There’s nothing like playoff hockey, when sometimes even signs can upset a fan base. That’s exactly what happened in Tampa, and as a result, the Bruins are doing a little redecorating at the TD Garden.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Bruins have taken down a handful of signs throughout the Garden that apparently hurt the feelings of a few Lightning fans.
The signs have appeared in and around the Garden throughout the playoffs, and have playfully poked fun at the teams the Bruins have played in the playoffs and their fans.
For instance, when the Bruins took on the Flyers in the last round, one of the signs read, “Black and Gold runs through Boston’s veins. In Philly, it’s just cholesterol.”
With the Bruins taking on the Lightning this round, the signs feature “The Bear” playfully poking fun at the seriousness of Lightning fans in a far-from-traditional hockey market.
Another read: “Loch Ness Monster. Big Foot. Tampa Bay Lightning Fans.”
The signs, which Bruins director of communications Matt Chmura told the paper were not meant to be insulting, but instead playful, apparently struck a chord with however many Lightning fans there may be down in Florida.
According to the Times report, “Cowhead,” a radio host in the Tampa Bay area, helped organize a grassroots protest in which fans were encouraged to call the Bruins and complain about the signs.
Cowhead, whose real name is Mike Calta, bragged to the St. Petersburg Times when the Bruins decided to take the signs down.
“In a swift and strong attack, we showed the Bruins organization that not only do we exist, but we are ready to fight for our team,” Calta told the Times. “We moved in like Seal Team 6 and shut them down in a way that other teams they attacked have never been able to do.”
Apparently, somewhere along the way, the signs represented as much evil and despair to the offended Lightning fans as Osama bin Laden did to the entire free world, but that’s a different story.
Chmura confirmed to the paper that the signs had been removed, but he did insist the signs weren’t meant to offend Bolts fans and that “nobody should take it personally.”
“The Bear is supposed to be a fun vision of how the Bruins fans think,” Chmura said. “It’s just a fun-loving character that tries to embody Bruins fans and their spirit.”
Lightning nation didn’t think it was very fun-loving, though, and they’re saying that the Bruins organization may have awoken the sleeping lightning bolt — or something like that.
“For the most part, everyone was kind of looking at the Bruins without any animosity toward them, but after that thing came out, it was definitely bulletin board material,” said Chad Schnarr, who runs BoltProspects.com. “If they wanted to draw some hatred from the Tampa Bay fan base, they certainly succeeded. You expect it from a fan. You don’t expect it from a team.”
The Bruins will get their first taste of that vaunted “hatred from the Tampa Bay fan base” on Thursday night when they take on the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.
Until then, enjoy The Bear doing what he does best.