The new season begins for the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 at 7:08PM. I for one, am relieved that the season is about to begin. I'm tired of the Red Sox and Red Sox Nation. The Celtics are in pre-season camp and already fans would like to see the team tank it's season. The Patriots are tittering on the edge of being just above average and the fans are calling for scalps and Tom Brady has become a bum in the last month after a 2-2 start. Some of these fans, are also Bruins fans. Yes, there have been plenty of fans calling for change within the Bruins organization and we haven't even started the season. Yesterday was a bad and hurtful day as John Boychuk was traded to the Islanders because of money, the root of all evil and that which ails you. Take heart Bruin/Hockey Fans, there is still plenty to cheer about. As in all things some good comes from bad and vice versa.
Trading Boychuk and perhaps making the Islanders a better team than they were on Friday is not all bad. I will miss Johnny Rocket as much as I will miss Shawn Thornton. You hate to see real solid good guys leave to work somewhere else. You hate it even more when it's about the difference of some dollars and a so called "Business Decision". But let us remember, sports are businesses and it's entertainment. Part of the entertainment is the drama of unfolding seasons, the level of competition and the ability to succeed through adversity. In sports entertainment, there are always some 30+ teams in competition in most leagues and at the end of the season, there can only be one winner. The Bruins started out eight years ago with a revamped upper management and started the build of a new team through coaching staff and minor league development. Since then they have been to the playoffs seven of the eight years missing out only in the first season. They have rebuilt the franchise into one of the most successful within the league and they are regularly considered amongst the top teams to challenge for the Stanley Cup over the last five years. Rolling into this year, things are no different, but you can't win the Stanley Cup in October, you have to wait to see who survives next June. If you could, the Bruins would have been anointed last October as the can't miss team with it's opening night roster. But, last May that team, didn't have some of it's key members on the roster and they succumbed to the Montreal Canadians in seven games.
So where are we this October? Well, we are not the can't miss roster that will surely win the Stanley Cup. We are a weaker team and we have more question marks and we are missing some outstanding players that have helped us in the past. Our egos are bruised and values a little steamed and we are not as optimistic as we were 12 months ago. This year's team is different, it feels different, maybe even a little uncertain. The competition is a little better even and perhaps equal to us on some teams. Still that little drama called an 82 game season has to be played out.
I am, for one, terribly excited and looking forward to how the management, coaches and players play out their roles in this season's drama. As fans, you should be too!
There are a few other things I'd like to say, not as a Bruins fan, but as an NHL hockey fan. There have been three work stoppages since 1994 in this league. There have been work stoppages in every league of one kind or another. But in the NHL, I have to admit, as unhappy as I was at times, the work stoppages led to a better league and quality to the game I love. This year as a fan should you choose it, you have unprecedented access to all the leagues games through national TV channels, NHL Centerice package and NHL Gameday packages on the internet. This doesn't include regional and local TV, radio and internet access, which depending on where you are, can be made available to fans. As I sit in review of some major sports stories over the course of the year, I have seen and witnessed some truly ugly things, from abuse towards women, felony crimes committed, poor sportsmanship on national levels and sports league heads, that create controversy by trying to hide facts, limit access to media and fans, finding ways to color illegal drug use by players to make it acceptable for them to play and get paid. I've seen awful lacks of respect committed by fans during rivalry games, players in speaking of foes, and poor choices of dress to meet the public. The top player in one league made a circus out of shopping himself and a bevy of other players as to where he would play and why. In the end it was all about the money and his ego. As I review, these stories, I keep coming back to one thought. None of these stories are hockey stories.
I like and appreciate a great deal that goes on behind the game. Lets start with players that when they travel to and from games, even home games, have a dress code that exudes respect and requires them to wear business suits. Almost every player will give an open interview or extend a hand towards a fan. Almost every player is well spoken and in an international player represented league, speaks English well even if accented. There is unparalleled access to media in the NHL and fair rules that all the teams abide by. You have a Commissioner that is very unpopular, that never shy's away from the public and takes his booing in stride and fights like a dog for what's best for the league. In controversial situations, he's not afraid to be the bad guy and make the unpopular decisions that strangely always work out for the best for all involved. I don't have to like Gary Bettman to acknowledge that he is worthy of respect and appreciation for growing the sport and the game. He even allows weekly access to himself via radio broadcast to answer questions, openly and honestly and what other league has that. The NHL has the strongest drug policy of all major sports leagues and strictest penalties, but also has the fewest violations of the policies. To compete in the NHL, players have to be in an uber state of physical condition and it shows visually on and off the ice. I can't say that about athletes in other major sports that sometimes have players that look bloated, fragile and oafish. I can't say I agree with every decision that is made in league safety and accountability in relation to suspensions for violent altercations on the ice, but I can say that the policy is worked continuously for improvement and consistency and related to media professionally and most often in a timely manner. On ice replay for controversial goals and officiating is handled in a league monitored central control facility and usually gets it right with minimum delay. While there have been occasions that individual players have violated laws and even had their actions come under scrutiny off the ice, the teams and league have supported without bias or influence the actions of law enforcement and forced players to stay away from their teams and the ice while those events have played out. Once again the NHL has the fewest occurrences of these events compared with other leagues. Lastly, no other league so encourages their players to be ambassadors off the ice in so many charitable ways to touch their communities and fans as does the NHL and asks nothing of monetary value in return. This encompasses players that are stars as well as players that fight daily to be good enough to stay on their rosters. On an NHL team, the players 19-23 in the pecking order are much more import to the success of their teams than the bottom five players on the bench in any other league.
As a Bruin/Hockey fan, I often try to remember these things and count these small blessings. I hope as fans that may read these words, you may pause to consider the value to you of such things. The NHL, owners, managers, coaches and players; remind me often and display to me, many of my own personal values by their actions on and off the ice. I truly appreciate all that they do and attempt for my sports entertainment passion and dollar value I spend in following this sport. I hope you do as well or come around to this point of view. My many thanks for following our site and I hope I provide value to all of you as I report what takes place during the season.
Until Next Time!