There goes that good reputation Canadians built up. Before they set their own city on fire I would have said about Canucks fans they were passionate and the only thing I really knew was that they sang their own national anthem before every game. That’s so Canada. Just a big expanse of friendly, peaceful, camaraderie. Not so much. Apparently they have a little pyro in them. I could see this in Montreal, but in Vancouver, I was kind of expecting them all to shrug and go watch a soccer game or something. As it turns out, Stanley Cup Finals losses don’t sit well in the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure why people do this, other than the fact that they can. Makes you a little thankful they don’t have reason to on most days. I’m trying to think what my reaction would be if I saw a jerseyed mob lighting my car on fire. That would be a major downer.
The flip-side of Vancouver’s loss (and what an embarrassing home-ice performance that was), is the Boston Bruins ended their 40ish year Stanley Cup drought. In places other than Massachusetts it begs the question, Boston again? Really? But, now every one of Boston’s big-4 has won a title in the last decade and that seems a little gluttonous. I wouldn’t want to be a 1-year old in Boston right now, because these things are cyclical. There’s a good chance by the time you are old enough to process the myth of Tim Thomas the Bruins will suck again, and Paul Pierce the GM will be running the Celtics into the ground. Either that, or they’ll keep winning every year or two, and we’ll all die of Sox fan exposure.
The Bruins title, their resurgence in the city, presents the question, do closeted fan bases really exist? You hear people talk about Boston in the last month or so, and they say things like, “This has always been a hockey town.” Now, there is some truth to that, I suppose. Hockey is certainly more popular in Boston than it is in say, Washington D.C. And, Boston is an Original Six franchise, but this whole notion of a place being a “hockey town,” or a “baseball town,” might be a little distorted. We heard the same thing here in Philly when the Phillies were coming around about 5 years ago. The old-timers would say, “2 million people showed up for that parade in 1980, screw the Eagles, this is a baseball town.” It is for now, just like Boston has been a hockey town for the last couple of months. I think very few places qualify as “towns.” Green Bay is a football town, St. Louis is a baseball town. In places like New York, Boston, or Philly there are too many options. People gravitate toward what is hot.
The notion that a fan-base gets beaten down into anonymity by years of losing is slightly false in my mind. I think it’s partially a defense mechanism of fans who want to rationalize their giving up on a team, or it comes from people who are dying to be a part of the current wave of momentum. If you liked the Bruins in 1972 when you were 10, because you were a kid and everyone liked hockey, that doesn’t necessarily make you a downtrodden hockey die-hard. If in the last 40 years you largely ignored the team, got on with your life, and passed the buck, I don’t think that really qualifies you as live and die. But, people feel the need to justify themselves and they think in order to get the maximum thrill out of a team winning they have to be the highest level of fan. So, they say things like, “After Cam Neely got hurt that just was it for me.”
I don’t want to pick on Boston fans, they are certainly better than most fans, I’m just saying that winning the title should be enough. We shouldn’t have to hear about the poor Bruins fans who have been waiting 4 decades, like they were the last 5,000 Bruins fans on Earth sustaining life in a cave watching Bobby Orr clips. I guarantee that 99% of these people were just as happy when the Sox won, or the Celtics or the Patriots. So, congrats to the Bruins and Boston as our current most successful sports city, and good luck with those fires, Vancouver. There’s always the