A good team in Boston has risen from the muck of mediocrity, to the light of day. As is normally the case when this happens, the bandwagonners, front-runners, pink-hats, and fair-weathered fans come out of the woodwork. Here’s a quick guide for those navigating the Hub of Hockey, how to spot these folks, who only help teams by dumping money into them. And how to spot the people who were there when the going was tough.
Most of this is how to spot the true fans, and find the frauds through process of elimination.
The Bruins actually did something to make this all easier. They modified their logo. They went from a flat “B“, to a stylized version. Personally, I like the new “B” because it sort of goes along with the unspoken theme of a New Brand of Bruin. But if someone is wearing apparel with the old “B,” you can bet they’ve been a fan for longer than 5 months.
Or have they? The Bruins have a third kind of supporter: The Prodigal Fan. Those who left the flock, then returned. Are these those fair-weathered fans dusting off their Andy Moog sweaters, disguised as loyal diehards? Sort of, I guess. But it’s a tad more complex than a group of people who stopped following a team that was losing.
The NHL Lockout was the last straw for many of these guys. That coupled with the ownership of the Bruins utterly refusing to spend money to retain their own talent, let alone go out and get new players. Joe Thornton, Sergei Samsonov, Bill Guerin, Andrew Raycroft, all recent cast-offs because they got too good. This can be more than frustrating. The team developed talent, and wasn’t horrible, but they refused to get better. The team was one of the most profitable in the League, but refused to spend. The loyal cadre of Bruins fans who still went to games eventually became fed up. The Lockout was the perfect time to exit.
These fans do not deserve the label “diehard,” but they aren’t on the opposite extreme, either. They didn’t follow another hockey team, and when the Bruins showed some life last year in the playoffs, they started to come back. They’re jilted lovers, hesitant to be friends with their ex, and they kind of act that way. One redeemable quality, and a good way to detect the true Prodigal Fan, is a sense of contrition, and the willingness to freely and openly admit to their straying.
Milan Lucic is an interesting issue. While many diehards love the way he plays hockey, many pink hats of the female persuasion simply love him. He’s growing into the Dustin Pedroia of the Bruins. Milan Lucic t-shirts, jerseys, and hats could mean anything. Unless, of course, they have the #62 (his original digits) on it.
An obscure way to spot a diehard is to utter the phrase “Too many men on the ice.” If the test subject cringes a bit, he/she is a diehard. I can’t explain why this test works. It’s a secret. And it's painful to discuss.
A hatred for anything French sounding, even going so far as to call Patrice Bergeron “Patrick Burger On.”
A good name to drop is Jeremy Jacobs, the Ebenezer Scrooge of the Bruins. New fans can learn about the players and coaches, but the owner’s name is hardly ever dropped on TV and only occasionally on the radio. If they don’t know who Jacobs is, they’re not a fan. PERIOD. No owner is more well-known amongst its true fan base. If Jacobs ever went to a Bruins game, it’d be a security risk.
If they know who Jacobs is AND LIKE HIM, then they’re Mr. Jacobs’ son or daughter and should be held for ransom.
If they accidentally call the the Garden by an old name, i.e. “Fleet Center” or even “Shawmut Center,” they've been fans for awhile.
They wish the Whalers were back just so they could have another team to hate. And they LOVE the Whaler’s theme song.
They can at least hum the Bruins’ theme song from the WSBK days.
If they guess that any Dropkick Murphy’s song is the Bruins’ theme song, slap them as hard as humanly possible.
They don’t think the B’s will win it all, or if they do, phrases like “Bruins in 6” are said with a shocking, unreal tone of voice, as if the predictor were saying “I can fly.” Or are said as a question. “I think the Bruins will win it all?”
A penchant for wearing black (and not knowing what “penchant” means), particularly leather.
If a Bruins fan doesn’t like Zdeno Chara, or admits to a period of not liking him, they’re a diehard. Chara’s a bastard, and spent 4 years with the Senators, being a bastard to everyone in the Northeast Division. Many Bruins fans still detest him, or feel uncomfortable cheering for him.
A diehard Bruins fan typically has a nemesis on the team, a player they can’t stand to see on the ice. P.J. Axelsson might be the most popular nemesis. Mine is Shane Hnidy, who’s a tough player, just not a smart one. He’s a defenseman who struggles with the basic tasks of being an NHL defenseman. He can’t keep the puck in the zone to save his life, he never gets back to prevent breakaways, he gives up possession in his own zone. I roll my eyes when he’s on the ice.
So these are just some of the ways to discern a true diehard from the inevitable wave of pink-hats and frontrunners. Then again, what’s wrong with pink-hats? Who doesn’t think it’s hot to see a cute girl wearing their favorite team’s jersey? Hockey sweaters aren’t conducive to accentuating the female form, but if worn properly, perhaps with an elastic (that’s New Englander for rubber band) around the waist to make it tight, it can be a wicked hot outfit. After all, you can’t tuck in your Bruins jersey...