December 11, 2011

Original Six: Bruins fans' most hated foes

By Jesse Connolly

They say it’s suicidal to poke the bear, but it’s equally as foolish to risk eternal scorn by ticking off fans of the Boston Bruins. A rabid bunch with long memories, those who root for the Black and Gold are passionate, prideful and never, ever let a cheap shot or a verbal jab slide. Make that mistake and you can bank on them praying you fail when it matters most or get the proper beat-down you deserve — from the moment you cross the line until the day you call it a career. Here are the opponents whom Bruins fans love to hate the most.

6. Sean Avery, New York Rangers
Avery hasn’t been one for theatrics during his last few battles with the Bruins, but some of the self-proclaimed fashion expert’s past antics have been of the unforgettable variety.

Bruins fans always will reminisce about the time the then-Stars winger got his comeuppance for a few cheap shots in a 2008 contest when Andrew Ference nearly ripped his head off in a bout, and later when he got a second serving of justice with the Rangers when Tim Thomas fed him his waffle. Given that, it’s no surprise the Blueshirts’ resident buffoon has kept a low profile of late against Boston.

5. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Miller has long been a recipient of standard-issue jeering at TD Garden, but fans of the Black and Gold never really had a strong reason to despise him other than his wealth of success against their favorite club. That was, of course, until Nov. 12.

The Sabres netminder came way out of his crease to prevent a Milan Lucic breakaway, only to get railroaded by the Bruins hulking winger. In typical Buffalo fashion, Miller hung around after the game to tell the inquiring media what a gutless piece of you-know-what he now thinks Lucic is. Want some cheese with that whine, Ryan?

4. Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
Bruins fans were outraged when Burrows got away with chomping on Patrice Bergeron’s fingers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and were even more angry when he dodged a suspension and scored the winning goal in Game 2.

The Black and Gold got revenge when the Canucks winger’s endless string of flops were ignored and later in the series when Tim Thomas swiftly punched him in the mug, but Burrows’ recent “confusion” over the league’s decision to not suspend Milan Lucic (irony, anyone?) reminded us all that he was and always will be an absolute clown.

3. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Luongo made himself Exhibit A for why no pro athlete should ever run his mouth on the big stage. The 2010 gold-medal winner first fretted over the fact that Tim Thomas — the opposing netminder, for crying out loud — wasn’t showering him with compliments during the Stanley Cup Finals, then had the audacity to say he would’ve made the save on Vancouver’s winning goal in Game 5.

But Thomas and the Bruins stuck it to him with victories in the final two games, lighting Luongo up and capturing the Cup at Rogers Arena — taking all the air out of the arrogant netminder’s proverbial tires in the process.

2. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
Most Bruins fans probably have no idea what Subban’s initials stand for, but as far as they’re concerned, the “P” must either be for punk or puke. The Habs defenseman boils their blood like no other with his flair for over-the-top celebrations, a penchant for dirty hits (which often don’t go penalized) and a complete unwillingness to drop the gloves with anyone remotely close to his size.

It’s often said players of Subban’s ilk are great to have as teammates but torture to go up against, but even with his wealth of talent, no self-respecting Bruins fan would ever want him anywhere near a black-and-gold sweater.

1. Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins
No matter what Cooke does for the duration of his days on Earth, one thing he’ll never earn is forgiveness from a single devotee to the Spoked-B. Even if he somehow solves the country’s financial crisis, brings home every last one of the troops or even finds a cure for cancer, the Penguins winger will forever be despised for essentially robbing Marc Savard of his livelihood.

Cooke’s hit on No. 91 has left Bruins fans forever shaking their heads at the loss of one of their stars and eternally shaking their fists in the despicable forward’s direction.

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com