Somehow, you just knew from the puck drop in Game 1 that “Bruins-Canadiens Part XXXIII: This Time, It's Personal” was going to come down to a Game 7. And while I have every hope and faith it's going to go well Wednesday night and the Bruins will move on, it's still worth pointing out that I'd rather be us than them. For all their 100-plus years of playing pro hockey, their 24 Stanley Cups, their tradition and 52 Hall of Famers, I've got dozens of reasons why it's better to be a Bruins fan. Here are 10:
10. We've got other options
I and everyone I know would love to see the Bruins win the Cup. Hell, I know some hardcore puckheads who want it so bad they'd sacrifice anything -- their health, personal wealth, the feel of a woman's touch -- just to see it happen. But if doesn't, the sun's still coming up tomorrow. The Boston hockey public will do what we've always done. We'll flip to the Celtics' playoffs and check the Red Sox standings and set our Patriots draft board and move on with our awesome, successful, enviable lives.
Once the Habs are bounced from the playoffs, their fans will do what they've always done: Wallow in misery, demand the coach be fired and the goalie get traded and start counting the days til the 2011-12 season. Because what else do they have in their empty, joyless lives? The Alouettes? The jaunty Alouettes of Canadian football? Puhleeze. Twenty-yard end zones, three downs and 60-yard lines are an abomination and against the Laws of Nature. Plus, as George Steinbrenner once pointed out, Montreal is supposedly one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world but it can't even support a Major League Baseball team. And making me agree with a pompous gasbag (rest his soul) like King George is by itself enough to make me hate Les Habitants.
9. Our iconic legendary goalie is eternally cooler than their iconic legendary goalie
Ken Dryden was a massive, coolly efficient, articulate, cerebral Ivy Leaguer with movie star looks. Gerry Cheevers was a short, squat slob who blew snot rockets on the ice, was balding in his mid-20s and spent every waking off-ice hour at the racetrack. He also took ridiculous chances leaving the crease and skating up ice with the puck and swung his stick at opposing forwards like the bride in “Kill Bill” fighting off the Crazy 88s. But we're three decades after they both retired and Cheesie still is inspiring T-shirts, sports memorabilia figurines as well as the song “I Feel Like Gerry Cheevers (Stick Marks on My Heart)” by the band Chixdiggit. Dryden is remembered as the guy who almost nodded off in the booth as Al Michaels was calling the end of the Lake Placid Miracle on Ice game.
8. Our National Anthem is way more exciting than theirs
There's no denying that “O, Canada” is a better piece of music than “The Star Spangled Banner.” But where's the fun in that? I mean, any Canadian can sing it and do it justice, from Celine Dion to Michael Buble to the first loser voted off of “Canadian Idol.” Whereas ours is a train wreck of incomprehensible lyrics and unsingable melodies so even Christina Aguilera can come out on our biggest stage and butcher it like she's Frank Drebin. We've been listening to Rene Rancourt nail it for all of our adult lives down here, and still we know that Thursday night he'll be perfect with the Canadian anthem but "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming” is only one major screw-up away.
7. The Bruins play hockey the way God intended
Granted, their power play looks like a game of Electronic Football. But unlike the Canadiens, they can take a hit. If I want to see guys flopping on their backs to draw penalties, I've got international soccer or European NBA players. If I want to see diving, I've got the Olympics. Spoiler Alert: I don't.
6. The Canadiens' “Dynasty” is a fraud
I'll concede that the Bruins are one year without a Stanley Cup away from arena chants of “1972.” But at least the last title team they had earned it fair and square. They were the ones who went out to Parry Sound, discovered, scouted and signed the skinny 14-year-old junior hockey kid with the crew cut who went on to become a Causeway Street statue. Plus, they drafted a dozen other greats and swung the Phil Esposito/Ken Hodge/Fred Stanfield trade. The Habs, on the other hand, for decades had exclusive, first-dibs rights to any French-speaking Canadian player. As I said here a few weeks back, that's the equivalent of Red Auerbach enjoying right-of-first-refusal on signing all African-American basketball players. The Bruins might be entering their 40th big year of futility, but at least they can look up at their banners and know they were won on a level ice surface.
5. We've got Jack Edwards
For the life of me, I couldn't tell you who the Canadiens announcers are, in any language. But I'll promise you whomever they are, they never used expressions like “Snowball 1, Hell 0,” "They bounce off each other like an executive's desk toy" or "I don't know if it was that Lady Gaga concert last night or what, but the puck seems to be a bit jumpy tonight," the way our man Jack does on a nightly basis. Take that, bilingualism!
4. Canadiens fans are thoroughly Yankeefanified
I know that look. I can see the attitude in their eyes. To be a Habs fan is to never be satisfied. It means never enjoying success, only treating it as your birthright. Something you've got coming to you. Something you're owed. Winning as many Cups as they have eventually means they stop being special and start becoming something that should happen as a matter of due course. And if it doesn't, well, by God, you deserve an explanation as to why not. Believe me I know how this works. I've seen it in Yankees fans my whole life and I've seen the early stages of the disease in the faces of the brie & chablis sections of Gillette Stadium and I've been fighting the infection. Bruins fans, on the other hand, don't have any success to fall back on. So when it does happen, it's going to come with the kind of unembarrassed celebration Club de Hockey Canadien hasn't enjoyed since its goofy red, white & blue horizontal striped sweater days.
3. Bruins fans have way more fun than Canadiens fans
Last year when Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke went out of his way to decapitate Marc Savard, Boston responded the way a real hockey town should: by snatching up all the scalper-gouged tickets to the next Penguins game and calling for blood (which never came, but that's a different matter). This year, when Zdeno Chara ran Max Pacioretty into the boards -- boards which happened to have a stanchion made out of reinforced I-bar conveniently located at head level -- and injured him, the people of Montreal responded by flooding 911 and demanding the Montreal PD release the poodles, track Chara down and throw him in the Bastille, the single most embarrassing display of Yahooism in the history of pro sports.
2. The Bruins are funnier than the Canadiens
After scoring in Game 4, Andrew Ference flipped the middle finger at the Montreal crowd. During the double-OT Game 5 at the Garden, the injured Pacioretty tweeted "this game is longer than marchands [sic] nose." I believe it was either Shakespeare or Gallagher who said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” But either way I'd rather root for Ference showing the Massachusetts state bird over Pacioretty's hacky big nose joke any day.
1. Don Cherry loves us best
It's been over 30 years since Grapes got railroaded out of town for the crime of being more famous and well-liked than Harry Sinden. And he went on to become the biggest thing on Canadian television since French subtitles. To the Canucks, he's like John Madden, Charlie Sheen and Spongebob Squarepants all rolled into one. And still, after all these years Don can barely contain his contempt for Montreal hockey fans and his love of us. When the crowd in Montreal booed the American anthem, and B's fans “retaliated” by singing the Canadian anthem at the top of their lungs, Grapes called us “the lovely people in Boston, the greatest people in the world.” Believe me, it was the Great White North version of Oprah saying Chicago is an armpit, and a little piece of every Quebecois died that day.
For that reason alone, I'd rather be one of us than one of them. But mostly, I'd rather be a Bruins fan because there's not a chance they're losing Game 7 back here.
Follow me on Twitter @jerrythornton1. But if you're writing to tell me what an idiot I am, say it in English. I don't speak Canadian.