[Editor's Note: This piece showed up in my email tonight from a reader who asked to go only by JPW, and it was simply too awesome not to share, so here it is; it is glorious.]
You know, I've been reading around a lot of Boston papers today and it struck me. Of course there is the whole home team we will march to the cup attitude, but you can find that in 15 other cities right now too.
The thing that struck me was anger. Anger and disbelief. These beantowners cannot understand why some washed up auto town on the banks of a dirty lake do not absolutely fear them. Why are wings fans actually predicting a win in this series? Why can't they just be happy making the playoffs? Nobody else wants to play the Bruins, why do these guys seem not to care about the juggernaut before them?
They have spent so much time this season hearing how big and bad their hockey team was, and after 82 games of the collective east coast proverbial smoke being blown up the asses of every Massachusite not to mention those other New Englanders who hop on whatever bandwagon is closest. That some of them actually believe they are the new hockey dynasty, model franchise, or that they have a better player on their roster than Datsyuk (a claim which, by the way, I don't think any hockey team on this earth can rightfully boast). Now don't get me wrong, here on my army men's league team there are plenty of Bruins fans that were praying to avoid Detroit in the first round. And I have to believe there are plenty who rightfully respect the fellow Original 6 franchise with an un-paralleled record of success on the modern era; just as we respect the absolute dominance the B's exhibited this regular season.
But here is where our paths diverge. I am a realist. If I was a B's fan I would be assured of my teams impending victory as well. But one thing 23 years of playoffs will teach you is perspective. And that perspective has seen 2006 Edmonton Oilers. Seen 17 past presidents trophy winners go on to not win the cup. Have seen an equal number (6) lose in the opening round, then have won the cup (6). Have been on both sides of the regular season records, and both sides of those playoff match-ups. The thing is we have seen it all, both sides of the coin and from every angle.
Therein lies the hope. Not blind confidence, not over arrogance (maybe a little); but the knowledge that if winners were determined by stats and records they wouldn't play the games. That crazy long shot odds do and have happened. To us and to others. 1 seeded teams lose to 8 seeds. Is this one of those years? Only time will tell. But with a team where anything less than excellence is unacceptable we are asking ourselves: 'Why not us? Why not this year?" And that collective even keeled hope and confidence drives the out of towners nuts.
So no matter what the outcome, I take pride in being part of the fan-base that others cannot stand. Not in an annoying bandwagon Pittsburghy sort of way. But in a cool, calm, collectivness that knows we do not have a championship window, but that each year brings us another shot at the holy grail of hockey. A knowledge that 23 will turn into 24 and beyond. And the cockiness to know that no matter what kind of 2014 you have, in the long run, we own you. We own all of you since 1990, and most likely for the foreseeable future.