(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. First up: It's Greg and Jon from Days of Y'Orr, with an assist from friend Mike Miccoli from The Hockey Writers, giving us an admittedly post-1970s look at the Boston Bruins' essentials.)
Player: Cam Neely
Whenever people say that a certain player would fit the Bruins' style of play, they're making a Cam Neely comparison. Neely broke the mold and defined the role of a true power forward: someone who could score, hit hard and carry the team on his back when they needed him the most. Perhaps his most impressive year came in the 1993-94 season when he scored 50 goals in 49 games played. Injuries may have hampered his career but when you can't think of the Bruins without Neely. (Mike)
Greg: 2008-09 season. To me, that season was what started this whole Bruins run. Prior to that season, Boston had always been mediocre at best. There was always the lingering heartache that Boston pulled every single season and every single post season. They made ridiculous signings (hi, Marty LaPointe) and they blew huge leads (hola, 3-1 lead on the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003-2004 playoffs). Suddenly, the Bruins broke out in the 2008-2009 season, running all over opponents to the tune of 116 points and 1st in the Eastern Conference. From that point on, Boston has been good at playing hockey and without that season, I don't think we see a Cup in 2011.
Mike: 2010-11. This isn't fair, I know it's not. In the 88 years of the Boston Bruins franchise, there have definitely been more important seasons than this one but in my 26 years on this Earth, I can't think of a more essential season for the black and gold. Looking back, from the drop of the puck in Prague to Brad Marchand's final goal in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, everything clicked. The Cup rejuvenated the franchise, instilling faith where there once was despair and a new championship banner for the first time in 39 years in the rafters of the TD Garden.
Jon: 2009-10. This might not be a popular pick but I think the 2009-2010 season was at least the most definitive of my life time. You would think I'd put the 2011 Cup season here, but I believe the 2009-2010 season formed that team mentally. The Bruins had been teasing us for a number of season, leading fans to believe they were building towards the drought ending team. They entered the playoffs with such promise and were absolutely abusing the Flyers before their epic collapse. As painful as that Game 7 memory still is, without that soul crushing defeat I don't think the Bruins have the mental fortitude to come back from 0-2 deficits against the Canadiens and more importantly the Canucks in 2011.
Greg: Game: 2011 playoffs, Game 7 against Montreal. People overlook this game because eventually Boston went on to win the Stanley Cup, but leading up to this there were so many questions and stories that I remember being nervous until the game was over. People started talking about the 2003-2004 playoff series, they noted that Zdeno Chara has never won a Game 7, they brought up the Philadelphia series the year before and the Carolina Hurricanes Game 7 the year before that.
If Boston loses that game they aren't Stanley Cup Champions (obvious statement is obvious), but it's deeper than that. If they lose that game, its possible that the team Peter Chiarelli put together doesn't exist because it would be three straight disappointing playoff exits in a row. Win that game, win a Cup. Lose that game and who knows who is on the roster in 2012.
Mike: Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. After losing Horton, one of their best forwards, the Bruins showed what the entire franchise is essentially about. They grouped together, overcame adversity and pulled off an incredible comeback to win the Stanley Cup. To me, that game is the definition of Bruins' hockey.
Jon: For the new breed of fans, I think it would have to be Game 6 of the 2011 Finals. The way the Bruins just man handled the Canucks and dictated everything that happened in that game, you just knew they weren't losing Game 7. The confidence and drive they gained from that game was incredible. As soon as the puck dropped for Game 7 and you saw that still burning hunger in their eyes from their Game 6 demolition of Vancouver, Boston fans didn't even need to wait that 60 minutes. We knew the drought was over.
Goal: Bobby Orr
Obviously pick? Orr.
Less obvious? Bergeron's tripped from behind, scoring from his belly goal in Game 7 in the 2011 Finals. As much as Orr's goal defined the franchise historically, Bergeron's goal captured the essence of what the 2011 team will always be remembered for. He absolutely battled, refused to give up, refused to look to the ref when he was tripped and just kept fighting for that puck even after he was on his stomach. I guess that also defined the Bruins as a franchise. Rarely pretty, but virtually impossible to beat the fight out of them.
Greg: Bobby Orr flying through the air.
Here's the problem with that goal: I (and the rest of DOY) wasn't around for it. So lets go with something we were able to see live (or live on TV). I think Nathan Horton's Game 7 goal against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals is probably one of the biggest goals in franchise history. Nathan Horton proved he was a clutch player with 2 Game 7 winning goals during that playoff run and with that goal, he was able to send the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals - the first in about 20 years for the club. Let's be honest, many people thought just getting to the Finals was an accomplishment.
