Playoff A-Go-Go and Some Mail
Philly is giving Montreal all it can handle. May have learned a few things from watching the Bruins series, or they just match up well. Tough team the Flyers, and I'm still not convinced the Habs are tough enough.
Have to get my picture taken in a Habs jersey tomorrow. I will frown as hard as I can. See, for ten days, before, during and a little bit after the Bruins/Canadiens series, I woke up each morning and joined Dennis and Shawn on Talk-940 in Montreal for a little series chit chat/review. 8:35 am each weekday, and believe me, it wasn't easy. Not exactly a morning guy (unless there's a tee time or a large mouth bass waiting). Anyway, part of the schtick was, the loser of the series had to don the other team's sweater at the end of it, and get his picture taken for use on the Talk-940 website. Well, guess what; my day has arrived. I'll get my snapshot done tomorrow and submit it to the victors.
Rob, you didn't make it to Providence this year!! Our hockey season hasn't ended, it's just moved to Providence. Hockey seems to get the "shaft" in the Boston (and Providence) sports landscape (pun IS intended.) You do good work. Keep it going, looking forward to reading more. C'mon down for the playoffs. Baseball can wait, I need my hockey!!
Actually, a little touch of Providence in a couple different shows this season, but no single show dedicated to the baby-B's. We did however visit the other AHL rep's in the Commonwealth. So much great hockey nearby!! By the way, I made quite a few playoff games there last season and hope to again this May. We'll see.
Sad day in bean town today after last night’s game 7. We wish it could of turned out better, but alas off to the links for our beloved B’s. The bright spot is they did not lay down and let the mighty Hab’s skate all over them, they made a series of it, and I am sure made a lot of the fan base north of the border very nervous. To confirm my feelings, I had been emailing an associate based in Montreal and he said yesterday it was like walking on egg shells for a lot of their fans. They did not know what to expect, and that was evident during the 1st period even though they had a one goal lead. But I am sure I speak for a lot of our fans in saying that we are VERY proud of our boy’s in Black & Gold, and we cannot wait till the season starts up again later this year.
I also would like to note, that it was very gratifying seeing that Bruins Mgmt was so into the games and series. Every once in a while the NESN camera crew would pan up to the owner’s box, and you could see Cam and Crew pacing and getting so excited when ever we scored. We have not seen that much emotion from Mgmt in a very long time, and I think it speaks volumes about this new Mgmt and how they feel about being successful in producing a great hockey product. Bringing Hockey back to the Hub in a big way seems to be their goal and is very uplifting and something we have not seen much until this year.
Lastly I would like to thank you and NESN for providing us with another great year of coverage. Rob, I have turned into a big fan of you and the work that you have shown us over the past few years, I hope it continues into the future. But I know business is business and sometimes things change, but Mgmt would be crazy not to renew your contract, if they let you go there would be some VERY big shoes to fill, not to mention a little anger for letting a great guy leave.
Whatever happens, thank you again for doing what you do so well, it IS appreciated.
Kind words Alan. Thank you much. I agree, I think the Bruins won some fans back this year and I think the hockey department is headed in the right direction.
Why have the B's & their fans degenerated so low that now a first-round loss to Montreal is considered a successful season? No Stanley Cups in almost 40 years, cheap management/ & ownershp starting with the Sinden reign of terror that prohibits marquis players from playing (or staying) here! How many straight years is it now of not even making it to the 2nd round of the playoffs? The players play hard, but the deck is stacked against us every year with the most incompetent & dysfunctional management in sports outside of the Knocks & Raiders. And why does Jack Edwards continue to over-hype every step of B's mediocrity like they're actually a contending team? Sorry for the frustration of almost 40 years, and best of luck to you.
See that, two sides to every story, always two sets of opinions and everything in between. And we publish. So many factors.
Why is it every game I watch the Bruins get called for so many penalties, yet whoever we are playing usually gets away with what I call, blatant calls?
Ahhh, the issue that never dies. Please scan through earlier blogs regarding officiating. Many explanations and perspectives I'm not going to re-type at this juncture.
Why isn't anyone saying what should happen. This should be last year for Peter Schafer, the two Glen's ( but we will stick with murray due to his contract) But this should be all the older players last year. The future is now after the last game. Look at the Red Sox, they have no attachment to the older guys. We need to recognize if the older guys want to be a part of something they need to do it now. This is it because even if they stay, the Bruins will never be the Bruins they today. The right blend, almost Belicheckian with all the vets and rooks together. But this SHOULD be the older guys swan song. Sorry but the Red Sox proved it. When will someone finally say it. It better be now. The future is now. THe rookies now have the experience. THe vets are going to have to bring it this next game. Either way,unless managment is blind, this is it for everyone because it is Lucic, Kessel, Krjeci, Wideman, and Sobotka's team now. The future is now.
They definitely have some yout' to work with.
Sorry I didn't get to the ones regarding Red Sox and Bruins playoff programming conflicts. Not my area - the words did get to the necessary ears in big numbers. And to answer questions regarding ratings, the Bruins did great numbers in the playoffs this year. Staggering for game 7 I'm led to believe. Anyway, thanks to you for watching. All the best.
Playoffs - Day 14 and 15
Well, it didn't work out. The B's couldn't beat the Canadiens in Game-7. The first period was the key, but the same element which popped up time and time again during the season, and coach Claude Julien and I talked about it a lot on postgames, was the simple inability to put the puck in the net. The Bruins had many more scoring chances than the Habs in the first, but the Habs took a one-nothing lead on a lucky deflection off a Bruin. The B''s couldn't finish on a number of opportunities.
Which leads us to today (Wednesday). In their bye-bye press conference this morning, General Manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien addressed a number of issues. The number one need in the off-season ... add scoring punch. With Savard back and Bergeron back healthy at center, and a number of young choices for the lines behind them, the Bruins look strong up the middle. But off the wing: weak. And with Glen Murray showing his age and some wear and tear, it's time to not only add at least one big scorer off the wing, but maybe two. Boston should be aggressive in free agency. Marion Hossa, who jumped to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, is on their wish list. They'll get some competition for him, but they ought to be willing to spend. Plus, he knows, has played with, and gets along with a number of Bruins from his days in Ottawa and Atlanta, including Chara and Savard.
Bruins year-ender piece on NESN Sportsdesk tonight. Check it out. Bye-bye blog from me in a couple of days with some reader/viewer feedback. Til then, all the best.
Playoffs - Day 13
Patrice Bergeron isn't expected to play. The rumors were stoked yesterday when the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada utilized a Claude Julien quote to infer Bergie's likely return. Today however, Julien said Bergie's not likely, Patrice skated for an extra 30 minutes or so after the morning skate, which would strongly suggest he's not playing, and Peter Chiarelli, although refusing to give us the definitive answer until game time (keep Montreal guessing I guess), led us to believe it wasn't going to happen. Again, compromising Bergeron's health in any manner is not an option.
