Fredo, you're nothing to me now
I have a friend who's a die-hard New Jersey Devils fan. This friend is 24 years old and was born in raised in Massachusetts and attended Emerson College in Boston. He became a Devils fan around the age of 10 (near the Devils Stanley Cup victory over the Red Wings) because he liked the name "Devils" and enjoyed watching them win on TV.
But there's another reason that he became a Devils fan. He swore off the Bruins due to various reasons that mostly all stemmed from the ownership and cheapness of Jeremy Jacobs.
"My tipping point was not re-signing Bill Guerin," my friend says. "When that happened I finally went from following (the Bruins) as my secondary team to 'fuck you, I'm done and I hate you"
To this day my friend echoes the sentiment that he will not root for the Bruins until Jeremy Jacobs sells the team.
And while the post-lockout salary cap era has made the "Jeremy Jacobs is a lousy and cheap owner" argument completely and utterly false and moronic, the Bruins lost many fans throughout the 90's and early 2000's because of what was happening in the owner's box -- fans that swore they would never buy another piece of Bruins related merchandise because they were afraid that the money was going to Jeremy Jacobs.
The 2006-2007 Dave Lewis-led Bruins gave away any chance they had at reconnecting with their fans after the lockout by finishing last in the division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. But things seemingly started to turn around when Claude Julien was brought in, and the Bruins took the hated and top-seeded Montreal Canadiens to 7 games in the 2008 playoffs, with Game 6 that year as the "Hey, these guys are kind of exciting" moment for the casual fans. And with a first place finish during the regular season last year and a sweep of the Habs in round 1, hockey was back in Boston. Season ticket sales spiked, sellouts were no longer a rarity, and the Bruins even managed to land the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Hockey was back in Boston baby, and it was back big.
Until last night.
With the entire city of Boston, most of the NHL community and members of the 1970 Stanley Cup Champion Bruins (including Bobby Orr) watching last night's game against Pittsburgh to see what kind of response the Bruins would have in defense of their fallen teammate, the Black and Gold put up perhaps their biggest in a long line of stinkers this season, losing 3-0 as a chorus of well-deserved boos rained down on the ice as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
After a ceremony honoring the 1970 Bruins, the game kicked off as expected -- with Shawn Thornton dropping the gloves with Matt Cooke in response to the Savard hit. Give Cooke credit for obliging Thornton in the fight, but do not give full marks to Cooke, because he refused to take off his visor when Thornton asked. Unfortunately, that was about all the energy the Bruins would show. In typical fashion, they laid down and quit once Tyler Kennedy put the Penguins on top and the Bruins hit two posts in the first period.
In the final 40 minutes the Bruins were outshot 26-12, and they didn't register a shot on goal in the third period until nearly 10 minutes had elapsed. In the hit department, a stat that generally favors the home team, Pittsburgh held a 20-19 advantage. The Bruins were 0-for-4 on the power play, never getting any quality chances. If not for Tuukka Rask, it very well may have finished 6-0.
Sure, Zdeno Chara got his first fighting major of the season when he went with Mike Rupp in the second period, trying desperately to fire his team up. But to nobodies surprise, the fight helped none, as just 17 seconds later Mark Stuart picked up a hooking penalty that put Pittsburgh on the power play. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored with 15 seconds left in the second period to make it 2-0, and that seemed to drive the stake in. As mentioned earlier, it took Boston 10 minutes to get their first shot, and there was no further action taken on Cooke or any of the other Penguins, leaving the fans in the Garden booing the team off the ice.
Season ticket holders are calling into Boston sports radio as we speak announcing their intentions to give up their seats as a result of last night. Fans that had come back as a result of last year's success rushed to Bruins message boards across the internet to disown the Bruins from the Boston sports echelon, saying that they're done forever with the organization. Lifetime fans are questioning their devotion to a team that has not won a Stanley Cup since 1972 and has not reached the conference finals since 1992 and whose first round victory over Montreal last year was the first playoff series victory since 1999. The most optimistic of fans are suddenly turning the glass over and making it half-empty.
And you know what's sad about it all? Nobody can blame them one bit. The Bruins only have themselves to blame for this. Until they prove that they're actually devoted to producing a solid on-ice product, the fans have every right to question their devotion to this organization.
One thing is for sure -- I know I am.