The Boston Bruins are the best team in the NHL this year, and it isn’t even close. As we watch an all out arms race take place prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, one has to wonder if the teams behind them (Like 12 points behind them) can add enough to take even the odds come playoff time.
To answer your question, Yes. Yes, I am using this post as a very thin metaphor to talk about the Bruins and the record setting year they are having. And to your next question, No. No, it isn’t going to be a waste of time, nor will it be a long post. But like all great teams the Bruins are a collection of great individuals playing their roles and realizing their potential.
Each team, regardless of whether or not they are a sports team has an assembly of different kinds of role players. The grinders can get the work done that needs to get done, think accounting, quality and programming. Scorers are the sales and marketing team. A lot of flash but utterly useless if the puck or the product never gets to them in a scoring position. There are also the people you tap when you’re facing a particularly challenging situation that needs someone with the experience and instincts to get the job done, like an acquisition or economic development plan. And then there are the people in the office or on the team that everyone respects, loves and enthusiasm drives the bus towards success.
The Bruins are not that different of a team from the one that unceremoniously bounced from the first round of the playoffs. Maybe a bit healthier, but there were zero big free agent signings, apart from some players returning that could have retired.
What seems to be the most significant change is the fun the players seem to be having
under new coach Jim Montgomery. “Monty” comes in as a replacement for Bruce Cassidy, a coach who had a winning record and led the Bruins one win short of the Stanley Cup in 2019. But if you look at the team, the dances in the dressing rooms after games, smiles and hugs on the ice, there is zero doubt that the team is having more fun under Montgomery.
One of the reasons attributed by some of the players is that they feel more comfortable making mistakes. Jake Debrusk, a top-six winger, felt the pressure of Cassidy particularly firmly last season and requested a trade. This year despite having missed two months, is on pace for career numbers while solidifying the Bruin’s top two lines.
If you ask any NHL’er about the Bruins as a team, the word “culture” will inevitably come up. A culture of hard work, support, professionalism and now fun. Established in the late 00s by Zdeno Chara and continued today by the leadership core of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Nick Foligno.
So, what does this have to do with business? Welp, the truth is that work is not the most exciting thing in the world. Most people don’t get to play the game they grew up loving for a living, so building teams and support becomes very difficult.
So, what can we do to be more like the Bruins? For starters, understand that your team needs different kinds of players, not A, B or C players as Steve Jobs would have you believe, but Role, Glue, Snipers and Specialists. Then understand that they need to feel safe in their role. They need to see a path forward for them and understand how their efforts contribute to the goal of the business and how that will benefit them. But they also need to feel safe to make mistakes and be vulnerable.
It’s naive to believe that all those needs can be met inside the workplace, so it is critical to engage in things like a business ecosystem, cohorts and peer groups. For example, our friends at Leaders Forum run a fantastic program for high-achieving professionals to experience the vulnerability and support they need to evolve.
In short, we should all be trying to be more like the Bruins and with any luck, we can be kings of the mountain come the summer!
Sandenn has been plugging away at his entrepreneurial journey for over a decade. With degrees and lived experience to spare he hopes that these blog posts can be of some help to you!