All that aside, the line-up which has brought the Bruins to the brink of a first round series win will remain intact for Game-7. There will be nerves on both sides. When asked about how long in a game it takes to get over the nerves of a Game-7 (from when he was a player) Guy Carbonneau said "about sixty minutes". Funny, but I'm sure true. The tighter the score remains, the tighter everyone could potentially get. Hopefully the players aren't thinking about it too much, they're just reacting. Leave the angst to the rest of us.
All the history lessons point to a Montreal win. You'll hear about the various tidbits during our coverage to put it in perspective. Fortunately, history has no direct affect on the play on the ice tonight.,
Pre-game coverage begins at 6 pm this evening on NESN. We'll have some good stuff from the rink. Enjoy it. Hold on tight. There's nothing like the NHL playoffs and there's nothing like a game-7 especially in hockey. A great combination. All the best.
Playoffs - Day 11 and 12
Many are calling it the greatest game ever played at the new Garden. I only have all the games from the last three years to draw upon, but I imagine given the incredible action, the incredible third period and finish, that most long time hard cores would be hard pressed to find a better game the last dozen years.
The noise was so loud and consistent in the building during the third period that it became the norm’. After twenty or thirty minutes of continuous ooo’s, ahhh’s, screaming and yelling, we actually became used to the intensity of the sound. But it never became less invigorating or exciting. In communicating with my cohorts from CBC and Versus, doing a similar job to mine for their networks in the Zamboni tunnel, we had to yell to talk ... the whole time.
The most bizarre, if you will, moment, came when the Canadiens tied the game 4-to-4 just seconds after the Bruins had taken a four-three lead. It was late third period, about five minutes to go, and when Kessel scored his second goal of the night, the crowd went so berserk, and was so focused on celebrating, I think many people missed the Habs goal. I remember looking out to the blueline from near the glass, with a decent group of TV types and bull-gangers turned in all directions smiling, yelling and reacting to the good news, I had to point over their heads towards the ice and yell “not so fast!” I quickly turned around and ran back to the monitor to catch the replay. I had missed the goal as well but saw Montreal come together in a group hug. The noise in the building was still deafening from the Kessel goal when the Habs scored.
For the Sturm goal, the aforementioned “third men” (ice-level reporters) were all gathering in the hallway waiting to interview players about the upcoming overtime. Myself and Eliote (sorry if it’s two L’s, I know there’s an E on the end) Friedman of “Hockey Night” were poised to each grab a Hab. Then Sturmy lit the lamp. It was a fire drill. Two or three crews relocating reporters, lights, cameras and cables quickly down the hall to the Boston position. Happy mayhem for the Boston crew.
What bodes well for the near and distant future, is the impact the young players have had on the positive results the last couple games. Saturday night, three of the four goal scorers (Kessel had two), are either in, or just out of their teens. Kessel, Sobotka, Lucic, Kessel again, and then of course veteran Marco Sturm finished it off.
I was right about the first four games of the series, right down to predicting the B’s would force overtime in Game-2 down 2-0 after two. I had that little hockey sixth sense working. When game five arrived, that ability disappeared, and I was all wrong. I didn’t think the Bruins were gonna get it done that night in Montreal. Then Game-6: no real feeling at all. And what I like right now, I don’t really have any gut feeling for Game-7 either. I hope it stays that way, and obviously that the result is the same. I think the game’s a toss up, but I like Thomas right now, I like the confidence level, and if the Bruins don’t get overly excited, they should be in good shape. Face it, there will be nerves. I think a couple B’s D-men proved that with some fanned passes and iffy plays in Game-6. But hey, the Habs D-men weren’t exactly Norris Trophy winners all night either. The pressure is on the top seed.
Talk to you after morning skate on Monday. All the best.
Playoffs - Day 10
Yowsa. Now that was unexpected. I mean, we didn't count them out ... but 5 - 1 !
Oh, and by the way, the Canadiens, when they came back from down three games to one in 2004, they won game-5 in Boston, 5-to-1. oooooooooooooooooooooo. Cooooool.
Anything is possible, and the boys are believers. Expect the Habs to come out hard on Saturday night, and look for the B's to match. This puppy might be sold out already.
Lovely day here, and I assume in Boston as well. Three of us TV crew fly back at about 1:30. Looking forward to getting back.
Hey, if you're looking for something to do later, me and others are playing in a Reebok Charity Basketball Game to benefit kids in Africa. The game starts at 6:30 pm in Roxbury, at the Shelburne Community Center at 2730 Washington St. Good cause and good times. Former Celtics, Sox, TV goofs, etc.
Looking forward to that and to manana evening. All the best.
Playoffs - Day 9
Tough to really put a finger on the mood around the Bruins this Thursday at the morning skate. The team seemed a little subdued heading on to the ice, but the skate itself, despite a number of passes that missed their mark, seemed pretty peppy. Fifteen guys skated, a few took some added rest. Remember, at this time of year, even guys that weren't banged up when the postseason started, are nursing wounds. It's what makes the playoffs a battle of stamina and attrition above everything else.
Aaron Ward didn't speak to the media, he's a game time decision with a sore knee. If he's out, Andrew Alberts will be in. Any changes up front, we won't learn about until almost game time.
NESN programming changes will have me on the bench a little after 5:30 pm doing a pre-game hit on injuries and the coaches. We'll also hear from Dennis Wideman off the top of the telecast.
The media coverage here hasn't slowed down a bit, and with the series 3-1, the locals were looking for creative angles. Many asked about the Canadiens players all getting haircuts. They've shaved their heads. All but a few that is ... will we see Alex Kovalev shedding his beloved locks for the team. We shall see.
Enjoy watching the B's in their attempt to extend the series. Tough task, but they have the character to give it a good whack. All the best.
Playoffs - Days 7 and 8
Got a little busy there. Lost track of computer time, during coverage leading up to Game 4. A hard fought affair that the Bruins just as easily could have won. Problem: same thing they've had all season, no finish. They just don't score. Had the better chances last night, and more of them, but didn't light the lamp. If they break out of it Thursday night, fantastic, we have a series, if they don't, the Habs will win the game 4-1 and the series 4-1.
A win would be better than great for the B's. Hey, if you've gotta fly home anyway, why not bring 'em with you.
Had a fun visit from Niel Everett, who drove up from CT to check out the game last night. He's a Sportscenter anchor, guys who are forced to be well up-to-speed on all sports to do their jobs. Hockey was probably the last one Niel learned. He probably knew more about sumo wrestling ten years ago. He grew up in Oregon and Hawaii and wasn't really in touch with the sport of hockey much. I invited him to MSG a few years back to watch a Rangers/Leafs game from the Zamboni entrance and he was in awe. The speed, the hitting. Now he's a fan, and he and his friend were really diggin' the playoff atmosphere. Love it when new fans see the light - realize just what they've been missing. Always great to add new fans, or new appreciators, who also happen to be great people.
