Canadians, Hockey and Hutzpah

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
 Weirs Times Columnist

President Obama recently hosted a recognition event for the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks at the White House—Chicago being the President’s “hometown.” (There was no word as to whether Obama pressured the Black Hawks to drop their Native American Indian symbolism, the way he did with the Washington Redskins. But “Hail to the Chief!”)
Obama opined that it might be nice to keep the Stanley Cup around the White House for a future state dinner with Canadian Prime Minister and fellow liberal Justin Trudeau. After hearing about the dig, Trudeau tweeted that he’d bring the Olympic Hockey Gold Medals from 2002 and 2010, when Canada triumphed over the USA.
The back-and-forth was healthy banter, a bit reminiscent of when Ronald Reagan and his Canadian counterpart Brian Mulroney got together at the White House and sang “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
(But WWTD? What would Trump do?)
The whole thing reminded me of my friend Annie. I met her and her husband Steve in California where the Canadian expats were working and studying. They later moved back to Ontario, but Annie and I remain Facebook friends, despite the fact that she is a Trudeau liberal and I am a Reagan conservative. She’s also a big fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, while I favor the Boston Bruins.
Which brings us to May 13, 2013, and Game #7 of the Stanley Cup playoff series between Annie’s lucky Leafs and my beloved Bruins. As I am wont to do, I set up in front of the television for the big game with a cold libation, my computer, and my cell phone—with which I could concurrently text antagonists around the globe. And Annie was the perfect foil. Especially after she referred to my Bruins as “Thugs on Ice!”
Few sports events can rival a Stanley Cup Game #7. The TV network set up a camera on a crowded street in Toronto to occasionally cut to Leaf fans watching the game on a big outdoor screen.
Sadly for me and my Bruins, Toronto dominated. Every time the Leafs scored, the telecast would cut to the street scene in Toronto as thousands of Leaf fans went wild. Annie’s texts and Facebook posts gloated and with the Bruins down 4-1 well into the final period I turned off my computer, put away my phone, and got up to turn off the TV.
But I stopped and returned to my recliner. Ten days earlier I’d walked out of Game #6 of the Knicks-Celtics playoffs at the Boston Garden with New York leading 74-49 in the fourth quarter. When I later turned on the car radio I learned the Celtics had cut the lead to four, and I was horrified that I’d walked out on the greatest comeback in NBA history. The Knicks eventually prevailed, but the lesson was learned. Never give up on your team.
So I left the TV on.
Midway through the final period Nathan Horton scored for Boston to cut Toronto’s lead to 4-2. The score remained such until just over a minute remained, when the Bruins pulled goalkeeper Tuukka Rask for an extra skater in a desperate attempt to catch up.
The frenzied final moments featured Boston scores by Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to force an improbable overtime. At 6:05 of the extra session Bergeron scored again to finish the record-setting 5-4 comeback and vanquish the Maple Leafs—who were making their first appearance NHL playoff appearance since 2004.
The telecast cut to the crowd on the Toronto street and to one of the most beautiful sports scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Thousands upon thousands of slack-jawed Maple Leaf fans standing motionless—utterly silent.
When my phone didn’t ring, I knew it was Annie!

Sports Quiz
What Boston Bruin boycotted a White House reception for the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in 2012 out of distaste for President Obama? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on March 3 include track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962).

Sportsquote
“I stole second base once in a softball game. Then I felt badly and went back to first.” – Woody Allen 1872-1933

Sportsquiz Answer
Star Bruin goalkeeper and conservative thinker Tim Thomas skipped the White House Stanley Cup Champion recognition event. He was later traded to the Islanders.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at Plymouth State University and at NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.