Bos­ton’s year of pa­rades ends with Bru­ins’ loss

The News-Times - - STANLEY CUP FINAL -

BOS­TON — There won’t be a third cham­pi­onship pa­rade through the Back Bay, and it seems so long ago that peo­ple in the city were dream­ing of a Bos­ton Slam.

Af­ter back-to-back wins by the Red Sox and the Pa­tri­ots, the never-sat­is­fied fans in this town cov­eted a chance to sweep the ma­jor sports prizes. But the Celtics didn’t co­op­er­ate and, on Wed­nes­day night, the Bru­ins fell one game short of win­ning the city’s 13th ti­tle since 2002.

“It’s a heart­breaker,” Bru­ins for­ward Brad Marc­hand said af­ter St. Louis won Game 7 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal 4-1. “It’s tough to de­scribe. You know, they just took our dream, our life­time dream from us, and ev­ery­thing we’ve worked for our en­tire lives. And it’s 60 min­utes away from that. You can’t de­scribe it.”

Ryan O’Reilly scored for the fourth straight game in the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal — ty­ing Wayne Gretzky’s record — and Jor­dan Bin­ning­ton stopped 32 shots for St. Louis, which won its first NHL cham­pi­onship. The Blues, who joined the league in 1967, had not been in the fi­nal since los­ing on Bobby Orr’s fly­ing-throughthe-air win­ner in 1970.

Bos­ton has had plenty of success, of course.

The Pa­tri­ots have won six Su­per Bowls, their first in 2002 against the St. Louis Rams. The Red Sox ended their 86-year cham­pi­onship drought by beat­ing the Car­di­nals in 2004, then beat them again in 2013 while rack­ing up four World Series ti­tles in this mil­len­nium.

The Celtics beat the St. Louis Hawks three times for the NBA cham­pi­onship from 1957-61 while hang­ing

17 ban­ners from the old and new Bos­ton Gar­den rafters, their most re­cent in 2008. The Bru­ins last won it all in

‘11.

Five play­ers re­main from that team who know what it’s like to skate off with the Stan­ley Cup. But they also re­mem­ber the pain of los­ing, when they returned to the fi­nal two years later and lost to the Chicago Black­hawks.

“I’ll never get over this,” said Marc­hand, who was among the play­ers seen to be cry­ing on the ice while they waited to shake hands with the Blues. “I’m not over ’13 yet. This hurts more than that. It’s not some­thing you ever for­get.”

To get back again, the Bru­ins have some de­ci­sions to make.

Most of the core is signed, in­clud­ing goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, cap­tain Zdeno Chara and top for­wards Pa­trice Berg­eron, David Kre­jci, David Pas­tr­nak and Marc­hand.

Char­lie McAvoy, Bran­don Carlo and Dan­ton Heinen are all re­stricted free agents. Mar­cus Jo­hans­son and Noel Ac­ciari are free to test the un­re­stricted mar­ket.

For­ward David Backes, who is owed $12 mil­lion over the next two sea­sons, is 35 and was a healthy scratch for much of the series against St. Louis and could be a can­di­date for a buy­out.

Chara, who is 42, said he thinks the team has a chance to make an­other long play­off run.

“We just came short,” he said. “Some­times those downs make you stronger, and I be­lieve this team still has po­ten­tial to get back to the fi­nal and get it done.”

But the Bru­ins also un­der­stand that noth­ing is cer­tain.

“There are guys that this could have been our last shot,” Berg­eron said. “This stings even more.”

Rich Gagnon / Getty Images

Pa­trice Berg­eron and the Bru­ins re­act af­ter los­ing to the Blues in Game 7 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal on Wed­nes­day.

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