I always go back to the old saying "Act Like You've Been There Before". Growing up in the world of sports, both as a participant and as a spectator, I've tried to live by it. When it comes to parenting, I try to live by it. It's a phrase I almost use daily, teach to the kids I work with and try to teach my own child (soon to be children). Act like you've been there before.
For the city of Boston, we have been there before. We were there in 2001, 2003, twice in 2004, 2007 and finally in 2008. Although the streamers were different colors, the jerseys were from different sports and the trophy held in the air were different colors, the jubilation was still the same. Tonight, if the Bruins win, will be no different. The city will be flooded by a sea of black and gold. 39 years of frustration, hardship and shit luck will finally be washed away from a franchise that has struggled to gain acceptance in a town full of championships.
Years ago, and I mean three or four years ago, the Bruins were an after-thought in this city. The media, outside of a few dedicated writers, wouldn't step out on the Garden ice for all the money in the word. WEEI, a prominent AM radio station, would take Bruins calls only to mock the fans. Hell, one night I was watching the Bruins on TV, a family member came downstairs and said "What the fuck are you watching? The Bruins suck." Now, that mind has been changed. It was a niche sport that was followed by a few, but dedicated, fanbase.
Tonight everyone is a Bruins fan. I've heard stories about "bandwagon" fans. I've listened to coversations about the Bruins that have made me shake my head. You know what, I'm okay with it. I want people to like the Bruins. I want stations like 98.5 the Sports Hub to constantly take Bruins calls. I want blogs, newspapers and news outlets to constantly cover the black and gold. I want hockey to rise above the other sports in Boston and become what it used to be.
So why am I writing this to Bruins fans? Tonight is special. Win or lose, tonight is the pinnacle of what Bruins hockey has come to. A franchise that has struggled to find an identity climed out of the ooze and amassed a young nucleus of talent that can keep them relevant for years to come. Win or lose, this is going to be a fun team to watch for a long time.
While you are out tonight, be careful. Boston already has a stigma of being brutish hockey hooligans. The fans are "classless", "careless" and "thugs". We piss off people, piss on people, degrate fans of other sports teams and are the rudest mother fuckers this side of the valley. We're drunks who just "want to watch hockey fights" and "don't know the sport at all". All of these things, things that other cities has written or said about us, aren't true.
Don't allow a celebration to become violent. Don't cross the line from celebration to riot. There's no reason for a celebration, a time where you should be arm in arm with a fellow Bruins' fan, to come to violence, hate or hospitalization. There's no need to climb a street light or telephone pole. There's no reason to flip a car. There's no reason for the police to start using crowd control tactics. Celebrate tonight like it will never happen again, but be smart about it.
I know I shouldn't have to write this to the Bruins crowd, but there's always one person who ruins it for everyone. Be respectful of the businesses around you. Be respectful of the people are you. Once again, this isn't a time to light YOUR city on fire. This is a time to celebrate.
Be safe, be careful and more importantly, be happy.
LETS GO BRUINS!