Why Did It Have To Be Them?

Burrows and Luongo have become hockey villains for different reasons by different fans. Source: Harry How/Getty Images

Hey everyone, my name’s Scott and I’m the newest member of The Rat Trick’s writing staff.  I’m very happy to vent my Panther opinions to people other than my dad.  I couldn’t help but notice a few things in Saturday night’s game that one could relate to being a Panther fan in the last decade.  Throughout Saturday’s Stanley Cup game between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins, one could practically hear Bruin fans screaming at their TVs, demanding that Milan Lucic check Alexandre Burrows into the Canucks’ bench.  Unfortunately for Bostonians, there would be no such luck.  Burrows skated circles around the Bruins all night long, chipping in with a point on all three Vancouver goals.  That would be bad enough for your average Bruin fan, but the fact that Burrows did it was painful hit to Boston pride.  After footage clearly showed Burrows chomping on Patrice Bergeron’s finger at the end of the first period of Game 1, the NHL somehow came to the conclusion that the video was inconclusive and Burrows should not be suspended.  There could be enough fodder in that sideshow to write a whole other article, but the main point is that Burrows should have been in street clothes sitting in a booth in Rogers Arena, not winning the game for the Canucks on the ice.  For the Bruins, it seemed like the absolute worst guy was having success.

That has been a theme all weekend for the Panther fan.  Two big players in this Final, Roberto Luongo and Nathan Horton, broke Panther fans’ hearts by being shipped out to big markets and having success, while the Florida franchise continued to struggle to keep face in the Eastern Conference.  For once, a Panther fan can empathize with the Bruins – why did it have to be that guy?

The situation is reminiscent of the Panthers’ incident with Philly’s Mike Richards, who not so subtly almost ended David Booth’s career. He went on to go to the Stanley Cup finals with the rest of his Flyer thugs, while Booth spent the better part of the season walking around dazed and confused with head trauma.

Another example (if I can cross genres shortly), is when Marlin pitcher Chris Volstad faced Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan this past Saturday night.  The last time they faced each other.  Volstad threw behind Morgan, prompting Morgan to charge the mound and get clotheslined on the way there.  The first pitch that Morgan saw in the more recent at-bat was deposited into the right field bleachers.  For goodness’ sakes, why does that punk get to circle the bases?

The average sports fan always wants some sort of vigilante justice after their team had seemingly been wronged.  Bruins wanted Burrows to be checked to pieces and be at most a  non-factor in Game 2.  Panther fans wanted Horton and Luongo to disappoint in their new town.  Heck, Marlin fans would have liked Nyjer Morgan to have been thrown at again.

Unfortunately, there would be no such luck for these average fans.  Burrows led the Canucks in the game that he shouldn’t have been playing.  Horton and Luongo are crowd favorites in their respective cities.  Morgan slugged a home run.

I could feel the Bruins’ pain that night, when Burrows scored, assisted, then scored again to put the Bruins in a 2-0 series hole.  When I saw the overtime goal scored live, I was speechless.  I could see the play develop, where both Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara misplayed Burrows as he wrapped his way around the net and scored.  I knew that if I was a Bruins’ fan, I would shake my fists at the hockey gods that they would let that fiend take the game over.  Even being a fan of hockey in general, I could easily come to a conclusion that the overtime sucked.  The anticlimactic end of the game just eleven seconds into overtime not only disappointed my unquenchable thirst for Stanley cup hockey, but it seemed like the game ended on a broken defensive assignment, not a great individual effort.

Sports can play a cruel trick on its fans: very often success goes to the villain, the betrayer, the goon.  Life would be a great summer movie if only good things happened to good people.  But unfortunately, life would never be interesting under those circumstances, and by default, neither would sports.  Eventually, the Panthers’ fortune will change, and we will be consistent contenders.  Until that day, however, I’ll be content to root against the players that wronged my team.

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