During my early days growing up outside of Boston, the Red Sox always reigned supreme. 2004 was mythical and 2007 set the team up for the future with a slew of young prospects moving into important roles. See Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Despite this, I still had another love. Hockey.
Everyone in my family played. There wasn't really a choice if we're being honest. Every Friday growing up involved knee hockey in my grandma's basement. Our favorite game was without a doubt was "30 Seconds." One of us would play goalie and have to stop shots for 30 seconds in order to win. If he couldn't, then the "skaters" won that game. It was always a best of 7 Stanley Cup Final ending with one team hoisting the cup, AKA an old barstool. These battles between all my cousins involved a lot of bloody noses and countless rug burns, but it was always worth it for the glory of hoisting that stool.
Even though hockey was a huge part of my life the Bruins remained largely insignificant, especially when compared to the Red Sox. That is until my Uncle gave my Dad three tickets to bring my Brother and me to a game against the Rangers. This was in the fall of 2007. The Red Sox were in the ALCS, the Celtics Big-Three were beginning their championship season, and the Patriots were undefeated. All this meant that I had paid very little attention to the Bruins season. I just wasn't that excited. Why couldn't my uncle have had some Sox tickets?
At the game when we finally finished hiking to our seats in the balcony section, I immediately started to feel the emotion of the crowd. This was in October. The NHL season was just getting started, but the fans still had this energy to them that was unparalleled. Every hit or shot sent electricity into the seats. The passion was undeniable and contagious. As the game went on, it became a clear goaltenders duel. Manny Fernandez and King Henrik were both unstoppable. Regulation ended scoreless and then OT did as well. We had been cheering all game to the point where my voice was now gone. It felt like I had done something wrong, this never happened at Fenway. It seemed like I was cheating on Papi and Manny with this other sport.
After five saves to start the shootout Phil Kessel made his way to center ice. I followed the Bruins enough to know that Kessel was absolute money in the shootout. He came in and just ripped a shot under the crossbar. As the fans roared one more time I knew it was over. The game and the battle for my favorite team. Although the Red Sox would complete the comeback over the Indians and win the World Series, they now played second fiddle.
In 2011 when Chara hoisted the cup, just as I had hoisted my grandma's old barstool, I knew I made the right choice.