Fans of every team that ever played anything have been elated and discouraged and shocked by those teams.
That’s part of the reason so many of us pay attention to sports. We like being elated, and being shocked gets the blood flowing, and even being discouraged isn’t so bad when we are discouraged together. Communities, including the ones built on allegiance to a team, celebrate, and communities also mourn, and in each case the point is community.
But members of such a community outside the city limits of Mudville rarely experience elation, shock, and discouragement all within the span of a few seconds, which is what happened to fans of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks on Monday evening.
As the last couple of minutes of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals ticked away, the Bruins, down three games to two but up two goals to one, seemed certain to force Game 7. The elation was palpable. And loud.
Sure, the final game would occur in Chicago, but even there the momentum built by preventing the Blackhawks from winning the Cup in Six might provide the Bruins with an edge.
Then, with just under a minute and a half left in the game, came shock. Bryan Bickell potted one for Chicago. It was 2-2. Game 6 would go to overtime. Suddenly that only seemed right, probably even to lots of Bruins fans. Of course two determined teams this evenly matched would require extra time and the drama attendant upon it to settle the issue.
Except that even before fans in the building could offer such solace to each other, even before those watching the game on TV could squawk about having to stay up late again for a hockey game, out of the scrum in front of the Boston net came shock again. Seventeen seconds after the tying goal, the Blackhawks went ahead.
Over the next 59 seconds, disappointment rode shock into the boards, hooked him, held him, and hammered him to the ice…and there was no call.
Not really. Over the next 59 seconds, some Bruins fans discovered that 59 seconds was insufficient time to evict shock and disappointment from the premises so that hope, however undernourished, could take up temporary residence. Others howled without thinking anything.
Chicago fans howled, too, and perhaps they’re howling still, or they will be howling soon at a parade. And then, when the celebrating is over again, fans of both teams, like fans of all teams when there is a lull between campaigns, will begin preparing to welcome another season’s worth of elation, shock, and discouragement, not, they hope, necessarily in that order.