Long before I jumped on the Bruins bandwagon a couple of years ago, en route to their first Stanley Cup Championship in nearly four decades, I was already familiar with most of the players. Not that I was trying to be, understand. I didn’t study up on their roster the way I used to cross-reference old jazz CDs at the now-long-gone Tower Records in Boston. Rather, because I follow my share of Beantown sports and then some, I had already heard of them. I had already been rooting for them, even if indirectly (even more indirectly than cheering or jeering in front of a television set, that is). This made it even easier for me to get caught up in the playoff run, even as I traded pick-and-roll hardcourt lexicons for second change ice rink ones. I already knew the team, even if I didn’t know the specifics of the players. Players who, in most cases, had been in Boston for several years at that point. Players who are still on the team today. Which is the main reason why today’s Bruins are Boston’s best team.
It’s a team attribute we too rarely get the chance to appreciate these days, but player longevity matters. Big Papi being here for not just the 2004 World Series Championship, but the 2003 debacle matters. Paul Pierce being drafted by and (thus far) playing solely with the Celtics matters. Patriots who had participated in the Snow Game in old Foxboro Stadium before winning back-to-back Super Bowls in new Gillette Stadium matter.
And knowing the names of Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Thorton and Lucic, all of whom had been in the Bruins system for a few years before being on the Stanley Cup team, and all of whom continue to play key roles for this year’s team, matters as well.
This season’s team includes five players signed by Boston, who won the Cup two years ago (Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic, Marchand, Seguin), and five more players who have been with the team for over five seasons (Chara, Thornton, Boychuk, Ference, McQuaid). Most of the rest of the roster played on the championship team. In fact, aside from rookie call-ups and the post-Iginia trade-deadline Jagr signing, the only Bruin to see ice time thus far in these playoffs is Wade Redden. (And he had an assist and a goal in the only four games he’s been in, so what’s not to like about him?)
One guy. Every one else has been here.
The Bruins have by far the greatest roster consistency of any Boston team today. And the fact that they have the most recent championship, and are playing like they could make a run at another one, is just blue line icing on the Beantown sports cake.