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Something big is Bruin

Posted by Charles P. Pierce December 4, 2008 05:59 AM

Look around the office. Take note of all the Bruins fans. You know who they are. Of course you do. They're easy to pick out. We're not going to tell you how right here, lest we fall into gross and easy ó and generally accurate ó cultural stereotypes, but look around. I mean, you just know, right?

Now, watch. Iím going to make some heads explode.

Just, boom! Like in Scanners.


Here we go.

Last Saturday night, the Bruins played the most signifying regular-season hockey game theyíve played in this town since half-past olí Dutch Reagan. The way you can measure the fervor of any individual event is to measure the radius of its presence around the arena. So, it meant a great deal that there were men walking along lower Storrow Drive, a quarter-mile from the rink, as we say, with small cardboard signs that read, ďNeed tickets.Ē It also meant a great deal that Sullivanís Tap, that last great monument to old-school North Station, was packed to its narrow gunwales an hour before the game began. It also meant a great deal to see all that black-and-gold moving in a great current down Causeway Street. Now, given whatís gone on with the hockey team since the end of the Craig Janney era, itís not surprising that, for quite a few of the fans, their gear hasnít yet caught up with their enthusiasm. But a lot of them did the best they could, grabbing whatever was black and gold out of the laundry pile and tossing it on, hoping nobody would notice. I saw at least three high-school jerseys with the Bruin color scheme, and two black T-shirts bearing the logo of Sun Records in Memphis. Elvis lives! And heís skating on the third line.

And then I saw the little girl.

And this is where you might want to discreetly lower a dropcloth over your workspace, lest your keyboard get jammed with cerebellum shrapnel.

She was wearing a regulation Bruins jersey. The spoked-B model. The design was impeccable.

And it was pink.


OK, as the cleaning crew starts moving around, mopping up the stray corpus callosum that found its way into the out box, letís all understand that the Pinkification of Sports has become very important to the various manly men who follow sports for a living. This is most obvious in the case of the people who wear the pink caps to Red Sox games, and are treated often as though theyíve wandered into the papal digs dressed like Hannah Montana. There also has been something of a run on pink Tom Brady jerseys, which has caused the football cognoscenti to mumble darkly into their cigars. No matter. It is now obvious that, the pinker your sport, the better your team is performing. So now there are pink Bruins jerseys.

You know what that means?

It means you might just have the best team in the NHL here, thatís what it means.

Make no mistake. The defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings came to town on Saturday night, a team thatís won as many Stanley Cups since 1997 as the Bruins have won since before World War II. Detroit got off to a careering start, outshooting the Bruins, 6-0, over the first three minutes of the game as Boston looked very much as if it was surprised that the big kids had shown up to play. Then, midway through a Detroit power play, Zdeno Chara absolutely leveled one of the Red Wings in the left corner, and from that point on, the defending champions simply werenít good enough. The 4-1 final was every inch a perfect measure of how much better the Bruins were. If the Patriots had put this kind of whoop-ass on the Steelers in the weekendís other biggest game, a lot of our local sporty punditocracy would be on the moon by now.

Of course, the average Bruins fan may not want to hear this, and Milan Lucic is already wicked populah for his haymakahs, but this is a remarkably skilled two-way hockey team. The team and its fans have a problematic history with thugs and hooligans. In the get-the-crowd-charged-up video that precedes every game, the Bruins show the famous 1979 episode in which the team went into the stands in Madison Square Garden. (NESN correspondent Mike Milbury can be seeing belaboring one guy with his own shoe.) Say what you will, I donít think the Indiana Pacers are using the video of their brawl at the Palace as a marketing tool. Of course, the devotion for those Don Cherry teams always has been one of the more mystifying local phenomena since, at the biggest moment of his coaching life, good olí Grapes proved unable to count to six. And this team is nothing like that team. This team is tough, but it can skate, and this team can shoot. The Bruinsí second goal, which Phil Kessel snapped past Detroit goalie Ty Conklin off a cycle play at the left point, was pretty enough to make any highlight film from the Oilers of the 1980s or the Canadiens of a decade earlier. And the crowd afterward was pure 1960s, joyful and noisy and wandering around North Station, not wanting to go home, and you could hear the bandwagon, and it sounded an awful lot like the rattle of an old elevated train.

OT columnist Charles P. Pierce is a Boston Globe Magazine staff writer.

45 comments so far...
  1. Yyyyyyes Charlie. Hear hear. I'll raise one to yah at Sully's, bud.

