Why Boston won the Stanley Cup, with less “Talent”

The Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup Champions. Let that statement sink in for a moment.

Now before I go any further, let me clearly state that I am, 100% a Red Wings fan. That’s my team, so I’m not going all “homer” on people here who say I’m “pumping the Bruins tires”. However I love hockey, leadership and teamwork, and what the Bruins did this off-season had all three. Glad we cleared that up.

The Bruins won the Stanley cup with decidedly less talent than their foes, the Vancouver Canucks. For a quick comparison of how these two teams ended the regular season, let’s take a look at the final standings:

West – 1. Vancouver (117 pts) 2. San Jose (105 pts) 3. Detroit (104 pts) 4. Anaheim (99 pts) 5. Nashville (99 pts) 6. Phoenix (99 pts) 7. LA (98 pts) 8. Chicago (97 pts)

East – 1. Washington (107 pts) 2. Philadelphia (106 pts) 3. Boston (103 pts) 4. Pittsburgh (106 pts) 5. Tampa Bay (103 pts) 6. Montreal (96 pts) 7. Buffalo (96 pts) 8. NY Rangers (93 pts)

Pretty much everyone considered Vancouver the team to beat (and for good reason) in the playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, given the fact that Vancouver had apparently vanquished their big game issues by winning a tight 4-3 series against the defending champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, they looked poised to breakthrough for their first Stanley Cup. They scored more, had more power play goals and the most talent of any team heading in. They cruised to a Western Conference Title, handling the Sharks 4-1. They won the West Conference regular season 1st place and guaranteed home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, with a 12 point margin. They had the Sedin twins, Ryan Kessler, Luongo, Bieksa,etc. You get the point. These guys were loaded with talent, confidence and were cruising along.

Boston, finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference by winning their division. They grinded their way through the regular season and fought through the post-season (except for the Philly series, in which they vanquished their own ghosts). The team had no truly major superstars like the Canucks. Outside of Chara, Thomas, Krejci and Lucic, I dare the average fan of the sport to name any other major players, prior to the cup finals, or even the playoffs. They won 3 game 7s on through-out the post-season.  Boston fought, bled and scratched their way to the finals and never lost confidence in their abilities. So how did the “Bad News Bears” (see what I did there) end up beating the juggernaut of the NHL this year?

Simple – leadership, teamwork and focus.

Leadership – Big Z, Thomas and Claude Julien brought a level of leadership to the team that gave the team confidence, even in dire situations and in the face of losses. Julien did a masterful job of rotating his players correctly to adjust for injuries (see Seguin, Thornton, Peverly sitting/line changes). He kept the team in order by maintaining a level of discipline (yelling at Marchand for breaking stick at bench during Game 5 loss). Chara was his normal, unfaltering self during the playoffs. He solidified that blue line and gave the team a leader to follow throughout the playoffs. Tim Thomas was a god between the pipes, but more importantly he provided a leadership mentality that as long as the team managed to get him one goal, he’d have their backs. They did a good job of having his back many nights as well.

Teamwork – Everyone had a role and did their part. I don’t think you can find one group of players that was more solid as a unit through the playoffs this year, than the Bruins (duh, the won the cup).

Focus – They never seemed to panic. In losses they knew where they went wrong and looked to fix the problem. In victory they took the positives, but learned from the mistakes as well. Even in thrilling victories (even last night) they still seemed to have a determined focus that couldn’t be shaken.

So what does this have to do with work? Well I think we can all learn from their focus and determination to see how we can use them in our work lives. If you read this little diddy that I wrote about a week ago, you’ll notice a lot of recurring themes. Focus. Teamwork. Leadership. It all comes together to make awesome happen.

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