Congrat's to Bruins Hockey crew for regional Emmy nomination for game night telecasts. Also, Rubber Biscuit pulled in two nominations for our effort in Africa, including "best camera work" for our man on the trip Pat Gamere. We'll see what happens.
Beautiful day in Boston AND Montreal. Landed with cameraman John Martin a couple hours ago. Supposed to be perfect here the next couple days. Let's hope it's perfect for the B's. Report following morning skates tomorrow. Until then, all the best.
Playoffs - Day 6
The Bruins are in a good spot. Yes they're still down two-games-to-one, but they have a few factors that have not yet turned their way. Factors that should, or could, turn their way.
They've managed to escape 18 Montreal power plays with allowing only one goal (unfortunately it was Kovalev's game winner in Game Two). What could change there: allow less than six PP chances a game. Stay out of the box.
They haven't really finished their chances. As I pointed out to Claude Julien starting out our post-game interview after Game Three, "I was concerned we'd be talking tonight about the Bruins not finishing their chances ..." as we have on a number of previous occasions. Let's face it, it's not the most offensively gifted team, but often the B's follow-up a lack of "finish" stretch, with a couple game scoring spurt. A great time for that. Plus, put a couple behind Price early, and he'll quickly lose his swagger. I noticed he lost it a bit in Game Two after the Bruins tied the game in the third. Unfortunately, the Bruins were short-handed that entire overtime, and the young netminder faced NO sudden-death pressure at all.
Also, the Bruins have momentum and they're comfortable again playing their game. They recovered from the shell shock of Game-1 rather remarkably, and played solid hockey in Two and Three. If that momentum continues, their ability to improve, then we've really got a series. There's not doubt they are working hard.
Doesn't look like Bergie will play Tuesday night at home, despite reports and rumours to the contrary. In fact, we've heard Game-2, Game-3, and Game-4, but Bergeron's not ready and we learned today that he's not been cleared to play by the doctor(s). However, he still continues to work his butt off to get prepared, and this morning, had his most physical practice to date. He and Andrew Alberts were intentionally getting very physical. Hitting and board-work drills. Bergeron actually knocked Alberts down at one point as the two neared exhaustion. The more games Boston plays, the more likely we see Bergeron this post-season.
Still no Saku Koivu for Game-4, and probably the series (scheduled for another x-ray on broken foot this week), and D man Francis Bouillon is day to day.
Booked our flights to Montreal this morning for Game-5. Let's hope when we return to Boston, we're planning for a Game-6. Talk to you tomorrow. All the best.
Playoffs - Day 5
Heck of a game, heck of an effort. Stick fouls ruined the night. It was a trip. I just wished the call was made a little quicker, would have been less anquish.
Gut check - character check. Bruins either provide a similar effort tonight and extend the series, or we head steeply down the slope to a sweep. Lose three, hard to win game four.
FAN FROM PA
Hey, Rob. Here's a Funky Stat for you ( I may email this to others): in light of some "experts" attitiudes that Montreal is a powerhouse and the Bruins are a mediocre team that just made the playoffs, let's remove the 8 games between the two teams to see how they stack up against the rest of the league. Boston drops from 94 to 93 points in 74 games (.628). Montreal goes from 104 to 88 points (.595). Hmm. Not so much of a difference now is there?
FAN FROM T.O.
Opinion Kerr vs. Neely
Actually, you're wrong on you're comparison here.
Both the Flyers and Bruins made it to the finals twice with these players on their rosters.
And both players were only able to play in the finals once.
Moreover, Kerr was outstanding in two playoff drives scoring almost a goal per game. Neely was excellent in '91 scoring at pretty much the same pace. Its a lot more even than you're making it out to be.
And how exactly did Neely revolutionize the position? He may have been the best at it in the late 80s but guys like Mark Messier, Rick Tocchet and Wendel Clark were contemporaries that were on the scene before him. Moreover, its not like the power forward hadn't been around forever. Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard... heck we can go back to the days of Cyclone Taylor.
Yes, Neely fought more and was fearless about who he fought. In contrast, Kerr didn't fight and players were afraid to fight him. Neely was a better skater and a better hitter, Kerr was invincible on the power play and an immovable object. And Kerr never had a center close to Adam Oates' talents.
If you're going to compare two players, be fair about it. Even if the edge goes to Neely, its closer than you've made it out to be.
Moreover, neither one should be in the HOF.
Just lilke me catching up on old e-mails last two weeks, readers are catching up with opinions on old blogs. Gotta catch a flight, see you tonight. All the best.
Playoffs - Day Four
The day dawns on what should be a more relaxed (relatively) hockey club. The Bruins will need to be that, and more focused and task oriented in game two this evening.
Meanwhile, how about NHL playoff hockey! Proving once again, its the greatest sport in the world, we see three terrific finishes last night. The newest great number-8, Mr. Ovechkin in DC pulls off the one-man forecheck, interrupting the break-out of Philly, picking the D's pocket, and delivering the game winner with less than 5 minutes to go in the third. High drama.
A power play goal with a minute left gives the Penguins a two-nothing series lead on Ottawa, a team that actually fought hard last night, and then Minnesota ties its series with a touche' "take-that" overtime win against Colorado.
There is simply no better time of year. Let's see if the B's can jump in there and make some memories tonight (Saturday).
I know their fans are ready ....
Hi Rob, I just sent this to Bish, and I wanted to keep you in the loop.
"For the Bruins stretch run, I decided to rock a mohawk. I even rocked it up in Montreal Easter weekend for the B's game. I have had it for 2 months now, and seeing Savvy joining Ference in the mohawk club makes me think that we should put the message out to fans to rock the hawk on Sunday!!! Are you with me?"
No 'Hawk for TV boy, but love the enthusiasm. Bish by the way, for those who don't frequent the BB website, is John Bishop, he's blogging and columning on Bostonbruins.com from here in Montreal. Follow the behind-the-scenes exploits.
Speaking of behind-the-scenes, it's almost time to battle through the media crowds at morning skate. It's a wee bit of a circus up here, and it'll probably get a little kookier with each and every passing day. Talk to you tonight, and then see you in Boston for Game Three on Sunday. All the best.
Playoffs - Day 3
Actions speak louder than words. On the bench for the pregame show, my first question to Aaron Ward was "how important are the first five minutes of this hockey game?" He gave the answer that made sense: "weather the storm, stay calm, (etc. etc.)" Unfortunately, the reality of Game one and the storm that was the Montreal Canadiens, proved too much for the concepts of staying calm and executing, etc.
The Bruins had their doors blown off. The good thing: there's no more Game ones. The team learned what type of focus, intensity, and effort it takes to win in the playoffs, and they learned by watching their opponent. The Habs out-battled, out hit, and out everything-ed the B's last night.
