On the day of the Bruins' Stanley Cup Championship parade, Mike Dowling of WCVB-TV Boston ran across some fans dressed in strange, Halloween-like garb - Knights or Swordsmen, I do not know. They were a cross between Zorro and Robin Hood with Black & Gold.
They were the "Lucic-a-dors."
And, guess what? That's what a pro sport, specifically Hockey, is supposed to be about - F.U.N.
Lockouts and collective bargaining, business and salary caps, bickering and arguing between the Donald Fehrs and the Gary B. Bettmansof the world are the last things a fan wants to hear about. Sports fans want to watch their team play, and for many fans, the dream brings hope their team can compete for a playoff spot or maybe even a title. While doing so, all a fan wants is to enjoy themselves.
Whether it is "in-person" (and we know the NHL is the best "in-person" experience of the four (4) major North American-based sports) or, if it is only on TV (where the NHL might be the "worst" of the major sports in terms of the ability to soak in the game on TV), we just want to have two hours and 30 minutes of fun, excitement, while we can show our love and enthusiasm and and live -out a mechanism to display all of our competitive nature as we witness one of the highest levels of sport. We ask - only, that the players are prepared and play HARD, as hard as they can.
I'll dig in deeper into this concept for a column on DigitalSportsDesk - but for now, welcome back to the NHL, Welcome Back for the Bruins and a high five to all of our fellow businesses in and around the TD Garden.
In Tuuka, we trust.
Let's get it signed, sealed, delivered and in the file drawer. We want HOCKEY!
Boston Globe Coverage:
Becky Southworth has a full-time job as a high school tutor. But the 37-year-old Malden resident said that her part-time job waiting tables at the Harp in the North End of Boston is the one that “pays the bills.”
“Or used to,” she added, referring to the crowds who normally flock to the pub before and after Boston Bruins hockey games held in the arena across Causeway Street. “Hopefully, it will again soon.”
Southworth should soon get her wish. The National Hockey League is expected to start its season later this month after a four-month lockout, which led to the cancellation of about half of the scheduled games, ended Sunday morning when owners and players reached an agreement.
That means businesses like the Harp that surround the TD Garden expect to see sales heat up once the team returns to the ice and their loyal fans return to a part of the city that is often quiet when the venue is empty.
On hockey: Will fans and sponsors come back to NHL?
“It’s been so boring around here without hockey,” said 26-year-old Joshua Sheppard, who wore a B’s T-shirt while manning the counter at North Station Liquors on Causeway Street. “The Bruins are a big draw to the neighborhood.”
Many retailers in the area described Bruins fans as being especially loyal, more so than those who visit the Garden to watch the Boston Celtics play basketball.
And, “hockey people spend a lot more money across the board,” Sheppard said.
Standing beside Sheppard and wearing a Bruins jacket, the store’s owner, Smitty Patel, 37, of South Boston, estimated that sales to those who come to the area for hockey account for 10 to 15 percent of business.
Inside the Garden’s shop that sells official Bruins and Celtics gear, one worker said that sales of Celtics items tend to “fluctuate based on whether they’re doing good or not.”
But “Bruins fans are pretty much loyal the whole way through,” said the worker, who declined to give his name because he is not authorized to speak to media. “It’s crazy how much money Bruins fans will spend on merchandise.”
Laurel Ryan and Jen Parisi said that they often do not hold back on spending to cheer on their beloved B’s.
The friends, each wearing a Bruins T-shirt, said they do not follow any other sports, rarely watch television unless they are watching hockey, and buy as many Bruins tickets as they can afford.
Ryan, 19, of Abington, showed pictures of her bedroom wall, which is plastered with Bruins memorabilia.
She held out her wrist to show off a bracelet charm of the team’s spoked-B logo.
Ryan pulled out a Bruins-themed Dunkin’ Donuts gift card that she said she was given during the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup victory parade. She has hung onto it since, reloading money on it instead of getting a new one.
She said she had a hard time sleeping Saturday night as reports swirled that the lockout could soon end. She woke up Sunday at 7 a.m., checked Twitter, and saw a tweet from ESPN hockey columnist Pierre LeBrun, who said a deal had been reached.
“It was better than Christmas morning,” said Ryan. “I started freaking out. I didn’t know what to do.”
She woke her family to tell them the news and sent a joyful mass text to every number saved in her phone.
“I’m wicked excited that hockey’s back,” she said.
Not so fast, said some fans, who are still angry about the lockout and plan to stay away from the Garden and boycott team merchandise.
“I’m not going to go over there and throw my hard-earned money at them,” said Sheppard. “They could have ended this a lot sooner. In the meantime, it hurts everyone else.”
Patel shared his employee’s frustration.
“The owners are greedy and the players are greedy,” he said.
Still, Patel expects that once the pucks begin to drop again, his anger will subside. He will not hesitate to pay to watch the team play.
The return of such fans is what businesses in the area have been waiting for.
“It’s a big relief to us,” said Hannah Kempski, marketing manager for the Briar Group, which owns the Harp and several other Boston-area bars and restaurants.
Southworth said she picked up additional tutoring jobs to help pay for classes at UMass Boston, where she is pursuing a degree in education.
“It’s been a really stressful four months,” she said.
She said the crowds hockey draws to the bar make for a better-paying job, and one that is more enjoyable. “It’s fun. I’m looking forward to having fun again,” she said.
Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boston METRO Coverage:
It may be a few months late, but the hockey fans are starting to come out of hibernation.
Excited fans wearing Boston Bruins hats and jerseys roamed the streets Sunday afternoon near the TD Garden, which will soon light up in gold again.
It appears that the 113-day National Hockey League lockout has come to an end. An agreement between the NHL and player’s union was announced early Sunday morning meaning a shortened season could start as early as the end of this month.
Inside the TD Garden pro shop most of the Bruins jerseys and paraphernalia have been relegated to the back walls.
But Craig Beauregard knew exactly what he was looking for and made a beeline right past the sea of green Celtics gear in the front of the store.
He traveled from Quincy to the Garden to buy his new Brad Marchand jersey. He waited to get it on purpose and principal.
"I didn't want to give my money to someone who was being selfish," he said, still feeling a bit bitter about the lockout.
But for dedicated fans like Beauregard, the battle back and forth between the players and the league and owners hasn't spoiled the game enough to keep him away from the Garden.
"I can't just sit at my apartment and watch it when they're so close,”" he said, adding that he will soon be hunting for tickets.
After hearing the news that hockey was returning to the Hub, Brian Lawlor of Medford headed to an eatery near the Garden for a celebratory brunch with friends.
Lawlor said that he tried to fill the hockey void with Celtics games, but with their winning inconsistency, they've been "difficult to watch."
"I'm just happy as a fan to have some hockey back," said Lawlor, who was wearing his Bruins jersey.
The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau estimated that each canceled home game meant nearly $1 million in lost business to places like bars, restaurants and souvenir stands near the Garden, according to the Globe.
Becky Southworth described the past three months without hockey in one word: "Abysmal."
"The past few months [at work] have been slow and quiet and sad," said Southworth, a server for the last four years at the Harp, which is across the street from the Garden.
Besides the uptick in tips, Southworth said she's looking forward to seeing more Bruins fans and regulars back in the bar.
Hannah Kempski, the marketing manager for the Harp, said they "couldn't be happier" that the lockout is over.
"We have a ton of fans that come before and after every single game and even get a lot of fans that watch the away games, so it's a big deal for us," said Kempski.
Chris Fox, assistant general manager at The Greatest Bar near the Garden, agreed.
"Them coming back is pretty fantastic for us," he said.