Bruins’ Leadership Proves to Be a Valuable Trait

When it comes to hockey a lot of the focus is put on the team and individual statistics. While it takes talent and skill to be a hockey player, it also takes character and leadership. The Boston Bruins are very fortunate to have a solid, respectable group of men that younger players can look up to and seek advice from.

Their leadership comes from a group of veteran players that are the core and heart of the team. They have experience under their belts but are also good-natured and kind-hearted. They go out of their way to help each other and make sure each member of the team feels supported.

David Krejci – Alternate Captain

Once Andrew Ference left the Bruins organization as a free agent, there was a split alternate captain vacancy to fill. Having donned the ‘A’ on his chest before and relishing in the role, it was decided that David Krejci would serve as the other alternate, splitting the time with Chris Kelly.

David Krejci is a quiet leader for the Bruins, leading by example. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While he’s not a vocal leader, he leads by example. At the time of being assigned, he was coming off of one of the strongest postseasons of his career, leading with nine goals and 26 points in 22 games. He demands a lot from himself as a player and consistently shows up every time his skates hit the ice. His simple leadership style is similar to former Bruin Mark Recchi who he viewed as a mentor.

“He just had such smart things to say in the dressing room. I can’t really tell you exactly what. There was a time that also we won the Cup with him, so there were times that we were down, there were times that we were up, and he just knew how to manage the locker room.”

Krejci on Recchi.

He’s a part of a veteran core that has been helping nurture players like Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak into the elite forwards they have become.

David Backes – Alternate Captain

As the Bruins missed their second consecutive postseason after a regulation loss, they were missing someone who could set them straight. They needed someone like Ference, Shawn Thornton or Jarome Iginla that could spark physicality or say exactly the right thing to ignite motivation. With those presences gone, their edge and ability to make the postseason had seemingly vanished with them.

Related: Boston Bruins 2019-20 Prospect Pyramid

Having captained the St. Louis Blues, David Backes was no stranger to commanding a locker room and could easily fill the void. While he is mostly criticized for his age and inability to play a full 82-game season, he has been a great addition to the leadership of the team.

David Backes is trying to find a way into the Bruins lineup. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

He harbors a team-first mentality, understands that he isn’t where he needs to be physically and does his best to cope with that and get better, including sitting out for the Stanley Cup Final.

“We’re all in for whatever’s best for the team,” he stated when asked about being a healthy scratch. “That’s the position we’re in and we’ve got one game to win a Stanley Cup and that’s where you want to be. Not being on the ice is tough, but I’ve got faith in our guys they’ll get the job done and I’ll be doing whatever I can to assist from an arm’s length.”

David Backes – NESN

As he gets older he understands that the game is evolving and getting faster and he’s doing whatever he can to make the best of it. During the offseason, he took skating lessons from a professional figure skater turned coach to help improve his stamina on the ice and earn himself some more playing time.

“It was a short summer for everybody. Personally, I didn’t take any vacations and I limited my serenity time on my tractor at our property to spend more time at the gym, and on the ice. I had a skating coach for the first time in 15 years. I say she was mean to me, but I think it was necessary because I really needed to be intentional with my skating, which I had kind of took for granted. Because I’d done it for so long I thought it was all going to happen, but it was a little divine intervention where it was seemingly meant to be. I spent a lot of time on the ice with her and didn’t touch many pucks because of it. But I feel like my skating really benefitted because of it.”

He’s still looking to find a permanent spot in the lineup, but there is no question when it comes to his leadership capabilities where his emotions lie. He’s an emotional leader who plays with his heart on his sleeve and has no problem going to bat for his teammates.

Patrice Bergeron – Alternate Captain

When the name Patrice Bergeron is brought up there really isn’t anything bad to say. He can be summed up with one word- perfection. He’s a part of one of the best top lines in the NHL, a four-time Selke Trophy winner, a Stanley Cup champion and one of the most respected players in the Bruins locker room.

Patrice Bergeron Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, alternate captain of the Boston Bruins since 2006. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It is not uncommon to see him giving out his number at the end of training camp to players being sent back to Providence or to offer a helping hand to someone that appears to be struggling. It was reported earlier this season that he had been a deciding factor for former Bruin Gemel Smith who had been battling with depression after being waived by two NHL teams and being stuck in the AHL. Bergeron was able to notice that the young man was reserved and offered to help. He made sure his teammate knew that he wasn’t alone and that he was there to talk to as was the team psychologist.

“We had a little talk and I just told him to maybe talk about it [more]. There’s a saying ‘Do not suffer alone.’ And it’s the biggest thing in life and also in hockey. Sometimes in sports, there are a lot of things involved with the game that can be hard to handle, and his situation wasn’t easy. It’s hard on anyone.”

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In addition to being an excellent teammate, he’s a great motivator on and off the ice. Despite not being the most outspoken person in the room, he speaks up at the right moments and his voice is heard. Off the ice, he is always trying to improve himself and, in turn, motivate his teammates to improve their game as well.

“Every year I come in, I go and train in the summer, I know [Bergeron’s] going to come in in top shape and I’ve got to match that. And it’s a tough thing to do.” Marchand stated.

With each season he gains experience and has that much more to offer. He has proven he is one of the most valuable players in the organization, if not the entire league.

Zdeno Chara – Team Captain

Zdeno Chara has had the captaincy role since coming to the Bruins in 2006 and is one of the longest-tenured captains in the league. Much like his alternates, he leads his team by example.

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins leaves the ice after warming up for Game Four of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The best example that can be provided is during Game 4 of the Final when he took a puck to the face. Rather than leave the game and get himself fixed he returned to the bench to support his team. Despite not being able to talk, he showed his support just by being present.

“He’s an absolute warrior,” Marchand told reporters. “I think if it wasn’t for the doctor, he would have played that game. He’s an absolute leader. Those things, you gain respect for him every single day with what he’s willing to go through, be part of the group, lead this team. He’s an incredible person.”

He is a gentle giant who, like his alternates, strives to be better. He’s always working during the offseason to improve himself and evolve with the game. Being 6-foot-9 is no easy feat, but he doesn’t let it hinder him. He knows to play to his strengths and what areas he needs to stay away from to stay out of trouble. He’s adaptable. He’s a mentor. He’s a true leader.

Related: The Bruins’ Succession Plan for Zdeno Chara

Having such a close-knit group of players speaks volumes of the type of men that don the black and gold jerseys. In actuality, there are a handful of members that are worthy of wearing a letter on their jersey. Their relationships with one another don’t start and end on the ice, they’re there to support one another in whatever capacity is necessary. Having that kind of camaraderie is just one of the reasons they are one of the best teams in the league.