Just over five months ago, many wondered if we would see NHL hockey at all in the 2012-13 season. On Monday night, we got one of the greatest moments in NHL history, as the Chicago Blackhawks stunned the Boston Bruins at TD Garden, winning game 6 3-2 to win the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks were trailing 2-1 late in the third period, when Jonathan Toews found playoff hero Bryan Bickell in front to tie the score at two with 1:16 left, and it looked like the series was heading for another overtime session. But just 15 seconds later, Dave Bolland found a rebound in front of the net and gave the Blackhawks and improbable lead. It was a moment that shocked the sports world.
It was a moment that will be remembered for years to come. It was a moment that many, myself included, never thought we would see with the way the labor war went down. Most importantly, it was a moment that the fans of the game deserved.
These playoffs really were the more impressive playoffs in recent history. There were surprise teams that entertained, like the New York Islanders. There were unexpected results, a Pittsburgh Penguins team many had already awarded the Stanley Cup too, not being able to find the back of the net and getting swept. There were thrilling games in overtime, in some cases multiple overtimes, in the finals that captivated audiences. There were increased television ratings all across the board.
When all is said and done, not bad for a season that was inching dangerously close to not happening at all.
The real winners this year, were the sport and its fans. Hockey as a whole is slowly working its way back into the mainstream, which is impressive considering where it was six months ago. On this night, in a 15 second span, it was like the lockout, and all the foolishness around it, never even happened. Usually, it takes years for a sport to recover from a sports work stoppage, but on this night, it really did feel like that never even happened. All because of 15 second of the best the sport has to offer.
On this Monday night in late June, the sport of hockey was the true winner.