So, why do we have a picture of John "Chief" Bucyk, Hall of Famer, eating dinner on a table on the tarmac of the airport on the front page of BostonBruins.com?
The answer is a little convoluted, so bear with me.
One of the great joys of traveling with the Bruins is getting to know Bruins alum, Johnny Bucyk, who, in his road services capacity, helps the players while they are on trips. And yes, he is a legendary, Hall of Fame, Stanley Cup Winner (twice over) and it is cool to hang with all of that, but he is also a very funny man.
Case in point: Several weeks ago, on Bear Force One following the B’s preseason game in Washington, Chief dropped some food from the galley in his kitchen. Translated, that means he dropped some of his airplane food on his new shirt and pants.
As he lamented the act, he said to his neighbor in the seats, Bruins Director of Communication Matt Chmura that he was not going to eat on the plane again. Now, Chief, like many of us, is prone to bouts of hyperbole when angered and Chmura, knowing that Mr. Bucyk enjoys the meals on the plane, said, “You’re never going to do that. In fact, I bet you can’t make it until Christmas.”
Hyperbole was thrown aside. Johnny had been challenged. Matt had thrown down the gauntlet (or, in this case, the fork) and John picked it up.
So “The Bet” was on, much to the delight of everyone within shouting distance: Chief can’t eat on the plane (except gum) until after Christmas. If he does, he owes Chmura a steak dinner. And vice versa if Johnny makes it all the way to December 26th.
But here’s the funny thing about bets, they are often poorly worded and have major loopholes.
On the next plane trip, to Denver for the season opener, Bucyk, who knows that Chmura has people spying on him when Matt does not take the flight, did not eat ON the plane. John just grabbed whatever he could that was packaged (crackers, peanuts, granola bars and, believe it or not, a sandwich) and put them into his bag to eat when the team landed.
“He did not say anything about eating the plane food on the bus,” explained Chief with a big laugh. “He just said, ‘You can’t eat on the plane.’”
And so on…
Fast forward to the current trip: Sunday morning, when we arrived at the small airport that the B’s use for a base for their charters, Chief greeted everyone normally – then disappeared. A half hour later, when we looked out the windows of the jet, he was found sitting on the tarmac at a table, covered in a nice tablecloth and waiting patiently for the dinner plate to be delivered to his table prior to the planes departure.
Apparently Chief (or Chef, as he is sometimes called and is appropriate here) had asked Coach Julien if he would mind starting the trip with a little levity. And, looking at the five hour flight, he knew that he would want the nice turkey dinner that would be served mid trip, so the flight attendant walked down the ramp and presented John with his dinner – with Chmura and most of the passengers watching.
That would include VP Cam Neely who shouted, “Bish, you’re going to take pictures of that, right?”
So I did – quickly -- and that is why we have a picture of John Bucyk, Hall of Famer, eating dinner on a table on the tarmac of the airport. The gallery is here