Former NHL and Stanley Cup-winning general manager Brian Burke disagrees with the recent sentiment that the current Boston Bruins can play the same style as the 1970 Bruins who were recently celebrated on the 50th anniversary of their Stanley Cup and Bobby Orr’s famous Cup-clinching goal. On the latest Bruins Craic podcast with Kevin Flanagan and yours truly, Burke credited current Bruins GM Don Sweeney for building a fast and competitive team but was quite blunt when asked how they would match up with the 1970 Bruins that created ‘Big Bad Bruins’ hockey.
“That’s what you need to win now,” Burke said of the Bruins’ speed. “I think you need a little more size, I think Boston could’ve used a little more size but I don’t see them at all as the same. That team in 1970 would’ve kicked the crap out of this team!”
In a string of Zoom calls with members of the 1970 Bruins leading into the May 10th anniversary and documentary on NHL Network, the current Bruins team, who finished atop the NHL standings with 100 points in the shortened regular season, to that feared ‘Big Bad Bruins’ team that won again in 1972.
“As long as we can keep that alive, we’re going to be challenging for (the) Stanley Cup forever,” Bruins hall of famer Harry Sinden, who coached the 1970 Bruins. “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.”
Burke sees that team chemistry as well with the NHL’s new President Trophy winners but pointed to their team speed and skill as their trademark and not the rough and tumble style of the 1970 Bruins or the Anaheim Ducks team he built that won the 2007 Stanley Cup.
“I’m with you. I really like this team but I don’t think they’re anything like those teams,” Burke replied. “Now the game has changed and evolved so maybe. …it’s the same with my Anaheim team, I wouldn’t try and go top six, bottom six today; I might go top nine, bottom three. Or top eight, bottom four? You could still have those elements?
But no, I don’t think they’re similar at all. I think what the Bruins play – and I laughed a couple of years ago when they beat Toronto in the playoffs, and someone said ‘Oh, they’re too physical for Toronto’ and I actually had a good laugh with Donny Sweeney about it and Donny said ‘We’re a fast team, we’re a skilled team’. Not they got some size, they got ‘Big Z’ [Chara] and you got those elements. You had Noel Acciari at the time but they skated, that’s a skating team.”
As Burke pointed out, the last two Stanley Cup teams went retro, winning the Cup with size and brute force.
“The last two Cup teams put a stamp on ‘long pants hockey’” Burke said. “St. Louis and Washington were the biggest teams in the field, played hard hockey and liked to go in stretches where they banged the snot out of ya and I think they brought long pants hockey back in and I think you’re going to need it to win this year too.”
While Burke acknowledged that the young, fast, and skilled teams could have an edge if and when the NHL returns to play the approved 24-team playoff, given how fresh they will be, he pointed out that everyone will have had that rest.
“I can see that but the fact of the matter is, everyone’s in the same boat,” Burke said. “So you might be fast and you might get injured guys back but whomever you play, it’s the same. So to me, this is like people say ‘young teams will do better than people coming out of the box than old teams’ and I’m like ‘Really? Why? They’re all the same.’ So a young guy has a little more jump then the older guy but the older guy knows where to go. To me that’s the beauty of this.”
Burke likened the even playing surface on the ice to the draft situation that the Coronavirus Pause has presented. He also took a nice jab at the Arizona Coyotes who are alleged to have illegally interviewed draft-eligible prospects prior to the 2020 NHL combine that was eventually canceled.
“Same thing with the draft,” he referenced. “Teams are saying that ‘Oh we didn’t get to do the combine; we didn’t get to interview the players’ and oh well that’s terrible but every team except Arizona, didn’t get to test them, so you’re all in the same boat. So it’s not like there’s a competitive disadvantage. To answer your question, I think that the teams that are going to benefit most, are the guys that will start now, paying the most attention to their fitness. Players never get out of shape, they’re always working out but game shape is different. The clock starts now for me.”
To listen to the entire interview, CLICK HERE.