Bruins Follow a Loss By Whining. Again.

by Jacob Saltiel

 

robinsonmilbury

Bruins Fans Remember This, Right?
from popscreen.com

Let’s get something straight; the Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams in the NHL since their Stanley Cup winning season.

They’ve often been among the league leaders in defence, points, and complaining. It’s not like they have the former and completely impartial NHL head of discipline’s son on their team contributing to their curious lack of suspensions directed at Bruins players for antics from the Chara hit on Pacioretty, to brawling after games with Tampa Bay in the playoffs two seasons ago, or the assorted cheapshots, headshots, and hits from behind that litter their games.

No, according to the Boston Bruins and Claude Julien, every penalty they’ve taken has been the result of a dive.

They complain about the referees. They complain about other organizations. They blame arenas for injuries caused by their own players. At least one Bruin questioned whether Max Pacioretty was faking an injury in an attempt to get Chara suspended following the worst on-ice incident since the Bertuzzi incident.

After taking out Sami Salo’s knees and concussing him, Brad Marchand somehow argued that he was only protecting himself. Following the suspension, Peter Chiarelli complained that the Vancouver Canucks were unfairly lobbying the league to discipline Marchand. Hoho! Good one, Pete.

Speaking of Marchand, he complained to Joe McDonald of ESPN that after he declined to fight Subban, “three or four [Bruins] asked to fight him and he’s running scared from [Nathan] Horton,” Marchand said. “He’s coming after the smallest guy on the team, so it just shows what kind of character they have there.”

Yes, Marchand, because Chara and Lucic have only fought players of comparable size. Because Chara fighting Emelin (0 career NHL fights prior to Chara) is somehow a courageous act. Meanwhile, Shawn Thornton returned to the lineup following a concussion he suffered fighting en lieu of Lucic. That, of course, is entirely lost on the Bruins.

Did anyone on the Habs comment that Seguin slumped over as if he had been shot, only to return to the game? Was Seguin possibly adding a little sauce to that hit in the hopes that Emelin would go to the box? Why, if Seguin was okay the whole time, then Chara stepping in and fighting in retaliation was a tactical error!

Amusingly, Chara professed not to know why he got the instigator penalty: “I didn’t think I was getting 17, that’s why I was kind of hesitating a little bit before I dropped the gloves,” Chara said. “I was waiting for him to drop them, too, so then maybe it would be two five[-minute penalties]. But that’s something they made a decision on and I’ve got to live with that.”

Zdeno! Baby! Replays clearly show you skating the length of the ice, hitting someone behind the play, mugging him, then stopping a second, then dropping the gloves and fighting him. Sure, Emelin’s* a well-known non-combatant, but please, slug away. For your education, Z, here’s the NHL Rulebook’s definition of instigating:

“An instigator of an altercation shall be a player who by his
actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria:
distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing
attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation
to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous
incident in the game or season.”

The formatting makes it look like a poem, but don’t let that stop you from ticking off all of the conditions that apply. (Hint: Distance traveled, retaliation, gloves off first, and first punch thrown all apply in this case.)

When Claude Julien drones on and on about how uncorroborated incidents of diving are “about more than the night’s game”, he reveals the strategy behind such silly comments. On a night when the Bruins lost against a banged up Habs team with Peter Budaj in nets, it does his team a huge favour to carp about the refs and the acting troupe in Blue, Red, and White.

These are crocodile tears, and even if Boston may have won more fights against the Canadiens historically, the Canadiens have won more games because they, uh, play to score more goals than their opponents. As Ken Dryden wrote for Grantland last season:

“Fight is the playoffs, the Olympics, and World Cup, where fighting and head shots are rare because the stakes are so high and the distractions so consequential that there’s no place on the ice for goons. “Fight” is fighting spirit. It’s Canadian hockey at its best.”

Bruins fans can cling to their memories of lumbering goons winning inconsequential fights. They can cultivate their ludicrous belief that they only lose because the league is against them**. Hell, if they really want to, they can believe that Gregory Campbell fighting Tom Pyatt and using his wrist guard to cut him open is a valid demonstration of toughness (again, fighter vs. non-combatant, and no suspension for a clear breach of a rule) or that Lars Eller declining to fight is cowardly.

It’s their choice if they want the face of their franchise to be Mike Milbury (see photo above) or Bobby Orr.

For Habs fans, Pacioretty and Gorges nailed it when they said “It’s jealousy” and “I’m not sure if Julien even believes that”, respectively on TSN following the game.

The Bruins hold 3 games in hand and will almost certainly pass the Canadiens if they play as well as they can. For the Canadiens and their fans, enjoy the checking the standings. Dispense with the cynical moaning coming from the Bruins organization.

