TD Bank Garden, Boston on June 8, around 19:00. It was moments before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks. In the darkened arena, packed to the rafters with almost 18000 screaming fans, the lone spotlight descended on an area in the stands. Momentarily, a middle-aged man clad in a vintage Bruins jersey stepped into the light. The crowd erupted. It was none other than the legendary Bobby Orr, the man universally regarded as the finest defenseman in the history of hockey. Most Bruins fans would contend that he is the best hockey player to ever lace up skates, no slight intended for the Great One. Fittingly, the man whose statue stands outside the arena was also part of the last Bruins squad to bring the Cup home nearly 4 decades ago.
Someone handed Orr a flag. It bore the number 18, the number worn by Bruins winger Nathan Horton who was knocked out of the series thanks to a terrible hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome early in Game 3. As Orr waved the flag in honor of Horton, the already feverish crowd was sent into an unprecedented level of frenzy. It was a goose bumps-inducing moment for Bruins fans everywhere.
As ardently hoped for and expected, the Bruins responded for their Hall of Fame-hero and for their fallen hero. They dominated the Canucks, beating them physically and on the scoreboard, 4-0. The series now shifts back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Friday. Even though the series is tied 2-2, the Bruins are riding a bullet train of momentum. If they take Game 5, the Stanley Cup will be in the building for Game 6, something for which many Bruins fans have waited decades if not all of their lives.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s simply the best thing there is.