Who would have though a decade ago that the Bruins, who saw themselves finish in the Northeast Division basement in back-to-back years after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, would have climbed to within 10 percent of catching the Red Sox for fan popularity among Boston’s major sports teams?
In a survey conducted by Channel Media & Market Research, 21 percent of fans polled said that the Bruins were their favorite Boston sports team, just nine percent behind the Red Sox at 30 percent.
The results of the survey first appeared in the Boston Herald and show that many consecutive years of strong, competitive hockey, including two Stanley Cup Final appearances over the past four seasons with one title, have pulled the B’s closer to the Sox, who failed to win a playoff game from 2009-12 before winning it all last year.
Both teams, however, finished well behind the clear winner of the survey, the New England Patriots, who grabbed an impressive 42 percent.
The Bruins finish is encouraging for hockey fans looking for more recognition for their sport, which has always seemed to sit in the back of the “Major Four” North American sports behind football, baseball, and basketball.
The B’s have made the playoffs in every year since Claude Julien took over head coaching duties in 2007-08, and only twice in that span did they fail to qualify for at least the second round. They have also seen true stars come through the city, with Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, and Tim Thomas racking up individual NHL awards in addition to the remarkable run in 2011 that saw the team erase a 39-year Stanley Cup title drought.
Other interesting numbers compiled by the survey show that 14 percent of fans named Rusney Castillo as the player Sox fans would most like the team to acquire, while Giancarlo Stanton garnered four percent of the vote. Just three percent of fans thought the decision to trade Jon Lester was a good one, while the same number approved of the Pats’ decision to not re-sign Wes Welker.