The Boston Bruins are No. 1.
And I’m not referring to their place in the National Hockey League, which has another week or two decide that.
I’m referring to their place in the hearts (and passion) of this region.
This is no slapdown of the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics, all of whom have collectively embraced the Patriots-induced drive to win championships.
I’m referring to the team on the ice. They have kept their identity — tough, edgy, relentless and diligent — for decades.
And that identity is a microcosm of this region, which likes to embrace all of those admirable qualities.
(Thankfully, your Bruins haven’t taken on two other not-so-charming qualities we tend to have — braggadocious and arrogance.)
There are two occurrences from the series with the Pittsburgh Penguins that encapsulate these themes:
Gregory Campbell staying on the ice for 45 seconds with a broken bone in his leg and the last 30 seconds of Game 4.
Campbell will never have to pay for a dinner again in the Boston area. He personifies being a Bruin ... whatever it takes.
And the last 30 seconds of series with the Penguins, with Bruins bodies flying and diving, doing anything to keep the puck out of the net, was extraordinary. It was not luck that Zdeno Chara saved the puck with his glove (on Evgeni Malkin’s potential tying shot) without seeing it. It was a Bruin giving everything he had. Isn’t that what being a Bruin is.
It’s hard to play in June. The gashes on the face are deeper. Broken noses are collateral damage to winning. And there are no days off.
Following championship teams is a ball whether it’s from the my seat in the press box or your seat in the family room. But following this team isn’t the same.