Time to turn it around because time is ticking.
Nothing new on Patrice Bergeron coming back and based on the reaction of Claude Julien at his press conference this morning, he, they, Patrice, are tired of talking about it. In fact, that's about what he said. Understandable. It could be a distraction with all of the media attention around Patrice. And why even talk about if they're not sure if it's even going to happen.
But then why did the Bruins PR guy tell us last night, that today would be a big day, that the doctor was going to be here, and we'd find out if Patrice was cleared. Sounds like something fell through the communication gap. It happens. Especially with the focus on the game.
Had a delightful time out and about last night after the contest here in Montreal. Which isn't difficult to do.
Love the show Rob - great stuff each and every week. Not to look to far ahead, but what moves would you like to see the Bruins make if any for next season ?? And is there any place we an order or buy those Rubber Biscuit T-Shirts for me and the mrs?? thanks
Thanks. Get me a scorer off the wing darn it! Oh, and while you're at it, get me another scorer off the wing! Look for the B's to go after Marion Hossa if he's still a free agent and I think he will be. Shirts are free, send me another e-mail with your e-mail address in the body of content.
Had a pleasant e-mail from a gentleman named Joe who lives in Illinois. Fan of the Biscuit and games. (Not crazy about printing all the joy-joy comments, "pumping own tires" not cool for the most part, but I appreciate your kind words.) Thank you Joe. We'll see what happens.
Day off resumes. Talk to you from the computer and from the game Saturday. All the best.
Playoffs - Day Two
Arrived Wednesday in time to settle in and prepare for some hockey watching. Not surprised by any of the first night results quite frankly. Calgary is a team with a make-up that is a definite threat to San Jose. They battle. And they proved it again in game one. Sharks under pressure.
Busy media morning today (Thursday). Montreal is abuzz to say the least for this game tonight and the series. I agreed to wake up every morning for a local radio "hit" hear in Montreal. I'm the Bruins guest on a daily show on Talk Radio 940. Today, we arrived at the inevitable "bet" arrangement. Pretty simple. If Habs win series, I have to be photographed in Habs jersey, and shown on this and their website. Vice versa if Boston wins series. Since we're the underdog, I get slight odds, if Habs lose, both the sports guy and the host have to wear Bruins sweaters in photo.
Otherwise, just a media madhouse. Bruins didn't skate this morning, just Patrice and Manny. Bergeron updates during our telecast tonight. Also, we expect Savard to play. Game time decision.
It doesn't get any better than this. Playoff hockey atmosphere at its finest. Looking forward to similar Sunday night in Boston. Enjoy the game(s). All the best.
Playoffs - Day One
Andi Petrillo is the talented young hostess of Maple Leafs game coverage on Leafs TV. A couple months ago, she asked me, since she no longer travels with the team (she used to do my job for them), if I could pick up a few things for her at one of those bath stores and bring the stuff to Canada. Sure I said, although I'd never been into one of those bath and butt stores, or bed and booty, whatever they are.
She sends me a text. Please pick up a bottle of - something like - watermelon, chamomile, lavender, eye of newt, exfoliating, foamy love soap. The other item was happy, go-go, morning juice jamba, in the blue bottle. I'm like, "I better hold on to this text".
The first time I failed. Just simply wasn't inspired to go to that particular store and pick up the goods. So I see her in Toronto and promise that the next time, in about six weeks, I'd come through for her.
The day arrives. I'm flying commercial to Canada for the first time all season, as I had a work permit application issue (I'm from US, my publisher and one of the networks I do a show for are in Canada) and apparently couldn't get in on the normal team charter that time. I'm running around as usual trying to get everything together for a 3 o'clock Air Canada flight. The last thing I do, with hardly anytime to spare, is I run over the Bath, Booty and Bedtime store which I googled to find. There's one across the Common from where I live. I hustling. I run in, cell phone flipped up with text message exposed. I go to the first bath girl.
"I need one of these," I say, flashing the text. "Watermelon, chamomile, etc. The foamy kind." She finds them.
"We don't have the foaming," she says, "just this cream, or the standard something or other. Which one?"
I choose the creamy stuff.
"OK, and a happy-go-lucky love lotion in the blue bottle," I point out.
Here it is.
"Great, ring it up!"
I dash out, grab a cab and head to the airport.
I get to the Air Canada counter 55 minutes before my flight leaves.
"I'm sorry sir, you can't check your bag with less than an hour to the flight. New (ish) regulations. I'd get in trouble."
"O come one."
I'm praying the little screener gal doesn't see the goods. Then I'm selected for additional screening, due to my deviant behavior, and I know it's over.
Down goes my toiletries. Garbage. Big toothpaste which would have been checked. Eye stuff - "You can keep that, it's medical". Down goes the hair gel. Garbage. And upon further review ..... down goes the goods for Andi. Garbage. 18-freshly spent US dollars right down the drain.
Why do I tell this tale. It was a lesson learned. For the postseason, all of us media types fly commercial. The seven NESN types and two radio guys tend to clog up the travel procedures a bit, which we don't want during the all-biz playoffs. So no charter with team. Very understandable. So, what-do-you-know, Air Canada. And here I am, typing this, in the terminal, bag checked, sitting with a coffee and next to Steve Conroy of the Herald (who was on the last commercial flight I took), ready to fly to Montreal.
Great on Rubber Biscuit and hope more shows come out during the off season. What are you plans for the summer ? Do you think the Bs may go after Hossa ?
Not sure of plans. May go back to Africa with Chara. Not sure. Doesn't look like it will be a NESN thing this time. We'll see. No Rubber Biscuits on tap. Have three more Hockey Odysseys for the NHL Network to shoot and host. They come out once a month. Biscuit-esque actually. Check them out.
Yes, I do think the B's go after Hossa this summer.
Time to board. Talk to you from Montreal. All the best.
Thank You Very Much and More ...
Arriving as a "stranger", doubts and dislikes were expected, having been in this business a long time, and having traveled around a bit. But I had some New England in my background and the adjustment was easy. Over the course of the last three years, the fans have been gracious, supportive, and have shown a lot of love. I got a note a couple days ago, that not only describes the path I have attempted to take, but nails down and verifies a few of the goals and expectations I had set.
Meanwhile, this season was not my best, it's been one of the most frustrating of my career, mostly for reasons beyond my control. I'm referring to game nights, which weren't up to my personal standards frankly, but I tried to get by by asking good questions. I apologize for my less than stellar overall performance.
The "Biscuit" meanwhile was entertaining and beyond very solid again thanks to our crew behind the scenes back at NESN. Todd "Sarge" Kerrisey, Kevin Newton, Jesse Gerner, David Luca, and our team of photographers (Chris Del Dotto, John Martin, Bryan Brennan, and Pat Gamere are the in-house). The program, based on feedback I receive from fans and from others in this industry around New England, has grown into something special, given the relationship we've developed with the people who watch and refer to it as "destination" viewing.
