The Boston Bruins: A Code of Integrity

For many of us, it is clear that our Boston Bruins embody integrity. Throughout the regular season, instead of hearing rumors about extracurricular drunken player excursions or domestic abuse charges, we are bombarded with charity events. Our Boston Bruins have a captain who has climbed Mount Kilimanjero; Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara are also involved in Right to Play, whose mission is to improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world “by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.” (Source)

The Boston Bruins certainly make mistakes, like any group of mortals, and nothing is more indicative of this fact than the now infamous green finger event involving Andrew Ference. When he shows us his middle finger, however, we’re shocked exactly because such behavior is uncharacteristic our Boston Bruins. The last time we drafted a rat like Brad Marchand, for instance, it was two and a half decades ago. But even Marchy is loved because although he’s a regular disturber, he doesn’t stoop to Averian antics or resort to feminine antics involving his teeth.

Marc Savard was also involved in a biting incident, as we know, and although there was speculation as to whether Carcillo was tugging on Savard’s front teeth, no one thought this was acceptable behavior, if it did indeed take place. But let’s not shame the memory of one of the best centers ever to wear a Bruins jersey. Marc Savard, who stands 5’9″, was always the first to jump to the defense of his teammates and wasn’t afraid to stir it up. He was also not the kind of player to stoop to the level of cheap-shotting highly respected players with the moral character of someone like Patrice Bergeron. The same cannot be said of players like Alex Burrows, who had, admittedly, toned it down this past regular season.

Had the cowardly Burrows even transpired with some other player, like Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic, there would likely not have been much commotion regarding the incident. But the outrage wasn’t primarily about his non-suspension, even though Jarkko Ruutu was suspended 2 games for the exact same act. The outrage wasn’t over the scrum, either. It was over the fact that the well-respected Bergeron entered the scrum merely to push aside the instigating 3rd man in. There was no observable hostility of cheap-shotting on his part.

Scrums are part of the game, and sometimes, so are cheap shots. Yet you won’t find Lucic sucker-punching a player like Kevin Bieksa or conveniently falling over rival Carey Price with intent to injure–you can take that promise to the bank. With the aggression of the Boston Bruins comes a code of conduct centered on honor and respect.

Emotions can get the better of you in intense contexts. The Boston Bruins, despite their undeserved reputation, are rumored in some circles to be ‘dirty’. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a Boston Bruins fan, we are often taken aback by teams like the Philadephia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens for this very reason–we forget that not everyone follows the same code.

The code of integrity in question was highlighted by Kevin Bieksa himself last month, when he argued that his team had crossed a line that put into jeopardy the integrity of the game of hockey itself:

“I know guys will do whatever it takes for a power play to win a game,” Bieksa said. “But sometimes they’re crossing that line of integrity. I think for the better of the game, for the good of the game we need people to stay on that line and not cross it, and not dive and exaggerate for calls.” (Source)

Our Boston Bruins are not merely playing for the Stanley Cup in this final round; they are playing for each other. This is what they do. Their last game with the Tampa Bay Lightning was one of the most intense and hard-hitting hockey games many of us had ever witnessed, and not one penalty call was made. To the admission of both coaches, this was not due to officiating leniency but to the fact that both teams respected the boundaries of physical play.

There is a place for hard-hitting hockey, and many of us want to keep it that way. There is also a place for fighting, and many of us very much want it to stay that way. There is no place, however, in a Stanley Cup final for hits aimed at the termination of budding careers or feminine antics of the kind that will be permanently recorded in the history books. If the Boston Bruins lose this series, they will do so with integrity. If they get their name on the Stanley Cup, it will be for their ability to play hockey.

Win or lose, as the world watches these two teams battle it out for the greatest prize of all, one great result that will come out of this Stanley Cup final is that the world will be able to judge for themselves the character of this Boston Bruins team. This is a we can be proud of. This is a team we’re already proud of.

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Posted on June 4, 2011, in Analysis by BruinsUnite, Andrew Ferrence, Boston Bruins News, Bruin History, Bruin Inspiration, Carey Price, Dirty Hits, Dives, Habs, Hits, Injuries, Montreal, Players, Playoffs, Zdeno Chara. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is a piece written from the perspective of a fan, which is fine, it’s your forum I expect nothing less. But acknowledge it for that – a subjective point of view for which “nothing could be further from the truth” statements are utterly relative to the ground you’re standing on. Simply because the Bruins are your team – a team whose actions you know because you follow closely – it doesn’t make them morally superior to any other team in the NHL. As a Vancouverite, if I were a writer, I could sing the same song. The men on our hockey team are woven into the fabric of our community, they donate hours and millions of dollars to children’s hospices and other charities.

    I suppose the proper fandom thing would be to go through this by the paragraph and offer rebuttals, evidence that “Our Vancouver Canucks are not merely playing for the Stanley Cup in this final round; they are playing for each other. This is what they do.“, and that “The Vancouver Canucks certainly make mistakes, like any group of mortals” but are not the villains you have chosen to revile with such vitriol and Fanaticism. But, frick, I have a job I’m supposed to be doing right now, and at the end of it, if there is a Truth we can stand on it’s that arguing with any fan is an exercise in futility.

    I will say, I was looking forward to playing out this series against Boston, a city and a franchise that I hoped would dial back on the crazy and offer up some bigger picture, intelligent and enjoyable conversation. Maybe I haven’t dug around enough yet but from what I’ve seen, Bruin fans appear to run on the same common denominator as everyone else (Vancouver included, I’m not delusional). Silly me for thinking we could take this thing up a notch, fandom is a blind affair where we create Evil from Mistakes, and Hatred and from a Game.

    A game which, by the way, you and I aren’t playing, and of which we have no idea of ice-surface nuances, not-caught-on-camera pushing, shoving, biting, kicking, punching, whacking (hello Peverley), jabbing, mocking and even laughing between players of opposing teams (which I’ve seen on camera a couple times during these playoffs). I suspect that for the most part players understand actions that occur in the heat of it all and get over it. But fans? We get all the emotion without the perspective. We get what the media feeds us. And that limited perspective combined with that emotion boils around, dictates our analysis and our thinking and becomes an excuse we use to judge and feel morally superior to people who we’ve never even met.

    I applaud your dedication to your team, don’t get me wrong. I get that sports is about picking a side and then believing you’ve chosen the Best Side. But the men on both sides of this game are warriors. Warriors who are battling it out on the ice with such skill and in a way that – should Vancouver win or lose this Stanley Cup – I for one am enjoying the hell out of.

    Just another girl’s two cents for you.

  2. Well I guess this whole article is abunch of bullshit. Bruins resorted to the exact same “feminine” tactics.

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