BRIGHTON, Mass. - The Bruins are clearly in a much different place now with a young, up-and-coming group, but they certainly have hopes and aspirations to build something similar to what the Patriots have in place in Foxboro.
The Pats are headed to Minnesota looking for their third Super Bowl title in four years to go along with the three Super Bowls in four years at the start of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Era. Plenty of Bruins players were on hand in Foxboro on Sunday with the day off from practice. Torey Krug even posted a picture on Instagram with Charlie McAvoy, Riley Nash, Paul Postma, Matt Grzelcyk, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask all ready to cheer on the Patriots in a truly entertaining AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Clearly, the Bruins semi-recently had a nice run of their own with seven consecutive seasons of playoff appearances and two Cup Final appearances between 2011-2013, but the Patriots’ current dynastic run is something that’s never been seen before in modern professional sports.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy makes no bones about being a fan of the Patriots and the way they play and said it’s something that inspires him and should inspire his team full of players as they roll through a very good season of their own.
“You can’t help but get caught up in it,” said Cassidy. “I’ve been in New England ten years, and you can see how teams continually can’t put the Patriots away. It’s not just one time. So they’re in people’s heads...I don’t care what anybody says.
“There are conversations, probably less about their own game and more about what the Patriots can do. On a game day, they’re probably focusing less on themselves. It’s an amazing quality that team has, the character, the culture they’ve created and the identity. We would love to be that. We’re coming at you, we’re coming at you, and it doesn’t matter what happens right to the bitter end. We’ll see where that goes, but you’ve got to be champions to do that. There are guys in this locker room that were [champions] and would love to be again, and with the younger guys hopefully, it’s something that they embrace.”
For those Bruins that have won before, the ongoing excellence of the Patriots, who've been dominant for close to two decades, becomes the truly amazing accomplishment. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Adam McQuaid have been through one cycle of dominance earlier in their B’s careers, but before getting on that upward trajectory again, they needed to hit a rough patch for a couple of seasons that included a housecleaning of their GM and coach.
That’s something the Patriots have never really had to do since the arrival of Belichick and Brady, and it’s something that blows away those veteran Bruins who have watched it all unfold.
“It’s not easy. You see it in every sport that the one season you win, and then the next season you don’t even make the playoffs,” said David Krejci. “The Patriots year after year they’re always a top-four team and last season they won the Super Bowl. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks and watching the game, especially given the way they played with the injuries they had with [Julian] Edelman and Gronk getting hurt. It was fun to watch [on Sunday].”
If nothing else it’s inspiring for the younger Bruins to simply see how focused the entire community gets supporting one of the local teams when they reach the championship level and just how bonkers the Boston area will become if the Patriots take it to the Super Bowl house for a record-tying sixth time in NFL history.