Wouldn’t it be funny if George Santayana could never remember where he put his car keys? I’m sure he had a big bowl or hook near the front door to stash his keys and wallet, but always ended up leaving them in his pockets or maybe he took them out of his pants and put them on the desk near his study and went crazy blaming everyone for taking them out of his bowl.
Maybe we should back up a step… the reason why that would be so funny is because Santayana is the author of one of the most famous and quoted sayings ever.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Born in Spain and educated at Harvard, Santayana wasn’t known as a philosopher as much as he was for creating future clichés. Still, if he could have been classified as anything it would have been as an aestheticism. Santayana loved beautiful things so much that he was inspired to put his feelings into words. Lots and lots of words, too, judging from the breadth of his literary legacy.
The guy could write like you can pile up out-of-control credit debt.
Nevertheless, all anyone ever talks about in regard to Santayana is being condemned to repeat the past because of a faulty memory. That has to be like The Clash being known for “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” and “Rock the Casbah” amongst the mainstream listeners when the rest of their catalogue is so much more superior.
They made London Calling and Sandinista for crying out loud.
Yet if I had a nickel for every time I trotted out Santayana in a story about sports, I’d have a handful of nickels. Why not add another one to the pile right now and check with Brian Boucher about what he remembers from the time he was in a playoff series against New Jersey with a 3-1 series lead.
It’s unlikely he wants to repeat that week from nearly a decade ago.
“It’s hard not to think about it,” Boucher said. “Hopefully this time the script is written differently. Ten years is 10 years ago and certainly there are experiences you can learn from—good and bad. If there is one thing I know it’s the series isn’t over until it’s over.”
The Flyers have had two 3-1 series leads against the Devils in the last two times they met in the postseason, and they finished the deal in five games in the 2004 Eastern quarterfinals. However, when Boucher and teammate Simon Gagne were rookies, they came one win away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals.
That one win proved to be so elusive.
Boucher and the Flyers dropped three straight games, including two at the Wachovia Center, as the Devils carried that momentum to win the Cup. Two of those losses—games 6 and 7—were 2-1 defeats in which Boucher matched future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur with a series filled with highlight-reel saves.
That was a long time ago, though.
“My career has been kind of crazy,” Boucher said. “I put all that behind me and I’m not worried about what went wrong or whatever. I’m happy to be back here and grateful to be back here, I signed back here with good vibes and the position I’m in right now is what I remembered and what I hoped for. I’m excited and I’m trying to enjoy the moment.”
So far it’s been perfectly enjoyable for Boucher and the Flyers. Better yet, there are some interesting superlatives to go with the latest playoff run. For instance, Boucher’s last playoff win heading into the series with the Devils was May 20, 2000, a drought that ended after a nine-year and 327 days span. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Boucher’s “streak” between Stanley Cup playoff victories is the third longest in NHL history behind Boston’s Jim “Sugar” Henry (1942-1952) and Sean Burke (1988-1998), whose wins, coincidentally, came for the Devils and Flyers.
Meanwhile, Boucher’s 14 career playoff wins is the third-most in franchise history. To put that into perspective, only Ron Hextall and Bernie Parent have more, which could mean that despite the gap in wins, Boucher could go down as one of the best playoff performers in team history.
Of course that sample size consists of just two years, and of one of those years Boucher is a little reluctant to open up about. Can’t really blame him—after all, how many folks like to talk about the things they did or thoughts they had when they were 23? Truth is, most people would prefer to forget what was going on when they were 23 and just starting out in a career. Boucher is no exception there, though in his line of work people are constantly reminding him of the things he did a long time ago.
“I was a wide-eyed kid and was just trying to enjoy the moment,” he said. “I’m still having fun with it.
“You can’t look ahead and you can’t look behind. You have to live in the moment, and that’s all I can do. Whatever is going to happen will happen.”
That’s usually how it works, though that's probably not what Santayana was talking about. But for the point of argument, let's just see how Boucher's playoffs play out before his legacy is defined. Twice he's been in a playoff series against New Jersey with a 3-1 lead...
He still needs that one elusive win.