Tag: Bruins-Canucks

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

Numerous awards cannot take away the Stanley Cup sting for the Canucks


Life can be a mixed bag sometimes. Promotions come long after you dreamed of a bigger office. That old flame returns just at the moment that you meet your future spouse.

The Vancouver Canucks probably related to those types of feelings during the 2011 NHL Awards. Major members of their team took home some impressive hardware. Daniel Sedin fell short of the Hart Trophy but earned the almost-as-good Ted Lindsay Award. Ryan Kesler blew away the competition on his way to his first-ever Selke Trophy. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider shared the underrated William M. Jennings Trophy for their combined brilliance in not allowing goals while Mike Gillis received the GM of the Year award for buying all the right ingredients.

It was the best regular season in Vancouver Canucks history, one of the most impressive runs for any regular season team and a deep, dramatic run in the playoffs to boot. Yet all of those accolades can be washed away by a single image of Zdeno Chara raising the Stanley Cup far above our heads.

Kesler expressed his own mixed feelings about the highs that came from being rewarded for his individual achievements and the pitiful lows of coming one win short of the ultimate goal.

“Obviously it’s nice to get acknowledged but at the end of the day that [the Stanley Cup] is the trophy we all want,” Kesler said. “It’s still hard to swallow now, but I’m sure in the next couple of weeks we’re going to look back and realize we had a great season, and we came one game away. Obviously it wasn’t our goal to come one game away, we wanted to win.  But we did a lot of things as an organization that we’ve never done before.  We won a Presidents trophy, and we did a lot of things. Time heals all wounds, right?”

Canucks GM Gillis made a lot of great moves before and during this season. Some were small (the surprisingly beneficial trades for Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre) and some were big (winning the Dan Hamhuis sweepstakes), but an impressive majority of those transactions ended up being positive for Vancouver. That’s the thing about playoff hockey, though; sometimes all it comes down to is those nagging memories of one night that went wrong.

Gillis appreciated the award, but couldn’t deny the underlying truth that it wasn’t enough to fill that Cup-sized hole.

“It’s great, I guess,” Gillis said. “It’s nice, I appreciate it but I would trade it in anytime for a Stanley Cup.”

While some Canucks players or representatives seemed less dour than the others, the overarching theme was that these series of accomplishments were stained by falling just short of a championship. Vancouver is actually in a pretty solid position to maintain their high level of play going forward – depending on how much you’ve given up on Roberto Luongo, perhaps – so maybe this crushing loss will actually be assessed as a painful stepping stone one day.

That’s probably the message head coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis are sending, so we’ll learn a lot about the makeup of this Vancouver team in the 2011-12 season.

Zdeno Chara completes his mission of bringing a Stanley Cup to Boston

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

After the Ottawa Senators made the ugly (especially in hindsight) decision to give Wade Redden a big raise and let Zdeno Chara walk, he ended up signing a Chara-sized five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins were a team looking for a new identity in the post-Joe Thornton era, so they decided to acquire another player who was big for his position – in Chara’s case, any position – yet who carried a perception of playoff troubles.

Much like any other big-money free agent, Chara made proclamations that he wanted to bring a Cup to Boston. The big sports city completed the journey to “truly spoiled” status in that time, as the Boston Red Sox (2007) and Boston Celtics (2008) added championship banners while the New England Patriots came one Super Bowl loss short of a perfect season in 2007.

Yet the Bruins and Chara were left without a Stanley Cup victory since 1972 and without a Cup finals appearance since 1990. It either seemed ridiculous or generic when Chara claimed that he wanted to win a championship in Boston five years ago, but Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald believes that there was something different about Chara’s message and ultimately how he delivered it.

Yet it was somehow different with Chara. For when he spoke about winning a championship, the words seemed to be coming from deep in the belly, delivered with feeling, with passion, with forethought, as opposed to sounding as though he were rehearsing his lines from the school play.

