By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
For months, we’ve debated whether the Bruins have the offense, the defense, and the goaltending to make a deep playoff run in the spring. One aspect we haven’t been focusing on that may eventually be the key to success is the Bruins’ exceptional leadership group.
To see the heights leadership can take a team to, we must look 11 years in the past to the last Bruins team to ascend the NHL mountain and win Lord Stanley’s Cup. That 2011 team had some fantastic leaders. In addition to those still on the roster, like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, we got to see Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi, and Andrew Ference lead our beloved Bruins to a championship.
Looking back at the roster, that team was practically built only thinking about leadership. The team also had immense skill, but the squad was filled with veterans brought in with one goal in mind. Allow me to list some names for you. Shane Hnidy, Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton, Tim Thomas, and Michael Ryder were all 30 years old or above when they lifted the Cup.
Now that we’ve established leadership’s importance does the 2023 team stack up? Well, we know the Bruins have championship pedigree on the roster. Bergeron and Krejci, I’ve already mentioned, but Brad Marchand also scored two goals in the Cup-clinching victory.
The team also has plenty of veterans on board for the ride. Charlie Coyle, Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall, Tomas Nosek, Craig Smith, and Anton Stralman are all 30 or older on this year’s team and can provide excellent experiences for the younger guys to learn from. In addition, some of the guys who don’t quite qualify for the over-30 club have been around the league for many years already.
Another similarity between the 2011 Bruins and the 2023 Bruins is the core group of players in or entering their prime. In 2011 they had Bergeron, Krejci, Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk, and Nathan Horton. This year we get to watch Charlie McAvoy (who is officially back and looking great!), Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Linus Ullmark, and David Pastrnak.
These guys have been in the league for a bit and have grown as players. If there was ever a time for them to play their best hockey, it’s this season with the motivation of one last run for the older guys. Much like in 2011, the older guys can teach the younger players how to win the tough games when the weather starts to warm up, and the younger guys can relax and play their style of hockey.
With the strong start to the season and the return of key players, it’s a fascinating time to be a Bruins fan. Already the team has been tested with adversity, albeit adversity brought upon them by their own front office, and we’ve seen how they responded and stuck together as a team.
This could be a historic season for the Bruins if they can keep this momentum going. Perhaps in another 11 years, someone will write an article much like this one comparing the 2034 Bruins to this year’s team! There’s still a long way to go through and plenty of hockey to enjoy, so let’s strap in and have some fun as we watch this team try to etch their names in the record books forever.