Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Several months ago, when it seemed like
yet another NHL season would be lost to labor strife, hockey fans lamented the
potential loss of their beloved Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fittingly, this year's Stanley Cup Finals -- a battle that almost never was --
served as a shining example of what the NHL's loyal masses were so scared of
losing, even if it only was for a year.
Even better, if you could bottle up what makes the postseason so special to
the legions of NHL fans all over the world, it would look a lot like the last
two minutes of Game 6. Just like that, a season that so easily could've been
scrapped due to a petty battle over dollars and cents, ended up showing the
sport in a much more favorable light.
Although the Chicago Blackhawks were the ones lifting Lord Stanley's Cup in
jubilation at the end of Monday's thrilling Game 6 battle, the real winners
were the fans who love professional hockey and want nothing more than to see
Really, the only people who could be disappointed in the way the 2013 Stanley
Cup Finals ended were the ones rooting for the Boston Bruins, and it'd be hard
to blame them for not seeing this crushing loss as a victory for the sport.
After all, the B's seemed to have a potential Game 7 in their sights before
For six games -- three of which ended in overtime -- the Blackhawks and Bruins
treated the hockey-loving public to a battle for the ages. A series that began
with a triple-overtime victory for the Blackhawks in Game 1, was never short
on drama, but nothing matched the hysteria at the end of Game 6.
Trailing by a 2-1 score after Boston's Milan Lucic staked his club to a lead
with 7:49 left in the third, the Bruins appeared poised to send this series
back to Chicago for a Game 7 on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks, of course, had other ideas.
Bryan Bickell tied the score for Chicago with 1:16 remaining on the clock,
deflating, but not yet killing the spirit of the hometown crowd.
Unfortunately, Bruins fans didn't have to wait long to see their ultimate
nightmare become a reality, as Dave Bolland all but shattered their Cup dreams
with the go-ahead goal just 17 seconds later.
"Yeah, it's kind of like the season we had," said Chicago head coach Joel
Quenneville. "It was one of those seasons we were saying, we're almost charmed
the way we started the season and the way we ended. Nobody saw that one coming
Sure, Boston still had 59 seconds with which to mount a comeback of their own,
but much like those of us watching in amazement, the Bruins seemed unable to
recover from the shocking turn of events. Soon enough, the final horn sounded
and the Blackhawks leapt for joy on the TD Garden ice. The only thing left for
the Bruins and their fans to do was ponder what went so horribly wrong in
those fateful final minutes.
As a result of Chicago's furious comeback, the Blackhawks returned to the
winner's circle for the second time since ending a nearly half-century
championship drought in 2010. The Bruins, meanwhile, were denied a second
title in three years, as the club failed to wear down Chicago the way it did
Vancouver over the course of seven games in 2011.
Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Monday's finish ensured the
2012-13 season would be remembered for more than the lockout that caused the
campaign to begin in January, and not October.
With the way the playoffs ended, we can all be glad this hockey season came
later rather than never.
The Sports Network