CHICAGO, IL - The Bruins don't want to revisit the Stanley Cup Final.
The mantra is to constantly move on, push forward, and forget the past.
"We put that behind us," says Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara, and he means it. "It's a new season and we're going to focus on this season."
No one moves game to game quite like Big Zee; his mindset is always a testament to the cliche, but accurate "even-keeled" demeanor that he portrays. When he says that, it's not a facade. He's moved on.
"It's a really good team we're playing," he says of the Chicago Blackhawks, the second ranked team in the NHL. "We've just got to be ready. They're probably one of the best teams in the league, so it's going to be a challenge."
Still, coming back to Chicago and facing the Hawks for the first time since last June, the discussion and resurgence of emotions are almost inevitable.
And the consensus? Yes, the Black & Gold have moved on. But, yes, yes, it still hurts.
"It’s something that’s hard, still right now it hurts just to see the 2013 on the wall right there, you know?" said Patrice Bergeron, of the year designated on a Stanley Cup decal plastered to the wall of the Hawks' practice facility, Johnny's Ice House. The Bruins practiced there Saturday afternoon before their showdown with the Blackhawks.
For Bergeron, the Final hurt in several other infamous ways besides the end result.
"But it’s in the past. You’ve got to move on and [Sunday] is a big challenge for us," said the alternate captain. "They’re a great team and we’re excited for it."
As was the theme, Milan Lucic was still aching, as well.
“It hurts," he said. "The last minute, minute and 15, I've replayed in my mind 100 times since that moment."
Naturally, the photographic memory of Lucic started down the path of revisitation.
"Obviously there are a lot of questions," he admitted. "It goes right off the post and right back to [Dave] Bolland's stick. You always think 'What could you have done?' And it's not just Game 6. You look at Game 1, we're up 3-1 with eight minutes left and they were able to tie it and win it. Then we were up 2-1 in the series and we don't take care of business in Game 4."
"Those are the things that haunt you in the summertime and replay it over in your mind. It sucks thinking about it and you want to do everything you can to move past it. Obviously, we've done our best to play well this year and move past it.”
And he's right. The topic hardly, if ever, comes into discussion. But being back in the Windy City, it's a tough topic to just blow over.
"You know, it took a while," said Bergeron, speaking with a large media scrum of Boston and Chicago reporters alike. "You’re so close to the goal that you’ve set for yourself, but also, you look back and sometimes the 'what if?' question comes to your mind, right?"
"Last thing you want to do is to go out there and to lose, knowing you were that close to the goal that you set for yourself."
It's been just about seven months since June 24. The last time Boston was in Chicago, it was Game 5, on June 22.
"I don't think it's weird, it's nice to be back…although when you don't win, it's a bittersweet situation," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "If anything, when you take time to look back it was some really good hockey played, great games, overtime in a lot of them and everything else. I thought it was a well played battle. Hopefully for the betterment of the game you hope it was appreciated."
"I think it was one of those Finals where both teams respected each other right till the end, and it was decided on the game of hockey and nothing else."
Like his players, the bench boss reiterated the simple emotion that comes up the most.
"There's no doubt it hurts," he said.
"But you've got to get over it. I think that's what you've got to do; you've got to get over it in order to focus on hopefully getting another opportunity to get there. If all you rely on is the hurt from the past then, you can't move forward, so we've got to turn the page and remember what we are and what we have to do to get back there. I think that's the most important thing of it all."
How long did it take to get to that point?
"It takes time, it stings less and less but it doesn't mean it ever goes away," said Julien. "Do I feel the same way I felt the next day? Absolutely not. Like I said, you've got to turn the page."
"You've got to respect the winners and you've got to walk away from these things saying, 'You know what? We know what we have to do and let's work on trying to get another opportunity here.' And that's what I'd like to see our team do."
For most of the 2013-14 season, the Bruins have powered on, seemingly true to their words.
While going through tough stretches, ups and downs, and any possible cliche you can think of, they've remained the same committed group. It's a group that has changed, with players having come and gone, but a group that believes that the ultimate goal is still within sight.
"I can’t lie, it does hurt," said Bergeron. "But, that being said, it was a good series, a great series and we left everything on the line."
"Let’s do it again."
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