Trade: Joe Thornton to San Jose for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau
First off, how bad was Wayne Primeau? Wait, I'm getting off topic.
I think this is trade is overlooked a lot when it comes to the Bruins. Thornton signed a huge deal (at the time) with the Bruins. I believe it was 3-year, $20-million dollar contract. That's huge, especially coming from an owner who had Ray Bourque (literally) crying for the team to spend more money so they can contend for a Stanley Cup. If you know anything about Boston before the 2004-2005 lockout, you know that Jeremy Jacobs wouldn't spend anything of his roster.
It was all about saving money since there was (virtually) no salary cap in hockey. So for Jeremy to hand out a contract like that was shocking. Even more shocking? Trading your captain for three scrub-ish players. What came out of that? The next offseason the Bruins signed Marc Savard and some dude named Zdeno Chara. The rest is history. (Greg)
Unsung Hero: Ken Hodge
Hodge spent nine seasons with the B's, surpassing 100 points twice and playing a vital role on the two Cup champion teams in 1970 and 1972. You don't hear his name as much as Orr, Esposito and Bucyk, but he was equally as important on those dominant Bruin teams in the 1970s. The original #8 even racked up a total of 62 penalty minutes in 1972 playoffs. Hodge was an ideal Bruin—a big bodied winger or who could hit, score and fight.
Franchise Villain: Ulf Samuelsson et al
In order: Ulf Samuelsson (WE LOVE YOU CAM!), Phil Kessel, Roberto Luongo, Everyone who has worn a Habs jersey from 1917 to present (sans Michael Ryder), Michael Ribiero's diving coach, Alain Vigneault, Whoever powered the original Boston Garden's electricity and Harry Sinden (oh wait, he was on our side?)
Fight: PJ Stock vs. Stephen Peat
I think there was about 100 punches thrown in 2-3 seconds. I think that fight personified the Bruins in the early 00's. They weren't that good, they weren't that skilled, but they'll stand up to the biggest guy out there and beat their faces until they bleed. (Greg)
Coach: Don Cherry
There have been plenty of forgettable Bruins coaches--Steve Kasper and Dave Lewis, to name a few—but none quite like Don Cherry. Cherry served as a coach for six years, five of which came with Boston. Under Cherry, the Bruins qualified for the playoffs each year and finished first in their division all but once. Though he never brought Boston a Cup like Cy Denneny, Art Ross, Cooney Weiland, Harry Sinden, Tom Johnson or Claude Julien did, his unique approach to the game and personality sticks out. (Mike)
Broadcaster: Fred Cusick
He gave the Bruins a voice but Jack Edwards gave them off the wall insanity, an "I don't care" broadcaster whose attitude matched the team's play on the ice. (Jon)
Arena Behavior/Tradition/Trend: Rene Rancourt Singing the Anthem
Much like Kate and Lauren Smith in Philly, Rene Rancourt singing the National Anthem is a distinct part of the Bruins in-game experience. Rancourt's pipes are still as solid as ever while his appearance and mannerisms haven't changed a bit after all of these years. Be sure to count the number of fist-pumps from Rancourt after the Anthem. If he hits three or more, things might get wild.
Mike: Other. Get a slice at Halftime Pizza before the game and head to the Fours afterwards.
Greg: Jeremy Jacobs owns a concession business and also happens to own an ice hockey team. So naturally JJ would put his own food in the arena where his hockey team plays. So I would say that the best arena food at the TD Garden can be found outside at Half Time Pizza across the street. Huge slices, 32 oz beers and a get in/get out atmosphere. Just make sure you get there early, it gets packed.
Swag (jersey, hat, shirt, gear, etc.)
Mike: Bruins' 2010 Winter Classic Jersey.
Essential? Probably not, but it's the one jersey that almost all Bruins' fans seem to own. Whether they got it as a gift during the holidays right before the Winter Classic or found it at Marshall's discounted for $30 two years later, it's almost a staple at all Bruins games, regardless of it being authentic, a replica, or a legitimate rip-off. Just please stop wearing the Orr, Neely, Bourque and Seguin variations--pretty sure they weren't on the 2010 roster.
Jon: Bruins' Pooh Bear jersey. 'Nuff said.
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