By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge
On-ice performance, at the end of the day, is what people tend to judge a hockey team by. However, what if I were to tell you that the on-ice portion of a hockey team is actually a minimal part of what goes on with a hockey team?
As a college hockey player myself, I can say that what goes on in the locker room plays a huge part in how the team plays on the ice, and it all starts with a strong leadership group. Sure, you can argue that the head coach can control all of that, but the fact of the matter is they can’t. If you have a great coach but poor leadership and character in the locker room, it just isn’t going to work.
This is where I love the Boston Bruins. On the ice, they’re a great team, and no one is disputing that. Off the ice, they’re an even better team. That group of guys in that locker room is so tight-knit that the usual bumps and bruises that teams go through don’t seem to faze the Bruins, and it starts with the captains.
Zdeno Chara is a world-class human being. Everything you hear about that man is positive and upbeat. He has been the captain of the Boston Bruins ever since he stepped in in 2006. To be able to lead a team for that long and for all the success they have had, he deserves a lot of credit.
Leadership doesn’t just mean the captain, however. There is also a man by the name of Patrice Bergeron. Ever heard of him? Bergeron would be the captain on almost every other NHL team, but since Chara has been there and been the captain, he is the alternate captain. Bergeron doesn’t complain about his role at all, which is what makes this group so unique.
Further down the list, you have the other veterans such as David Krejci and Brad Marchand, who split time wearing the ‘A’ on their sweater. Notice anything about all of these guys? They are all veterans and are on the backside of 30 or 40 in Chara’s case. Chara is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and there is some uncertainty about whether he will be back. Krejci is entering his last season on his deal as well. So, who is up next to lead this team?
Barring anything unforeseen, Bergeron will be wearing the ‘C’ for the Boston Bruins when Chara does eventually hang them up. After that, it can get interesting. Marchand and Krejci will still be leaders, but I am interested to see what happens with the younger core. Does a guy like David Pastrnak turn into a leader and prove he can teach the even younger guys?
The one player that I believe will take a huge step not only in developing his own game but turn into a big leader moving forward is Charlie McAvoy. That is one asset of hockey you can’t really teach, and he just has it. He was an alternate captain in his sophomore (yes, you read that right, sophomore) year at Boston University. He was named the alternate captain to the United Staes world junior team that won gold in January of 2017. He has been a leader before, and I believe the Bruins are in good hands with this younger core.
As I mentioned, the off-ice leadership plays a huge role in the team’s success. Bruce Cassidy has stepped in and turned this team into contenders right away, but he doesn’t take all the credit for himself. “I think this leadership group is second to none,” Cassidy said, entering the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. “I’ve said that probably since my second week on the job here. Those guys are fantastic, and they sure make a coach’s job a lot easier.”
With all the speculation about who the Bruins will add to the roster, it can be tough to remember who they do have. They have a great core of leaders now, and they have a great core of upcoming leaders. Try not to stress Bruins fans; they have a good thing going and look to continue that for years to come.