BOSTON –- The Bruins are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup championship team tonight at TD Garden with some pretty big names in attendance.
Bobby Orr, Fred Stanfield, Eddie Johnston, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith and Derek Sanderson are among the members of that team being honored. While most of them engaged in a brief media scrum to talk about what it was like for the Bruins of the early '70s, the alumni also commented on tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The focus on this game, of course, is the Penguins’ Matt Cooke, who laid a blindside hit on the Bruins’ Marc Savard on March 7 in Pittsburgh. Savard suffered a grade 2 concussion and is likely lost for the season.
“I don’t think Cooke would have gotten off the ice,” said Stanfield, when asked what would have happened in a similar situation in 1970.
Orr, however, was a little more subdued when asked his thoughts on the situation.
“The Bruins have to go out tonight and play,” he said. “It’s two points and they’re in a [playoff] fight. The Penguins are struggling a little bit and I think it’s going to be a heck of a hockey game. It would be silly for the Bruins to go out and have their key thing be going after a player. That would be just silly. It would be a silly thing to do and a silly thing for all of us to think that. I was listening to a talk show coming in and the fans were saying, ‘They need to do this’ and ‘They need to do that' and 'They need to take [Sidney] Crosby out.’ I mean, come on.”
Orr certainly took his share of hits during his playing days, which had an adverse effect on his career because of numerous knee injuries. He believes the physical play he gave, and received, was part of the game. Orr doesn’t think, however, the Cooke hit on Savard was warranted.
“In my mind, it was an illegal hit,” Orr said. “In my mind, a player like Marc Savard, and Marc is a very good hockey player, you bump him and you grind him, you get in his way. But he’s a player you don’t run over like that. There were periods when that was understood. It would be like me, during my time, running at Jean Beliveau from behind or blindsiding him. You don’t do that. I was a pain in the you-know-what, so I was hit a lot. I mean, I would hit, so I got hit back. But Marc, you don’t do that to him.”
Orr also believes the players should be able to respond just like the old days without repercussions because of the instigator rule.
“I think the rules are pretty strict on things like that, but I also believe if they let the players police it for a while, everyone would soon understand,” said Orr. “But I’m not sure they’ll let them do that.”
Without placing too much emphasis on Cooke’s visit to Boston, the Bruins alumni were able to enjoy reliving memories from 40 years ago. Boston won only one more Stanley Cup, in 1972. In the minds of Orr and his former teammates, the Cup needs to return to Boston.
“It would be just as exciting and just as much fun,” said Orr. “You would have the crowds the same we had back in the '70s. We like winning and Boston is no different than any other city. We see it with the Red Sox and the Celtics and the Pats -- my god, what a city. For the Bruins, if they won a Stanley Cup, it would be unbelievable, it really would be. There are a lot of hockey fans in New England and I think they would be pretty excited.”