The last conversation Glenn Corbett ever had with his daughter Kristen involved a subject dear to both of them - the Boston Bruins.
Kristen, then 20, was attending college in Austin, Texas in December of 2009 and had to call her dad because she had used his credit card, which was in her wallet "only for emergencies."
It was a call he probably would have missed, since he never answered his house phone.
"This time I did. It would be the last time I ever spoke to her and I thank God every single (expletive) day that He told me to pick that phone up," Corbett told the OBF blog Tuesday. "She was her typical funny self. She 'had' to purchase 10 pairs of Dallas Stars tickets for the next semester. I laughed because she said: 'That's' an emergency, isn't it?' Then she said. 'Dad, I miss the Bruins so much.' She couldn't wait to get home so she could go to some games."
The Bruins were battling for first place at the time, but Kristen was not convinced that the Cup drought would end in 2010. "I told her the Bruins look awesome this year and thought they could win the Cup. The last words she ever spoke to me were: 'Dad they won't win the Cup this year, but if they can pick up a couple of key players in the offseason, they will win it in 2011.'"
Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand (elevated to full-time status starting in 2010-11 after playing 22 games the previous season) fulfilled her prophetic destiny.
Corbett (center), Ed Fitzgerald of Wilmington and several friends from a group that first coalesced during their days at Westfield State in the 1980s, spent a total of $8,500 to sit in Suite A of the CONSOL Energy Center Saturday when the Bruins beat the Penguins 3-0.
It was the latest stop on what they have termed their "No Regrets Tour."
Not your typical hockey road trip. Not your typical journey of how it began.
Kirsten Corbett was killed in a car accident a few hours after that conversation with her dad on Dec. 10, 2009.
She was an organ donor. Her story may be familiar. Corbett's family met the recipient of her heart last year when they hosted a race in Billerica to fund a scholarship in Kristen's honor. The race drew a large crowd and local media coverage. WBZ -TV was also there for their emotional meeting at Logan Airport.
From incomprehensible loss to unimaginable joy.
Such is the gift of organ donation.
The ultimate "Pay It Forward."
"He took a tragedy and turned it into something great," Fitzgerald said. "That's why we are all 'on tour' living with no regrets."
- Watch Tuukka Rask pitch a shutout against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla during the playoffs in Pittsburgh.
Cross that one off the Bucket List.
While the Bruins made Kristen (right) out to be a hockey genius and won the Stanley Cup, her dad's life continued a down-slide after her death. Glenn Corbett's 25-year marriage ended in divorce last July after a two-year separation. A "terrific" battle with depression and a re-hab stint in California followed. "I decided to, as it was said in 'Shawshank Redemption' to get busy living," he said.
"Eddy an I decided that we have only 10 real good years left, where we are going to simply go on a rip, party like f'k'n rock stars, and live ... be on tour with no regrets."
Saturday's trip to Pittsburgh was just another step in their belief in "living for today" and "paying it forward."
"My girl was gone in a second, instant death. That could happen to anyone. I refuse to not do something I wish I could have done anymore. And if others do not like that about me, so be it," Corbett said.
Corbett and Fitzgerald's group tried to get as many of their Westfield State pals to go to Pittsburgh as possible. When that didn't work out, the group "kidnapped" two outsiders after meeting them at Pittsburgh restaurant. The lucky "victims" found themselves sitting in Suite A at Game 1, along with all they could eat and drink, for free.
"Paying It Forward. And we let them know that was all we asked in return, that they go out and pay it forward. Imagine if everyone did that every single day around the world just like the movie. What a groovy world we would be living in," Corbett said.
The group in Pittsburgh included from far left: Fitzgerald, Justin "The Kidnapped Bartender", Corbett, Danny Rao, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Paul Frazer and Milton (no last name provided). Milton, who as friend of the some of the group, was the second "kidnapping" victim.
Why do this? "These guys I met in college have given me so much joy, fun, and happiness over three decades" he said. "But more importantly, when my daughter died these mother-(expletives) were there every single day for me, and still are. Their wives came over and cooked, cleaned and took my kids shopping. The guys took my youngest son to his hockey games when I couldn't get out of my own way." Corbett and his ex-wife had four children.
Corbett's confidence in the Bruins only got stronger in Pittsburgh and said he stopped watching the game after the first period. "No need to. You ain't scoring four goals on Rask this year in a game. No (bleeping) way. And if anyone thinks that Pitt can come back and beat him four out of five, they are smoking some real groovy (expletive) and I want some."
One of the greatest feelings one can have as a sports fan is being there when your team wins a road playoff game. Those who were in the Bronx or St. Louis in 2004 know better than anyone. Being a Boston fan away from Boston during the postseason isn't always easy (See: Game 7, 2008 ALCS, Tropicana Field), but it's always worth it (See: Super Bowl XXXIX, Jacksonville).
