Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Vancouver's Lament-2011

The streets in Vancouver have pretty well been restored to order following the Canucks’ devastating loss to the Boston Bruins. The series went seven games, with the final played on Canada’s west coast. For several days, fans had gathered in downtown Vancouver to “feel the love” and to watch their team as it struggled in Beantown.

The Canucks had managed to win the first two games at home. Both victories were squeakers, by one goal. The losses in Boston were not even close. Through it all, in the games on the south side of the Canadian border, the Boston fans were merciless with Roberto Luongo.

The Canucks’ goaltender felt the wrath of the Boston fans. They chanted his name whenever he touched the puck. They got “inside his head” to the extent that, on several occasions, he was replaced by Cory Schneider, the backup goaltender.

There is not enough space in this column to outline all of the woes suffered by the Canucks in the final series. They had key injuries. They had an unwarranted suspension. They had a few bad beaks. But as you have read here before, and likely will again, they did not put enough pucks in the Boston net.

No goaltender in the National Hockey League plays badly for any length of time. One of Luongo’s advantages is that he is a big guy. Even when he cannot see the puck through the maze of players in front of him, he will stop it, often by sheer luck. The trick is to cover the rebound before it gets shovelled into the net. The odd soft goal gets by him, but not many.

At the other end of the rink, Tim Thomas smiled his way to the Stanley Cup triumph. He talks with the referees, he jokes with his teammates, he carries on as if the Bruins were playing a mid-season game. He appeared to be very relaxed, and it paid off for him. He won the award as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup finals, and rightly so. The trophy is named after Conn Smythe, the former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Thomas received his trophy from the Commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman. Now I can understand why the fans in the rink in Vancouver were upset after losing the final game. What I cannot comprehend is the animosity toward the diminutive Commish. Gary has put a lot of money into the pockets of young Canadian men. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hockey players who owe a debt of gratitude to Bettman. He has helped orchestrate the expansion of hockey in the United States. All of these young Canadian studs would be working menial jobs were it not for the game.

After the game in Vancouver, the idiots went to town. They smashed windows, they looted, and they overturned cars. They were not hockey fans. Some carried face masks and gasoline cans into the downtown area to create havoc following the game. Anarchists, nihilists, whatever. For some of them, the consequences will be devastating. Apparently, one young rioter was slated to attend university this fall on an athletic scholarship. His photograph was taken at the scene. He has lost his scholarship.

Many of these young people do not think these things through very carefully. Then again, many of us were in the same position years ago, perhaps not to that extent; however, there were no cell phones to take pictures of us being idiots. Nowadays, there are cameras everywhere. Like it or not, Big Brother is never too far away. In a matter of fifteen seconds, one can do something stupid that will be recorded, and will haunt you for the rest of your life. You would be better off not shoving that rag in that bottle of gasoline before you head to town.

The gentle giant of the Boston Red Sox, “Big Papi” David Ortiz was captured on television last night hoisting the Cup in Boston. The Bruins had taken Lord Stanley’s mug to Fenway Park as part of the celebration. And there it will stay until next June, when we as fans will be treated to another great playoff. Kudos to the Bruins.

James Hurst
June 21, 2011.

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