The Boston Bruins are getting it done this season with an infusion of youth, but their veteran leadership is the main reason for the team’s success.
Six or eight years ago, Brian Gionta, Rick Nash, and even David Backes were some of the best players in the NHL. Today, as their careers wane, these Boston Bruins veterans are some of the reasons for their continued success.
While their numbers aren’t “off the charts,” Gionta and Nash have established a presence of leadership thus far for the Bruins. Their joint ability to make smart hockey plays and provide mentorship for the plethora of young players is extremely beneficial.
Brian Gionta has not scored more than 30 goals in over a decade. Rick Nash has only done so once in the last five years. But it isn’t only the offensive power that these guys bring to the table. It’s the leadership and will to win.
Sure, Nash has been injured and Gionta does not see much ice. Yes, it’s Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron’s team. I get all of that. But it’s hard to argue that “getting older” with midseason acquisitions hasn’t helped the team continue its success. Since February 25, when Nash was traded to Boston, the Bruins are 12-2-3. During that span, the team lost Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, and Zdeno Chara to injury for some period of time. They also lost Backes to a suspension during that time frame too.
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Backes’ value shouldn’t be overlooked either. He’s had a solid season this year, with 12 goals and 19 assists in 53 games. Though missing time for injury as well, Backes has continued to be a mainstay in the locker room too, serving as assistant captain alongside Bergeron.
Who Gets the Credit?
After the Boston Bruins had an impressive December and January, some wondered whether they would be able to maintain this production. But as we begin April, the team has continued to get points any way they can.
While Marchand, Bergeron, and Tukkaa Rask deserve a lot of the immediate credit, some of the newer players, many of them veterans, have helped coach the young players.
Who better to mentor Ryan Donato than his Olympic teammate and captain Brian Gionta?
Who better to be a role model to a young Canadian kid like Danton Heinen than his 2010 Olympic hero?
The veterans aren’t the reason for the impressive season, but rather part of Bruce Cassidy’s spectacular mosaic that should land him the Jack Adams Award. Perhaps that argument is for another day.
We want the Cup.