Despite potentially being on to something, I'm not sure the Biscuit (or myself) will be back: A lot of factors, and again, many beyond my control.
For those of you who disllike my/our efforts, or "hate" my presentation, well, that's why we have freedom of choice. I've only met a couple of you in person, and I appreciate that feedback as well. I'm a fan, I have broadcasters I dislike immensely on-air as well, for reasons real and manifested in my own mind. It happens and it's another reality of the business.
That all said, here's a note from a gentleman named Allan, one I appreciate a great deal, which sums up my experience here with the fans who have been so supportive. Other recent e-mails follow. I decided to take this opportunity now to thank you, since in a few weeks, I may not have that opportunity. So, thank you very much for your support. Here's hoping it's a long postseason for the beloved B's!
I am the type of person who always admits when they are wrong, well pretty much most of the time, but for the most part I usually do fes up. Here is one of those times when I will admit I was wrong. I remember when you first started on NESN doing the B’s games, and I said to the family, “Who is this guy, he does not seem to know that much about hockey, and he seems like a real dork”. Well sir, I was wrong. First I apologize for thinking those things. Since that time you have proved to be a real gentlemen and a great addition to the NESN crew covering the Bruins. I love your show Rubber Biscuit and wish it was on more. Your interaction with the players and everyone that you interview are real top notch. Second I look forward to your little stories between periods and when they cut away to you when you have found out some stuff during games. Also I have been to a few games and sat in the section where you stand between periods to do your broadcast, and every time you finish and walk away, you have been very receptive to everyone that stops you to shake your hand and say hi, me being one of them. Keep up the good work and I hope your stay here in Boston on NESN is a long one.
Upon further review, maybe the most bizarre thing about this recent experience is the lack of hockey coverage in this (dormant) hockey-mad region. I hope it's just cyclical because of the team's recent failures. I thought I'd be on a weekly radio show by now, or at least contributing once a week during what would be daily hockey talk. Everyone plays, everyone loves the game, why the detachment? (And yes, you have shared earnest theories, some of which I agree with but will not divulge at this juncture.) I write a lot, and I do a lot of hockey talk radio analysis (about the Bruins) in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. You know what: whoopee! They have plenty ... let's get it goin' here kiddees. I believe there's a demand untapped. I just hope those who present you the game(s) in future on whatever outlet and in whatever form, actually know it, and as important, sincerely respect it.
Surely I digress, and don't call you Shirley.
Hey Rob. Big fan of the B's and yourself. Particularly the subtle humor in your interviews. Seems like you and the players get along good. Sometimes during broadcasts a second or two is caught before your interview begins and someone is always laughing. Is there someone that you kid with more so than others? If so, who?
Alright, I know, two pro-Bobby notes is two too many, and I too, may get nauseous. But to answer your question: The lighter-hearted stuff is almost a lock with Shawn Thornton, PJ Axelsson, Andrew Alberts a bit and Milan Lucic. Wideman and Ward at times also, Murray on rare occasion, and Ference. Over the course of an 82-game schedule it's essential to lighten it up, change it up, and delve into the fun stuff that's still informative whenever possible. Its business, but it's a game, and it doesn't mean we take IT any less seriously or disrespect it. Personality is fun and these guys have plenty of it. We've built a solid relationship over the last three years with the foundation being trust and expectations.
Should Claude Julien get coach of the year?
He's at least top-three in the Eastern Conference. Bruce Boudreau came in and did a nice job in DC, Guy has obviously been good in Montreal. Out west, a lot of talk of Babcock in Detroit, and Wilson in SJ. You know what, and I don't kiss butt (one of my political weaknesses), but I honestly think Claude should at least be a Jack Adams finalist. Given the roster, given the year the team was coming off, given the injuries, given the discipline to, and the buying into his systems, it would be a crime not to hook this guy up. For his sake, and the organization's, I hope he's not overlooked. Nothing less than a great job getting this team into the postseason.
Postseason game placement on NESN. I heard from you. It's being addressed. Thank you for that and the other feedback. Enjoy the greatest game on the planet: playoff hockey. All the best.
A Last Bag from Ottawa
But that doesn't mean you have to stop the feedback. Keep it coming til the Bruins are done. Even though some of the notes are personalized, and some are angry, and occasionally they aren't printable, I still love the feedback and appreciate it. Hopefully we (you, me, the Bruins) are at this for a little while longer in '07-'08.
Hey, Rob. Rubber Biscuit is one of my favorite shows -- great stuff! Problem is, I can't always catch it when it airs. Is there any possibility that it will get put on Comcast's On Demand? (Please.)
Just got this today (Thursday 4-3) from "DJ". Thank you very much. I suggested the On-Demand thing in-passing to our PR department a while back and it just kind of faded. I agree, I think the Biscuit would be the perfect show for On-Demand in the NESN section. And it would even be good to keep a Bruins presence around during summer on there. Problem: cost. I'm not sure how it works and how much it costs to get material on there. And if it's a cost issue, as they say in Philly, fuhget-abaht-it!
Hi Rob. Just a quick question. With Comcast cable not carrying ESPNU, could there have been a way for NESN to have broadcast some of the regional NCAA hockey tournament? The only game in the Attleboro area was the first BC game on channel 38. for a hockey region this was disappointing coverage.
I recall receiving similar e-mails (and might again) during previous World Championship and World Junior Championship tournaments which featured Team USA and Canada. Unfortunately, we're not a hockey network, especially once baseball season starts, and extracurricular hockey (a.k.a. college and international one time events) are low on the priority list. Even if we had more than two-and-a-half hockey people (me being one of them) working at the network and interested in it, the ability to recoup the airtime via sales for these events is a big challenge. It's a time and money issue. (By the way, I used to officially be "baseball people" too ... I guess I'm just hibernating at the moment)
Hey Rob, I was just reading some of your feedback to fans, and noted one about officiating. I, too, for sometime[a decade at least], have noticed questionable performance issues concerning the calling of games by ref's. It is highly exasperating to see certain ref's, I won't mention any names[cough* Devorski/cough*Fraser/cough*Koharski/cough*McGeough]. change the outcome of games because of their unprofessional, unfair[some say tainted/biased/bribed]approach to their jobs. Given recent revelations that sporting officials have been engaged by gambling interests to influence the outcome of games, how would you feel about instituting a "call review" option as they have in the NFL?
Thanks for your opinion.
