My eternal problem with the Southeast division: There are no rivalries in it in any way approaching those we once enjoyed with our predecessor Patrick division, and subsequently, I can’t summon the hate. And in instances as with what a segment of Lightning fans in Tampa, led by a silly DJ there, carried off this week, all I can summon is fresh pity.
I should hate the Bolts; they just beat our ass badly, after all. But they’ve dusted off the Caps twice in a decade, and when you think about it, who hasn’t? None of their fans came to Verizon Center for games 1 and 2 of round two, and small wonder — they’re like a thousand miles away.
Ah, the absence of Tampa fans; it’s a prime theme in a brilliantly conceived and devilishly cunning Boston Bruins ad campaign — or it was, rather, until a Tampa tirade of telephone calls closed it down. Meaning, I’m resurrecting it here.
The Bs of course have carried off this fabulous mascot-driven humor campaign in print and video spots the past few seasons. We’ve sung its praises here. It’s simply magnificent. And it bloomed beautifully in Beantown for this year’s Eastern Conference finals, but as Greg Wyshynski noted in his treatment of this matter, the Bs have run it for each and every postseason opponent the past two springs. It’s Tampa’s hockey fans who singularly took offense to it. The aforementioned DJ, for whom I haven’t enough respect to ID, led a campaign of on-air ire against it, and urged his listeners to swamp Bruins’ telephone lines with complaints. Enough of them did, the Bs probably figured it was easier just to take the ads down and be done with the diaper set from the South, and that’s that. Some fun was had, but it should have continued.
Still, let’s enjoy more of this spirited smack — and you can find a helpful gallery of the art at massholesports.com.
To state the obvious, no way you’d hear any outcry about this sort of campaign from fanbases in Philly, New York, or Pittsburgh. Those are real hockey communities with appropriately toughened sensibilities. Tampa surely bettered D.C. where it counts, on the ice, but at least we have our dignity. Finally, though, I’ve found rationale to take interest in a Southeast foe’s fate in spring. Go B’s.