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Greenberg: Boston Bruins Are A Team You Love to Hate

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Panthers bruins
The Florida Panthers celebrate after beating the Boston Bruins on an overtime goal by Carter Verhaeghe in Game 7 of the first-round of the 2023 playoffs on April 30 at Boston Garden. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

As a native New Yorker, it is in my upbringing to hate everything Boston and that includes the Bruins.

Nothing personal.

It’s in the genes.

A reporter is supposed to be neutral, and I do my best to abide by that code.

Yet when Carter Verhaeghe ended the Bruins’ season in overtime of Game 7, nothing could have made me feel better than looking at the stunned faces of the Boston fans.

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The legendary rivalry between the two cities probably started with the 1919 “Curse of the Bambino,” when Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees by the Red Sox.

The Red Sox failure to win the World Series in the decades to follow was the subject of many theories until the curse was broken in 2004.

For me, the animosity with the Bruin began in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1958.

From my end balcony vantage point at the old Madison Square Garden, I sat in dead silence when a guy named Jerry Toppazzini scored an overtime goal which was the turning point in knocking my Rangers out of the playoffs.

The Bruin you really loved to hate in those days was Fern Flamen, one of the toughest of that era.

“The Big, Bad Bruins” of the late 60s and 70s were every hockey fan’s enemy simply because they were so good.

Like today, they did it with skill, swagger and the willingness to take on all challengers.

Guys like Derek Sanderson and  John McKenzie were people you just loved to hate.

Brad Marchand fills that role rather adequately.

The 1972 Stanley Cup champion Bruins had future Hall of Famers Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.

In addition to Sanderson and McKenzie, the Bruins featured bangers like Wayne Cashman and Dallas Smith.

Those were pre-“Code” days, so fisticuffs meant a fight to the finish.

The following season marked the start of the Boston career for a young agitator named Terry O’Reilly, one of the most popular Bruins ever. His fists and elbows sported the Bruins’ gold for thirteen seasons.

In later years, guys like Mike Milbury and Keith Crowder drew their share of catcalls.

Today’s Bruins rely more on skill than brawn, but they still have their share of guys who can mix it up.

In last year’s playoffs, the Panthers proved they could go with them without being intimidated.

In the golden age of the Original Six, teams met up fourteen times a year, which provided ample opportunity for players and fans to develop animosities.

This year. Florida has three shots at the Bruins during the regular season.

Then, we shall see.

PANTHERS ON DECK

BOSTON BRUINS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: TNT, HBO Max
  • Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932; NHL App
  • Last Season — Regular Season: Tied 2-2; Playoffs: Florida won 4-3 (first-round)
  • This season — Bruins Lead 1-0: @Boston 3, Florida 2 OT (Oct.30), April 6; @Florida Wednesday, March 26
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 61-37-7, 6 ties
  • All-time Postseason Series: Florida leads 2-0 (1996, 2023)
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.

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