He didn’t pull a Nikita Khrushchev and bang his shoe (or skate) on the table to get our attention. He didn’t channel his inner Curt Schilling [stats] and proclaim he had come to town to get rid of the ghosts, goblins and curses left over from previous failed campaigns. He didn’t ladle out campaign stump speeches about a chicken in every pot, a rendezvous with destiny and that it’s time for change.

Instead, it was a calm, poised, rational Zdeno Chara who, rather than promising a Stanley Cup celebration, outlined a plan on how to get there.

“I’m not afraid of challenge,” Chara said that day. “I’m willing to lead by my example of hard work and dedication, discipline and drive. I want to bring this team on the winning track. I want us to be competitive for a Cup, and hopefully be champions.”

Patrice Bergeron: ‘Sorry Canada, but I’ve got to go with the Stanley Cup’

Patrice Bergeron

It’s pretty hard to believe that Patrice Bergeron is only 25 years old. I don’t mean that in the typical “This guy managed all these accomplishments and made all that money” tone that people use when discussing most young professional athletes, either.

Nope, what makes Bergeron’s young age stunning is all of the valleys that came with his peaks. There was a time when concussion issues seemed like they would crush a promising young career entirely, but Bergeron gradually fought back from those problems to become an extremely underrated two-way forward for the Boston Bruins.

Of course, then he suffered another concussion in the 2011 playoffs, this time from a hit by Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. That injury seemed very troubling – especially considering his lengthy history of head issues – yet Bergeron only missed two postseason games thanks to the long break the Bruins earned by sweeping the Flyers.

He seemingly didn’t miss a beat when he came back, either. He scored nearly a point per game overall in the postseason (20 in 23 games) including two big goals and a +4 rating in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Bergeron was also an assassin in the faceoff circle, winning an astounding 60.2 percent of the draws he took.

Of course, winning the Stanley Cup isn’t the only great moment Bergeron experienced in Vancouver: he also won the gold medal with Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics. When asked to compare the thrills of both victories, he favored the Stanley Cup, though.

“It is amazing. It is an unbelievable feeling,” Bergeron said. “This is for us as a team but also for the city of Boston. They’ve waited so long for that — too long for that. To have a chance to be part of the team that is bringing it back means a lot to me.”


“Sorry Canada, but I’ve got to go with the Stanley Cup,” Bergeron said when asked to compare the feeling of winning the Cup and an Olympic gold medal, which he did with Canada in February 2010. “The gold medal is up high for sure, but this is a childhood dream. When you’re playing hockey, you’re thinking about hoisting the Cup. Now I’ve had that chance. I was five years old and playing outside with my brother. We were always dreaming about winning that Cup. To have a chance to get it now is amazing, but that gold medal is something special too.”

Before people start flipping over cars again, it’s probably important to note a few key reasons why he might feel more attached to a Cup win than a gold medal win. Here are the top two ones:

1. The huge difference in the number of games played.

To win the Cup, Bergeron played in 103 of the Bruins’ 107 games between the 2010-11 season and the playoffs (Bergeron missed two games in the regular season and two in the postseason). Obviously, those contests include the ups and downs of a long regular season and the grind of the playoffs.

Compare those 103 contests to just seven games played in the Olympics and it’s beyond reasonable that Bergeron feels this way.

2. He played a bigger role with the Bruins

While spending much of his time with Sidney Crosby isn’t exactly dealing with table scraps, Bergeron finished the Olympics with zero goals and one assist in seven games. With all due respect to his talents, he was relatively anonymous on a team full of stars. There are probably a significant amount of casual fans who didn’t even know he made the team.

Meanwhile, in Boston, he was either the No. 2 center or the “1b” to David Krejci’s “1a.” His 20 points left him in second place on the team in playoff scoring and his absence was felt in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals.

Maybe he wouldn’t have had the same dreams if he didn’t grow up in Canada, but it shouldn’t be that surprising that Bergeron preferred winning the Cup to winning the gold. Too bad we all can’t have such “tough questions” to answer, though.