The Bruins have the fourth most points in the Eastern Conference and are fresh off a 7-3 victory over the second best team in the superior West, the Dallas Stars. They’re going to make the Stanley Cup playoffs. They might even win a round or two.
But the B’s are once again the black (and gold) sheep of the Boston sports scene.
In this particular century, Boston is about winning it all. Atlantic Division, AFC East and AL East championship T-shirts don’t sell well here anymore. And in terms of championship aspirations in the next five years or so, the Bruins are lagging far, far behind their Hub peers.
It does not take a hockey genius to see that things have been headed in the wrong direction for the Bruins for some time now. They lost to the Canadiens in the playoffs two years ago, they missed the playoffs altogether last season and this season – despite the solid record – they’ve played uninspired hockey. The puppet that the Jacobs family eventually settled on and hired to be GM, Don Sweeney, is an uninspiring executive. Their head coach, Claude Julien, is still here because it’s more convenient for the Jacobs family and Sweeney to not fire him. Their best player, Patrice Bergeron, is fundamentally great – but is a bore to watch. The face of their franchise, Zdeno Chara, has been on the Back-9 for a while now.
The Tyler Seguin trade is as taboo a subject as you’ll find in this town. It’s almost as if everyone around here decided that if no one talks about it anymore, Seguin will eventually come back.
For the record, the guy is just behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane for most goals in the NHL this season and it has been cemented that Peter Chiarelli’s swap on the Fourth of July in 2013 was and is the worst trade in Boston sports history.
Yes, the Bruins eventually fired Chiarelli. But it’s a deal that simply never should have happened. A good or even average ownership group steps in on that type of deal. But no doubt the Jacobs’ were grilling up filet mignon hot dogs and shooting off fireworks in upstate New York on the day the 21-year-old Seguin was sent packing.
You wouldn’t know the Bruins are the most pathetic franchise in town if you listen to 98.5 The Sports Hub. The daily B’s slap and tickle-fest on the radio leads you to believe that that next Stanley Cup ceremony is right around the corner, but mostly tries to drive home the same points it’s been trying to make for the past seven years: Hockey players are the toughest. Hockey players are the coolest, because they drink beer. Hockey players get the hottest chicks. And hockey players are the most down-to-Earth pro athletes.
Hockey players. They’re just like us!
That all might be true. But the problem is, the Bruins don’t play against “whiny” baseball players or “pampered” basketball players. They play against other pro hockey players who just so happen to be tougher, and cooler. Sorry B’s fans, the Washington Capitals can probably drink more beer, get hotter chicks and are more “down-to-Earth” than the Bruins.
When Bruins fans defend their team, it almost always turns in to a sport vs. sport argument. While Boston is a great hockey town and it produces a ton of great players, this idea that every Jack Eichel and Jeremy Roenick -type grew up in a hut by a pond in the woods and ate bison meat and drank Natty Light every night is a bit much. Most Boston-bred NHL players come from well-to-do families and hockey is as expensive a youth sport as you’ll find.
And it remains an expensive sport on the pro level in Boston. A beer at TD Garden these days costs $10.50. A low-end Bruins ticket is $159.00. For comparison sake: A low-end Washington Capitals ticket is $45.00. Keeping things in house: a low-end Celtics ticket is $66.50. Even the always-sketchy Red Sox at least put on the façade that they were lowering ticket and concession prices when the product was no longer at a championship level.
Just know this. Boston is no longer a hockey town. It is a winning town. The Patriots are No. 1 here because they win. The Red Sox are spending like crazy to become a winner again. And the Celtics are in great position to win again. But for the Bruins, winning it all once again doesn’t seem like the top priority.