16 April, 2014


Thin Skinned Down in the Sunshine State: Clever Bruins Smack Gets Silenced

My eternal problem with the Southeast division: There are no rivalries in it in any way approaching those we once enjoyed with our predecessor Patrick division, and subsequently, I can’t summon the hate. And in instances as with what a segment of Lightning fans in Tampa, led by a silly DJ there, carried off this week, all I can summon is fresh pity.

I should hate the Bolts; they just beat our ass badly, after all. But they’ve dusted off the Caps twice in a decade, and when you think about it, who hasn’t? None of their fans came to Verizon Center for games 1 and 2 of round two, and small wonder — they’re like a thousand miles away.

Ah, the absence of Tampa fans; it’s a prime theme in a brilliantly conceived and devilishly cunning Boston Bruins ad campaign — or it was, rather, until a Tampa tirade of telephone calls closed it down. Meaning, I’m resurrecting it here.

The Bs of course have carried off this fabulous mascot-driven humor campaign in print and video spots the past few seasons. We’ve sung its praises here. It’s simply magnificent. And it bloomed beautifully in Beantown for this year’s Eastern Conference finals, but as Greg Wyshynski noted in his treatment of this matter, the Bs have run it for each and every postseason opponent the past two springs. It’s Tampa’s hockey fans who singularly took offense to it. The aforementioned DJ, for whom I haven’t enough respect to ID, led a campaign of on-air ire against it, and urged his listeners to swamp Bruins’ telephone lines with complaints. Enough of them did, the Bs probably figured it was easier just to take the ads down and be done with the diaper set from the South, and that’s that. Some fun was had, but it should have continued.

Still, let’s enjoy more of this spirited smack — and you can find a helpful gallery of the art at massholesports.com.

To state the obvious, no way you’d hear any outcry about this sort of campaign from fanbases in Philly, New York, or Pittsburgh. Those are real hockey communities with appropriately toughened sensibilities. Tampa surely bettered D.C. where it counts, on the ice, but at least we have our dignity. Finally, though, I’ve found rationale to take interest in a Southeast foe’s fate in spring. Go B’s.



8 Comments

  1. Mellyville9 wrote:

    This is a joke. As a “citizen” of MA for 4 yr nobody cares up there about the Bruins. Its RedSox (when they win,this yr has proven that.), Pats(when they win, which has been alot the last decade), Celtics (when they started winning, 3-4 yrs ago) and Bruins (when they have time for them). I find it Hilarious that they are calling out another teams fans when theirs are the BIGGEST bandwagon fans you could imagine. Living there I met 4 people at my college that were Bruins and Celtic fans. Now the whole state is Celts and Bruins only in the playoffs. Kind of hypocritical if you ask me.

    21 May, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
  2. kelly Chuba wrote:

    I agree, Mellyville. I went to BU and was raised a Bruins fan. It’s really quite the bandwagon up there for thousands. But as a born again Caps fan, we have our share too.

    My favourite was the snarky shuffleboard offering.

    21 May, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  3. Joe wrote:

    Grew up in Chicago so my ultimate loyalty rests with the Bulls and Blackhawka. But being an Orlando transplant of 25 yrs and having a cousin who coaches a very successful H.S. basketball program in Tampa I am also a rabid fan of the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. I also appreciate good humor though and am smart enough to realize that although fan support is important there is nothing we do or don’t do that affects the outcome of a game or series. So if the crap thrown is clever, I will laugh my a** off at it. Good stuff, by the way! But be warned…bandwagoners are EVERYWHERE, not just where the old folk and southern boys are!

    21 May, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  4. Joe wrote:

    By the way, just to be clear, I mistakenly failed to mention my loyalty to the Bears and the White Sox…don’t want to be mistaken for a bandwagon fan! Thanks for the signs by the way. They ARE funny! And as for whichever DJ is responsible…consider the source! These guys and their “loyal” following are at the core of what’s wrong with this country anymore. The “sheep following blindly” mentality dictates that there’s no such thing as good clean fun anymore. Sucks! Sorry!

    21 May, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  5. Grooven wrote:

    What a shame. It’s a funny ad campaign. Too bad more teams and places aren’t that clever.

    And as to the lack of rivalries… possibly the reason is because of the change in playoff format. Patrick Division rivalries were formed having to play the same teams in the playoffs year after year after year. With six divisions that’s not the case. I’m not convinced it’s the teams in the division in and of itself that is the problem. Sure, a three-hour drive makes it easy for opposing fans to show up on the doorstep. But the Capitals are not playing the Lightning and the Hurricanes each and every year in the playoffs. That’s where the player-hate comes from.

    21 May, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  6. GP wrote:

    Mellyville, as a resident of Boston for eight years who has actually lived here and not just gone to school here, I can tell you that you have no idea what you’re talking about. So the kids you met at college didn’t watch the Bruins or Celtics, therefore no one watches them? Yeah, real diverse sample there. There’s a huge contingent of Bruins fans here that live in the middle class areas and don’t interact with the college set a whole lot. Ted could only dream of having a following in Washington for the Capitals like the Bruins have had here, and I say that as a Caps fan. The Bruins were the biggest draw in this town up until the 80′s when they started sharing the spotlight with the Celtics, and then the 90′s and 00′s when the ownership and front office started pushing a lot of the fans away. A lot of fans have been warming back up to them since the Jacobs have become less visible and Sinden and O’Connell were replaced with Neely and Chiarelli, but they’ve still always had that solid base. Just look at the talent this area’s produced. That didn’t just happen in spite of no one caring about the Bruins here. And Kelly, you went to BU? You know who goes to BU? No one from Boston. Kids who go to college here exist in a totally different reality that is completely isolated from those who actually live here. I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty annoying to see them come out and act like experts about the way things are here.

    22 May, 2011 at 1:39 am | Permalink
  7. Mellyville9 wrote:

    your right no bandwagons in MA. No one gave a crap about the Pats until Brady. After Bird retired no one cared about the Celtics until the Big 3. And Bruins were done after Neely and Bourque. And very rare, but this year I saw RedSox fans already quitting on them 20 games into the season, most of them turning to the Celts and Bruins for the comfort of winning. I went to games up there and the arena was depressingly empty for all the games. Basketball and hockey. And my college was 80-85% MA New England natives. Everyone I know in the Northeast/New England area are all on the Bruins now. Don’t blame the owners for fan loyalty. Loyal Fans will come. 90k show up every week to Redskins games and they haven’t done a thing worth getting excited for since 1992 and have possibly the worst owner in pro sports. Funny how I look at attendance #’s and Lighting until last 3 years were above the Bruins EVERY year since 2002. If that doesn’t show bandwagon I don’t know what does. TB ads should ask, “Bruin fans? Where did you come from?”

    22 May, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  8. MadCap wrote:

    @GP – it’s funny that you rationalize why support for the Bruins tailed off (ownership and front office started pushing fans away) — I wonder if you would give other cities/sports fans the same benefit of the doubt for less-than-stellar support (for example, see the Pollin, Abe era of the Caps and Bullets/Wizards post-1979). I’ve heard the same thing from Pens/Steelers fans relative to the lack of support for the Pirates (this when I mention the Pirates as I’m having to listen to what great sports fans there are in Pittsburgh). I have always found it interesting that you see Pens/Steelers jerseys all over the DC area, but a Pirates cap/jersey is a rare sighting despite all of the Western PA transplants. Do you think that winning (or not winning) might have something to do with it ?

    22 May, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink