Luongo can barely contain his emotions.
So here we are. After a six-month season, four rounds of playoffs, and seven gruelling games, the NHL has crowned its champion. The Stanley Cup has been awarded. One fan base is devastated, while another will celebrate late into the night.
In the moments after a thrilling game seven, I’d like to take a moment to address you directly, fans of the winning team.
It seems like only yesterday that your team was struggling through a first round series against your bitter rivals who historically dominate you in the playoffs. But you survived, just barely, thanks to an overtime goal in game seven. Remember the excitement when the winning goal was scored, by that particular player? Little did we know the controversy that awaited them weeks later.
Your team waltzed through the second round against Peter Forsberg’s old team, then beat that non-traditional warm weather team in the conference finals. And there you were, back in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in a generation. Who can forget that last time you played for Lord Stanley’s mug, back in the early 90s? I bet you can still picture your team competing furiously, proudly representing those black and yellowish-gold uniforms that they wore then and perhaps still do, before finally going down to a bitter defeat. Damn you, Mark Messier!
But a generation later you were back, and this time the opportunity would not be wasted. It wasn’t easy. It was a vicious series, in which your team persevered despite several sickening cheapshots by the opposing team. You endured your team being taunted with immature finger waves. You watched devastating hits on Nathan Horton and Mason Raymond, 50% of which you thought were unquestionably dirty. The entire hockey world outside of your particular city was united against your team, you told us, incessantly. And let’s not even mention those shameless homer announcers on the other team’s broadcast.
And then game seven. The series had seen it all, from overtime thrillers to lopsided blowouts to everything in between, and game seven certainly fit into one of those categories. All eyes were on Roberto Luongo. Many thought he would rise to the occasion while others thought he would crumble, and in the end we now know they were right. Without question, this game will be his defining legacy.
The end of the game must seem like a blur to you now. There was that goal scored by that one guy, and then that big hit with that other guy, then that other thing done by some other guy, and then the Conn Smythe won by Tim Thomas.
And then, the magic moment you’d been waiting on for four long decades, give or take a year. What fan among you will ever forget the sight of Gary Bettman passing the Stanley Cup into the waiting arms of good old #33? And who says Europeans can’t make great captains? Certainly not anyone who has had the pleasure of watching your team’s leader, a truly unique talent. He certainly is one- or at the very most two-of-a-kind.
And now it’s all over but the riot cleanup. Your boys are champions. A Stanley Cup banner will be raised in your arena next year. After an agonizing, debilitating, gut-wrenching test of your endurance as a fan, it was all worth it.
But at least you’re not like those fans of the other team. Imagine how devastated they must feel right now. Serves them right, those losers. Thank god you have nothing in common with them.