LAS VEGAS -- Dave Bolland planned for what for him is a normal summer day Tuesday by heading to the gym for a workout and then undergoing a physiotherapy session on his rehabbing left ankle.
At some point, however, Bolland would take a moment to click on a video on Youtube and relive perhaps the greatest moment of his hockey career that occurred one year ago when he scored the winning goal of the Blackhawks’ 2013 Stanley Cup.
It was June 24, 2013, when the veteran center batted in a rebound of a Johnny Oduya shot just 17 seconds after Bryan Bickell had pulled the Hawks into a 2-2 tie with the Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Bolland’s goal gave the Hawks their second Cup in four years and made a childhood dream a reality.
“Every kid scores a goal like that in their minds or out on the street playing hockey with their friends,” Bolland told the Tribune via phone from London, Ontario. “They all go through that moment of wanting to score that kind of goal. It happened to me.
“Scoring that goal and having a second Stanley Cup under our belt was a big moment,” Bolland added. “You look back and see what we went through, it was a long playoffs and series but it was fun.”
Bolland knew the anniversary was approaching and has been “remembering the good times that we had.”
The best time was when that bouncing puck found Bolland’s stick just outside of the left post and he batted it past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
“It came in the slot to me after Oduya shot it,” Bolland reminisced. “It bounced off someone in front and came to me in front and I just had to put it in the back of the net.”
The score with 58.3 seconds remaining touched off a raucous celebration on the ice and on the Hawks’ bench. It included Bolland flipping both gloves into the air before teammates surrounded him.
“Throw the gloves off,” Bolland said with a laugh. “I thought the game was over.”
A short time later, it was and the now-28-year-old’s place in Hawks lore was cemented.
Even before Bolland’s name was engraved on the Cup for the second time after also playing a key role in the Hawks’ run to the 2010 championship, he was sent to the Maple Leafs in a trade to alleviate salary-cap space. It was a move that Bolland understands.
“It’s a business,” he said. “To get that one with that tight group with (Brent) Seabrook, (Patrick) Sharp, (Jonathan) Toews, (Patrick) Kane and a few other guys that were from that first Stanley Cup run, you guys grow up together. From prospect camps and training camps and to have won two Cups with them was a huge thing. But it’s a business getting traded. It’s one of those things you go through in your career. You’re not going to be in the same spot for a long time usually.”
After a difficult 203-14 season with the Leafs during which he appeared in only 23 games because of a serious injury after a tendon in his ankle was severed by a skate blade, Bolland is an unrestricted free agent.
“My deal is up,” Bolland said. “For myself coming back (last season), I don’t think I was 100 percent. I wanted to get back to help my team get into the playoffs. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us. Right now, I’m just trying to get a deal done with Toronto. I want to stay a Leaf and be a Leaf until my career is done. That’s one thing I want to do. But if we can’t get anything done, I’m an UFA and there are teams out there that could come after me.”
Any thought of one of returning to the Hawks, who are on a perpetual hunt for center help?
“That, I don’t know,” Bolland said with a chuckle. “We’ll have to see what happens. I’d have to think about it.”
Until he does sign, Bolland is concentrating on getting his ankle and leg back to 100 percent.
“I’m still working on it,” he said. “It’s getting my strength back in my thigh and my calf. I lost a lot of leg strength in my calf and thigh. It was all gone and I don’t have that strength to take care of that ankle. Now, the ankle is fine, it’s great. When the end of summer rolls around, I’ll be 100 percent.”
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