Just like everyone predicted, the 2019 Eastern Conference Final will feature YOUR Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes.
The last time these two teams faced each other in the playoffs was all the way back in 2009, before David Pastrnak was even born.
That season, the Bruins went on a tear through the NHL during the regular season and stomped the Montreal Canadiens in the first round to set up a date with the Canes.
That Carolina team was a decent squad, captained by the Canes’ current head coach, Rod Brind’Amour. It was an interesting mix of grizzled veterans and in-their-prime guys: Ray Whitney, Eric Staal, Eric Cole, Chad LaRose (THE WORST), even ol’ buddy Sergei Samsonov.
The Bruins would win the first game of the series, but dropped the next three in a row. Faced with elimination at home in Game 5, the Bruins soundly beat the Canes. They were up 4-0 in the last few minutes of the game, when this happened:
I still remember everything about this play. The clear “I’m not fighting” from Ward. The sarcastic “ATTABOY, WALK” from Ward after the scrum ended. It was about as clear as a sucker punch can be.
It was 4-0. The game was over. Ward wasn’t fighting, and didn’t do anything that required him “answering the bell,” in old-school hockey speak.
And yet Walker suckered him anyways. Walker was given 2, 5 and a 10-minute misconduct, and Ward, inexplicably, was given 2 for roughing.
The Bruins won the game, and most fans assumed Walker would be sitting for a bit. Instead, the league...pretty much did nothing.
Walker received a paltry $2,500 fine for a blatant, bare-knuckle sucker punch to the face of a defenseless opponent. Imagine if Twitter was Twitter back then? The GIFs would have been out of control.
The B’s would go on to win Game 6 in Raleigh, forcing a home-ice Game 7. They were behind late, but managed to tie it to force overtime.
We all remember what happened then:
That’s about as big of a gut punch as you can get. The guy who sucker punches someone and gets away with it (pretty much) scot-free ends up scoring the series-winning goal in overtime.
IS THERE NO JUSTICE, HOCKEY GODS?????
I was finishing my junior year of college during this series, and still remember everything about it. The shock at the lack of suspension, plus this ending, was truly unbelievable. Surely, things couldn’t get any worse next season...oops.
Regardless, Scott Walker got away with punching lovable Bruin Aaron Ward, and I cannot stand for that. Not against someone responsible for moments like this:
Ward has a good relationship with the Carolina organization, and he has clearly moved on.
I have not. I declare this series the Aaron Ward Revenge Series.