The Boston Bruins ae struggling through a horrible start, including a nine-game winless streak before they finally beat Pittsburgh Sunday night. That streak was their longest since 1967, back in the days of the six-team NHL.
Part of the reason for the Bruins' troubles was the appearance of a circus in Boston Garden, locking the hockey club out for 18 days and forcing a six-game road trip. The night the Bruins returned was doubly alarming, since they lost to Calgary and the crowd of only 8,774, smallest in recent memory, indicated folks had not been anxiously awaiting the team's return.
First-year Coach Gerry Cheevers confessed after a 4-0 loss in Los Angeles, "I just couldn't think of anything that would change things." Then he added that "it would turn around or I won't be here."
Last Thursday the Bruins lost another home game, 4-2, to the New York Islanders. Even more embarrassing than the result was the pounding inflicted on Stan Jonathan, he of the great fighting reputation, by the Islanders' Clark Gillies.
Fred Creighton, currently selling men's clothing, probably enjoys a laugh when he looks at the standings, which show the Bruins in a tie for 18th place in the 21-team league. Creighton had a 40-20-13 record when he was fired by General Manager Harry Sinden in March for failing to conform to the Bruins' image, or some such nonsense.
Under Sinden's coaching, the Bruins made their quickest exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs in five years, losing to the Islanders in five games in the quarterfinals. Under Cheevers, they are disappearing from sight of the playoffs.