Trust in Boston.
Having lived in New England my entire life, I was thrilled when the guys from Trust & Tradition asked me to write about the hockey team that’s closest to my heart: the Boston Bruins. A graphic designer by day and sports nut by night (sports nut by day too I suppose, if you count the rally towels and pennants surrounding my desk), my second job being hockey fan has given me some of my fondest and most heartbreaking memories. As a Bruins fan, last season was mostly just heartbreaking.
For the first time since 2007, the Bruins missed the playoffs, finishing the regular season with the most points in franchise history from a non-playoff team. The loss of key players like Johnny Boychuk and ill-timed slumps of the team’s offensive leaders resulted in being pushed outside the playoff structure by one point, leaving the players, front office and fans grasping for straws and looking for answers. The city of Boston certainly knew the summer of 2015 would be one of change for the Bruins organization, but what said change would be, no one was sure.
With General Manager Peter Chiarelli being shown the door (to no one’s surprise), fans eagerly awaited what his successor, Don Sweeney, would do to revitalize the team into some resemblance of the group that won the Cup in 2011. While Boston fans are some of the most passionate and resilient out there (disclaimer: I’m a bit biased), the recent successes of all four major teams in the city has created somewhat of an impatient “what have you done for me lately” mentality; the fans expects to win, and we expect it now. That being said, Sweeney’s first major transaction of the summer didn’t sit well with most Bruins fans who were eagerly awaiting a blockbuster trade for the spark we so desperately needed in the locker room.
Well, finding that spark didn’t immediately happen. Instead, Sweeney shipped future star defenseman Dougie Hamilton off to Calgary for a bag of pucks (just kidding, but close), a seemingly nonsensical move that further compromised the Bruins’ already-depleted D-core. Milan Lucic subsequently got flipped to LA for Martin Jones (who started this season helping the Sharks to four straight wins, might I add) and Colin Miller, a trade which also gave the Bruins three consecutive first-round draft picks… all whom would go on to fail the conditioning test in camp. Reassuring. Overall, this summer seemed like a big ol’ letdown for Bruins fans, and dreams of a bounceback season with legitimate playoff changes seemed distant. Let’s not forget though, Boston fans did wait 40 years between Stanley Cups, and hope for this season is not entirely lost.
Photo: Boston Bruins
Trust in Boston. So, what does that mean? It means that despite all the skepticism and criticism of the Bruins’ puzzling offseason, as fans, we have to believe that somehow it’ll all work out in the end. The Bruins certainly started off the season rough, dropping their first three games for the first time in over a decade, further fueling the fire of media critics and restless fans. But despite the sloppy and injury-laden start, we’ve seen plenty of positives come out of this season early on. The youngest member of the Bruins, David Pastrnak, is showing no signs of slowing down from his dazzling rookie debut, and newcomers Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes are already making their presence felt. With early injuries to (arguably the team’s only) veteran defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, younger blueliners like Torey Krug and Kevan Miller have had the opportunity to shine, as have recent AHL call-ups like Tyler Randell, Tommy Cross and Ryan Spooner. In net, Rask seems to be settling back into his old ways after a rough start against Winnipeg, and Jonas Gustavsson looked strong in the Bs’ win against Colorado, giving Rask a valuable break and Bruins fans some piece of mind.
Now I’m not promising another duck boat parade for the Bs just yet, but with a new GM and a handful of new faces and young players ready to step up, we have to trust that the kinks will work themselves out in time. This isn’t the big, bad Bruins team that we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent years, but this group shows a lot of heart and promise. The new and young players seem eager to prove themselves, and once the team chemistry develops and systems fall into place, this Bruins team will be an exciting one to watch––and hopefully contenders for a playoff spot.
In 2011 during the most recent Stanley Cup run, the Bruins stenciled spoked Bs with the word “believe” on windows and sidewalks all around the city, reminding fans to have faith in the team along their way to winning the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup. Let’s remind ourselves now to keep up that faith and believe in the Bruins. They may not be close to bringing home another Cup just yet, but trust in the system––we’ll get there. After all, that’s what being a fan is all about.