There’s no question, it’s a rough time to be a sports fan. Instead of heading into the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, National Hockey League fans are left missing the sport they love as we all wait for the global coronavirus pandemic to subside.
For their part, the Boston Bruins have been employing some cool, unique social media tactics to keep fans connected to their team and favorite players, past and present. Last week, fans were treated to an incredible, hilarious night that featured several members of the 2011 Cup championship team.
To coincide with the rebroadcast of the Cup-clinching victory over the Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins live-streamed a Zoom meet-up on their YouTube channel. Several members of the 2010-11 team were in virtual attendance, including current Bruins Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, as well as former B’s Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Michael Ryder, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Shane Hnidy, Tim Thomas, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Chris Kelly, Rich Peverly, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Mark Recchi and Gregory Campbell.
The wine and beer were flowing throughout the night, and the brutal chirps were flying. Near the end of the broadcast, Campbell and Thomas waxed particularly sentimental, making emotion-filled tributes to their brothers-in-arms.
Aside from the light-hearted camaraderie that lasted throughout the evening, one thing really stuck out. These guys had no problem remembering each and every moment of that game. They even recalled some moments that occurred behind closed doors in the locker room during the intermissions on that June night nearly nine years ago.
So Many Memories
Many of these men are still active players in the National Hockey League today or had long, successful careers leading up to that winning season. Some of them had been to Cup Final series before or have been since, and the amount of personal accolades that have been wracked up by those gathered in that virtual room is beyond impressive. However, it would not be a stretch to say that this Boston team, the one that won it all for the first time in decades, was perhaps their favorite one of all.
It was also clear that these guys consider themselves more than just co-workers or even teammates. They are family, and they enjoyed every minute of the time spent “together” again, even if they were separated by many miles.
The Zoom Game 7 viewing was just one of several examples of how the Bruins have been enlisting the services of some of the team’s former players to connect with fans relegated to re-watching the games of yesteryear during the league-wide pause in play. Many nights, a former Bruin has been live-Tweeting along with the rebroadcast of a game. Some of the players that have joined in include Campbell, Krejci, Ryder, Lucic and even Ray Bourque.
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It’s not hard to tell that Bruins fans have not only been relishing the chance to walk down memory lane with the rebroadcasts of so many big games played throughout the last few decades, but also have been thrilled to follow along with, and even ask questions to, their hockey heroes along the way. Much like with the live Zoom event, each player who has participated in the Tweet-alongs has shared fond memories of his time in Boston and showed great appreciation for the fans and the city.
Staying in Touch
Of course, current players have been making appearances via social media from time to time as well. In one quirky segment, fans are being treated to occasional mini foreign language lessons. In weeks past, Joakim Nordstrom, Par Lindholm, Jeremy Lauzon and Bergeron each recorded a video teaching viewers how to say a short phrase in their native tongues of Swedish and French, respectively. The translated phrases had a stay-at-home theme, with messages like “wash your hands” and “everything will be OK.”
The latest language lesson was a little different. Krejci taught viewers how to say “happy birthday” in his native tongue, Czech. This installment celebrated the fact that the veteran center and young Bruins defensemen Connor Clifton and Lauzon all had birthdays on April 28.
For those who have been trying to improve their culinary skills with all the extra time being spent at home, the Bruins have been here to help with that as well. Favorite recipes have been shared by the likes of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy.
For the gamers out there, Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk have streamed several sessions of their Fortnite battles over the past month or so. A few lucky fans got the chance to play with Pastrnak, while others have been listening in regularly to the forwards while they play.
All In This Together
A month-and-a-half into a halt in play that many originally hoped would last just a few weeks, everyone is missing live sports, including fans and athletes alike. In a media availability on Tuesday, Krejci himself admitted that life without sports is indeed boring.
Unfortunately, there is still no clear answer as to when hockey will return, or in what form. Thankfully, the Bruins have been doing all they can to stay connected to the fans and to teammates past and present.
I am a 46-year-old journalist living in the greater Pittsburgh area with my husband and two cats. I am a proud Penn State University alum. Hockey is life. Not much else needs to be said.