Boston, Vancouver have very different views on toughness

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Boston, Vancouver have very different views on toughness

Its pretty clear at this point that the hockey markets of Boston and Vancouver despise each other. Its getting to the same levels of hatred that the Celtics and Lakers had for each other in the 1980s, and that the Yankees and Red Sox have harbored for each other since Babe Ruth was more than a candy bar.

A full four days after the Stanley Cup Finals rematch went down on the Garden ice, the arrows are still being winged from both camps about who started what.

It has played out more like a messy Hollywood divorce than a hockey rivalry.

The verbal joust on "Sticks and Stones" between Shawn Thornton and Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher is the perfect example of the differing mentalities employed by the two hockey havens. There couldnt be two more alternate views of the honest way to approach the game of hockey.

After last week, its clear that the Canucks believe in playing things out through the media and league offices rather than battling it out on the ice.

Dale Weise all 6-foot-2, 210-pounds of him proved the perfect embodiment of this mindset. After backing out of a fight with the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Thornton, Weise looked like a less-than-honorable figure after hed given all the telltale signs he was ready for a round of fisticuffs. Never mind that Weise has engaged in six NHL fights this season versus Thorntons 10, and that it appeared both players were properly matched up in the same weight class. Weise became the picture of exactly what the Boston hockey fan abhors most: cowardice and lack of accountability.

The Bruins, on the other hand, have been defined by their long history of the "Big Bad Bs." It's telling that Boston fans never truly embraced the laid-back persona of a bona fide superstar like Joe Thornton. Instead they worship at the alter of physical players that push the edge like Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic. As long as Cam Neely is the organizations president, their style isnt likely to change.

The city of Boston wouldnt have it any other way.

In Vancouver, they seem to favor other qualities over toughness. Apparently, their philosophy seems to center around backing away from conflicts. In terms of fight or flight instincts, the Canucks usually choose "flight" without the bat of an eyelash.

Gallagher openly wondered why the Canucks are so hated when they don't act like bullies.

"Here's what I don't understand. I don't understand how a team can be so hated I understand they have a couple of vexing guys like Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre. They're agitators and just about every team has a couple of them. But they have no toughness. Normally, teams that are hated have a horde of tough guys that just maraud and punch other teams into oblivion. How can you be hated when you have no toughness?"

Perhaps in some NHL quarters (ahem, Montreal) there are heads nodding in unison as Gallagher launched into the woe is Vancouver soliloquy.

But in most corners of the hockey world toughness is worn like a proud badge.

Players are "honest" when they respect their opponents, answer the bell when its expected. Most refuse to feign injury just because it will net their team a delayed penalty call.

Sometimes honest players and teams stumble -- as Marchand did when he clearly sought out a cheap shot on Sami Salo last weekend. But he's paying the price with a five-game suspension.

The Canucks are also paying the price for the cost of doing business their way: they're hated.

Nobody will ever respect a team that uses cunning and blinding arrogance to light their path toward Presidents Trophies. Some might have said after watching Game One of last years Stanley Cup Finals that the Canucks were unfit to raise the Cup after Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron, and the hockey gods seemed to agree as the Bruins celebrated on Vancouver ice last spring.

The Bruins are the bear with overpowering strength and quick-trigger temper that sometimes gets them in trouble. The Canucks are the weasel, constantly avoiding accountability with mealy-mouthed excuses and dirty tricks.

The difference between the two teams is more than punching or marauding. Its about how nearly everyone in the Vancouver organization carries themselves.

Maybe someday people like Gallagher will get why the Canucks are such a reviled organization, but somehow I doubt it.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

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Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.