Thursday, June 10, 2010
By Frankie O
That can hurt, but its the truth. You cant have a winner without a loser. For a certain someone behind the bar at a world famous Chicago steakhouse those two sides could not be more apparent after the Stanley Cup Finals. For a long time Ive been able to avoid the ultimate conflict here, but in a life full of strange twists, this was just another. The main source of my angst has been my feelings for both sides. The team Ive followed all of my life, against the one of my new hometown. The point of being a fan is in your emotional investment. Why else would we watch? With this investment comes a connection and that is where the joy, or pain (trust me!) comes from. I think at some point that I will realize that, as a fan, Ive been a part of, and witnessed, something very special. In fact, I think I do understand whats going on and thats why, for me, its so disappointing. I understand what it takes for a team just to get to the Finals and how hard it is. For these two teams, besides their long championship droughts, it had been 18 and 13 years respectively since their last appearance in the ultimate stage. Thats why the ability to capitalize on that opportunity meant so much.
The magical run that the Flyers had is one of the wildest rides that Ive been able to witness. How could you not love that team? Counted out, time after time, they refused to die and showed a resilience, and will to win, that was inspiring. That is the type of thing that captures the imagination of a fan base and a city. Its something that many can identify with, especially a city with a chip on its shoulder. I know its easy for some to bash Philly fans for their behavior, but I dont think its that easy. For most are not knuckleheads, theyre just normal fans that are devoted to entities that rarely provide a happy ending. (ONE in 27 years!) Wouldnt that drive you a little crazy, or make you the slightest bit cynical? Thats why this team brought out so many emotions, it was somewhat of a gift and every minute was cherished. We never quit on this team and they never quit on us. But never in any of our wildest imaginations would we have seen them going this far. But as they say, be wary of the smiling face. Fate can be cruel, even more so when you invest yourself in the cumulative efforts of others playing a game.
But it also can deliver beyond your wildest dreams. When I moved here 15 years ago to say that the fan base was minimal and disillusioned would be putting it nicely. Three years ago, when Rocky Wirtz took over, this team and orgin-I-zation, was put on a path that was destined for greatness. For the long suffering, and a hockey mad bartender from the east coast, it was a path worth following. Almost every decision made by this franchise from that time has been the right one. That is incredible. My favorite, besides the obvious all games must be on TV, was a re-established connection to the past. I often wonder why ALL franchises do not embrace their history like their fans do. The past should not be looked on as a burden, but a gift that should not be squandered. Watching the heroes from the past at the games, enjoying every minute of the action and being treated like royalty, I think has helped the connection that has been re-established in this city. That the team is loaded with talent and direction doesnt hurt either.
My point is its hard to root against what has happened here, but in the end, isnt that what its all about? You root for yours and against theirs? Thats what makes it fun. Unfortunately for yours truly, I was sitting right in the middle, or a little, all right a lot, towards the wrong side. . It will probably take me a while to sort through it all, but I cant be denied that I watched the whole thing grow and take form and was a part of it. On that end, the ride was very cool. That just about every person here in my life right now is ecstatic is also very cool. I know for a fact that the memories of this will only get better, but for every action, there is an equal and opposite one. So as I prepare to work behind the bar today, during a parade, Ill make sure everyone has fun and realizes how special this time is. But inside, there is a large part of me that cant help but feel a little jealous and still rue what might have been. With all due respect to Mr. Savard, I committed to someone else.