 ***

*Owing to facial surgeries, Emelin can’t fight.
** Stretching back to 2010-2011, the Bruins are roughly middle of the pack for times shorthanded.

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10 Comments to “Bruins Follow a Loss By Whining. Again.”

  1. OMG, shut up about Colin Campbell!! Everyone making the case that his son being on the Bruins affects their lack of penalties conveniently leaves out the fact that he stepped down from his position when the Bruins were in the 2011 playoffs to eliminate the conflict of interest.
    While the Bruins have done some dirty hits, they’re not the only ones, it just works for your argument to point out what they’ve done. Chara’s hit on Pacioretty was probably dirty (though we can’t prove he intended for him to hit the stanchion), but what about Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard? Cooke received no discipline, yet he effectively ended Savard’s career. Meanwhile Pacioretty is still playing.
    Marchand’s hit on Salo again may have been dirty (can’t really prove it), but he has since completely turned his game around. He is now a playmaker and a good shooter, and while he is still an agitator, he isn’t dirty.
    And nobody said Chara was courageous for fighting Emelin, he was just sticking up for his teammate. But I suppose Emelin’s dirty cross-check to Seguin’s ribs was courageous? And I’m sorry but just because you’ve had facial surgeries, it doesn’t give you the right to give out dirty hits and think nobody can retaliate. As for Seguin diving, I’d like to see you take a shot to the ribs so hard that the composite stick hitting you breaks and not fall to the ground. I don’t think even Seguin knew how bad of an injury was the instant he got hit, but I’m sure it hurt enough to fall in pain and protect himself from any further contact until he knew for sure.
    And Thornton didn’t fight Scott “in lieu of Lucic.” Thornton is the Bruins primary fighter.

    I understand Claude Julien’s comments seemed harsh, but they were honest. While the comments do the Bruins a favor, and that may have given him more reason to say them, the main reason he said them is because they were true. It is not jealousy at all, it’s disgust. As you said, the Bruins have 3 games in hand and can easily pass the Habs in the standings. So there’s no reason to be jealous. And he never said EVERY penalty was the result of a dive, he just said the Habs tend to dive a lot and that diving happens with other teams too, and it’s embarrassing to the league. The Habs already have 100 power plays in 22 games.. cmon! And I’m sorry but if you watch P.K. Subban in ANY game, you will say at least once him falling to the ice holding himself as though he’s injured.. then he’ll look to see if a ref saw it, and if not, he’ll pop right back up.

  2. Thank you for your response. There’s a lot in there to go over, but I think what we can agree on is that most teams have players that at least occasionally embellish or dive. Crosby was particularly guilty of this early in his career. Subban might be too. I suppose my overall point is that for Julien, who has worked with Brad Marchand (you agree, of course, that Marchand can be, uhm, theatrical, right?) since he came into the league to flame the Canadiens for ruining the league with institutionalized diving is at best an emotional outburst to a closely-fought loss and at worst hypocritical. Yes, the Canadiens have lots of powerplays, but they’ve also been one of the most penalized teams in the league for 3 or 4 years now, usually finishing in the top 2 or 3 in minutes shorthanded (check nhl.com).

    Savard’s career-ending hit should have been penalized* and wasn’t. In fact, it surprises me that the Bruins, who recently worked through the Savard injury and still have Patrice Bergeron in their lineup (another player with unfortunate concussion issues), not to Mention Horton and now McQuaid, continue to play what they term a tough brand of hockey. One would suspect the organization to be more aware of what crossing the line in hockey can mean to a players livelihood and health.

    Of course, I point out the dirty hits that the Bruins have committed because this is, after all, a blog about the Canadiens. The intense rivalry between the teams means that the Canadiens have been on the wrong end of a few of these, which I’m more likely to have noticed since I follow that team most closely. In comparison, I feel like a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, whom also play a tough game, are less violent than the Bruins. Yes, Keith did attempt to decapitate a Sedin last year, which could have earned him a bigger suspension, but the ‘Hawks play tough and play fair.

    It’s my opinion that the Bruins use fighting as a strategy to intimidate their opponents. And while Thornton might be the designated fighter, that doesn’t stop players such as Chara or Lucic- who pretty much can’t lose a fight to 99% of the league because of their exceptional size and strength- from battering other teams’ players. You realize that when Lucic runs over Miller, the only way for the Sabres to get back at him is to go out and hire that dancing bear Scott, right? This strategy is cynical. It doesn’t break any rules, and that’s fine, but watching teams do this is kind of ugly in a way that’s similar to complaints about the Devils playing the trap.

    I’m interested to hear your perspective though. As a Bruins fan, do you believe that they’re about average for dirty play in the league? Off the top of my head, I can recall the Lucic hit on Miller, the Chara hit on Pacioretty, and the Stanley Cup final against Vancouver (yes, the Canucks weren’t totally innocent) as examples of cynically harsh play by the Bruins. Would you rather watch games with plenty of fighting or would you rather watch them play a game with fewer penalties, more scoring, and perhaps fewer gruesome injuries?

