A 30 for 30 wish list for Bruins documentaries
For those who appreciate historical events both on the playing surface and in the real world, sports documentaries are the perfect form to relive some of the best stories.
In a day where people, brands, media outlets and other organizations try to put their best image on social media, sports documentaries, like ESPN’s 30 for 30, to me have been a great escape from the real world. Most recently, their three-part series on the Celtics-Lakers rivalry detailed everything from the on-court battles from the Bill Russell years to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird saving the NBA after their dark era of the 70’s to the race issues stemming the country at the time and the Lakers finally getting over the hump against their hated foes in 1985 and again in 1987.
With two of the big four professional sports teams in Boston having been the centerpiece of a 30 for 30 – including the Red Sox-Yankees 2004 ALCS documentary titled “Four Nights in October” – only the Patriots and Bruins remain as teams that haven’t been covered on the critically acclaimed ESPN series. One has to think the rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning is in store for a future 30 for 30 – or at least on Boston fans wishlists.
But what about the Bruins? Even with only six Stanley Cup banners hanging from TD Garden, the Original Six franchise has had their share of moments etched into National Hockey League lore.
With that in mind, and on the sixth anniversary of the B’s hoisting the Stanley Cup in Vancouver, here’s a Bruins related 30 for 30 wish list from your’s truly.
Gamechanger: The life and times of Bobby Orr
The man who redefined the defensive position and changed the game forever, a documentary on the one and only Bobby Orr has to be on the top of this wish list. The thought of reliving the image of Orr flying through the air after scoring the game-winner on Mother’s Day 1970 over and over again never gets old and that highlight still resonates today around sports bars in Boston – and of course his own statue right outside TD Garden.
His Stanley Cup-clinching goal against the Blues isn’t the only moment to highlight, obviously. From the stories of Orr being signed to the Bruins at a young age to being the centerpiece of the biggest hockey boom in Boston of all time to the rise of the youth hockey movement in New England, the highs and lows of Orr’s career is a story that also, never gets old. Though the way that his career ended with knee injuries and his feud with agent Alan Eagleson were tough and deserve to
Though the way that his career ended with knee injuries and his feud with agent Alan Eagleson were tough and deserve to be included, there’s no denying that the greatest Bruin of all time deserves his own 30 for 30.
Born rivals: The history of the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry
In keeping with the spirit of the Red Sox-Yankees and Celtics-Lakers documentaries, this next item on the wishlist is also a top item on the wish list. No two teams in the history of North American sports have met more times in the postseason than the Bruins and Canadiens.
The potential interviews of past and present members of the rivalry are endless. From great names of the 70’s like Orr, Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson, Ken Dryden, Guy Lafelur, Larry Robinson and Don Cherry to name a few, to players from the recent edition of the rivalry like Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Claude Julien, Max Pacioretty and Brad Marchand and players that have since moved on to different teams like Milan Lucic and P.K. Subban, the content reliving the best on-ice moments from those who lived the heated moments would arguably be the centerpiece of this documentary.
Of course, there’s so much more outside of the on-ice Bruins-Habs showdown. The differences in the two cities and the rich history that they have in both sport and culture adds another layer for potential filmmakers.
Boston: the real Titletown
This one may be a little bit of a piggyback from the 30 for 30 on Cleveland’s long sports title drought called “Beliveland”, but a film city highlighting the success of all four major sports teams over a two-decade span would obviously be much different than the aforementioned film title.
Boston, like Cleveland, had a little drought between sports titles from 1986 to 2002. With the glory days of Bird and other great teams behind them, the Celtics joined the other three pro teams into mediocrity. Sure, there were a few moments here and there like the Bruins reaching the Cup Final in 88 and 90 and the Patriots going to the Super Bowl under Bill Parcells, but the good memories were few and far between.
That was until 2002 when the Patriots began an unprecedented run of success that continues to this day. Though the Pats and Red Sox would be the centerpiece of this film, the Bruins and Celtics would eventually join in on the fun. The B’s and C’s moments would be highlighted similar to how the Indians were portrayed in “Beliveland”.
All four sports teams also played a role in helping Boston heal its wounds from the 2013 Marathon bombings. Reliving Rene Rancourt and the fans singing the National Anthem in the first event after the bombings and the Bruins and Sox run to the Cup Final and World Series win, respectively, would be the cherry on top of this film.
To hell and back: The Tim Thomas journey
This would be challenging for filmmakers if they want to find and interview Thomas, who has been quiet since his stint with the Panthers and Stars in the 2013-14 season, but the reward could be endless. In fact, that story itself could be well worth it.
Thomas’ journey to the NHL was long. One of the greats from his days in UVM, Thomas’ success did not initially carry over to the pros. His stops in the IHL, AHL and Europe before finding success with the Bruins deserve its own documentary in and of itself, but for the sake of keeping this a one-part film, it would highlight a good portion of the documentary.
Thomas’ perseverance throughout his career and his two Vezinas in 2009 and 2011, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup triumph in 2011 still deserve praise to this day. Yes, there might have been that time where he didn’t join the Bruins in the White House when they were being honored by former President Barack Obama. And yes, his Facebook statements might be viewed as non-mainstream. But with athletes expressing their political views these days, maybe Thomas, purposely or inadvertently, started a trend among sports figures.
So many moments both on and off the ice for Thomas, that to me, would make this a must see for Bruins fans, regardless of what anyone thinks about the Bruins netminder in the present day.
Crushed excellence: The rise and fall of the late 2000’s-early 2010 Bruins
Once their run of 30 straight postseason appearances ended in the mid-1990’s, the Bruins were stuck in a run of mediocrity. Empty seats and early playoff exits were front and center when they moved from the old to the new Garden and it seemed like they would be stuck.
Enter names like Bergeron, Chara, Julien, Thomas, Lucic, Marchand, Peter Chiarelli and Andrew Ference to name a few. Bring in a former Bruin like Cam Neely to oversee hockey operations and help these Bruins form an identity. Trade a talented youngster like Phil Kessel to add the future of the team like Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Add to that a mix of veterans like Nathan Horton, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton, and you got yourself a good mix of players to portray in helping the re-birth of the Bruins in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s.
As quick as they rose through the NHL ranks, the fall back to mediocrity was just as significant. Whether it was the trades of Seguin and Boychuk to misses in free agency and the Draft, the Bruins fell back in a rut while the likes of the Blackhawks, Kings and Penguins took center stage. Perhaps the Black and Gold could have been right there with them, but we’ll never know?
But hey, promising players like David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo can give any Bruins fan something to look forward to. Add that ending along with showcasing the second golden era of the sport in Boston during the Bruins’ Cup runs and you have yourself a pretty good 90-120 minute film if you ask me.