The Boston Bruins are more than a hockey team. In many ways, the hockey club from a passionate and hard-nosed east-coast city is a family.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad — a perfect blend of the veteran core from the 2011 Stanley Cup run and talented young prospects — organically morphed into a cohesive unit starting from the humble beginnings of the preseason trip to China last September.
That family — nine months removed from scaling the Great Wall of China — now has a date with the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
“I think there was kind of an instant chemistry between a lot of us. The guys who came in fit in really well,” defenseman Brandon Carlo said. “We acquired Jojo [Marcus Johansson] and [Charlie] Coyle at the trade deadline. I think they came in, it was rookie party night, and they just fit in right away. We have a very welcoming group here with the older guys reaching out to us younger guys. It’s really meshed well.”
“It’s a special group, with really tight friends and really special friendships,” Johansson added. “Once I got here and played a couple of games and got to know the guys, I knew we had a chance to do something special.”
It’s easy to tell how close this group really is. Spend more than five minutes around the bunch in the locker room and one can see the chemistry that makes this year’s Bruins squad so unique.
Players commenting on David Pastrnak’s outfits, Brad Marchand deciding to take his interviews at Patrice Bergeron’s stall, the team showing up to the Winter Classic in coordinated Peaky Blinders outfits, and teammates giving each other a hard time over the smallest things.
But the Bruins have even taken things beyond the physical boundaries of the locker room and into the world of social media. It’s been a pivotal part of their development into a well-meshed unit both on and off the ice.
“I think so, I think we had some similar things last year, too. Guys commenting on each other’s pictures, chirping each other. I think that just comes with team camaraderie,” Jake DeBrusk said about Boston’s social media bond.
“I know some guys do it for some likes, too, if it’s on Pasta’s [Pastrnak] pictures, just comment on it to get some followers and some likes so it’s kind of a double-edged sword. We’ve had some fun this year, that’s for sure. And people like it, it’s all in good fun. You see it on some other teams and in other leagues, I think it’s good.”
The Bruins’ surge on social media platforms marked one of the more interesting storylines in 2018-19. It’s entertained teammates, reporters, and fans alike all year long.
Almost everyone on the roster generated quality content over the last eight months, mainly on Instagram and Twitter. Celebratory posts and comments from a plethora of teammates became the norm following a Bruins victory.
They’ve even used the platform for a bit of comedy between fan bases. The highlight came following Boston’s Game 7 victory over Toronto when Pastrnak trolled pop-music star and loyal Maple Leafs supporter Justin Bieber on Twitter.
At the heart of all of the team’s personalities is Marchand and Torey Krug. The two shortest players on the Bruins’ roster staged a hilarious “Twitter beef” lasting the full 82-game slate.
Krug and Marchand took turns posting photos, videos, and memes of the other player — often taking jabs at the other’s short stature — photoshopped onto a movie character. The creative duo incorporated the likes of Happy Gilmore, Austin Powers, and the Irish Leprechaun (just to name a few) into their hilarious tweets.
“Oh yeah, those are hilarious. I love those. I think that’s the best thing on the internet sometimes,” DeBrusk said about the Krug-Marchand Twitter beef. “The ones where they edit the videos and put each other’s faces on different faces, it’s pretty funny and they both chirp each other because they are both short. We’ll talk about it [in the locker room] because they’ll kind of give hints on what’s coming up next, but obviously we’ve been busy with other stuff lately.”
The Bruins became more active online as the year progressed. The team isn’t shy by any means about showcasing celebratory moments and accomplishments, and who can blame them. They’ve steamrolled through the Eastern Conference en route to their first Cup Final appearance in six years.
Nothing embodied that team spirit more than Charlie McAvoy’s Instagram post following the Bruins’ sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes. The third-year pro paid homage to Tom Brady’s AFC Championship video with Rob Gronkowski; blasting Bad Boys For Life while a few of his teammates chimed in as they boarded their plane back to Boston.
“Yeah, we were talking about it just outside the bus and he wanted to try and get as many of the guys in it as possible,” DeBrusk said about McAvoy’s masterpiece. “He asked me if he should do it. I think he asked a couple of the other guys, too, but I actually wasn’t in the video so I was kind of mad at him. I was sitting next to him on the plane but then he goes and does the video with the bigger names, I guess.”
Almost everyone on the roster — from rookie Connor Clifton to 42-year-old captain Zdeno Chara — joined in on the social media fun this season. They became that much closer as a group.
The Bruins are four wins away from hoisting Lord Stanley for the second time this decade. Don’t expect anything different on social media if they wind up accomplishing their ultimate goal.
“I think now that the slightly older guys like Marchy have got on to social media it definitely is pretty funny and you get to see that chemistry develop online,” Carlo said. “In the real world, it’s pretty typical to hear those chirps. It’s fun when it’s displayed for all the fans to see.”