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Are the Bruins villains? If so, should they embrace it?

Nov 15, 2011, 12:26 PM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Four Getty Images

Interesting piece today from CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty about Boston Bruins’ reputation. In it, Haggerty suggests that rather than fight the “media hysteria and Colin Campbell-based conspiracy theories,” the Bruins should accept it.

Well, not just accept it. Haggs thinks the B’s should embrace it.

The Bruins continue to play the role that best suits them: biggest, baddest hockey team on the block that nobody else wants to face once things get a little rough. The Sabres will get their chance to answer the call on Nov. 23 in their own backyard, and the Bruins won’t be backing down from the challenge.

It’s not going to win Lucic and Co. any popularity contests outside New England, but it’s a damned good formula for hockey success.

That’s all that should matter to a Bruins team unconcerned with the growing angry mobs in Montreal, Vancouver and any other NHL city that Boston decides to kick off the playground.

I guess the idea is for the Bruins to join the Broad Street Bullies (circa 1972-78) or, more recently, the Anaheim Ducks (circa 2007) as teams that embraced their tough/nasty/dirty reputations…and rode them to a Stanley Cup.

There’s no denying the Bruins are tough. But are they really villains?

They’ve certainly been cast that way, thanks in large part to three incidents: Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty, Brad Marchand on Daniel Sedin and, most recently, Milan Lucic on Ryan Miller.

Yet it wasn’t that long ago Boston was the victimized team, not the villainous one. Marc Savard‘s career was derailed by Matt Cooke, who received little-to-no punishment whatsoever. (If anyone’s a villain, it’s Cooke. Also, remember when the B’s caught heat for not immediately retaliating?)

There was also Patrice Bergeron getting nailed by Philadelphia’s Randy Jones, who got a whopping two-game suspension. (Bergeron was out for almost an entire year with a concussion while the Flyers emerged the villains, openly complaining that Jones shouldn’t have been suspended at all.)

I just don’t see the Bruins as a collection of evil characters devoted to wickedness and illegalities. Aside from their aforementioned incidents, Chara and Lucic should be classified as “tough” more than anything else. Marchand’s got the whole Ken Linesman/rat thing going, but there are plenty of those already in the NHL — Steve Ott, Dave Bolland, Steve Downie and Dan Carcillo, etc. — and I don’t see how Noseface is worse than any of them.

After that, who’s left? Shawn Thornton‘s an honest player. So’s Greg Campbell. The rest of the roster is filled with guys that are tough to play against, but nobody you’d call dirty and/or cheap.

The Bruins might be perceived as villains, but there’s always a difference between perception and reality.

That might make it tough to embrace the role.

  1. mgp1219 - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Villians? No.
    Beat your ass if need be? Yes.

  2. pastabelly - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Wouldn’t Noseface actually be Marchand?

    The Bruins have been the victims as much or more than the so-called villains. It’s tough to hear the complaints about the Stanley Cup Finals when it was the Canucks who bit a Bruins player (league took no action despite them joking about it and video evidence of it) and the Rome blind head shot that concussed Horton. The Bruins don’t need to embrace anything, except for the fact that they learned from the Matt Cooke incident not to sit back and take this crap. All the Sabres do now is yap. If you want cheap shots, there will be some from them next week. Of course, this will start a fight that the Bruins will not lose.

    • imleftcoast - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      That wasn’t a blind head shot. This team of tough guys sure has some pussy fans. All I see is a team that can dish it out and not take it. That pretty much sums up Boston, and it’s inferiority complex with New York. Pretty impressive to watch Lucic chicksh@# out of fights. Even Don Cherry calls him on it, and Cherry is a huge Bruins fan.

      • bobwsc - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        you see a blind head shot as not a blind head shot. and you see a team that can dish it but not take it. get your sight checked.

      • macintoshw - Nov 15, 2011 at 4:48 PM

        Lucic doesn’t chicksh@# out of fights (whatever that means anyway) he has been told by the management and coaching that they don’t want him fighting as much as he did when he was just coming into the league. He’s arguably the Bruins best goal scorer (although looks like ‘the kid’ is quickly taking over those reins) so why would he fight 15-20 times a year? That’s Thornton’s role. Every time I read a whiny post by a bitter Vancouver fan I smile to myself and think of Chara raising the cup, skating around a bit, and passing it to Mark Recchi. Maybe you guys will get a chance some day, but until then, keep hating on the Bruins. I guess it’s all you’ve got.

      • imleftcoast - Nov 15, 2011 at 7:20 PM

        Video bitches

  3. cowboys282 - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    People dislike the Bruins because they won. The three incidents mentioned in the article warranted no suspension from the NHL. The ruins don’t play dirty. They never try and injure others, they never try and hit people in the head.

    The Bruins are the ones who have had dirty plays done to them. You mentioned Savard and Bergeron but what about Rome’s hit on Horton. The Bruins responded from that cheap shot and destroyed the Canucks and won the cup.

    People can hate the Bruins because they are good and they win but there is no evidence of dirty play. They are a tough team who play by the rules and the rest of the league is simply scared.

