As fate would have it, the two Jewish players who played in this strike-shortened National Hockey League season (Eric Nystrom spent his hockey year in Norway’s GETligan before getting injured after appearing in just six games) both had a fair crack at making the playoffs.
Mike Brown, though, never did quite make it, as he was traded off the Toronto roster to Edmonton by the trade deadline. Jeff Halpern, however, fared slightly better, but that’s all relative.
Making it to the playoffs, Halpern chose the short stick in the draw, exiting with Montreal in the first round, after being traded mid-season from the New York Rangers to his northbound destination.
Even so, one unconfirmed Jewish individual did see his team come a puck bounce or two away from hoisting the hockey’s Stanley Cup this past week.
Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins can attest that his club did their best to outfit the Chicago Blackhawks with everything it could provide, ensuring the Blackhawks quest for the Cup would not be as easy as apple pie, nor a walk along the banks of the Charles River.
“The best offense is the better defense,” proved untrue in this Finals contest, as the Beantown sextet provided a better defense, but the Windy City club simply had one-too-many weapons for Boston to handle in its on-ice arsenal.
For Chicago to bring home its second Cup in four years is a matter many foresaw before the strike-shortened season got underway on January 19.
The Blackhawks set an NHL record for most consecutive games to open a season without being defeated in regulation (24) and also set a team record for most consecutive wins (11), all while leading the way to capturing its first President’s Trophy (best regular-season team) since 1990-91.
For the Bruins, though, there is much to reflect during the off-season.
Pre-2001 I would say Lady Luck simply turning her cheek against the Massachusetts metropolis, in another letdown of epic proportions, joining the ranks of Babe Ruth, Too-Many-Men-On-The-Ice, Bucky Dent, Desmond Howard, and Bill ‘bleeping’ Buckner.
Up one goal in front of your home fans, less than 90 seconds from going to a deciding Game Seven on the road, and your opponent has its goalie pulled. The next thing you know, it’s Game Over, and the guys with the Chief Blackhawk insignia on their sweaters are lifting Lord Stanley’s Chalice above their heads. Gag job for the ages now complete.
But since the Robert Kraft Patriots clinches the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion in 2001 against the St. Louis Rams, the new millennium – minus Aaron Boone circa 2003 – has belonged to Boston’s sports franchises.
The B’s, C’s, Sawx, and Pats have all won at least once, and have made valiant efforts to return to the Promised Land. That said, there are no fans anywhere that feel bad anymore for the Beantown Faithful.
The fans in Boston should be pleased with their teams, and specifically the Bruins, who marched back from as close a squad will ever be from facing a long, sullied, off-season of golf, after being down three goals midway through Game Seven against Toronto in the opening playoff round.
Moreover, this gives the Bruins and its fans time to reflect not so much on Jaromir Jagr’s future, or who the backup goaltender will be, but on the city itself.
April 15 will be a day that will live in infamy and will go unforgotten by those in the Boston Metro area. After riding the emotional post-Boston Marathon roller coaster all the way to the NHL’s Cup Finals, the city of Boston can now see what they truly have: Each other.
Gone is the screaming and yelling from the TD Garden, if only temporarily, and in its place is reflection. The consideration for thought and contemplation for what they maintain and can still hold onto.
In a sentence it’s the thought that there will be a tomorrow, and a future with which to continue.
The Bruins are a team that will contend for a title yet again in the not-so-distant future. But for now the heartbreak of losing the Stanley Cup to the best team in the NHL is softened by the realization that it’s not only about the wins and losses, but finishing the race.
Yossi Goldstein hosts the weekly sports-talk radio show, “Sports Talk With The Sports Rabbi,” every Thursday from 5-6pm on www.allnoiseradio.com.