Bruins Still Not No. 1 in Boston Fans’ Hearts Despite Unforgettable Stanley Cup Run

Bruins Still Not No. 1 in Boston Fans' Hearts Despite Unforgettable Stanley Cup RunEditor's note: Each week, NESN.com's editorial staff will debate a topic via email in a feature called "Field Judges." We'll post the conversation and the ruling on NESN.com.

Ben Watanabe, Assistant Editor, 11:18 a.m., Monday:

The healing process from September's Red Sox swoon began last Thursday with the Bruins raising their championship banner to the rafters. A few years ago, the Bruins were probably a solid fourth in Boston's hierarchy of sports teams. Considering the Red Sox' fall from grace, the Celtics possibly not having a season and the Patriots' worrisome issues on defense, has the hierarchy changed since the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup?

So far, these debates have been too civil for my liking. Let's work some personal attacks into this week's debate. The winning side is whoever forces the other side to shed the most tears.

Michael Hurley, Senior Assistant Editor, 1:22 p.m., Monday:

Well I'll start this off, Ben, by telling you that you're a horrible person. Hope that suits your needs.

The Bruins are undeniably the hottest ticket in Boston right now. Just a few years ago, Bruins fans were mocked for buying season tickets for the B's, who looked to be decades away from ever being competitive again. Needless to say, those fans who stuck it out have been rewarded. They've essentially gone from being the nerd table in the cafeteria to the cool kids table, just by being themselves. The aforementioned lack of a basketball season and the disappointing Red Sox season certainly gives the B's top billing in Boston.

You'll note, though, that the Patriots don't play in Boston. They play in Foxboro, and they own the entire region.

It's really not a fair fight to try to compare any of the other sports to the NFL franchise in town. The league itself is a behemoth, and the 16-game schedule leads to monster ratings and a weeklong news cycle that never runs dry. No matter how suspect the defense is, the Patriots will continue to be king in this area so long as Tom Brady is lining up under center every week.

You did see in 2008 what happened when he's not there, and the bandwagon certainly had a lot more elbow room. Interest was down, fan morale was down, and you could actually buy tickets to games. Three years later, they're back where they've been for the better part of the last decade.

The Bruins have done all they could to become top team in town, but they're still No. 2 on the hierarchy.

Ricky Doyle, Assistant Editor, 7:19 p.m., Monday:

Wow, so by that response, you’re putting the Sox as the No. 3 team in terms of Boston's sports hierarchy. I assume No. 3 because, going off your cafeteria comparison from earlier, the Celtics are the Steven Glansbergs of this debate.

Anyway, I couldn't disagree more. The Sox may have suffered perhaps the worst end-of-the-season collapse in MLB history, but the aftermath just goes to show where they lie in the hearts of most Bostonians. Leading up to the regular-season finale, it was as if the sky was falling in Boston, and I can't imagine any of the other four local teams generating a response of that magnitude –- especially when it comes to simply getting into the playoffs.

The B's are certainly a hot ticket at the moment and have a very passionate fan base. But there are also a lot of fans  that have gained interest based on the team's Stanley Cup success. As you mentioned, a few years ago, Bruins fans were typically mocked for buying season tickets.With the Sox, however, there's never really been that complete disregard. If they lose, fans are ticked off. If they win, fans are thrilled. But there rarely comes a point when Boston sports fans stop caring about the Sox altogether. In the wake of their collapse, which was embarrassing, fans are anxiously seeking answers rather than writing them off, which I think just validates their No. 1 standing.

Ben Watanabe, Assistant Editor, 4:11 p.m., Tuesday:

I don’t know about the Celtics being Boston's Steven Glansburg, but Hurley is definitely the Steven Glansburg of NESN. Poor guy.

I'd never seen anything like the change this area went through when the Patriots won the Super Bowl. It was incredible. Suddenly, everyone was happier. I was convinced the Pats had been the sleeper among our teams the whole time. Then the Red Sox won and not only was everyone happy, but it was like they could die happy. And I don't mean years or decades from now. I mean they seemed like they could die right then and be cool with it.

As much emotion as there was in the Bruins' Stanley Cup victory, I didn't see the joy being as widespread. The chunk of fans who had suffered with this team for years was much smaller than the group that had lived and died with the Sox and Pats. I still give the Red Sox the championship belt, but the Bruins might be to Boston what Roy Jones Jr. was to boxing in the late 1990s: The undisputed best, pound for pound. Y'all musta forgot.

John Beattie, Associate Editor, 9:04 a.m., Wednesday:

The B's are the talk of the town and there's no turning back. But how long will this fad last?

I hate to admit it, but as long as Brady is under center and Welker is threading through secondaries and Belichick is rocking Pat the Patriot on his sleeveless hoodie, it's all Pats, all the time.

Yes, I know they were red-headed stepchildren until Drew Bledsoe, but there's no turning back now that Kraftville has been erected. The B's always had and always will have the most devoted hard-core fans, but excitement of the pink hats that joined this past summer — yes, the pink hats: the group that makes and breaks a team's "hotness" in this city — will surely die down if and when the B's slow down.

As for the Pats? They'll always be top banana, no matter what their record is. Why? Tailgates are too fun, Sunday Fundays will never die and football players will always be the prom kings.

RULING

This looks like a hung jury. Two votes for the Red Sox and two for the Patriots. If only we could have had Jack Nicholson on the witness stand yelling "You can't handle the truth!" at Mike and John, maybe we could've swayed the argument.

We may disagree on whether the Sox or Pats are No. 1 in the fans' hearts, but it looks like we all agree that even with their success last season, the Bruins still have a long way to go to claim the top spot.

Sorry, B's. You're still No. 2 at best.

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