A number of points to address. First of all, NFL officials are "the best" because it's almost impossible to get an important call wrong. Everything that's borderline gets reviewed. And frankly, it's ridiculous, considering the replay process misses some anyway and takes forever. I won't get started on a cynical monologue on why they have it in the first place. The NBA had the scandal, and I'm not sure what's a call in the NBA any more anyway. Are there rules? Do you still have to dribble to the basket? Given the manageable size of the playing surface and the number of officials covering that area, I don't see how a reasonably honest and accurate decision isn't made on every single infraction. Baseball umpires are a part of every pitch, and are one of the many nuances, and human elements, that make the game (in its purest form - without the $$) the beautiful thing that it is. Umpiring is one of the subtleties and it's part of the game's history. When the computers take over the balls and strikes and out/safes begin getting reviewed, count me out. As for hockey, it's the fastest, most continuously 'violent' (bodies colliding, sticks, puck, skates moving) human game on the planet. I don't see any refs/linesman 'fixing' games for profit. Impossible for all intensive purposes, and if there was ever any sign that someone was over-the-top bias, they'd be out of a job. I know the culture and the infrastructure. Are there personal relationships (good and bad) that lead to subtle biases for a moment or over the long run in the game. Maybe. But I believe they do their best to block those things out. I think the most difficult issue is simply consistency under the two-referee system. With one ref', the players and coaches knew when the game began what kind of game they were going to get from that official. Each ref' had his personality, style, and tendencies which allowed the teams to plan accordingly, or at least to know which kind of calls were going to be made and which weren't. With two ref's, and pairings that constantly change, it's impossible to get that feel. Therefore, it's frustrating for some, because night in and night out, there's no predictability based on that personality, style, and tendency. The two-ref system has meant a lot of jobs for a lot of good guys, but its taken another element of hockey (a subtle human element) out of the game. As for good calls, bad calls, this and that, they happen both ways. Ultimately, with "stricter guidelines" the last three years in an attempt to open things up, consistency becomes even harder to pin down because for some ref's, they feel the need to call things that appear to be infractions. It's a super fast game that never stops moving and it's the hardest officiating job in sports. To harp on officiating is annoying and ridiculous. As for instituting call reviews for penalties and such: not good. It's a sport we want to keep moving, not keep stopping, for reviews. Let the human element (such that it is) remain the human element. By the way, Mick McGeough is retiring at the end of this season. (Postseason is based on merit.)
I am a big UNH hockey fan. I am glad to see Ty Conklin doing well in Pittsburgh. I am also a big fan of Kevin Regan who is property of the B's. It's early but what do you think of his potential with the Bruins? Any feedback from goal tending coach Bob Essensa about his potential? Thanks and keep up the great work!
The ninth round pick in 2003 from Southie. I've got calls out to coach and to a scout. If they get back to me in the next 20-minutes, I'll include the info, if not, let's keep an eye open to see where Kevin ends up in the fall.
Hi Rob, I live in Seattle, WA and watch NESN daily. I have the Dish Network and pay extra for a sports package that includes NESN. I never miss a Rubber Biscuit. Nice work!
My question to you is why NHL Center Ice (through the Dish Network) does not broadcast any NESN/Bruins games in HD? I have written to the Dish, NESN, and the Bruins, but have not received a reply. Help me Rob Simpson. Your my only hope.
I believe we've had similar questions in past and like in those cases, I'll do the only thing I can with this subject: pass the buck. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (help me Gary, you're my only hope!) And only two regular season games left!!
A request of your assistance if I may. Awhile back I know you had the opportunity to visit the Dill pumpkin farms up in Nova Scotia and had the fun opportunity to see this strange hobby of giant pumpkin growing. Also the neat things that are done with them after their done growing, mainly the boats you guys made! Well, I am a director of a club called the New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Association here in MA. Myself and many in our community have been friends of the Dill family for many years. As you know the Dill's are hugggeeeee Bruin fans and fans of hockey in general. Obviously because of your visit to their home I need not go into their gigantic memorabelia collection. It is with a heavy heart and I don't know if you are aware but Mr and Mrs Dill are both very very ill with cancer. Howard's time is now shortened and the last I have been told his wife is now home after some more treatments. Being such huge hockey fans of the Bruins and spending hours talking with his son and daughter on the subject I was wondering if their is anything we can do to help lift his spirits. I don't even know if you have enough time or access to the players but something as a simple card with some signatures I would hope might lift their spirits. I know it may not even be possible but it's worth a shot. Howard has been a huge part of this wacky hobby of giant pumpkins and I just want to do a little something as a club to help ease whatever pains he may be gowing through.
I received this e-mail a couple of months ago and I appreciate the idea and sentiment. Howard and the Dills are one of a kind. We stay in touch via their son Andrew and he keeps us updated. You'll be happy to know that just the other day, Milt Schmidt called Howard and they had a long conversation. The Bruins spirit is alive and well and the Dills are in our hearts and minds.
I am a huge fan of Marc Savard. I love to watch the passes he makes and especially when they result in the B's scoring a goal. I was wondering if you had any plans to do a show about him (preferably) or any other of the Bruins players? Kind of an up-close-and-personal kind of show...
On another note, I was at the Bruins-Devils game on 1/5/08 and was able to see you do what you do best at ice level in person instead of on game broadcasts. Very Cool! ..Keep up the good work Rob. Love the show !!
Indeed, this is another e-mail I neglected or overlooked awhile back. Better late than never? Savvy expects to skate on his own this weekend although we're told he won't play these next two with his back injury. As for a profile, you should have gotten your fill two Biscuits ago, we profiled Marc on the Ottawa show.
Do you have any idea why there are so few replays at the TD BankNorth Garden? Goals always get replayed, but infractions almost never get replayed, especially questionable calls, and fights and quality plays rarely if ever get replayed. Other venues provide far more replays than the Garden. It's annoying to have those giant screens not be utilized and it's a missed opportunity to get the crowd excited about the game. To piggyback on that idea, it would also be great to have realtime game stats displayed beyond shots and goals, but fat chance that'll never happen.
Hey now, a little Cranky-the-Crane (Thomas the Tank Engine reference from when my son was four) there at the end, but that's ok. Consider this critique shared and duly noted for future.
Absolutely love NESN and the Bruins games when they're shown on Centre Ice. It's very frustrating when I don't get the NESN feed and have to sit through horrible announcing crews. Dale, Brick, and yourself do NOT get enough credit for the great job you guys do.
I know in a couple mailbags back, you said something about a Rubber Biscuit shirt. I would LOVE to wear one here in Denver to be able to show my Boston pride (well..what little there is right now) and give the great show the exposure it deserves. Any way you could send one out my way or put them up for sale on the NESN site? My email address is ...
WHOA! Now that's overlooked! Hiding for thirteen months. Sir, I'll get you a couple Biscuit shirts. Sorry for that, and thank you for your patience.
Well, that one was obviously hiding on the back pages of e-mails, but that is now all of them for now, up to the minute. All that were fit to print, so to speak, and/or not duplicate subject matter. Thank you again for the your feedback. All the best.
