There was another ongoing debate as Seguin’s return drew near, some said they would welcome the forward back to TD Garden and cheer for him when he stepped on the ice. Others said they would not welcome him back with open arms and boo Seguin.
The pending welcome took on a life of its own and most were eagerly awaiting to see what the atmosphere would be like on game night in Boston.
Thirty minutes before game time, the teams took the ice for pregame warm-ups. A sparse crowd surrounded the glass, mostly teenage girls, which was a customary sight when Seguin was a Bruin, waited to see their hero step on the ice. The building was not half full at this point and there was smattering of boos accompanying the cheers when Seguin, wearing number 91 in his white, green and black jersey appeared out of the tunnel, making his way onto the ice.
Throughout the pregame skate, all eyes were on Seguin. Despite admitting to a friend of his that he was “very nervous,” he appeared happy to be back in Boston and ready to play.
Twenty minutes later, the lights went down, the video of big Bruins goals, hits and fights played on the HDX board accompanied by thunderous music. The electricity permeated throughout the building. The lights came up and both clubs made their way onto the ice. Fans awaited and when they saw him, the boos rained down on Seguin.
Press row, which surrounds the TD Garden, could not believe what it was hearing. Members of the media looked at each other and the conversation became one of trying to understand why Bruins fans were booing Seguin. Many tweeted that this was not how he should be welcomed back.
The general feeling was that these were the few who will boo their grandmother for cooking the stuffing outside of the Thanksgiving turkey and would be quieted down by those who would cheer for the former first round draft pick but a funny thing happened, the boos grew louder and began circling the arena. Clearly, this was not the expected reaction from Bruins fans who, at one time, idolized their young star.
And that is what was the most baffling aspect of the night. You cheered a young man, who joined your favorite team and played a pretty big role in bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time in 39 years.
You cheered louder and longer the following season when he led the Bruins in scoring with 29 goals and 38 assists for a total of 67 points.
You bought Bruins jerseys and had his name and number put on them. You bought T-shirts with 19 and Seguin on the backs.
You waited outside the practice rink in the cold to get his autograph and have your picture taken with him.
Tyler Seguin was one of your favorite black and gold sons and now you’ve turned your backs on him.
The popular opinion is that Seguin lived a rock star lifestyle, which included hard partying and a different girlfriend each week. He was photographed without his shirt, drink in hand, smile on his face. Yup, that was the proof. Ask any Bruins fan about the Ontario native and they will be more than eager to tell you a story about Seguin that they heard from a friend of a friend. More proof, for sure. And of course, there was the popular rumor that made the rounds shortly after the trade with Dallas that became “fact” on the internet which said he was having an affair with a teammate’s wife. Totally false but hey, it sounded good so why not spread it and as we all know when you spread a rumor for a long period of time, it becomes fact.
My question to Boston fans is, how did Seguin’s off ice behavior, whether fact or fiction, affect your life?
Unless you actually know the person, unless you have the unmitigated facts, how can you speak ill of someone... Anyone?
For some reason, Boston loves to build up its athletes then tear them apart and smile as they do it. They did it to one of the greatest Red Sox pitchers of all time in Roger Clemens. Johnny Damon helped the Red Sox win its first World Series in 86 years in 2004 but when he returned to Fenway Park wearing a Yankees uniform, he was loudly booed. Phil Esposito helped bring two Stanley Cups to Boston in three years yet after being traded to the New York Rangers, he heard the boos in the old Boston Garden.
Seguin is in good company as he stated after the game in which he scored a shootout goal in the Stars 3-2 win over his former team.
“I have seen a lot of players come back here -- you know popular athletes, which I was in this city. I am sure that there are mixed feelings out there. I can only go out there and play hockey,” Seguin stated.
Seguin knows what to expect the next time he returns to Boston. He knows that one minute, you are a hero, and the next minute, a goat. All athletes know that is a possibility and they know the fans have the right to change their minds and not continue supporting them.
It comes with the territory but for Seguin to be treated as if he was public enemy number one was not only confusing, it was embarrassing and wrong. You do not need to love him, he is an opponent now but at the very least, show some appreciation for his contributing to a championship.
After all, he was one of the reasons, you waited on a hot, steamy June afternoon to see the team pass by in the duck boats with the Stanley Cup.
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.