    Another question, I think it’s pretty clear that Marchand’s an agitator, and also someone who can be a dirty player and throw gloved punches at his opponents after whistles. This doesn’t seem to detract from him being a talented scorer and effective winger. I mean, the hit on Salo was pretty clearly dirty, and I’m by no means a fan of the Canucks. Do you think he really needs to invite retaliation on himself with his diving and cheap play? You may dislike PK Subban for exactly the reasons I just listed in referring to Marchand.

    *read the Campbell e-mail article closely and it’s clear that Campbell has a personal dislike of Savard

  3. Yes I think part of why Julien said what he did is because of the closely-fought loss, but I do think the Habs are among the top divers in the league. Maybe it’s just because I’ve seen them dive a lot against the Bruins, and maybe they only dive a lot against the them because the Bruins are known to be tough and it’s more believable from a ref’s perspective that a Bruin would give a dirty hit. It’s just what I’ve seen. Just as the Bruins’ dirty hits stand out to you, the Habs’ diving stands out to me. I think for both of us, fans of opposite teams in possibly the most heated rivalry in sports, it’s hard to be objective. But diving happens around the league and needs to stop, that’s the overall point. I’ll agree that Marchand has done his share of diving in the past, but as I said, I haven’t seen it this year and I think it’s a part of his past, but no longer a part of his current game.
    I agree that part of the Bruins’ strategy is intimidation, but there are only so many tough guys in the league, so only a few teams can effectively do this, and there will always be some. The Bruins just happen to be one of those teams. But fighting and intimidating has also been a part of the Bruins game for a long time and their fans have grown to expect it.. and we certainly enjoy it. As I said, it’s hard to be objective, but I do feel that the Bruins are at least average in terms of dirtiness. See Matt Cooke or Patrick Kaleta.. they’ve always been dirty and both have recent very dirty hits. Those are just examples but unfortunately, we see dirty hits every week.
    I do enjoy a good fight. Maybe that’s because I’m a Bruins fan and my team has always had fighters. I think part of it, and the reason why people who like fighting in hockey in general, is our humanity. No matter how much society changes, we still enjoy the thrill of violence as we did in the days of gladiators in the arenas. Still, I would definitely like to see less grousome injuries. However, the majority of these injuries come from dirty hits, not fights. So if they could give harsher discipline for dirty hits, while still allowing fights, I think it would help cut down those injuries a lot.
    As for Marchand, I have heard the comparison of him to Subban and I think at one point it was valid. But as I said, Marchand’s game has changed and diving is no longer part of it. I just wish Subban would drop the diving too.. he has skill and really doesn’t need to do it. He can still contribute to his team without it. The “gloved punches” (which are usually just “face washes” happen around the league, but obviously it tends to happen more often with the tough-guy/intimidator teams like the Bruins. I do believe there is still a place in hockey for agitators and fighters. I feel it’s a part of the game and can be used effectively for a team’s strategy. But as much as the Bruins are tough, the Habs are quick. So I think everything evens out even with having teams like the Bruins. The way things are, the Habs and Bruins are pretty much a perfect counter for each other and their matchups will always be exciting.

  4. For the sake of argument, here are some commentaries about the game from non-Habs, non-Bruins fans:

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=417446

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/embellishment-city-boston-bruins-hypocrisy-diving-goes-viral-144026712–nhl.html

    http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2013/03/05/watch-claude-julien-try-to-save-the-game-from-being-embarrassed/

    As for whether or not violence speaks to the human soul or whatever, I disagree:

    http://www.radiolab.org/2009/oct/19/new-nice/

    Do people like it? Yup, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a necessity for the sport. I can’t say people enjoy the violence when it happens to Savard or Bergeron or Pacioretty or whichever player who’s gotten hurt on the team that anyone else might be reading this cheers for.

    For Subban, I think he’s a player that needs to stop hacking and slashing, but if he’s a diver, I’m not sure he’s an egregious one, and I do believe that, rather unfortunately, if his name were John Smith and he were white, then people would talk about him as a ‘guy you love to have on your team and hate to play against.’

    I suppose the overall point is that it’s a little much for Julien, let alone any coach in the league, to pretend that his team, and his team only plays the right way. Sure, the soundbite provides an out for his fans to deny that they simply got beaten, but it comes off as a little weird given the style his team has played.

    • Man I thought we were coming to a friendly conclusion with this reply conversation.. I even complimented the Habs and Subban. But now you’re riled me up again. First, you can’t really say those are unbiased commentaries. Pretty much anyone outside of New England hates the Bruins.. and TSN is Canadian and will always take sides with the Canadian team in an argument.. it wouldn’t be good business if they didn’t.