A Fugitive from Bureaucracy, and from the Blog
Absent Without Leave, or Maybe With It
I was scrolling through my NESN e-mails last night and noticed a handful over the last few months I hadn't responded to. And I'm not talking about general hockey e-mails from the blog and such, which I've also neglected at times, but actual requests and questions from individuals known and unknown. Sorry about that, it's been one hairy winter. The schedule has been tighter than a drum and my mediocre time-management skills have been put to the ultimate test. There's an old saying, don't ruin an apology with an excuse, but I'm going to apologize anyway. Sorry to those known and unknown, I haven't gotten back to in awhile. Lack of blog another by-product.
International Intrique!! I Wish ...
So I get the call from our associate Ryan at the Bruins last week that the immigration supervisor at the airstrip we fly into in Montreal isn't going to let me in the country. Hmmm, interesting. I can go in anywhere else apparently, just not there. My name or social security number had been flagged for some reason. The mind starts grinding: any legal or criminal issues outstanding or espionage on my record? Nah, don't have any of that. Taxes!? I have generated quite a bit of revenue via books and TV North-of-the-border recently. Nah, tax time is still not upon us and accountant guy is still working. Work permit? My agent up here is working to get me a permit to allow me to do a number of projects justifiably, as I have a number of interests here (in Canada). Nah. That shouldn't put my name on a list, should it? Could it be mis-identification? Similar name, wrong number? So it's a mystery. I'm a Yank' who visits Canada thirty or forty times a year for business or pleasure, entering via charter, commercial, and in car. Hmmm. The plot thickens.
(It seems about every five or six years something odd comes up like this. Bound to happen when one travels so much and enters a country so often, I reckon.)
I book a commercial flight. On my flight is Herald writer Steve Conroy whose heading up to cover the same Habs/Bruins game. I explain to him the situation. We agree to share a cab to the hotel, if I'm not detained for any length of time. I say, "give me ten minutes, if I'm not there to meet you by the exit, go ahead without me."
It takes three minutes. I go through to the extra stop at the window. The gal hits a few buttons, reviews my 'case', checks my documents and says 'see yah - have a nice day'. Free to enter.
"Before I go, I'd like to be able to tell my superiors (with the Bruins) something ... am I here simply because there's no computer at the other place?" Pretty much. Turns out also, since I was given three days notice not to go to the first place, that they would have detained or deported me for trying to get in there. Technicality I guess, cuz they don't have a computer.
Meanwhile, since none of those superiors have bothered to have a five minute conversation with me about what happened, I'm still getting looks like I'm a convicted killer, just came down with inoperable cancer, have leprocy, or shot someone's dog.
Well, there's your answer folks. Inter-personal, business, or bureaucratic: C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E. I'm as guilty as any of us for not doing that. Other than that, I'm probably the happiest most harmless guy in all of Canada.
Off-season plan: procure and per-fect the personal permits, procedures, and protocol to protect productivity.
I Grew up playing street hockey. Wouldn't it be nice to do a Biscuit.
Sure would. Duly noted. I'd love to incorporate it someday, it some way, shape, or form. Rick "Nifty" Middleton says his hand skill developed as much from his time playing with a ball on the street as a kid, as it did from playing on the ice.
With the bruins struggling to score.why not bring someone up from the minors? Try and mix things up. it can't hurt. slowly watching the playoffs slip away. agree or disagree and why?
An idea that a few of the writers and others have suggested. We hear some usual suspects like Pelletier and some not so usual like T.J. Trevelyan. (lit up ECHL but only 33 pts in 64 gp this season in Providence). I think it comes down to systems, familiarity, and chemistry. They're going with whom they feel gives them the best chance to win.
While I understand your, Jack and "Brick" are paid to hype up the team spirit, It would be refreshing to hear some reality as well. This is NOT a good team, it is, at best, a young, sometimes agressive, spirited group who, with a bit of luck and good goal tending may see the 8th and final spot come playoff time. After that it's lights out. I would like to hear more about what is wrong with this team, what needs to be done to make it a true contendor and for Jack to stop sensationizing every save and check as if the stanley cup were on the line. Watching this team struggle night after night to get anywhere near the opposing goalie, let alone a rebound, is equal to a visit to the dentist. Tell it like it is Rob, real hockey fans appreciate candor, not hype.
Thanks for the reasonable feedback. And by the way, for those of you who won't see your e-mails here, the ones that were more critical of cohort(s), I only print the ones critical of me. Sticking to that policy, just so you know. You can e-mail others at NESN to voice your opinions (which I do appreciate as candor - just won't rip in print) on such. our public affairs gentleman and contact is (gary) email@example.com He'll pass it on.
How many times are the Bruins going to let the other playoff contenders get points? The B's need to win in regulation and not give the other teams they are competing with points. I hate this stupid rule of giving a team a point for losing. No other league gives teams a point for effort. Is there a way to find out how many points the Bruins could possibly have over the other playoff contenders without the extra points given in overtime losses from the Bruins?
I believe the NHL competition committee will be reviewing this again this summer as it is often a topic of discussion. However, based on the latest GM and/or Governor meetings, I don't believe this was a priority topic for change.
Being a die-hard Bruin fan who lives in another state I catch all of the games on Center-Ice. One theme I have noticed over the last several years is that the calls always seem to go against the Bruins. In tonights game a Bruin is crosschecked right in front of the Toronto goal...there is no call and on the ensuing play toronto scores. Minutes later Chara taps a Leafs player and a crosschecking is called on him. Of course, Toronto scores. I have seen this countless times over the last few years. What can the Bruins management do to remedy this. I for one am getting sick and tired of watching us lose games due to bad calls on the ice...or in this case...no calls. Thank you.
It's been a factor in games for years and always will be. There have also always been conspiracy theories. The fans in Toronto early this decade insisted that the ref's were out to get them, to compensate for the League offices being here, or because the officials didn't like Pat Quinn. Bruins fans this season would argue just the opposite, that the Leafs are getting the calls. To harp on it is ridiculous as it really does usually even out in the end. Case in point: Tom Poti of the Washington Capitals telling the Cap's TV reporter during a walk-off last week that the ref's want the Bruins to win. How's that one!? After not getting many, they have been getting a few lately. You never hear announcers harp on the officials when the calls go in their teams favor. Funny how that works.
By the way, the Leafs complaints still go back to the 1993 Conference Finals, LA and Toronto, when a call really was missed. (some up here have a hard time talking about it). Wayne Gretzky obviously high-sticked Doug Gilmour in the face and drew blood. Kerry Fraser didn't call it. No 4-minute PP for Leafs and Gretzky ended up scoring the game winner. Controversy at times is what makes the game interesting and historic. You just hope they get the calls right.
Just wanted to say I've been to Bugsy's many times and it is well worth the trip. Memorabilia galore and Friday night is college hockey night . What else could ya want!
This is in reference to an earlier blog entry following a visit to DC. "Bugsy" Watson's bar is in old town Alexandria, Virginia near the District. Great pizza, great hockey photos and such, and the NHL package.
