Anger. Fear. Disgust. Contempt. Joy. Sadness. Surprise. The seven primary emotions that painted Game 7, and an overall postseason picture on a canvas that will now be wiped clear.
Emotions, often the suggestion is there to keep them off the ice, in a Game 7, it’s about putting them all on it, but in the room? Checking emotions at the door seems an unlikely option when it comes to saying goodbye. Goodbye to teammates, but more importantly friends — never truly knowing what the off-season may hold, who will lace up the skates alongside you or take a face-off against you in the coming year.
Breakup day doesn’t just end a season, but each and every year, puts an end to a roster that has become familiar to fans and trusted in the locker room.
It’s the blasted emotions that ran high, strong and mixed for the Boston Bruins after facing a second round elimination against the Montreal Canadiens. It’s what the team didn’t accomplish that splashed the headlines, rather than what they did. Despite a heartbreaking finish, the 2013-14 Bruins earned top honors in the league, nabbing the Presidents Trophy. They skated through a regular season with no more than two consecutive losses at a time. They fought injury, adversity and the constant target on their backs, all while proudly wearing the ‘Spoked B’ across their fronts, a symbolic image for big bad Bruins hockey and win or lose, the devoted fans they skate for.
“We had a great season, we did a lot of great things,” said Bruins Head Coach Julien. “When you look at the whole season, it’s a lot brighter than the ending.”
A loss in the books hasn’t changed the spark that’s caused a fire throughout Boston. In terms of the cities love for the game, it’s done nothing more than flourish since 2011. But how long will fans be willing to endure the heartbreak that has followed the past two seasons? The answer will differ among the masses, but the faith in the future of the franchise, far surpasses the emotions felt in the present.
“I think that’s almost the worst part, that you let the fans down and you let the city of Boston down,” said Lucic on the second-round exit. “But sometimes, when you have hard defeats like this, it gives you motivation to work harder in the summer, to come back hungrier for next year. Obviously, I’ll take a few days to get over a loss like this, but eventually you know that you have to move on and focus on next year. But as of right now, it definitely still stings.”
The success of Bruins hockey in recent years has grown in magnitude, a regular season empire, the east their dominion, the components to have that empire reign supreme once again, can be found in a vast system, deep with talent. A prime example of that talent can be found in the teams AHL affiliate, Providence Bruins. Despite an ever changing roster for the younger club, Providence has found their way to the Calder Cup Playoffs, skating with passion that their parent team perhaps lacked through the final games of the Montreal series.
“We have a young back line right now and I’m partially to blame if you want to assign blame. Maybe we didn’t get enough at the deadline, maybe we overestimated the youth and where they were,” said GM Chiarelli when asked for a diagnosis on the season. “They brought us to good spots and I think you’ll see in the future that these players, these young defenseman, are going to even be better as a result of participating in this series.”
The reality that any team must come to terms with as a season comes to a close, is to closely evaluate and find a prognosis for the future of the organization.
“For me, it was a seven game series,” continued GM Chiarelli. “I felt we were the better team, it was a seven game series and they won on the margins and we didn’t win. So disappointing, more disappointing because it is a rivalry, but I thought we had a heck of a year in the regular season and I thought we had a really good first round. But we’re here to win it all so I’m disappointed. “
With a resounding echo of disappointment plaguing each and every player, burning through the ranks to management, the offseason has officially arrived, leaving a team filled with questions, and the hope of a better outcome.
“I believe so, and for sure I think that we have a great group of guys,” said Chara regarding the Bruins being Stanley Cup contenders as the roster sits now. “It’s something that we have to learn from this year, and be more motivated and better coming up on playoffs.”
Having a solid core group and skating with the desire to add another banner to the rafters at TD Garden and soon, will be a sentiment carried through the lengthy off-season the Bruins now face.
“Yeah, we were this year,” said Bergeron on being Cup contenders. “I think we still are. If you look at the guys most of the guys are still going to be with us next year, and I think it’s, we have a great group of guys, a great core and we have the experience that you need in playoffs, and I think this year hopefully makes us eager to do it next year.”
Perhaps not Stanley Cup champions this season, the components are there to skate forward in the quest for 2015.
From the room: