One of the things lost in the modern era of New Boston is the fact that the Hub is actually a hockey town.
It was a hockey town for ages, until the Red Sox got good again and the Patriots came out of the doldrums 20 years ago to be the GOAT.
But before all of that, the Bruins ruled this town.
There was a camaraderie with the Bruins that the public – particularly those in the City core – had with the B’s players and the organization in general that was intimate. The only thing that came close to it was the Celtics, and old Red would tell anyone his greatest battle when he took over in the 1950s was converting a rascally, rabid and nutty hockey fan base to become followers of the game of basketball – which doesn’t allow fighting and penalizes players for making contact.
Boston loved blood on the ice, particularly if it came from north of the border.
Buddying up to the parquet was a journey for Boston. As it has been with the Patriots. There isn’t a soul alive today that hasn’t seen the miracles of Tom Brady and Coach Bill, but it’s new in the lineage of Boston sports – which is as rich a tradition as the Revolutionary history under our feet. And while Red Sox Nation is untouchable, and we are also a bit of a baseball city, the Sox fielded some real stinkers year after year in the middle of the last century. It left the Bruins to be the one Boston team to root for, the team of the common man – the blue-collar worker.
A fast-moving sport full of strategy wherein an unchecked fist fight could break out in front of 20,000 people at any moment.
The old Boston Garden had a lot to do with all of that too, as well as the skating tradition in the City – where more than a few basketball courts in the City were transformed into ice rinks by the Fire Department in the winter months.
Today, the Bruins begin their playoff run, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying I’m excited to see where the team will go. Playoff hockey in Boston is a special time, and perhaps we’ve forgotten that a little bit.
I think of a late friend of mine named Roger who was president of the Gallery Gods at the old Garden for like 80 years. The Gallery Gods were a group of insane Bruins fans organized in the old Garden between regulars who sat up in the rafters of the old arena. They were the craziest of the crazies. Roger carried on the tradition well into his 90s.
The Gods were Boston at ground level.
He would have loved to see this team.
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I don’t know about anyone else, but I can get a little sour, a little cranky, when things aren’t like they were.
Can you tell?
Anyway, I have to say that I’m not fan of the Boston Marathon anymore. Perhaps it’s because of proximity and the security that has to be part of it now. It’s like bringing the Mexican border to the Back Bay for a weekend.
The large guns.
The police dogs.
Searches and seizures.
Everyone’s a target, and everyone’s a suspect in that environment.
The Marathon is here to stay. That’s for certain. It’s our thing forever.
But I find myself wishing at times that they’d start running from Hopkinton to Lowell, rather than Hopkinton to the Back Bay.
Maybe I’m not alone.