    • jovocop1989 - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      The problem with including Rome’s hit on Horton is that Rome didn’t escape punishment from the league; you’ll recall he served the longest suspension in cup history. Part of this alleged reputation, (one I don’t think I necessarily agree with, even as a Canucks fan) is from the idea that the Bruins aren’t necessarily dirtier or rougher than other teams, but tend to escape punishment more.

      Again, can’t say I agree with that, but the Rome incident doesn’t really fit with the argument.

      • cowboys282 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        You are correct that Rome did receive a stiff punishment. All I was trying to point out though is that was a dirty play and the NHL agreed and suspended him. They have not determined the Bruins incidents as warranting a suspension.

        You reminded me of another incident from the cup finals though. Probably the dirtiest of them all. That is when Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron’s finger. And that did not receive a suspension.

        The Canucks can only blame themselves for lighting a fire in the Bruins. Between the finger biting, and the Rome hit the Bruins decided to take the series to a much more physical place. The Canucks were not ready for it. But after those incidents everyone was saying how dirty the Canucks were. All the Bruins did was get physical with them and push them around. And sadly for the Canucks they stopped pushing back.

  4. davebabychreturns - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Full disclosure: Canucks fan here.

    I have no real enmity towards Chara although he seems to have his own version of Pronger physics going on.. but to write Milan Lucic’s tendency to sucker punch players in scrums off as “tough” is.. well.

    Anyway, lots of other players on the Bruins escaped criticism here.

    In the finals alone there was Rich Peverly’s two hand golf swing at the back of Kevin Bieksa’s knee resulting in an MCL sprain, David Krejci taunting an injured Dan Hamhuis, Johnny Boychuk’s reckless hit behind the play that (unintentionally) broke Mason Raymond’s back, Dan Paille’s a blue collar guy but he sure does like to take long runs leading into high hits on defensemen (a couple in the finals and he has a suspension for a hit to the head on his resume)..

    Whether the Bruins are villains or not I don’t know. They certainly are in Vancouver, Montreal and now Buffalo.

    • nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      So does Bergeron’s finger go best with ketchup or mustard?

      • danphipps01 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        Don’t recall Bergeron missing any time for his boo-boo, do you?

      • imleftcoast - Nov 15, 2011 at 7:19 PM

        Bergeron didn’t miss any time, and the Bruins were crying their asses off for a suspension. They are the spoilt girls of the league.

  5. danphipps01 - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of blaming players. Individually, it’s hard to point out any particularly bad guy on the squad. Lucic is a power forward with some temper issues and he can get a little goony at times. I’m pretty sure we can all think of a few other players who have fit that description. He’s not unique or especially horrible. Marchand’s no different than Carcillo or Lapierre, so he’s out too. These guys aren’t individually notable as dishonourable or cheap players. They’re just players. Every team has ’em.

    However, I do feel the coaching style is questionable. Claude Julien seems to WANT his guys to toe the line of roughing and unsportsmanlike penalties whenever there seems to be an opportunity. He makes it a goal to get under other teams’ skin – wise policy, right? Throwing Vancouver off their game worked wonders. It’s smart. It’s just… he seems to go about it with the philosophy that the easiest route to screwing with people’s games is by being as rough and violent as possible. It WORKS, but as their general reputation amongst both players and fans (well, fans of OTHER teams) attests, they’ve become known as the “villains” because of it. Their reputation precedes them in the same way that Vancouver’s reputation for diving precedes them. Do they care? Evidently not. Should they? Hell no, it works. They just won the damn Cup. So, yes – they SHOULD embrace being the “bad guys.” It seems to have worked out pretty spectacularly. Vancouver’s “dive everywhere” strategy, however… yeah, not so much.

  6. nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Sometimes perception is reality. Like when you’re accused of sexual harassment or something similar. The truth no longer matters.

    It no longer matters whether the B’s are actually dirty or not, so let’s just embrace it, shall we. The Big Bad Bruins are back, and it seems to be working out just fine for us, and the league too.

    You want to win a Cup guys? Take a lesson from us. Want to get huge TV ratings? Take a lesson from us. Want to sell out your arena and charge ten bucks for a hot dog? Take a lesson from us. Want to live the good life, hockey-wise? Take a lesson from us. (Imagine Reggie Dunlop addressing a room full of loser GM’s).

    • donfocker89 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      Daaaaamn. You win one Stanley Cup since ’72 and your ego is shot to the sky. Nothing new from the people of Boston. Im sure if the Redsox bounced back next year you would strut your stuff with this “take a lesson from us” crap. I guess if my team blew a 3 game lead in the playoffs to Philly I would certainly take a lesson on rebounding.

      Sorry this response is already pretty bad. I mean the Redsox wont rebound next season. And dont arenas already charge $10 for a hotdog already?

      In a nutshell your team goes on a 5 game winning streak and gets some attention for a questionable “collision” I guess its being called, and you declare yourselves the high standard of the NHL. Get off your high horse. I bet if there were an Apocalypse and Boston was the first city to burn, the people of Boston would probably gloat of how they were first in another category.

      • nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:10 PM

        I say the Red Sox are screwed for a couple of seasons. Well deserved too, and I’m a fan. And yes, I can see why the Sox fans annoy people occasionally.

        I don’t care who won the Cup five years ago or how long it’s been since our last Cup or how the other Boston teams are doing … we won it last year. We’re the team to follow, or envy now.

        When you see that twinkle in Jeremy Jacob’s eye (never a fan favorite), and the bulging eyes when Betteman looks at the Cup ratings, and the smirk when the players get wind of the salary cap increase – rest assured, the other teams will take a lesson from us.

        Nobody envies the losers.

  7. rwmilli - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Canucks fab here and after the play offs yes I look at them as villains, but for stealing my cup not for any of this bull, both van and Boston played excessively dirty in the series…its the cup final, who gives a F. The thing that gets me though is how Tim Thomas can come out of his crease and lay a huge blind hit on a van player, Hasek can almost effin kill gaborik on the break away, goalies shouldn’t be untouchable, I played goalie up until 3 years ago, they wea the most padding and if your honestly dumb enough to race out to a puck when someone as big as lucic is barring down as fast as he can to win a puck battle for a breakaway then you deserve to get laid into, miller lost a lot of respect from me after his post game comments, I’m by no means a lucic fan either but those comments were down right classless. Goaltenders wanna be untouchable stay in the paint or in the trap, other wise shut your trap and play

    • nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Cry me a river. We got the Cup.

      • danphipps01 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        Maybe, just maybe, it’s not entirely so simple as saying “We won, you didn’t, everything is justified accordingly.” Wild theory, I know.

      • nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:14 PM

        We played by the same set of rules, we won, you didn’t.

      • danphipps01 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM

        Who’s “we”? I’m disagreeing with your attitude. I don’t care who won what.

        Hell, let’s take a specific example to make the case here: as I recall, Bruins fans weren’t exactly pleased with the Savard hit, but who cares? Cry Cooke a river. He won the Cup. Bunch of pansy Bruins whiners.

        See how stupid that sounds? Yeah. Don’t be that guy.

      • nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        We won the Cup, losers!

      • danphipps01 - Nov 15, 2011 at 4:21 PM

        Oh, I get it. It’s a spam bot. Okay, now everything makes more sense.

      • bruinsfan28 - Nov 15, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        NHLBRUINS90, Dude, seriously, I am a huge Bruins fan. Ask anyone of my friends. Stop with the ego crap! It’s fans like you who give the New England are a bad rap. I get sick of the we won you suck crap. Who’s to say that Vancouver won’t beat us this season. You know, We won, yes great! Lets focus on this season and try to win again. Until then, shut up. You can have some good points, but you argue with circular arguments and it makes me disrespect the type of fan you are. Willing to gloat in a victory that happened last June. Believe me, I love the Bruins to death, but I’m not going to go around and push it in peoples faces because thats not right. We should argue about the topic and not push wins into peoples faces. Lets prove to the others instead that some of us New England fans can be niceand caring. I don’t like the Miller hit. But I do believe it was the correct decision to not suspend Lucic. Why? Ask me in a civil manner and I shall tell you. BTW I like Danphipps01 theory.

  8. 8man - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    You know if this has the other 29 teams looking over their shoulders more and at the puck less, what difference does it make?

    The Bruins are a physical hockey team and they lay hits on people. That’s going to draw scrutiny, controversey and debate. I’m liking it!

    • nhlbruins90 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      Me too!

  9. 8man - Nov 15, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    What you lookin’ at? You all a bunch of fargin iceholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need a team like the Bruins. You need people like them so you can point your fargin’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie.Them, they don’t have that problem.Them, they always tell the truth. Even when they lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guys like this…

  10. govtminion - Nov 15, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    They’re a tough, hard-hitting team. That’s been the definition of Bruins hockey as far back as I can remember (or at least what we’ve wanted them to be- looking at Joe Thornton with sad eyes). Are they evil? Depends on the viewpoint. They’re no more evil than the Red Wings were to fans in Denver back in the late ’90s- but Avs fans pretty much wanted to drag those guys off the ice and beat them down themselves. Same with the Bruins now- fans in Vancouver and Buffalo might feel the same way, but that’s just life as a sports fan. A good rival is a good thing to have- if it comes from something like this, well, so much the better.

    (I’m excluding Montreal because, let’s be honest, those fans hated the Bruins long before Max Pacioretty was ever born)

  11. donfocker89 - Nov 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Too much replying on every thread I can barely keep up to whats what. How about we all just agree that its awesome Canada isnt winning the Stanley Cup. I guess as a Buffalo fan Im very bitter we sign “tough guy” Robyn Regher and he cant back up his own goaltender. Also Im bitter about the fact that Tyler Myers best part of his game is his “skating.” That doesnt sound lame at all. Maybe if he had half the sack Gerbe does I wouldnt be talking about this. And Im not sure if anyone dislikes Gerbe but hes tiny and just stands up for himself and makes it be known it aint easy pushing him around. Just wanted to clear that up in case you guys had words for him. And Matt Cooke sucks. Its a shame his name is on Lord Stanley.

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