High Expectations At ‘State Of The Bruins’
|09.17.09 at 10:55 pm ET|
Bruins hockey used to be the sport in Boston. Before the Celtics dynasty, Red Sox fever and Patriots Super Bowl runs, the spoked-B was the name of the game in the Hub.
Perhaps it’s on its way to being so again.
About 2,700 showed up at TD Garden Thursday night for the “State of the Bruins” town hall forum, where season ticket holders were allowed to hold court directly with Bruins owners, management and players. The forum panel consisted of coach Claude Julien, general manager Peter Chiarelli, vice president Cam Neely, owner Jeremy Jacobs and his son, principal owner Charlie Jacobs. Along for the ride were Bruins stalwarts Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron as well as new defenseman Derek Morris.
The theme of the night?
Before the start of the forum, a three-minute video was played on the Garden scoreboard of the 2008-09 Bruins squad that won the Northeast division, the regular-season Eastern Conference crown and a playoff series for the first time in 10 years. It is just a taste of what Hub hockey fans have been craving, and the men on the stage Thursday evening could not agree more.
“We have higher expectations. But that is what we want, high expectations,” Neely said during the discussion.
Bergeron expressed that last season was left with some “unfinished business” while Chiarelli said it had a “hollow feeling.” The Bruins want to drive toward a Stanley Cup and the fans, if the attendance Thursday night was any indicator, will push them hard all year to quench that thirst for success.
“The message I got from just about everybody in management, and I share, is that we have higher expectations this year and we want to deliver,” Charlie Jacobs said.
The town hall format is unusual in professional sports. Can anyone imagine Bill Belichick tolerating a fan asking him why he decided to trade Richard Seymour? Or Theo Epstein trolling Yawkey Way fielding questions about the Sox’ revolving door at shortstop?
“I think he is doing it professional and pretty stand-up for him to come out and answer questions,” Morris said. “He could just be behind his closed door, but he came out and answered some tough questions.”
Chiarelli took question from fans regarding the decisions to let Stephane Yelle and P.J. Axelsson leave and how he was planning on replacing the 36-goal output of young winger Phil Kessel in the event that the Bruins do not re-sign him. As per his standard rationale, the general manager would not discuss the internal thinking of Bruins management regarding player decisions, but it shows that the fans want answers and that they are not afraid to ask the men in charge, to their faces, for those answers.
“It allows the kids to ask questions of their idols that they wouldn’t normally be able to ask. It puts management in a clearer perspective for us fans of the things we have heard in the offseason,” said Andrew Dall, a second-year season ticket holder in Section 309.
“I think it’s great that they do that. I think it’s unique in being the third year that they have done it. It gets us a better insight into the thought process. It gives us a better insight as opposed to third-party sources from the media. It is a lot better to get it from the horse’s mouth,” Dall added.
There also was a lighter side, including the kid who asked Lucic what he eats for breakfast (Honey Nut Cheerios, three slices of bacon and fruit) and the girl who wanted him to sign her Bruins sweater (he did after the forum).
“It is fun for us to actually associate with them and see what they are thinking,” Morris said. “Half the time we don’t know what they are thinking, you know?”
Said Charlie Jacobs: “What I like from my perspective, sitting on stage, you see a very broad range of people. Like adults, children and their questions. Like from Milan, ‘What did you eat for breakfast?’ to difficult questions that were asked of Peter about how did he make decisions about his roster.”
Boston has once again become a prime destination in the landscape of professional hockey. The season ticket renewal and purchase rate is the highest it has been in years, and players want to come to the Original Six franchise for an opportunity to chase Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Morris is a fine example of this. Chiarelli signed the puck-moving defenseman from the Phoenix Coyotes this summer and so far he is enjoying his new venture in Boston.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Boston,” Morris said. “It’s just amazing to see how passionate the people really are. You see them at the rink and I see them in the community and stuff, but the people here, the true fans who live, breathe hockey. They love the Bruins.”
Bruins Unveil Winter Classic Uniform
The Bruins also gave a sneak peak of the uniform they will be wearing during the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Jan. 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The uniform is a ode to 80 years of Bruins hockey and is gold and brown, the teams original colors. The spoked-B is a variation of when it first debuted in 1949 and the uniform is also a tribute to the five Stanley Cups the Bruins have won. The sweater has laces, a staple from the 1970′s Cup teams, and gold socks, a permutation from the 1938-39 championship winner.
David Krejci, who was not part of the forum, modeled the uniform on stage during a ceremony when suds-like fake snow fell from the rafters at the Garden. Neely was instrumental in the design of the vintage duds, providing Reebok with “artistic direction and inspiration” for the new model. This marks the second consecutive year that the Bruins have unveiled a new uniform during the State of the Bruins address, and it will be worn multiple times during the season.
On another Winter Classic note, Charlie Jacobs said that the ice should be ready at Fenway by Dec. 20 and that there is some type of event in the works for the ice, perhaps a veterans game, between then and Christmas Eve.