February 11, 2011; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk (55) and right wing Shawn Thornton (22) celebrate a goal scored by left wing Daniel Paille (20) during the third period against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE
Now, I have gained fans from the use of social networking. On Twitter, I am @Godwentwhoops. On that social media site, I have often argued that the Bruins are the most fan-approachable players in any of our area teams. I have also argued that players like Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk would be nice enough to help you move if you asked them to. The Bruins players have been out there making the rounds and staying above the fray as the NHL lockout approaches its fourth week.
Four of Boston’s own decided to spend opening night with the fans. Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Johnny Boychuck went out to two different arenas on a surprise visit to local Boston Pee Wee practices. Boychuk and Paille skated with a South Boston PeeWee team during their practice at the Francis Murray rink in South Boston, and Marchand and Campbell scrimmaged with a Cambridge PeeWee youth hockey team at Simoni Memorial Arena. Daniel Paille(Boston’s NHLPA rep) came up with idea the players to make the surprise visits to the practice sessions. It was a great public relations idea that spread through out the entire league. With the quality of charachter in the Boston line up, it didn’t take much to get a few Bruins to back up one of the Merlot Men.
Paille talked about his decision to wrangle up some teammates and spread some good cheer amongst the fans. “We didn’t want to be in this position. We wanted to be in Philly right now. Obviously we all want to play. But on the bright side there were a lot of kids here that showed a lot of excitement and had a lot of joy. We’ve got no games to play right now, so we need to get out among the community. Obviously they’ve always been great to us, and we need to do whatever we can to help fans understand where [we’re coming from] and know that we’re always trying to help out.”
It’s attitudes like Paille’s that made me take a serious look at hockey as a sport. The players were by no means a bunch of obnoxious millionaires. They were fans once to. If Steve Yzerman or Wayne Gretzky came to watch a young Dan Paille or John Boychuk play PeeWee, they would have been as insanely excited as those kids were last night.
Danny Paille was not the only B-Bruin talking about the goodwill spread by these surprise visits. Boston’s own ‘Little Ball of Hate’ was anything but that with his visit. Brad Marchand took the time to express his feelings about this great gesture by the team. “It was a blast. It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the ice with a big group of kids,” said Marchand, back from his summer in Nova Scotia. “They really enjoyed it, and to see how happy and excited they were made our day too. “We love playing the game; we’re still at that point in our career. It would be great to be out in game situations right now. When you’re in a city like Boston and you get the fan support like we do, it’s tough to walk around and see how disappointed they are that we’re not playing. We want to be in front of them and we want to play for them. It would be nice to be out there making them happy.”
All things considered, we’d rather seem them play too. At the moment, that is not feasible. It is reassuring to see our favorite players(and I admit Marchand is mine.) out on the ice. They might not be racking up goals and assists, but they sure are scoring points with the fans. Thank you again Bruins, for proving you are the nicest players in the NHL. (Although I’m sure Sedin would disagree with me Marshy.)
A big thank you needs to go out to Joe Haggery (@HackswithHaggs on Twitter) for being the real Bruins insider, and getting the quotes for this. People like him give people like me the inspiration to work to become people like him.