One game, no regrets
It will arrive on his cellphone, same as it has every single game of this final, same as it did Monday not long before he would score the goal that raised the alarms on Roberto Luongo.
It is simply a three-word message that, with the Boston Bruins having now forced a Game 7, accurately sums up this strange and curious and oddly compelling Stanley Cup final.
"Have no regrets."
The message comes before each game from Craig Bonner, general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, once a coach with the 2007 Memorial Cup champion Vancouver Giants. It is sent, as it has been faithfully all spring, to Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins, the most valuable player of that Memorial Cup run.
It was Lucic - the Vancouver native who won a Memorial Cup with those Giants, who dreamed of one day playing for the Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Canucks, not against them - who set the physical pace at the opening of Game 6 and who scored the second goal of the night: a weak shot that somehow slipped through the five-hole of Luongo.
It was the second poor goal of the night - the first a wrist shot by Brad Marchand from the right circle that would find the short side and which Luongo would later say he should have had - and by the third goal, 8 minutes and 35 seconds into the game, Roberto Luongo was gone and the game was over.
"It goes into the books as one of the greatest individual choke jobs in the history of the Stanley Cup final," the Boston Herald trumpeted Tuesday morning.
More accurately, it goes into the books as the most baffling Stanley Cup final of all time, a series in which the two teams seem to change personalities in the air as they fly back and forth between the two coasts: the Canucks smart at home, stupid on the road; the Bruins dominant at home and discouraged on the road.
The Bruins' utter domination at home - 8-1, 4-0, 5-2 - would suggest "sweep" or, at most, a five-game series far more than a Game 7 that could well come down to the final shot of the game, in overtime. The Canucks stinginess at home - two shining shutouts by Luongo - would suggest the same for them, and yet ...
All that is certain is that the Bruins obviously have no regrets while, equally certain, the Canucks have a great many. Why would they not go all out in Game 6 to put an end to matters rather than risk the vagaries of a Game 7? Why have the team's two stars, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, been ineffective to the point that they have but a single goal apiece in the final? Why did they not start young Cory Schneider in Game 6, given Luongo's previous flameouts in Boston's TD Garden and the fact that Schneider was flawless in relief when he came in late in Game 4 played there?
Vancouver's greatest hope lies in Rogers Arena, where Luongo has been brilliant. A victory there for him would lift one of hockey's heaviest gorillas. It would make possible a moment where Luongo, previously also the team captain, would feel as Calgary Flames captain Lanny McDonald felt when McDonald's team beat the Montreal Canadiens for the Cup back in 1989: "It's light as a feather - I could carry it forever."
Certainly both teams have enough to inspire them. The Vancouver Canucks have their poster of the mountain, with the Stanley Cup at the top and a chain of carabiners attached for every victory gained, that number now desperate to move from 15 to the requisite 16. They also now have a "Win it for Raymond" moment as they will enter this seventh game without speedy Mason Raymond, who suffered a frightening vertebrae compression fracture when driven into the boards by Boston defenceman Johnny Boychuk in a weird check that drew no penalty but a great many arched eyebrows.
The Bruins have been driven by "Win it for Marc" and "Win it for Nathan" clarion calls, one for long-concussed Marc Savard and the other for Game-3-injured Nathan Horton; they have their ratty game jacket that gets handed to the player of the game in each victory; and, of course, Lucic has his "Have no regrets" message from Bonner.
When Lucic considered the reality of Game 6 being the last home game of Boston's season, no matter the outcome, he said "We definitely want to end it off on a good note" - and then quickly proceeded to do just that.
Both teams, coincidentally, have faced elimination this spring - Vancouver against the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston against the Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and, Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks - and survived.
But only one can survive this one.
"I don't know if that makes you confident," Boston forward Shawn Thornton said of his team's seemingly endless stream of cliffhangers. "But, definitely, experience helps in any situation. So, we've been through it before this year. Hopefully, we can get through it now."
No more, of course, than the Vancouver Canucks hold exactly the same hope.
"It comes down to one game," a sweating Mark Recchi said after his team's victory in Game 6. "This is what we dream of going back to playing street hockey.
"We're going to lay it on the line like they are - no pressure, just go out and play."
And if they both give their best, "no regrets" all around.