    Posted by Cam 4 Evah December 4, 08 08:41 AM
  1. Hey Chuck,

    Welcome to the Bruins bandwagon. Did you get your pink hat when you jumped on board? Why don't you just stick to wearing god awful suits and debating Bob Ryan on that show no one watches. No one cares what you think about the Bruins.

    Posted by Tardo Ricardo December 4, 08 09:12 AM
  1. All Aboard, Boston. We're in for a ride. This Bruins team is something special and is set to make serious impact on this city's recent snub of the sport of hockey. To the cynical pundits who have mocked us since the lockout, saying hockey isn't a "major sport", I almost don't even want you on this bandwagon. This spring, as the Bruins enter the NHL playoffs as a favored contender, I want you all to note how truly unique and special the sport of hockey is. No other sport has such a notable jump in level of play from regular season to playoffs, as does the NHL. The common sports phrase, "leaving it all out on the field" doesn't even do it justice. Playoff hockey is, hands down, the most electrifying experience in sports entertainment.

    Posted by Don't Stephane Yelle at me! December 4, 08 10:19 AM
  1. What a great column. It really touches how special this team is right now.

    Posted by Ryan December 4, 08 10:29 AM

    Posted by Geoff December 4, 08 10:33 AM
  1. As usual, Charlie, great article. Love the connection to the Foxboro entry of our sports scene. Let's hope the younger players can hold up for the full schedule.
    The only missing piece is a stud scorer who makes the other goalies afraid. Manny and a young player, draft pick for ? Other than that, do they stay the course.

    Posted by Richard Fielding December 4, 08 11:09 AM
  1. So what if it was pink? A Fan is a Fan! She's lucky she gets to go to the games. I can't find affordable tickets for any B's weekend matinee at all

    Posted by Jeff December 4, 08 12:01 PM
  1. If I remember, last year around this time you wrote a column about the Bruins having no fans, and if you rooted for the B's, you were a fool. Pick an opinion and stick to it. Oh wait, you're a sportswriter in Boston. You don't have the guts to.

    Posted by Chris December 4, 08 12:08 PM
  1. Hey Charlie,
    "Both of us" Bruins fans knew then that the team, the management and the organization were headed in the right direction. It's a shame after last season's 5-2 start that you decided to write about us poor B's fans instead of actually watching the team and realizing the changes that the front office had put in place and blogging about that. You and Bobby Ryan had a blast dissing them on Globe 10.0 as well last year. Honestly, maybe if you fessed up to being a pick hat too, this would fly. And "Both of us" B's fans don't need or want you on our bandwagon . Have a nice day!

    Posted by Hawgood_38 December 4, 08 12:26 PM
  1. Great article! Being a Bruins fan for so many years, it's nice that they are being noticed again.

    Posted by Pat M December 4, 08 12:37 PM
  1. bruins fans are too busy enjoying their team to worry about what color jerseys the girls are wearing. Now if the team or the male fan base started wearing pink spoked B's maybe that would be worth an article.

    I must have missed the paragraph where you confess to jumping on the 'lets write about the bruins bandwagon'

    Posted by matty December 4, 08 01:03 PM
  1. It's a well written story overall, but if I'm looking for an opinion about the Boston Bruins, I'll rely on Fluto or KPD, someone with a little credence for real Bruins and not just the bandwagon jumpers. They've suffered along with us these years, and they understood that a resurgence like this was on the way, so their opnion counts for something, unlike yours.

    Posted by Ray December 4, 08 01:17 PM
  1. What about voting for the Bruin's for the All-Star team. It seems that many fans are not voting, since the Bruin's have not received many votes.

    Posted by susan December 4, 08 01:27 PM
  1. It's great to see the Bruins playing well. I'm still a little reluctant to envision them playing in the Stanley Cup final but you never know. I choose to take the "cautious optimistic" approach and see how it all plays out. I do agree that the Bruins have a fine coach who seems to get the most of his players and the GM has done a good job in building this team. Keep it going Bruins and hockey will be back on the map in Beantown. Remember what winning did to the former moribund franchises the C's and Pats. You can't get a ticket and it would be nice to see that problem again for the Bruins. Go Bruins!

    Posted by Brent December 4, 08 01:49 PM
  1. You know how I know the Bruins are getting Huge? I was walking around looking for tickets two hours before with my girl and tickets were $100 for bleachers and the scalper APOLOGIZED to me. Amazing.

    Posted by Derek December 4, 08 02:24 PM
  1. Like was mentioned above, playoff hockey is BY FAR the most exciting time in sports, you can't beat the electric atmospheres in every building across the league. All the fans band together, most last season wore the same color for each game, if you haven't experienced a playoff hockey game you are missing out. I'll say it again, game 6 last year was easily the most amazing hockey game I've ever been to and I've been to a lot. I can't wait to see where this season leads and hear the garden roaring again.

