Have The Bruins Found Their Big Bad Identity?

The Boston Bruins during the 1970’s were beloved. Boston was a hockey town, and it was all because of Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins. It was the hottest ticket in town, everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of these larger-than-life superstars. Bobby Orr reinvented how defensemen played, and Phil Esposito was a goal-scoring machine, “Jesus Saves, and Esposito scores on the rebound!” was a common phrase heard around the old Boston Garden. The Bruins set many offensive records and, at one point, had seven of the top ten scorers in the NHL. The Bruins played a rough-and-tumble style, the roster was filled with players who would drop the gloves, score goals, intimidate, and WIN. The Bruins won two Stanley Cups during this era in 1970 and 1972 and solidified their place in Bruins history. During the 70’s the Bruins consistently had players who would scrap, battle, and grind, but also had talent. The Bruins in 2011 used a similar roster construction as they bullied Vancouver on their way to Stanley Cup victory.

In recent years the Bruins have gotten away from this identity and have taken a hefty amount of criticism for it. The Bruins, themselves, were bullied in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final when they succumbed to a less talented St. Louis Blues team. The black and gold have been bounced from the playoffs in the last few years by a bigger, more physical Florida Panthers team. The Panthers won the Stanley Cup in 2024 largely because of their in-your-face physical style. Is there a correlation between being a big physical team and winning the cup? Well, at the very least, it won’t hurt your team’s chances.

Photo: Telegram & Gazette

General Manager Don Sweeney has always said that he wanted the Bruins to be hard to play against – but that’s a vague description. What type of players is he trying to identify? Are they tough? Fast? Big? Can they win battles? What exactly does that mean? It took Sweeney a while, and it may have been with a nudge from Team President, Cam Neely, but he seems to have found the identity of players he covets. The Bruins seem to be on their way back to icing a roster of big, physical, intimidating players ready to drop the gloves.

The additions through the draft and free agency in the last few years have been telling. Sweeney has decided to target bigger physical players that can withstand the pounding, or dish out some poundings of their own. In the 2023 NHL Draft, the Bruins selected five players – 6’2 center Christopher Pelosi, 6’2 center Beckett Hendrickson, 6’1 center Ryan Walsh, 6’4 right-wing Casper Nassen, and 6’5 defenseman Kristian Kostadinski. It was more of the same for the Bruins in Free Agency with the additions of JVR, Milan Lucic, Morgan Geekie, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Connor Brown all six feet or taller.

In the 2024 NHL Draft, the Bruins went with size again with the huge 6’7 center prospect Dean Letourneau in the first round, and then 6’2 defenseman Elliot Groenewold, 6’2 center Jonathan Morello, and 6’3 defenseman Loke Johansson in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds respectively. The 2024 free-agent class for Boston, is the tallest, literally, since the Bruins signed 6’9 Zdeno Chara in 2006. The Bruins welcomed in a new (don’t call him) “big Z” in hulking 6’6, Nikita Zadorov, 6’3, Max Jones, 6’6, Riley Tufte, and the “small” 6’1 Elias Lindholm.


Boston has decided that size matters. The Bruins are tired of getting pushed around and seem determined to match Florida’s aggressiveness with some toughness and attitude of their own. The Bruins’ 24-25 roster will have multiple players willing to drop the gloves, willing to punish you along the boards, and be difficult to play against. The Bruins projected roster in 24-25 will only have 3 players under six feet tall (Brad Marchand – 5’9, Matthew Poitras – 5’11, and either Georgii Merkulov or Fabian Lysell – 5’11 and 5’10 respectively). Sweeney may finally get his wish, as this Bruins team will not shrink from a physical challenge. The Boston Bruins have finally decided what their identity is going to be. Will this new emphasis on being bigger, tougher, and more physical result in wins and going further in the playoffs? Only time will tell, but it should be a lot of fun to watch.

Season 3. Episode 48. Arbitration Deadline Bruins Benders Podcast

Matty and Smitty from the Bruins Benders Podcast cover the HOTTEST topics in the Boston Bruins market, along with… – Bruins Dev Camp Updates- Zadorov Comments & Number- Jeremy Swayman Arbitration- Brandon Carlo Trade Rumors& Much More!For more from us, visit: insidetherink.com/bruins-bendersBoston Bruins Trade Rumors, Boston Bruins News, Boston Bruins, 2024 NHL Free Agency, Elias Lindholm, Nikita Zadorov, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Derek Forbort, Jeremy Swayman, Vancouver Canucks, Restricted Free Agent, Max Jones, Riley Tufte, Brandon Carlo, Matt RempeThank you for tuning in, we appreciate your support. If you'd like to support the show, please head over to our merch shop and grab some Bruins Benders merch with our new logo!Not interested in throwing money at another podcast? NO PROBLEMHit the subscribe button, like and follow us on social media, and leave a comment of your thoughts! IT IS FREE to interact with our show and it helps other people find us! And beginning in July, ITR is giving away an NHL Jersey of your choice from Fanatics. All you have to do to win is be a subscriber. DraftKings Sportsbook – Boston’s hometown Sportsbook is LIVE right here in Massachusetts! Bet local on all your favorite sports from the comfort of your own home with DraftKings. To celebrate, ALL new customers will receive up to TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in BONUS bets when you sign up for DraftKings Sportsbook using code ITR! You can now bet local on money lines, spreads, props, and more with one of America’s top-rated Sportsbooks – DraftKings Sportsbook!  Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and sign up with code ITR to get up to TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in BONUS bets to use now that mobile sports betting is live in Massachusetts. That’s code ITR only at DraftKings Sportsbook. If you or a loved one is experiencing problems with gambling, call 800 327-5050 or visit helplineMA.org to speak with a trained specialist, free and confidentially, twenty four seven. 21+. Physically present in MA. Eligibility restrictions apply. Subject to regulatory licensing requirements. Eligibility and deposit restrictions apply. Opt in required. Bonus issued aree bets. Terms at draftkings.com/MA.
  1. Season 3. Episode 48. Arbitration Deadline
  2. Season 3. Episode 47. Free Agency Begins
  3. Season 3. Episode 46. Draft Night
  4. Season 3. Episode 45. After the Hugs Are Gone
  5. Season 3. Episode 44. Yay Or Nay

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