Apr 26, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) shakes hands with Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) after game five of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden. The Bruins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

A Boston Bruins Fan's *stick tap* to the Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are a class organization. They’re part of the Original Six family. The old guard of hockey has an understanding amongst themselves that they treat each other with courtesy and profound respect. (That lesson is sometimes lost when facing the Montreal Canadiens, but that is an argument for another day.) They were an eight seed who faced an awful lot of lost games to injury this season. Even as an eight seed, they were a team that took the Bruins to task in the regular season. Their 6-1 shellacking of the Black and Gold might have been the B’s worst loss all season.

That loss galvanized both the Bruins respect of the Red Wings, and their motivation to improve. The Red Wings were tough customers for the Bruins this year. They bested the Black and Gold three out of four times in the regular season. (Montreal fans seem to remind of us that too, but that is also an argument for another day.) They are a team that relied on speed and finesse, the rapier to the Bruins battleaxe. When Detroit plays to their identity, they are a team that could easily bedevil the Bruins. Injury and illness ran rampant among key players in Detroit, and the loss of their number one goalie Jimmy Howard put the Wings in danger in the last two games.

The Red Wings fought. This was not a team that would roll over and die, and their game one win surprised a lot of Bruins fans. After game one, they played a style of hockey that was more Boston than Detroit. Boston happily accepted that kind of play, and the losses start to add up for the Wings. Still, this was a team that has taken an entire generation of fans with them through the postseason. That they did with practically half an AHL team is an outstanding, if not monumental achievement. The Red Wings organization should be proud of what they accomplished with what they had. It’s part of the reason I put Mike Babcock on my short list to win the Jack Adams this year. The other part was my respect for a coach who always had time to respect his opponent.

Coach Babcock’s interview after game five was a glowing review of the Bruins. He praised the Bruins team and Claude Julien for the series, and how he thought the Black and Gold bested them. “I think it’s just overall depth. They’ve got good players. Some teams have got a real good team and their goalie gets you started, gets the opposition started. This kid [Tuukka Rask] doesn’t get you started. Not only does he stop the puck, he plays the puck good, so it’s harder to get in on their D. Their back end is left and right-hand shots. When you set up a team, if you can have left and right-hand shots, it makes it way easier to move the puck through the neutral zone. They’re at the right time.”

The respectful attitude doesn’t just lie with their coach, their captain Henrik Zetterberg has been part of their success year after year, and his opinion of the Bruins was no less positive.

“They really stick to their structure, they have been doing that for two to three years now and they know it works. We haven’t really gone through that with this group. We get away from playing playoff hockey and we play against a team like Boston and they take advantage of that. I think if we look at them, they roll four lines, they do the same things, they get the puck out, they get the puck in.  When the other team gives them an opportunity they take advantage. It is impressive, they are a good team but they know how to win, they have been there.”

Can you imagine Michel Therrien or Brian Gionta being that gracious? No, not likely.

Congratulations to the Detroit Red Wings on their twenty-third straight run to the playoffs. Thank you for reminding us in the regular season that there is more than one style of hockey that breeds success on the ice. Thank you for kicking our butts on occasion (and in one instance, picking them up off the ice and handing them back to us). It made the Bruins a better team. Thank you Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson for being outstanding goalies. A huge *stick tap* to Pavel Datsyuk who reminded the B’s (and especially their fans) that ‘Datsyukian’ is a word that is still used with reverence and awe in Boston.  Henrik Zetterberg, this Bruins fan will likely purchase on of your jerseys. You are a future Hall-of-Famer and a sterling example to the other twenty nine men who wear the “C” on their chest.

My last stick tap goes out to Brendan Smith. You showed us that you’ve got an incredible hockey family, and it was an awkward pleasure to watch you and your brother Reilly spar in the series.

Thank you again for a fantastic series, and thank you for being another reason why hockey is the greatest sport on Earth.






Tags: 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Boston Bruins National Hockey League

  • Pridenpoise

    Waaa, you sound like the Fan of a team who has been owned by the Habs for the better part of 40 years, if you’re looking for respect from the Habs organization, they only give when it’s been earned, so don’t hold your breath.

    • Andrew Thompson

      But it is a Bruins team that has seen a Stanley Cup within the last three years (something the Canadiens have lacked for twenty one years(and counting?)).

    • johnnyboy

      The Habs organization gives respect when its earned? Everyone else does the same so I guess that’s why no one in the NHL respects Montreal. Could be their fans too who constantly talk about the past because for the last 20 years they’ve got nothing. Good chirp though.

      • Pridenpoise

        Lmao, boo hoo, let’s talk about the present if I remember correctly the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup, so what exactly are you chirping about, the Past. What a moron.

        • Guest

          Bruins just won it. I hear better chirping from dead birds. Troll on P

          • Pridenpoise

            No Chicago just won it, but don’t let facts get in the way of your delusions, let me guess Bruins fan for the past 4 years, let me on the bandwagon, let’s see how long you stay on that wagon when the wheels fall off. Those aren’t dead birds, they’re bears.

  • Yendor

    From a long time Red Wing fan, thank you for the respect you have towards the game, and our team. I was proud of our kids for giving us all they had, and obviously not enough to beat the Bruins. After game 1, your guys responded and never looked back. I think this series will go a long ways towards the Wings getting back to the finals again. But until then, the Bruins will be a force to contend with, and have the Stanely Cup quality play in my mind. Cheers.

  • Joey McKenzie

    As a lifetime Wings fan this was a spectacular read of class and sportsmanship. The respect between one another is one that isn’t found much in sports. The Bruins of the Wings in the late 2000′s. Multiple Stanley Cup appearances, the fine mix between youth and veterans, the veterans showing their poise and getting underneath the opponents skin and allowing them to not play their own game and the will and desire to win the small battles to develop a minor play into something much more. My hat goes off to you guys. You are the model of a team that year after year plans on contending. However remember this is partially a honeymoon stage of respect. We are new into the East and this will quickly become a heated rivalry, if not already. Any respect with Chicago went out the window many years ago and I know see them as a team of buffoons that I cannot stand the sight of them. In all honestly I hope this becomes the case. A team to measure each other up for years to come and especially an original 6 team. A rivalry that means something much more than a game but to pass the torch of bragging rights. Your earned it thus far. You have earned this Wings fan’s respect except from the play of Lucic and Marchant but hey thats what rivalries entail. I probably can’t count how many people hate Kronwall from devastating hits from the years past. Good luck the rest of the way. It’s a sign of things to come. You know this Red Wings fan won’t be rooting for you and that comes from not as much animosity but more of respect, for now…

  • LikeHockey

    Stick to the balls! Need I say more!