    Posted by Mike December 4, 08 02:26 PM
  1. As nice as it is to read such a positive and hopeful article about the Bruins, I have to agree with some of the "Bandwagon" sentiment here.

    I'm so sick and tired of hearing all the "What's Hockey?" .. "It's November, did you know the NHL season started a month ago?" .. and the general dismissal of hockey as a legitimate sport in the US jokes.. I don't understand why the "mainstream" sports writers feel the need to mock it. If you don't follow the sport, fine - but why does that necessitate mocking it as well?

    The ridiculous level that the Sox Worship has gotten to in this town is sickening. The sports writers have been eating it up because they know they have a huge built in audience for their work.. So, while the kings are getting fat, mock the peasants. Now that the peasants are uprising, the kings are acting if nothing of the sort ever happened.

    It's duplicitous, at best, and downright cowardly at worst. Pick on the weak - as long as they remain weak - until they become strong and then sycophantically praise them and jump on their coattails.

    It's not the sport these writers enjoy - it's the winners. They're all Frontrunners, with a captial F !

    Posted by Ed S. December 4, 08 02:31 PM
  1. Thanks, Charles. Thanks for telling true Bruins fans what they already know. How many articles did you write last season about the Bruins? Oh. Really. Thanks for being a bandwagon reporter. You're a joke.

    Posted by Su Madre December 4, 08 02:53 PM
  1. //You and Bobby Ryan had a blast dissing them on Globe 10.0 as well last year.//

    Last year? Try last month! It was all, "Oh, isn't the cute, the widdle Bruins are actually winning some games. Maybe they can actually hope to be relevant, though probably not." and then there was "Don't you worry about Patrice Bergeron? I do!" Uh, no, Charlie, we don't. He may be pretty, but he's also pretty damn tough.

    And what the heck is this? "Of course, the average Bruins fan may not want to hear this, and Milan Lucic is already wicked populah for his haymakahs, but this is a remarkably skilled two-way hockey team."

    What, the average Bruins fan is a kuckle-dragger who cares only about fights and not skills? I mean geez, condescend much?

    i wish once, just once, some Boston media person would stand up and say they were dead wrong, and they're a band wagon jumper. AND give credit to those of us who had faith.

    Posted by duinne December 4, 08 02:58 PM
  1. Anyone who saw the heart that the B's took into the playoffs last year knew that this team had grown enough to be special this year. Like the Celtics of '07-'08, I just don't think anyone saw them becoming this good this quickly.

    After so many years of languishing under the Sinden/Jacobs "fill the stands while keeping a merely mediocre product on the ice" philosophy, I am glad that the B's have finally gotten their act together. My first sports memories were of Brad Park and Raymond Bourque playing. The 80's were magical for me and 1989-90 was simply out of this world (I still hate Glen Wesley). The disappointments of losing Neely and then firing Sutter and giving the team he always wanted to Kasper the Friendly Coach were almost more than I could bear. But I will always bleed black and gold. Before anything else.

    To have to wait this long to get back to not just respectability, but to be zeroing in on a championship possibility for the first time in nearly 20 years is unreal. But if they can pull this off, it is going to be amazing. I will bring my 1 year old (by that time) to the parade. :o)

    Go B's!!!

    Posted by mixjuan December 4, 08 03:00 PM
  1. Hey Charlie, thanks for the nice comments, Me and the boys at Sully's always like free advertising!!! GO B's!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Sully's Tap December 4, 08 03:01 PM
  1. I thought it was Terry O'Reilly that beat the guy with a shoe?

    Posted by Dave December 4, 08 03:07 PM
  1. Being from Quebec city and a Bruins fan forever, I am so delighted to be able to talk hockey with the Canadians fans around here... As you can imagine, they are really low profile compare to the previous years...! Go Bruins Go!

    Posted by Jean December 4, 08 03:10 PM
  1. EH, Hockey still sucks..

    Posted by Bobby December 4, 08 03:15 PM
  1. You didn't go to Sully's after the game though, did ya!

    Posted by bb79 December 4, 08 03:22 PM
  1. Boston is a hockey town first. We now have a team to get behind and root for.

