Monthly Archives: March 2009
About 15 years ago, I became sick of hearing, “why the Bruins?” from Montrealers. Then I left Montreal for a good decade, only to return to more of the same. Now, I’m beyond sick of it. I tend to stare off into nothingness as the question is directed at me.
Tonight, despite myself, one word came out of my mouth in response. “Soul.”
I’m not here to perform an analysis of the definition of soul. Heck, I’m an atheist. So how is it that the Bruins have soul? Maybe the team’s got soul; maybe the boys do; maybe it’s that they play with soul. What’s the difference? It’s all poetry.
Religion can be broken; tradition can be broken. Identifying yourself as part of the Black and Gold family is stronger than that. I don’t know why. The more I watch them play, the more I want to watch. The losses strengthen the bond, and the wins have the same effect. It’s a spell; an addiction; a love for the game as it is played by a team that is more than the sum of its parts. Maybe that’s it.
Take a look at these parts, to name a few.
Milan Lucic: Not just an aspiring athlete, but a first-generation North American with hard working parents who encouraged him to keep fighting despite his lack of visibility (“East Side kid who didn’t belong to a winter club, who performed for Tier II teams that scouts didn’t bother watching.”) And this is to say nothing of his thoracic and lumbar spine disease. Looch is no victim but the road had certainly not been lined with red carpet.
Phil Kessel: Fought cancer and won, undergoes monthly hospital visits for bloodwork and moves like a squirrel on the ice, zooming past the others often imperceptibly to demonstrate a scoring ability reminiscent of the greats, returning from his battles against cancer only to come of age as a player headed straight for the history books. One day.
Patrice Bergeron: Je me souviens.
Dennis Wideman: The kid no one wanted. Now, he might just be “the best NHL player you know almost nothing about.”
That’s enough for now. The point is clear. If this is a team of outcasts, they’ve surely found a home.
And if a team is more than the sum of its parts, then this team is bigger than life.
According to Habs fans, here at home, Montreal would wish above all to be matched up with Boston in the first round. I share that wish, because I feel that reality is more important than wishful thinking. And the present is more important than the past.
The Bruins took the Canadiens to game 7 last year, as we all know. Last playoffs, these two were both very different teams: Montreal was better and the Bruins were worse. Today, Montreal has trouble making passes, let alone plays, and rely on half a goaltender (if you put Halak and Price together). The Bruins ‘clinched the Eastern Conference’ while Montreal celebrates emphatically after a 3-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime.
Things are bad for the Habs– so bad that fans everywhere in the city celebrated the overtime win against the Lightening tonight as though it had been a playoff game. It is charitable to call this type of behavior ‘delusional’, at best.
So please, bring it on. We should be so lucky as to have this first round match-up with the Habitants. They’re good luck (Shawn Thornton scored his first goal of the season against Price this season; maybe we will get a few more of those).
On the other hand, perhaps more of a challenge would be better inspiration for our Bruins in the playoffs. As we know, these boys run on challenge, and challenge is just what was lost after all those wins that preceded their recent slump. During that decline, the Bruins masacred the better teams and sort of ‘zoned out’ against the mediocre ones.
But the last playoffs are more than a subtle indication of the boys’ competitive edge.
All they need is a challenge. It would feel good to eliminate Montreal, but maybe we’ll do this before the end of the regular season. The playoffs are for winning teams.
As I argued here, what the Bruins needed badly was to remember:
- Remember what they love about the game.
- Remember what it feels like to do things right.
- Remember how to do things right by having fun.
- Remember what passion can do for you.
And of course, remember that:
- Adrenaline + Endorphins = Energy.
- Energy brings hard work.
- Motivation brings high Adrenaline + Endorphin levels.
- ‘Motivation’ is the non-poetic, psychological term for passion.
- Love for the game feeds passion.
And that is just the route coach took with the boys, as the video below indicates. Again, “Claude Julien recognized that the boys don’t need more monotonous drills; he made sure they had some fun with the game in practice. Excellent strategic decision.” [source]
If the video does not display, watch it here.
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