      As for the violence, I’m sure not everyone likes it, and I’m sure those who do don’t like it as much as the ancients, I’m just saying that there are a lot of people that enjoy hard-hitting action.. which I believe is why there’s still fighting in the NHL and why the NFL is so popular in the US (and boxing to some extent, though it used to be bigger). Oh and all the MMA and UFC stuff, which is relatively new.

      Also, I wasn’t talking about the dirty hits that cause injuries like with Savard/Bergeron/Pacioretty.. I was talking about fighting. I was saying that for every tough team like the Bruins that can use fighting to their advantage, there is a much faster and probably more skilled team that can run circles around them, like the Habs. It all evens out for the most part.. and because of this, any Bruins/Habs game will always be intense and exciting, regardless of how much we hate each other.

      As for Subban, as I said, it’s hard for either of us to be objective. I do think he dives, but you’re probably right that he’s not an egregious diver. Unfortunately, there will always be racists and that truly saddens me because it makes no sense. However, I think there a plenty, if not the majority, of people from Boston who understand that everyone is equal, as I do. I’m white and I have a black girlfriend. So Subban being black isn’t really the reason why we feel this way about him. Regardless of his race, I think most of us will admit he is a ‘guy you love to have on your team and hate to play against.’ We can probably say the same about Marchand.

      Yes it was a bit much for Julien to say that. It was mostly because of the emotional loss. And I’m not saying we ‘play the right way,’ but I do feel like we’ve moved away from diving. If you watch that “Embellishment City” video linked on most of those links you listed, none of the Bruins diving is from this year except Seguin getting crushed in the ribs.. and I don’t think it was him trying to get a penalty called.. I think it hurt like hell and Seguin wanted to curl up and protect himself from further contact until he really knew how bad it was. The rest of the clips are old.. and most of them are Marchand. As I said before, he definitely used to dive a lot, but he has changed his game.. He has 12 goals, 18 points, is 2nd in shooting percentage if you take out the guys that have taken four or less shots, 100% on shootout attempts (2 for 2) and 100% on penalty shots (1 for 1). So I think that video would’ve made more sense a couple years ago. I’m not saying we’ll never dive.. I think every team will at some point, but I feel the Bruins are moving away from it.

  5. Let me see if I follow here…

    Proposition 1: TSN is a Canadian Sports Media Company.
    Proposition 2: Montreal is in Canada
    Conclusion: Therefore, TSN cheers for the Canadiens.

    By this logic…

    Proposition 1: Boston is a city in the United States of America.
    Proposition 2: The New York Yankees are an American baseball team.
    Conclusion, Boston residents cheer for the Yankees.

    Sure, the Embellishment City video is cut to make the Bruins look as bad as possible, but there was also written commentary that said as much around the article. I’m not sure that I agree that everyone in the media hates the Bruins. Most people seem to say the same thing, which is that they’re a very good team. If anything, the media likes the Bruins to a fault. When Chara nearly removed Pacioretty’s head, even up here in Canada, most of the media outside of Montreal rushed to defend Chara as a genuinely good guy, so it must have been an accident.

    My initial commentary, that Julien’s rant was more of a tactical move to earn some calls from the refs next game, isn’t really invalidated. Particularly since you agree that both teams have players who bend the rules on occasion. I don’t disagree at all that the Bruins are a good team with good players, as you point out with Marchand, only that the organization seems to complain bitterly whenever anything doesn’t go their way even as they play a style that isn’t totally clean.

    • You’re analogy about TSN isn’t quite right. You’re equating a city to a sports network. What you said about my logic meaning Boston cheers for the Yankees is like me saying the Toronto cheers for the Habs. We know this isn’t true (though on YouTube videos involving any of the Canadian teams and the Bruins, fans from all of the Canadian teams do defend that team, even if it’s not their team, but that’s beside the point). What I’m saying is that one of Canada’s biggest sports networks will tend to take sides with a Canadian team over an American team, just as ESPN would probably take sides with an American team over a Canadian team (though they stupidly don’t cover hockey).

      I guess everyone outside of New England in the media doesn’t hate the Bruins.. I think I just generalized that from all of the anti-Bruins comments I’ve read on YouTube from fans of other teams.

      I agree, Julien’s rant was more of a tactical move and based on the emotions of a tough loss. However, the point that diving needs to be removed from the league is still valid. I don’t think we complain EVERY time things don’t go our way, but we do complain. Still, I think coaches will do this often to boost or at least prevent a loss in the team’s morale.

    • LOL.. Sure, let’s be the first two fans on opposite sides of this epic rivalry to be friends. I don’t like your team, you don’t like mine, but I think we can both respect each other.. or at least respect each others’ passion for our teams.

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