    Posted by Bill M December 4, 08 03:34 PM
  1. "Collectively, [Bruins are] the last repository of legitimate public misery that the Boston sports fan has."
    Charles P. Pierce, October 21, 2007

    Posted by kp December 4, 08 04:24 PM
  1. i'm happy the b's are doing well & this may be a seperate subject...but why do people wear so much red sox apparel to bruins games? i was @ the b's/flyers game last season in philly & ran into these 2 guys wearing sox jersey's & hats & everytime time i'm @ msg for the b's/rangers i see the same nonsense. one guy actually got up & chanted "lets go red sox" as a counter to the rangers fans "let's go ranger's" chant. i'm a sox fan as well, but when the sox season ends...it end's. i've got a great collection of bruins jersey's that i wear proudly...just not to red six games out of respect to the team i'm there to see.

    for me the bandwagon nonsense started when someone emailed me a post about the b's on the dirtdogs site. that site it infested with johnny come lately's.

    Posted by anthony Ventolieri December 4, 08 04:27 PM
  1. As a Bruins season ticket holder, word of advice, we Bruins fans aren't like your Red Sox fans. If you aren't going to be fully invested in this team then don't come out, don't watch and don't support this team because we don't want you. It's already bad enough watching what happened to the Celtics in regards to fans last year and I'm not about to let the Garden on Tues/Thurs/Sat nights turn into Pink Hat Fenway Winter.....

    Posted by Nick December 4, 08 04:38 PM
  1. @susan

    That may be the case, but at least what votes Savvy, Patrice and Z have were cast legitimately... That's gotta count for something.

    I'm looking at you, Quebec!

    Posted by Tardo Ricardo December 4, 08 04:42 PM
  1. Dave,
    Milbury beat the guy with his shoe.

    Posted by Joed December 4, 08 05:45 PM
  1. //I thought it was Terry O'Reilly that beat the guy with a shoe?//

    God no. That's one of Milbury's greatest claims to fame.

    //"Collectively, [Bruins are] the last repository of legitimate public misery that the Boston sports fan has."
    Charles P. Pierce, October 21, 2007//

    Well played.

    When Chiarelli came in, he had some serious rebuilding work to do, and relying on young players for a serious part of the solution was going to take time. Some fans (many? most?) are extremely impatient, and most members of the media know little about hockey and dismissed players such as Wideman, Kessel and Krejci as non-factors.

    Serious fans could see those young players, with good coaching and game experience (and a good farm system) coming into their own as last season progressed, culminating with the "surprise" in the playoffs. Anyone with a bit of hockey knowledge (or common sense) had to realize that the improvement was going to continue, especially after the Bruins shed the dead weight of a Glen Murray and added a young stud in Blake Wheeler, not to mention the return of Patrice Bergeron.

    Posted by duinne December 4, 08 05:45 PM
  1. Jacobs = Failure.

    Get ready for another 1 and done.

    Posted by stillallbost08 December 4, 08 06:54 PM
  1. duinne - you're exactly right. Well said. The Murray situation was a microcosm of all the previous problems... the old management kept too many slow, old guys around because of their 'name' - and made too many 'big name' free agent signings in the offseasons (care for a cup of Paul Coffey, anyone?)...

    But Murray should've been traded two seasons ago - or even thrown in with Thornton (i think that was 3 years ago, now?). Once Joe left town, Murray couldn't be bothered and it was clearly evident. Yet the "Pros" that cover sports in this town still thought he was one of the top Bruins players...

    The old management were afraid to get worse before getting better, so they kept plugging holes to try and stay afloat (8th - or even 9th in the East was good enough)... Chiarelli had a new lease on the Bruins' life and took advantage of it.

    He made some good trades to get younger and some of their draft picks from the past few years are actually still here! A change from the O'Connell years when they were inevitably packaged up for some aging "super star"... Check the rosters around the league. There are easily half a dozen to 10 guys that are producing on other teams that were drafted by the Bruins in the past 5 years.

    Anyway... The Bruins are a good team; let's not let the bandwagoners ruin a good party. Let's go Bs!

    Posted by Ed S. December 4, 08 06:59 PM
  1. I don't care if fans and sportswriters do come in on the bandwagon. For me it's Red Sox in the summer and Bruins in the winter, and up to now, I've felt kind of alone come fall.

    I want more print coverage of the Bruins, more talk on sports radio, I want to be able to ask my friends, "how 'bout them Bruins" and not have them look at me like I'm nuts. Without fans, we just aren't going to get any of that.

    Elizabeth (pink hatless)

    Posted by Elizabeth December 4, 08 11:53 PM
  1. What the hell is a cycle play at the left point? I've played hockey my whole life and have no idea how you cycle to the point.

