WINNIPEG - There’s one thing I don’t understand in the wake of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Final loss to the Boston Bruins.
OK, two things. The post-game riots are a real head-scratcher, too.
But I’m talking about all the weeping and gnashing of teeth about the failure of the Canucks to bring the Cup back to its rightful place, north of the 49th.
From where I sit, Canada’s team did, in fact, win the hallowed mug, and I’m not just referring to the fact the Bruins have more Canadians on their roster than Vancouver.
This is about far more than just birth certificates or citizenship papers. It’s about the men carrying them.
And the collection of players wearing the spoked ‘B’ embody the spirit of this country far better than their Canuck counterparts.
Which, incidentally, is why one is celebrating, the other moping, today.
You can start with the respective captains, one from Sweden (Henrik Sedin) one from Slovakia (Zdeno Chara).
Canada is known for its heart-and-soul players. Which one would you say played with more of both in the Final?
Canada doesn’t identify with someone who doesn’t stand up for himself, who wilts under pressure, who gets shoved but refuses to shove back.
We’re scrappy. Blue-collar.
A lot like the Bruins.
A lineup that’s not exactly star-studded. No Art Ross Trophy candidates, here. I mean, a 43-year-old on your second line?
How do you explain pluggers like Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell — Boston’s all-Ontario fourth line — looking like the best unit on the ice in Game 7?
The answer lies behind the “B.”
It rests in the heart of rookie and series star Brad Marchand, one of three Bruins from Atlantic Canada, who might just personify this country better than anybody on the ice the last two weeks.
This country has always been the little guy who has to work harder than everybody else. When we get our chance on the big stage, we tend to surprise the world with our ability.
If that isn’t the self-described Bruins “rat” in a nutshell, what is?
Just look at the road Boston took to the Cup, too, a bumpy, backwoods trail as Canadian as maple syrup and the beaver.
Four overtime periods in Round 1. Three Game 7s. Trailing Montreal two games to none. Losing the first two to Vancouver. These guys come back like the loonie.
Meanwhile the Canucks seemed so busy admiring their regular-season and early playoff handiwork they nearly choked away a 3-0 series lead against Chicago, Round 1.
Having learned nothing, they roared into the Final, eked out the first two games and got all full of themselves again.
“They’re so cocky,” the Nova Scotia rat said. “They thought they were just going to roll over us. We went out there, we kept our mouth shut and we won.”
I’m not sure about the “kept our mouth shut” part, not where Marchand is concerned.
But you have to admit the boys in blue took the cake when it came to yapping, embellishing and, of course, biting.
But that’s the Canucks M.O. And it’s so unbecoming of a team from the great CA.
So don’t fret about the wrong team winning again. Never mind that so-called drought going back to 1993.
And don’t for a minute let anybody tell you the better team didn’t win.
A combined Final score of 23-8 should end that discussion as quickly as the debate over who had the better, scrappier, classier goaltender.
Bottom line is this: from Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Adam McQuaid) to Toronto (Chris Kelly) to Vancouver (Milan Lucic), the Cup will be making plenty of stops in the Great White North this summer.
So enjoy it, Canada.
It couldn’t have happened to a better team.