MHN Featured Writer: Krintz Douglas
Spring. 1979. Game 3. The Garden. With all due respect to Madison Square Garden, this was The Boston Garden – aka “The Real Garden”. #YankeesSuck! For a 6 year old kid just beginning to love Boston sports this night was a slice of heaven. I felt, in that moment, that I was at the coolest place on earth. It was the Stanley Cup semi finals – Bruins vs. Canadians. The Habs were up to 2 games to 0. Gerry Cheevers, who played net in games 1 & 2 and just didn’t have it, was yanked for my favorite goalie of all time: Gilles Gilbert. If there’s a better name for a hockey goalie, I still haven’t heard it. Pete Peters is a good name, but not redundant enough. #StandWithNonsense.
The tension was thick in the smoke filled Garden that night. Yes smoking was still allowed “in the hallways” back then because we were Americans and hackin’ a butt was still cool. The game started with a Montreal 2 on none break away and Gilbert made an unbelievable glove save. The crowd erupted: “Gill-E! Gill-E! Gill-E!”. That chant still gives me goose bumps and chills to this day. Gilbert went on to pretty much “stand on his head” the entire game. Save after save, chanting all the while. Gilbert won the game for the Bruins that night. He brought the crowd to a state of delirium I have still yet to see matched. The energy in The Garden that night is second only to the craps table I was at, at Harrah’s in winter 2014. #ParlayTheHard8! Then came game 4. As it to laugh at those who thought game 3 was a fluke performance, Gilbert was even better… impossible save after impossible save. Chant after chant. Gilbert was God. The #1 on his jersey was every bit the symbol of where he stood in the food chain at that time.
I was lucky enough to go to every game in The Garden for that series (2,3,6). The Bruins won every one of ‘em. Too bad they couldn’t steal a “W” in The Montreal Forum. Any hockey fan worth there salt knows this was the infamous “Too many men on the ice” series/game in which the Bruins held a late lead in game 7 only to be done in by a late penalty, a late Guy LaFleur goal to tie it up – and an eventual soul crushing overtime loss. But nothing will ever take away from the magic of watching Gilles Gilbert single handedly bring the Bruins back into that series and almost carry them to victory in the semi’s and what would have been a certain Stanley Cup victory. Sorry ’79 Rangers – you guys were about as cool as lava and would have buckled under the B’s “Lunch Pail Gang” attack.
I went to many Boston Bruins games in the 80’s and 90’s before I moved to LA, but nothing ever matched the pure poetry and wonder of how Gilles Gilbert made a fan base, a city, but more importantly a 6 year old boy feel in those magical nights during the ’79 Stanley Cup semi-finals in the old Boston Garden.
So there’s only one thing left to say… or chant: “Gill-E! Gill-E! Gill-E!”
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