Some loose pucks gathered as 2010-11 closes:
1. Not sure when the season started. Maybe the opening of training camp. Or the teambuilding outing to Vermont. Perhaps the trip to Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic. For me, 2010-11 kicked off at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough in late July. For one week, Tim Thomas was holding his summer camp at the rink. I went there on a Monday, hoping to talk to Thomas about his offseason hip surgery, a possible trade, etc. Thomas wasn't there. His old UVM teammate Pavel Navrat was. I asked Navrat if Thomas would be around. Navrat told me to come back on Thursday. That day, we covered that ground -- hip, trade, summer workouts. "I've got something to prove," Thomas said in conclusion. "To the organization?" I asked. "To the world," he answered. Guess Thomas was right.
2. It's easy to forget how close the Bruins were to losing in the first round. The Canadiens gave the Bruins a dogfight. Montreal didn't have as much talent. But they matched up almost perfectly against the Bruins. Hal Gill and P.K. Subban were the best defensive pairing the Bruins' top line played against all year. Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta scored timely goals. Carey Price was outstanding. One bounce the other way, the Habs would have advanced. The Bruins would have been done. It would have cost Claude Julien his job.
3. Hard to say about a team that was without Marc Savard for most of the season and Nathan Horton for half of the final because of concussions. But boy, were the Bruins fortunate with injuries. Montreal didn't have Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges. Philadelphia lost Chris Pronger early, Mike Richards was playing with a bad wrist, and about half of the Philly roster ended up in the operating room. Tampa was missing Pavel Kubina. Vancouver was without Mikael Samuelsson, then saw Dan Hamhuis get knocked out in Game 1. Also hurt: Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler, Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler. Bruins had their share of bad luck in last few postseasons (Dennis Seidenberg, David Krejci, Andrew Ference, Savard, etc.). Good fortune and depth were in their favor this time.
4. Toronto's bounty for Tomas Kaberle: Joe Colborne, first-round pick in 2011, second-round pick in 2012. All worth a Cup. Bruins might be willing to throw in their jet too.
5. It was noted here that one Bruin, at one point of 2009-10, pointed to Horton's name -- he was still a Panther at the time -- and issued the following declaration: "No heartbeat." In Florida, Horton had haters in his own dressing room. Not so in Boston. The Bruins rallied around his injury like nobody's business.
6. I love fourth lines.
7. Last night, one-third of the way through an end-of-season cigar, I saw the Vancouver police, in full riot gear, walking shoulder to shoulder down the street in front of the media hotel. Some were holding back German shepherds. Others wielding weapons that looked like they were filled with tear gas. Moments later, one knucklehead sprinted out of a car and crashed through the glass of the hotel's front door. That's when it was time to ditch the Saint Luis Rey double corona (not inexpensive, mind you) and retreat to the room. Very scary stuff. Hope all who were hurt get better. This morning, volunteers were busy picking up trash. Workers were hosing off sidewalks. That's the Canadian spirit.
8. This job demands objectivity. It's not for fanboys. That said, I'm not sad to see good people like Julien, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron get what they deserve. Also for good guys behind the scenes that make things run -- Keith Robinson, Don DelNegro, Matt Chmura, Eric Tosi, and John Bishop.
9. I thought of my former professor and good friend Jack Falla a lot last night. Would not have gotten close to Rogers Arena press box for Game 7 without Jack's guidance. Many other writers would say the same about their respective jobs. Hopefully I and his former students continue to work like Jack taught us to do.
10. Thanks to all the Globe folks who pulled on the rope. Back home, that's boss Joe Sullivan and the best desk in the world. At the rink, great work by Steve Silva, Zuri Berry, Chad Finn, Barb Matson, Amalie Benjamin, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell, Chris Gasper, Shira Springer, Nicole Auerbach, Mike Whitmer, John Powers, Bob Ryan, Scotty Thurston, and Dan Shaughnessy. Special thanks to Kevin Dupont, the team's No. 1 center. A highlight of this job is working with Dupes -- an elegant wordsmith whose company I enjoy even more than his writing. Most of all, thanks to my wife Elizabeth. I'll be home soon.