To paraphrase Dave Grohl, one last thing before I quit writing about Tyler Seguin until January: What happened Tuesday night was really surprising.
No, not that Seguin didn’t want the puck on his stick, like, ever. Not that Seguin scored a beauty of a shootout goal. Yes, that he won six of his 10 faceoffs, but that’s not the subject of this column.
It was the very loud, unwelcoming reception.
It isn’t that Seguin was booed; it was that Seguin was booed almost completely in one of the more unanimous displays of disdain shown by the Garden crowd. We’re talking Matt Cooke in 2010, Jarome Iginla last April, Phil Kessel those 15 times. Seguin wasn’t treated like a guy the Bruins simply had ditched in the offseason; he was treated like a Bruins villain.
And no matter what you think of Seguin, no one can say he’s that, right? Don’t you have to do something to a team to earn that status?
You can’t just chalk this up to the fans automatically booing one of their team’s former big-name players, because the usual reaction there is a mixed bag. Seguin didn’t get a mixed bag. He got a shower of boos in pregame introduction, the north-of-the-border Zdeno Chara treatment every time he touched the puck and droning “Saaaay-gin” chants in the third period.
“I’ve seen a lot of players come back here -- you know, popular athletes, which I was in this city,” Seguin said. “I am sure that there are mixed feelings out there. I can only go out there and play hockey.”
Since he never really wronged the Bruins (unless you want to make the half-of-Patrick Kane argument), it’s hard to tell whether such a reception was absurd or surprisingly intelligent.
The argument for absurd (and I’ll admit that this is coming from someone who thought Seguin was a limited and vastly overrated player in his time in Boston) is that he didn’t leave the Bruins. He was sent out.
Seguin loved Boston. Yeah, he loved it too much, but the point is that this isn’t a case of Johnny Damon, who left as a free agent, or even Kessel, who wanted more money than the Bruins were willing to give him.
Seguin’s happy in Dallas, but it isn’t like he wanted to leave. He had a life here, with friends, a dog and an annual Selke vote or two thanks to a combination of playing with Patrice Bergeron and one or two members of the PHWA misunderstanding the criteria for the Selke.
So if fans were angry that Seguin was gone, on the surface their issue wouldn’t be with the player, right?
If it was, that’s where the surprisingly intelligent part comes in.
Seguin was a very good player who received a free pass from fans throughout his Bruins career. His faults on the ice were clear as day -- what he was and was not willing to do -- but No. 19 jerseys sold like hotcakes because he was fast and had the potential to be the next great scorer in Boston.
Maybe those same fans who bent over backward to embrace Seguin were in the building Tuesday, and maybe they were angry at Seguin over what could have been. Maybe they got that if Seguin were more physically willing, less inclined to give up on plays and more of a professional, he would be here and the Bruins would have their homegrown wunderkind.
Maybe it means that Bruins fans recognize that they were putting up with a lot of stuff for the sake of potential. When he shied away from contact, they thought of the 40 goals that might come the next season. When he got rid of the puck the second he got it, they thought of the Hart Trophy he would one day receive.
And here’s the thing: If he were still here and playing the same way -- and if you watched Seguin Tuesday, you saw he’s definitely playing the same way -- they’d still be cheering and rationalizing. They’d still put up a stink every time Claude Julien demoted him to the third line.
But that isn’t the case, and perhaps the trade forced a lot of people to arrive at a conclusion they had long avoided regarding Seguin as a player.
Still, the reception was pretty harsh, but Seguin learned that not only are his days of being adored in Boston over, but that he’s on the wrong side of the very chants he once laughed at on the bench when the Bruins would play the Leafs.
Of course, there probably isn’t a scientific explanation as to who deserves booing and who doesn’t at the Garden these days. Consider that when his name was announced in the shootout, Peverley was booed. What the heck did he do?
"I noticed that,” Brad Marchand said after the game. “It just shows the loyalty of our fans to our team, and that's why we love them."