    Posted by Anonymous December 5, 08 01:02 AM

    Posted by Onion December 5, 08 04:58 AM
  1. Thank you, Ed. But to be fair to Murray, I don't think it was so much that he couldn't be bothered; I think injuries hobbled him tremendously. He should have just called it quits, but I can understand that's a difficult thing for a pro athlete to do, especially a hockey player.

    At any rate, it's interesting to see how the Bruins and Red Sox are starting to resemble each other in their building on a foundation of their own draft choices and farm systems. And in their success in doing so.

    Posted by duinne December 5, 08 10:43 AM
  1. Bandwagon.
    Chances are the B's won't win the cup this year, but for those of us who follow the boys through thick AND thin, we are going to enjoy every minute of what has been built in Boston.
    F Montreal.

    Posted by OffensiveName December 5, 08 12:51 PM
  1. AH! (clean up in cube 42 please!) The only thing I will admit is that I am female sports fan (Bruins fan since 1984, thanks Dad, its your fault)... however I am one of those sports fans that believes you should only be wearing the team colors (few exceptions apply, St Patty's Day, cancer awareness, ect) Mostly I would be caught DEAD in anything PINK! They do not wear these on game day so neither will I! Bring on the Wham bam thank you Cam and or Andy Moog throwback jersey!
    I will also mention that its hard for a female sports fan because I'm constantly defending my fan hood ... Never call me a pink hat!

    Posted by bruinsgal84 December 5, 08 04:11 PM
  1. //What the hell is a cycle play at the left point? I've played hockey my whole life and have no idea how you cycle to the point. //

    Simple - and the Bruins had a perfect example the other night on their power play. To "cycle" means basically to drop the puck to a teammate while you're on a (circular) move to get yourself open. The other night, I believe it was Kessel who zipped around the net, dropping the puck to Savard, who was on the move up the boards, who passed it to the point. Think of the players in a constant, "cycling" movement - makes it nearly impossible to defend.

    And as for "pink hats" or bandwagon fans or whatever you want to call them; I do get annoyed with fans who jump BACK on the bandwagon when a team does well, but if you're a new fan - hey, we all started following hockey sometime, didn't we? If someone discovers hockey and the Bruins because of their success, what's the problem with that?

    And my God, if a little girl wants to wear a pink shirt, who the hell cares? If a little girl is enjoying a hockey game, I say, great.


    Posted by duinne December 6, 08 09:33 AM
  1. I think its great that women and girls of all ages enjoy wearing sports jerseys no matter what color they are. I think it widens the fan base more. Both of my daughters have Patriots jerseys. The're not pink, but my oldest (4 yrs) loves to wear hers, Corey Dillon. My youngest (7 months) has Brushci. My wife even has one, her favorite Willie Mcginnist. I have a Troy Brown one. We took a family photo before with all our jerseys on. So Rock On Ladies with your sports apparel whether its pink or not, hey your a fan enjoy it !!!!!!!

    Posted by Michael Belmonte December 8, 08 02:35 PM
  1. i have no issue with any female fan of any age wearing a pink bruins jersey or hat...but i would be bummed to see a female wearing a pink red sox hat to a bruins game. please leave your sox gear home...go bruins!!!

    Posted by ant December 9, 08 04:43 PM
  1. What an utterly disingenuous article from a man who last fall wrote a most scathing and viciously insulting column on the pathetic nature of the Bruins, and most egregious, the loyalty of the hardcore Bruins fan.

    Posted by crowder18 December 10, 08 08:10 AM
  1. Guys,
    The bars around the Garden have ALWAYS been packed before game time. There has ALWAYS been an hour wait for a table at the Fours if you ask after 5:45 on Game Night. Even in recent years. there were ALWAYS throngs (albeit smaller) of black and gold swarming Canal St. And there have ALWAYS been Bruins bumper stickers on the back of trucks and SUVs across Rt. 128.

    The thing is, people like you haven't noticed till recently. Because you've been MIA, preoccupied with our Sox, Pats and Celts.

    Now, I'm all about the bandwagon. As a lifelong B's fan, I say, the more the merrier. But don't make it out to be like us loyal bruins fans haven't been there all along.

    Posted by V December 21, 08 11:34 PM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
Tony Massarotti is a Boston Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. He is currently spotlighted as a featured columnist on Boston.com.
Tom Caron serves as studio host for NESN's Boston Red Sox coverage.
Bob Lobel was a WBZ-TV sportscaster for 29 years, anchoring more than 10,000 sports reports.
Chad Finn is a sports reporter at the Globe and founder of the Touching All The Bases blog. Before joining the Globe, he was an award winning columnist at the Concord Monitor.

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