First let me say that I have been a fan of the black and gold for most of my life. To be completely honest, I was raised a Habs fan. My family is French Canadian and, up until my generation, spoke French as a first language. My Meme Masse was cousins with the great Jacques Plante, who would leave the family tickets whenever the Habs visited the Red Wings but with 18 kids to look after, she never took her cousin up on the offer. One of the earliest pictures of me has me dressed in a Montreal Canadiens onesie with a Habs stick next to me. I can still recall my dad telling me stories about the bleu, blanc et rouge's glory days with players the likes of LaFleur, Boom Boom Geoffreion, The Rocket and the pocket Rocket. I looked forward to the nights when CBC would show a Habs game over rather than the usual Maple Leafs game on Saturdays nights.
That all changed one night when I was about 5 or 6. It was Saturday night and the Canadiens were taking on the black and gold. I was mesmerized by a young defenseman who was dominating the Habs, shutting them down every time they tried to cross the Bruins blue line. That game changed my life and from then on, much to my dads dismay, I was a Bruins fan. That young man who wore number 7 for the Bruins (and eventually his now retired 77) changed the way I looked at how hockey was played. Ray Bourque became my childhood hero and remains, to this day my favourite hockey player of all time. I modeled the way I played after Bourque, right down to the way I lifted my trailing leg when I took a wrist shot. Too small to play defense, I became a defensive forward and, to some extent, excelled in that role all the way up to high school and a very brief stint in Jr. C. (I played 2 games for the Windsor Royals) before a knee injury finally caught up with me and I couldn't perform at a high level anymore.
Ray Bourque and the Boston Bruins became my life. I watched, hoping for a miracle when the Bruins took on the powerhouse Oilers in the 1987-88 Stanley cup finals and again in 1989-90 only to be heartbroken. I watched with pride when Bourque scored the game winning goal in the 1996 All Star game in Boston and was named game MVP and I literally cried tears of joy when I finally got to see Bourque raise the cup over his head (albeit in a Avalanche jersey.) When I found out my wife was pregnant, the first thing I did was jumped online and ordered a Bruins toddler jersey for my daughter. Much like my father before me, I will try to raise my daughter a Bruins fan. So far it seems to be working despite my wife's best efforts to keep her from liking hockey at all. I've supported the Bruins through the dark days that were the late 1990's, never waivering in my commitment to the team. I'm elated now that the Bruins are once again on top of the league and hope that we will see the B's bring home a cup within the next couple of seasons.
It's been a long journey from my early days as a forced Habs fan but its all been worth it. Being sandwiched between Leafs nation and Hockeytown (that is the topic of future blog) it's not always easy to follow my team. Usually it's done through an internet radio stream of the Bruins game, although I do get to see at least 8 games a year on TV when the Bruins come to visit the Leafs. I had planned on flying to Boston this season to catch a Bruins game at the Gahden for the first time ever but, slashed hours at work dashed that dream but, I will one day make it to see my beloved black and gold (hopefully by then Pez will have his house and let me stay there for free.)
My love for the Bruins has no bounds. I can't imagine how my life would have been had I never watched that game between the Bruins and Habs. I'm often criticized for being a B's fan rather than supporting the local team(s) but there is nothing I'd rather be but a fan of he big bad Bruins.