In Praise of Barbarian Hockey

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Longtime readers and historians of the Ken Socrates World News Organization will certainly remember the man called Ozzy McGurt. For the many years he served as Editor and Head Writer for the KSWNO Sports Department he was most definately difficult to miss, that’s for sure. In fact, the only thing that can match Ozzy’s talent and his determination to bring incisive, relevant sports reporting to the public is his dimensional girth. Standing 6’6” tall and weighing in at over 380 lbs, the “internet’s biggest authority on sports” has become a force to be reckoned with in athletic journalism in the same way Godzilla is a force to be reckoned with on Monster Island.

Of course, even a global news machine like ours proved too small for the man mountain of righteous rage, so he moved on, establishing his own empire at the powerhouse nocandyasses.com where he holds forth on all things sporting.

A while back, when my favorite hometown team, The Boston Bruins, had reached an abysmal low point (trading league MVP and face of the franchise Joe Thornton for a bag of practice pucks and half a jar of Ben Gay) and it seemed there was no hope, it was Ozzy who showed up in Beantown and tried to help make things right. As always, when we get together, shit gets broken and maybe not all our plans came to fruition but suffice to say the OZ-man not only lifted my spirits but showed both myself and the B’s what it takes to stand up and be a real man. This is, after all, the man who invented the term Barbarian Hockey.

It’s safe to assume the Bruins management paid attention to Ozzy. They fired the oily little weasel who traded Thornton and brought in a guy with an actual NHL resume. They spent a few bucks the right way, bringing in genuine All-Star talent in Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara. They stocked the farm system and now the team is brimming with amazing talented youngsters like Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler and David Krejci.

Better than that, though, is that they returned to a style of hockey that Boston fans truly love; a tough, in your face, hard-hitting, take no prisoners style. The way the Old Gods played it. Guys like Cam Neely and Terry O’Reilly. Guys a little further back who established a presence on the ice, especially at the old “Gahden”, that earned them the nickname The Big Bad Bruins. Back then, it was true. You didn’t come into Boston expecting an easy night. You came with extra ice packs and tylenol because you knew you going to leave a little worse for wear. Guys further back, still, like Milt Schmidt, a man who surrendered three years of his pro-hockey career to serve in the Canadian military during World War II. Guys who command your respect when you meet them.

So now, it’s getting back to that. The current Bruins provide an intense style of game with an emphasis on defense and an opportunistic, balanced, four-line attack. Along with that, there is a new attitude on the team, a sense of team unity, that allows no teammate to go undefended, no offense to go unpunished, no enemy to leave unscathed. It looks like this at times, as Milan Lucic puts the exclamation point on a recent Bruins win over the hated Montreal Canadiens and ornery defenseman Mike Komisarek.

Yeah. That’s exactly the sort of thing we’ve been missing all these years. That kind of swagger is bringing the pride back to town in a big way. It’s putting fans in the seats again, it’s making games must-see viewing.

Yes, folks. In a city full of recent sports champions, where you are measured not only by your record and your rings, but by your heart, the Boston Bruins are suddenly relevant again.

And for that, Ozzy McGurt, we thank you.

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