Fitzgerald and Corbett's group - who were photographed here in a Boston.Com Game 1 photo gallery with four kids from New Hampshire - fully embraced their opportunity as Road Warriors.
They even had signage hanging from the suite's railing, drawn by Corbett on a torn hotel pillow, that offered their itinerary in Master Card style.
"Plane Tics From Boston - $350
Hotel Room - $400
Club Suite A - $8,500
Game 1 victory in PITT - Priceless"
Fans did not have to go Pittsburgh and spend nearly $10,000 to dish out abuse first-hand. One enterprising fan needed just a cell phone and few drinks before he called a bar in Pittsburgh and asked for "Owen" - as in 0-2.
Great stuff, but not nearly as much as as being there.
"We were pretty loud. I would have hated us if I were someone else," Fitzgerald said.
No doubt, but that was Pittsburgh's problem.
The Friday after the Boston Marathon bombing, Fitzgerald (@Hossenator) gained some fleeting game after he Tweeted a photo of the surviving bombing suspect being apprehended in Watertown by police. The image went viral, was used by multiple news agencies and confirmed to be legitimate. Several websites mistakenly credited Fitzgerald as a member of Boston Police Department.
"I got the photo from a friend. I'm in the energy business," he said.
There was no energy shortage in Suite A Saturday. The "Let's Go Bruins!" chants began as soon as the doors opened.
"We didn't stop our chants as the place filled up and got the dirtiest looks from fans. I've never seen fans seem so nervous before a game. They had no sense of humor about us trying to engage them in friendly sports banter," Fitzgerald said.
The fun continued as Game 1 rolled toward its inevitable conclusion.
"With about three minutes left, the Pens fans start heading for the exits," Fitzgerald explained. "We start getting on them, and a few fans played along with us saying its a long series and such, but there were many who were genuinely pissed. Our sign was ripped down at least three times by Penguins fans, but the usher there would get it back for us."
"When the Bruins twisted the knife that was already embedded in Pitt's back with their third goal, those so-called great, die-hard Penguins fans started exiting the building. They got a very nice bird's eye view of my art work. You should have seen the faces, priceless," Corbett added.
Then, you guessed it, things got ugly.
"We scoped out the few Bruins fans who were there and cheered and high-fived them from the suite. All of a sudden we see this woman in her 50's come walking over within earshot of us wearing a (puke blue) Pens jersey, 87 of course, and she says 'that marathon bomb shoulda' killed all of you.' We yelled back at her that she was going to Hell and was a horrible human. The usher right there was in shock and told the coward to leave the building, which she was doing anyway," Fitzgerald said.
No. 87, of course.
"I told her to get some anger management classes," Corbett said. "To the credit of the surrounding fans and the ushers, she was lambasted."
Boston fully lambasted Pittsburgh, winning the first two games by a combined 9-1 score.
It was a pair of Rassk-kickings.
Things got so quiet during Game 2 Monday, you could hear players calling out line changes on the ice while watching the game on TV. There are Mite games in the Quincy Youth Hockey league that have better crowds than the Penguins had Monday, and better goaltending.
That will not be a problem in Boston on Wednesday.
Corbett, a Bruins season ticket holder for about 10 years, spent Tuesday cruising around Boston on his motorcycle "checking on job sites" while wearing his custom-made No. 18 John Wensink jersey. "I was about to stop my season tickets because the Bruins sucked. But when we got Chara, and Kristen said: 'Dad, you have to keep them because Chara is going to win us the Cup.' She was 14 or 15 at the time. Of course I kept them because I never could say no to the 'Queen Bee."'
Corbett never used the actual 2011 playoff tickets he received via FedEx, instead using tickets accessible on-line. "I refused to open the package. I knew the Bruins would win the Cup that year because of my baby's last words to me. I didn't watch or go to any of the games at all, except Game 6 in Boston against Vancouver."
At that game, Corbett met a woman, named Debbie, who "mesmerized" him. "She has been so unselfish in helping me with getting through the negativity that was surrounding me for so long. Of course we won that game. I couldn't tell you what the score was or scored the goals. But I knew Game 7 was already a done deal for sure."
Eventually, Corbett got all four sets of his unused playoff tickets signed by every player on the 2010-11 Cup team. Another story for another day.
Corbett said he plans to be his seats in Section 8 at TD Garden Wednesday night for Game 3 and, dare we even say it, a possible Bruins sweep in Game 4.
"Something changed in the last 10 minutes during that Game 7 against Toronto," Fitzgerald said. "I think it's destiny. It's a tremendous lift to this city. Every casual sports fan is a Bruins fan now! It's great!"
"We will be going to Games 3 and 4, for sure," Corbett added. "There won't be a Game 5. And when the B's close it out, we will be looking for tickets to either LA or Chicago. Why not? We are (bleeping) 'on tour."
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