Point/Counterpoint: Rebuilding the Bruins – Part Five

So, it’s the offseason and while the NHL playoffs have so far been great, as usual, we Bruins fans are pondering what the team will do this summer to improve. Sure, the D needs help, yada yada yada. But what else? Well, there’s a new 5-part series on that takes a look at rebuilding the Bruins, and I thought it would be fun to take a point/counterpoint approach to each part.

Note, this is in no way a criticism of the series or the viewpoints. Just one person’s opinion.

We’re at the finish line. Part Five is “Back to Bruins Hockey.” Off we go ….

The change in the makeup of the Bruins, and the need to get back to a tougher, more intimidating style of play. Here we go. The bullshit “they need to be tough-ah” routine. You know what toughness gets you in the NHL nowadays? Nothing. Look at the remaining teams in the playoffs. None of them would be considered “intimidating” with the exception of the Blues. Know what those teams have? Talent.

During their seven-year playoff run, the Bruins earned a reputation as one of the hardest teams to play against in the NHL. This is different than being “intimidating” or whatever. Being hard to play against is important, but you don’t have to be a cement head to do so. The Blackhawks are a pain in the ass to play against, ya know?

There were too many nights last season when the Bruins simply didn’t want to battle out on the ice. Again, this is different. Battling your ass off during the game, winning puck battles, forechecking, etc. are all part of being tough to play against. You know what the Penguins did after Brooks Orpik laid out Olli Maatta? They won the game. No bullshit. You know what the Bruins did after Shawn Thornton got even with Matt Cooke a few years back for his hit on Marc Savard? They lost. Getting even sometimes doesn’t go as planned, but sure gets the fans all lathered up.

The loyal Bruins follows can forgive quite a bit if they feel their team is hustling, working hard and fighting for each other at every turn. Well, what if they hustle, work hard, fight for each other and still lose the game? Or don’t make the playoffs? Will everyone still be happy?

The Bruins should have realized that their style doesn’t necessarily translate in today’s NHL. And that realization should have been hammered home given their last two playoff losses, in the Finals in 2013 against the Hawks and the 2nd round in 2014 against the Canadiens. In both cases the B’s lost to a faster, more skilled team, that no one said wasn’t battling hard or hustling.

And sure, having guys that have your back in the rare occurrence it’s needed is great, but as Cam Neely himself said, those guys need to be able to play as well.


Lifelong Bruins fan whose hockey career peaked in high school. Now a hockey dad.

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