Sure, the B's kind of spit the bit a little; losing in the first round is never acceptable for a defending Stanley Cup Champion. As a fan I'm upset and disappointed, but not ashamed.
I'm a season ticket holder, and unlike baseball and football, that means that you're guaranteed your seats throughout the playoffs and the Championship. Last year, the tickets I sold to the Stanley Cup Championship games alone - to say nothing of the playoff rounds - made me almost $5,000. So as a season ticket holder, I'm deprived of a prime money-making opportunity and I'm upset and disappointed, but not ashamed.
After the Bruins lost, there were a number of angry Tweets aimed at the Capitals and the dude who scored the overtime game-winner, Joel Ward. That would normally make me grimly happy, but not ashamed.
I'm ashamed because rather than call Ward lucky, or a hack, or a no-talent bum, or a flopper, or any one of a dozen things you can say about a hockey player when you don't like him, a good many of these tweets called him a nigger.
And that makes me ashamed. Because it reinforces every negative stereotype about Bostonians, about the complexion of hockey fans, and the ignorance of the world around us.
This guy, Joel Ward, he'll never be confused with one of hockey's bright lights. He spent 10 years between major junior and the AHL before breaking in to the bigs five years ago. Never scored more than 20 goals - scored 6 goals all regular season. Just one of hockey's grinders on a third or fourth line - if he's on your team you like him OK and if he's not he's just a random piece of shit enemy sweater. And that's all good; hockey is a game where it's ok to hate your opponent, in fact it makes for better hockey when you do. And of course fans follow suit, and that's OK too. And yes, he's one of the few black hockey players in the league.
But to call him a nigger is just embarrassing to the game. To take what has to be thus far his career highlight - literally the highest point he's attained in a lifetime of hockey - and cheapen and degrade it by calling him a nigger is just the lowest thing you can do. And it's not like these tweets just shout the word at him and call it a day. Here are some examples (and I'm including the name of the sender in hopes that someone out there flames him but good):
Joel ward you fucking nigger you suck 6 goals all season you fucking plug nigger bitch
stupid nigger go play basketball hockey is a white sport zvanasse30
It sucks that the nigger scored the goal. colinalexanderr
Do I need to go on? Jesus Christ! It's 2012! I don't mean to sound naive but I'm kind of surprised that this level of hatred still exists.
As a kid growing up in suburban Boston, a period when the B's made the Stanley Cup Finals three times in six years (70, 72, 74) and won twice, my childhood was Bruins-heavy. We had a Bobby Orr jigsaw puzzle. Every family had ceramic Orr and Espo figurines in their house. And even though I didn't become a ravenous hockey fan until some time later (think Bourque - Neely - Janney, about 25 years ago), the Bruins were kind of the birthright of every Bostonian my age. And until now it was something I could take pride in.
But these idiots and their ignorant rants against this guy - I just can't believe it. It stuns me.
Listen, say what you want about the guy: he's got limited talent, he got supremely lucky being in the right place at the right time for the juiciest rebound known to mankind, whatever. That's actually true (even though the least talented NHL player still has more talent in his pinky than 20 amateur players). But to call him a nigger in a rant is classless and low, and those who do it denigrate the sport and the team that they purport to love.
One of the very first things I ever wrote was an observation that we as a society give words more power than they deserve, and I still believe that. I yearn for the day where the word nigger transitions in meaning to "dude" or "guy" and has all racial connotation stripped from it - in other words to rob the word of its negative power - but that day has not yet come. This whole episode is just sad.
I think this is what the people of Vancouver felt when they looked up from their tv's having lost the finals last year to find their city in flames: embarrassed for their city and tarred and feathered by the brush of public opinion, even though they themselves did nothing.
The hockey world - indeed the world at large - has a darker view of Bostonians today because of these people and their ignorance, and I have a difficult time saying that the world is wrong.