen!

I almost forgot that part!