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Sinden Happy To See Big Bad Bruins Culture Still Going

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Hall of Famer Harry Sinden, the architect of the Big Bad Bruins of the seventies, is thrilled to see that culture still alive and well in 2020.

Sinden didn’t just coach the 1970 Boston Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup with Bobby Orr’s historic goal 50 years ago this Sunday, he also coached the Bruins’ 1972 Stanley Cup championship team. One could argue though that just as important as Cups four and five for the Bruins franchise were, is how Sinden transitioned his teams, as both a coach and General Manager, maintaining the Big Bad Bruins culture. Despite the fact that fighting has all but disappeared in the NHL and the 2019-20 Bruins aren’t nearly as big as the teams of the past, Sinden still believes Big Bad Bruins aura still permeates through the dressing room and on the ice. 

“You know we had a couple of players who were really good players – we got in drafts or trades, they were really good goal scorers, but I just never thought of them as Bruins and I couldn’t,” Sinden told the media in a Zoom Call earlier this week. “But as long as we can keep that alive, we’re going to be challenging for (the) Stanley Cup forever. It’s like this year’s team. Just a great team attitude that’s been passed on from that 1970 team to the 2020 team, I think.”

Sinden helped the Bruins survive the wave of free agency and the WHL in the 1970’s keeping the likes of Terry O’Reilly, Wayne Cashman and Stan Jonathan on his roster. Later in 1985, he committed highway robbery on the Vancouver Canucks when he acquired then 20-year-old Cam Neely and the Canucks’ first round pick at the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Sinden would eventually take defenseman Glen Wesley with the third overall pick at the 1987 draft and Neely would go on to be arguably the NHL’s greatest power forwards ever and one of the biggest, baddest Bruins ever

“They say I used to live in fear that the personality of that 1970 team, that the attitude of the 1970 team and the style of the 1970 team would go away once we lost some of the players, but that didn’t happen,” said Sinden.

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Neely’s been President of the team since 2010 and during his tenure, the Bruins acquired captain Zdeno Chara, signed Shawn Thornton, and saw the emergence of Milan Lucic as a power forward. That continuity of the Big Bad Bruins culture led to the 2011 Stanley Cup, the Bruins first since Sinden’s ‘72 squad, and two more Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 and 2019. Sinden credited Neely, as well as current Bruins GM Don Sweeney and Head Coach Bruce Cassidy for keeping the tradition alive. 

“I think I would call it whatever way Don Sweeney is going to call it, and Bruce Cassidy, and Cam Neely,” said Sinden. “They came in here with a few problems. Don Sweeney’s first draft {2015] he had never seen of the players play. He’d spent all his time in Providence and had nothing to do with the three draft picks we had in the first round. He had never really seen them play at all and had to live with [the picks] who they are.

“We came out of it okay and we’ve done better since. I just think that what the team and players have established as an example for the way you have to behave and the way you have to play has never gone away. The fans have not gone away and you guys [in the media] certainly won’t let it go away. They bought into it big-time. It has a lot to do with Cam, with Donnie and with Bruce. There are so many years that I’d fear we would lose the Be-A-Bruin type of thing, which is maybe just something that’s in my mind. We had a couple of good players we got in drafts, but I never thought of them as Bruins and we couldn’t. But as long as we keep that alive we’re going to be challenging for the Stanley Cup forever.

With 20 years of experience (SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, ESPNBoston, NESN, NHL.com, etc.) covering the Bruins, the NHL, NCAA and junior hockey and more, Jimmy Murphy’s hockey black book is full of Hall of Famers, current players, coaches, management, scouts and a wide array of hockey media personalities that have lived in and around this great game. For 17 of his 20 years as a hockey and sports reporter, Murph covered the Bruins on essentially a daily basis covering their victorious 2011 Stanley Cup run and their 2013 run to the Final as well. Murphy has hosted national and local radio shows and podcasts and also has experience in TV as well.

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