Boston streets are relatively safe again.
Shoppers and children are free to roam once more.
That raw gush of air was the final exhale of the last proud bellow of a puffed-up Bruins fan finally subsiding after days of endless strutting and chest pounding and freely exposing his new tatt’ of Lord Stanley’s Cup now decorating his beefy frame.
And now Whitey Bulger is also back in custody so you can feel the excitement in the Old Town ebbing to manageable levels.
There are a few lingering thoughts after V-V day — Victory over Vancouver Day.
Some younger fans mistakenly believe the label of Big Bad Bruins belongs solely to the current edition. Successive generations past know the kind of hockey bred on Causeway Street has roots way beyond Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand, way beyond Stan Jonathan and Terry O’Reilly and Bobby Schmautz and John Wensink and Teddy Green and way back into the early days of the Black and Gold Nation.
Actually once upon a time it was the Brown and Yellow Nation.
This unfortunate choice of basic colors was chosen when the franchise was acquired by Charles Francis Adams, then President of Brookside Grocery Stores, and those mercantile establishments had a color scheme of brown with yellow trim. Occasionally today when the mood is on the management, retro uniforms sporting brown and yellow themes are supplied to the players. The colors changed to the more intimidating black and gold by 1939 and the spoked B in the mid-Forties.
In 1924, C.F. Adams chose the enlightened despot Art Ross to be the first General Manager and coach of the new team that still lacked a name.
Legend has it that all the consultants and wordsmiths couldn’t come up with a suitable untamed animal to represent the new barbarians. Newsmen, admen, school children, sewing circles and other unlikely contributors failed to hit the mark.
The legend further spins out the unlikely circumstance that Art Ross ran a sporting goods store in Montreal and his secretary or clerk suggested the name “Bruin.” Just like all the secretaries that pick winners because they are cute or wear nice color combos, the name “Bruins” stuck.
Over the years from the Cup winners of 1929, the early Forties, the early Seventies and now the early sub-teens, the team has favored big, hard-hitting bodies over those smooth flowing skaters usually wearing “Les Habitants” sweaters.
That explains “Big Bruins.”
The “Bad Bruins,” as in “merciless and unforgiving,” is represented in all the annals of Bruins hockey by one man and no better description comes from the brilliant biographer of the team, from the slashing intellect of TV and Print reporter and columnist Mr. Clark Vincent Booth:
“They called him ‘The Edmonton Express,’ for he came out of the Canadian Rockies like a cold savage gale. He was one of the surest, fiercest, most troubled talents ever to play anything. Eddie Shore was an almost mythical force and he made the game in this town. One night, he almost killed a man named Ace Bailey in a terrible outburst of temper. He was a surpassing, almost avenging force.”
Eddie Shore was the template for the Big Bad Bruins, no man to trifle with, no man could penetrate that raging inferno in Eddie’s soul that spilled out onto the ice and turned a mere game into a test of deadly survival.