Boston Bruins’ Barstool Towel Promotion Leads To Outcry

The Bruins and Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals
Patrick Smith / Getty Images

Rally towels distributed by sports teams are rarely the subject of controversy. But that’s just what happened on Wednesday when the Boston Bruins announced that the rally towel it was using for Game 2 of its Stanley Cup Finals series with the St. Louis Blues had a notorious sponsor.

The Bruins announced on Twitter early Wednesday that Barstool Sports, the media company that got its start in Boston, was the sponsor of its rally towels for Game 2, and it thanked both the company and its founder, David Portnoy, for its promotion.

This led to a lot of complaints online by those upset about the long list of bad acts that Barstool has been accused of over the years. The Daily Beast wrote last year about the site’s “culture of online hate,” while hockey writer Andrew Berkshire, on Wednesday, tweeted that “lots of great Bruins fans that don’t deserve to be associated with barstool, many of whom have been repeatedly harassed by barstool employees and fanboys over the years.”

ESPN canceled a Barstool-associated talk show after just one episode in October of 2017, per SI.com. And The Daily Beast reported last year about a woman who had a video stolen by the site and then found herself the subject of online harassment when she asked for it to be removed.

Deadspin has accused them of “coordinated harassment campaigns,” and reported that the Bruins would not respond to requests for comment; the hockey team made the same comment to every media outlet who asked: “We will not be commenting on this activation.” That site also pointed out that the NHL, including the Bruins, has been involved in inclusiveness campaigns in recent years, and that the team’s communications director is a vocal Barstool fan.

St. Louis Game Time, a Blues blog, called the promotion “shameful” and opined that “Boston has chosen which fans they want — and which they don’t.” The site went on to note that the Bruins’ business operations department employs only one woman, who is listed at the bottom of the organizational chart.

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The pro-Barstool argument on social media mostly boiled down to variations on wondering how anyone could possibly get upset about a towel.

In the game Wednesday night, the Blues defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime, per ESPN, to even the Stanley Cup Finals series at 1-1. Carl Gunnarsson scored for the Blues in overtime to win the game and was assisted on the goal by Ryan O’Reilly and Oskar Sundqvist.