After all of Boston's triumphs over the past decade, the party never quite seemed complete. No matter how much fun the city's had or how memorable the moments have been, there's always been that one little X factor that has kept the party from being a full-fledged blowout for the ages.
Ah, yes, it's a Bruins Stanley Cup victory. Well, rejoice.
Sure, there had been a lot of Bruins fans who had witnessed the team hoist the most iconic trophy in sports. After all, a 39-year Cup drought pales in comparison to the 86 years of suffering endured by Red Sox fans.
But for all who haven't seen it or who weren't old enough to remember, it's been the one thing that's kept Boston sports fans from cashing in on the city's superfecta.
The Bruins are like the last friend to turn 21. Everyone else was out having a good time, but it wasn't quite as satisfying as it could have been because we knew our buddy was at home waiting for the time to come.
And even more frustrating than the wait is the way in which we waited.
The B's have experienced a revival under general manager Peter Chiarelli. He's quickly established a winning attitude and expectations that seem to only get higher with each new year. But it had yet to translate into hockey's ultimate prize, although there had been some close calls in the postseason –- which made us long for the Cup even more.
In 2008, the No. 8 seeded Bruins took the No. 1 seeded Canadiens to the brink in the first round of the playoffs before eventually losing Game 7 in Montreal. The Bruins' near upset was a bit unexpected, but that seven-game war between division rivals essentially put hockey back on the map in the city of Boston.
It was then that we finally looked at our younger friend and realized, "Wow, he's growing up so fast."
Then in 2009, the Bruins dominated the regular season en route to the Eastern Conference's best record. But after an easy sweep of the Canadiens, whom they lost to a year prior, the B's were knocked out in seven games -– losing Game 7 on their own ice on an overtime goal by series-villain Scott Walker.
It was like our under-21 buddy got into the bar with flying colors, but before we knew it, bam! He was kicked out!
In 2010, the Bruins were a team with poise. Despite finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference, they seemed much more dangerous, especially when they pulled to within one game of the Eastern Conference Final by going up on the Flyers 3-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
But then before we knew it, the series lead evaporated — as did a 3-0 lead in Game 7 — and the Bruins were sent home early yet again.
We had seen our buddy mature, but he eventually fell into old habits and it quickly became clear that he wasn't quite ready to hang with the big boys just yet.
But this season was different. We knew better than to get too excited about the little things.
A playoff appearance is nice, a series win is better, making it to the Eastern Conference Final is impressive and making it to the Stanley Cup Final is downright awesome. But it didn't represent all there was to be had, and the Bruins and their fans realized that.
On Wednesday night, though, the 15th of June in the year 2011, the time finally came.
Our buddy finally turned 21, and he is officially ready to celebrate with the rest of the crew. It makes sense when you think of it — it's been 21 years since the Bruins were last in the Stanley Cup before this season.
So to that, I say 'pull up a chair and grab a cup. A nice, big silver Cup.'
Just like our buddy, who is ready to party with the big boys, the Bruins are ready to join their Boston brethren in riding the duckboats through the streets of Boston.
But unlike our partying buddy, the B's will be celebrating with a night they'll never forget rather than one they won't remember.
Go crazy, Boston. The Boston Bruins are 2011 Stanley Cup Champions.
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