I know you probably thought that New England was distracted by the World Series and the full swing of the NFL season, or that we've all been spending our evenings praying for Pedro Martinez to come through again or dissecting Miami's confounding Wildcat offense. But now that the World Series has ended and the football scheming is best to left to the master, we've got our eyes on you. And we want some answers.
For one thing, your timing is terrible.
Look, you can't just lose a shootout to the rival Canadiens a day after we've all watched the Yankees celebrate their 27th World Series championship. Our egos can only take so much.
Don't you know you're supposed to pick up the slack around here? You're supposed to make Red Sox fans feel better by taking down the Bruins' version of the Evil Empire. It's not much, but it might have made us feel a little better.
Hockey is a weird sport. It is perhaps the only one where a team can theoretically lose all of its games and still make the playoffs (benefiting from both a weak division and points awarded for overtime losses), but no one wants to back into these things. It's hockey! It's bloody and dirty and violent and difficult!
I know some people think we have a recurrence of the Joe Thornton situation on our hands with the recent trade of Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Kessel's Leafs currently are 1-7 and sit in last place in the Northeast Division — behind only the Bruins.
Boys, you've got to do something to snap out of it. Your winter-time compatriots, the Boston Celtics, are currently undefeated and sit very comfortably atop the Eastern Conference. You don't want people trading in their black and gold for green, especially now, when your fans are finally coming back. Especially now that people care again.
And they do care. Trust me, they do. Two straight years of hard-fought, down-and-dirty playoff battles will do wonders to re-energize a fan base. We can fill those Garden seats. Don’t underestimate Boston fans, boys. They're there. They're always around. They're just looking for a reason to cheer, and a 6-7 record does not make for an excited fan base.
I'm sure there are reasons for the lackluster play, but this is Boston. I've never once been to a Bruins game and sat less than four seats away from either a guy named Sully in an IBEW sweatshirt or a Pee Wee hockey team from Billerica. We don't want to hear excuses. We want to see some hockey.
Mark Savard is also on long-term injured reserve with a broken foot? OK, maybe you've got a point. This is getting a bit hard to overcome.
That said, every team suffers injuries all the time. Even the Capitals are currently in a panicked state of mourning as Wonder Boy Alexander Ovechkin is currently listed as week-to-week with an "upper body strain.” Positively Belichickian, no?
You do what you can to recall players and plug 'em in where you need to. Zdeno Chara is practically the size of two guys anyway. Can't he pick up some of the slack?
I feel like I've been promising you for years that, in Boston, if you provide the fans with a reason to cheer for hockey, they will come. And I still believe it. They will.
Hockey traditions are deeply rooted in this area and for good reason. The Bruins have been around in some form for 85 years. They're an Original Six franchise. Proud employers of Bobby Orr and Johnny Bucyk, Ray Bourque and Milt Schmidt, Cam Neely and Phil Esposito. Kids strap on beat-up skates and couch cushions and take to the ponds of New England pretending to be any one of a number of Bruins greats, past and present.
New Englanders can get behind their Bruins. But the way you're playing right now, they may threaten to leave the parquet down after the Celtics’ next home game.
Bruins fans love their team, but they get so frustrated when it underperforms that sitting idly by is torture for us. We scream for you.
"Hit someone, Chara, come on!"
"For god's sake, someone cover the slot on the power play!"
It’s because we care. It’s why those seats in the Garden fill up when you guys give it all you've got. We're here, and we haven't gone anywhere, but you have to play like you deserve us.
Perhaps I'm being too hard on you. Perhaps you know that with two of your best players on extended injured reserve and your goaltender (a very good one, it must be said) on the wrong side of 30, you just need to hold it together as best you can until you've got your guys back and you can really start making headway in the standings.
If that's the plan, great. If you're holding things together with spirit gum, call-ups and gumption, that's OK, but pretty soon, we're going to need to see some payoff.
What I'm saying, gentlemen, is that we want more for you. You're a better team than this, stacked with a veritable stable of hockey-playing wunderkinds, and you're capable of great things.
Or at least of beating Montreal.