MORRISSEY: Bolland, Bickell have time of their lives
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 24, 2013 11:50PM
Updated: June 25, 2013 10:52AM
BOSTON — I’m sitting high above the ice at TD Garden late Monday night, and what a wonderful, ridiculous scene is playing out before me. It is so unreal that I can’t look away.
Sticks and gloves and helmets are strewn everywhere as if part of a poorly organized yard sale. It’s either that or I’m staring at a ghost town that people abandoned so quickly they didn’t even have time to take their hockey equipment.
I see Bryan Bickell laughing like a madman, his toothless smile looking like a funhouse tunnel. He had scored the goal that tied Game 6 with 1:16 left in the third period, another stunning twist in a fierce Stanley Cup Final that seemed destined to go seven games, if not eight.
I see Dave Bolland, who scored the game-winner with 58.3 seconds left to give the Blackhawks their second Cup in four years, and I see the beautiful craziness of this sport. I see a guy who had been down and out most of the season, a guy who had been the target of heavy fan and media criticism. I see someone who willed himself to be in the right place at the right time Monday night, allowing him to shove a puck past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. That is so very, very hockey. From nowhere to hero.
I see everyone in a Hawks uniform hugging each other in a big ball of wild celebration, and I see the vanquished Boston Bruins absolutely shocked out of their minds, heads down, shoulders sagged in defeat. What had been a 2-1 lead fled the premises in the span of 17 seconds and gave way to a 3-2 Blackhawks victory. I can still hear the strange silence of a large stadium in shock and the faint whoops of Hawks players.
Now the ice is cleared of debris, and Patrick Kane is skating with the Cup high above his head. He has been voted the Conn Smythe winner, given to the most valuable player of the playoffs. I see a guy who knows a big stage when he sees one, maybe more than anyone I’ve ever covered. You might recall — in the way you might recall your birthday or the date for Christmas — that Kane scored the Cup-clinching goal in 2010 in Philadelphia.
Now goalie Corey Crawford, who was so good during the playoffs and the regular season, is giving the Cup a healthy shake or two over this head. I believe it refers to the long, tough road he has endured, what with all the doubt that had been directed at him. I see what all this means to him: validation.
And here is the captain, Jonathan Toews. Have you ever seen a boxer get the snot knocked out of him and then keep getting up, against all reason? That’s Toews. He sat out the third period of Game 5 after taking a vicious hit from the Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk. But he came back in Game 6 because that’s what he does. The Bruins knocked the snot out of him again and again Monday. Didn’t matter. He scored the Hawks’ first goal of the evening because, like his buddy Kane, he’s a big-game hunter. Now I see him skating with the Cup over his head, and I see the biggest reason the Hawks are what they are. As if I didn’t see that before.
Shock is still hovering over the ice. How did this happen again? The Hawks scored two goals how quickly?
Bickell is hugging anything that moves. Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who played exactly one game in the postseason, holds the Cup and gets his photo taken with friends or family or complete strangers, for all I know. This is hockey, a democracy, and everybody gets his chance with the trophy.
I can see coach Joel Quenneville smiling, even from here. We don’t get to see that too often, so I know when that moustache of his gives way to teeth. I think the ice below his feet is melting because of it.
I can see everything from high above one of the nets. It’s an aerial view of complete joy. It’s still an unreal scene of hockey players in various poses that say, “Pinch me. Is this really happening?’’ It is. A parade in Chicago will be Final proof.
I can hear too. And what are the few hundred Hawks fans still inside the arena chanting? “De-troit sucks. De-troit sucks.’’ Ah, what the heck. We’ll allow it.