That was an awesome story on pond hockey. Wish we had stuff like that around here. Sounds like every middle aged guy like me would love to re-live our youthful days playing hockey again. Sounds like a nice vacation destination too. You have all the fun. Don't forget your trip to Providence this year. P-Bruins still #1!!! Take care.
Our crew did a heck of a job on the Pond Hockey Championships and they had a great time! (they didn't believe me when I told them they would). How could you go wrong. Great people, great place. Hope they buck up and remember to put my name on the Emmy list for that one ... (which I simply bring up because of the next note ...)
I love the Biscuit. Nice job. How can the fans not love it. Why not enter it into something to get an award. Do they have Emmys for stuff like that? Then you can call it the award winning rubber bisciut. keep it up!
Thank you very much, I'll pass it on to the crew. NESN does enter a number of shows/games/specials into the New England Emmy contest. Biscuit didn't get entered this year as a regular show. I thought the Nova Scotia show from last year was a lock, but they only spend so much $$ on the entries and understandably, try to spread the opportunities around. Biscuit wise, they went with the Africa shows as a special or documentary, and entered us into individual categories. The regular episodes didn't get a nod. I think the Buzz got the "magazine show" entry, I don't recall. Good luck to our cohorts.
Rob, I have been a bruins fan for many many years and watch the games on NESN pretty much every night.
It dawned on me this evening as they introduced the refs and linesmen that I do not really know the differences. Oh and which ones wear the armbands? Can you explain?
Simply put, the referees wear the orange arm bands and control the game, call the penalties, etc. The linesmen, without the bands, call the lines, meaning offside, icing, etc. The ref's drop the puck to start games and periods and after goals, the linesmen drop the puck the rest of the time.
That's a wrap for now kids. Take care, and remember your passport. All the best.
Pre-Playoffs a Good Taste of the Real Thing
A Little Over a Month Left in the Regular Season - A Good Time for Molson on Tap.
Maybe it's the anxiety, the thrill, the intense play around the League because of the post-season chase, but pre-playoff hockey can get almost as intense as the real post-season, and sometimes it involves a team with "nothing" to play for ...
The first period of the Minnesota/L.A. game we watched tonight was wild. (no pun intended)
I sat and watched it with an old family friend, Rich Stetson, at Brian "Bugsy" Watson's sports bar/restaurant in Alexandria. The Bruins' charter landed about 3:45 this afternoon, we proceeded to our digs in Pentagon City, and then I headed out. Bugsy is famous for having his face rearranged on a few occasions. He's the typical face of old-time hockey. Bugsy, I remember him with the Wings, played for awhile in Washington as well, and when his career was over, one of his business endeavors was to open a bar a block from the Potomac. Great pizza! The bar sits in Old Town Alexandria, and the second floor section has some amazing hockey photographs. A solid 2 foot by 3 foot portrait of Bugsy himself on one wall, a lot of action photos from around the League, and in the far corner, a great 2-foot by 3-footer of Gordie Howe with a darkened eye and about 14 stitches on his forehead.
Richie spent a year or two at Milton Academy and then played hockey (might have been club team then) at Trinity College in Hartford. The team student manager at the time was Andy Brickley's sister. Rich's brother Matt played hockey at Colby. Their parents and families are old timers from Massachusetts for generations. Matt actually played in the World Pond Hockey Championships last week in New Brunswick and didn't realize for quite awhile that Rubber Biscuit was there shooting. (speaking of maybe one too many Molsons, ha ha)
Detroit Does Boston a Favor
The main game we watched was Detroit at Buffalo, which the Wings won 4-2. That keeps the Sabres 5 points behind the Bruins and in the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference. They showed the updated standings, and what jumps out, B's have at least 2 games in hand on all of the play-off contenders. Couple sweet highlight goals by Detroit by the way, and not from the usual suspects. Check out NHL Network's On The Fly Final tonight late or tomorrow for the packaged highlights.
Even Savvy Veterans
I learned a long time ago not to get cocky, but even so, I'm constantly reminded what a dolt I can be. We're all human. If you think you're perfect, you need to take a long look in the mirror and probably attend counseling. On-air and off, I've made just silly, brain-flatulation-like decisions and comments lately. Thank God none involved brain surgery and no-one got hurt. But it's always good to be reminded of our inadequacies and that we can always be smarter/better.
If Claude Julien isn't at least a finalist for the Jack Adams Award this year, they outta just throw the darn thing away.
Big test at Washington on Monday night, and then we'll see you at the Garden on Tuesday against the Cats. Mailbag next time around. All the best.
Just Another Day at the "Office"
Hey, did I ever tell you about the time my flight returned to Winnipeg because the plane was smoking and then I sat for 17 hours ... No? OK, next time.
Interesting 24-hours: I finished working the Buffalo/Boston game on Tuesday night, only to walk outside and discover a flat rear tire on my car. We’re not supposed to park overnight at the Garden, but in this case I had no choice. I left a note on the windshield, and another inside the windshield, “Back with a spare Wednesday”. I worked on some writing projects until about 2 am and finally crashed out, setting the alarm for 9:45, later than usual. Upon the wake up beep, instead of hitting the snooze, I hit the off, and woke up an hour later, twenty-five minutes before my train to Wilmington was scheduled to leave North Station. It’s a fifteen minute walk. I dressed quick and I ran it, making it to the train 30-seconds before it started moving. Ten minutes or so later, it was stopped again.
“Can I have your attention please, the train ahead of us has been involved in an accident, it hit someone,” the conductor said.
Hit someone!! The plan was to wait it out, a bad idea since the investigation and such could take hours, or return to Boston. Instead, after a little more than an hour or so, we backed up, changed tracks, and continued on our original route. We passed the “DownEaster” Amtrak which had apparently hit the woman, right near the station and the crossing at West Medford. Eerie. After arriving in Wilmington I faced the usual fifteen minute walk to the Bruins’ practice rink. (Nothing to do with a flat tire or maintenance, I normally don’t keep a car in Boston – life is easier without it – case in point). I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a #8 combo, a donut, and a large hazelnut. They were out of English Muffins. Groggy, I grabbed my change and my food and started away. Whoops. “I gave you a twenty and you only gave me 4 bucks back instead of 14-something. You owe me a ten,” I told the clerk. I knew I had started the day with three twenties, sixty bucks even, in my pocket. “Oh, OK, she said, handing me a ten.” I walked out into the freezing rain and started to hoof it. Three minutes later, I realized the reason I didn’t have the correct change from three twenties in my pocket wasn’t because the DD clerk had messed up, but because I had purchased a train ticket from the conductor. I walked back and gave the girl the ten dollar bill. “Upon further review …” I said.
I arrived at Ristuccia to find practice had ended. Some of the players had left already, but I was in time to catch the interview scrum with Claude Julien. The idea of a “package” however (a full story, involving clips and sound from players on a particular subject) was gone. Photographer John Martin dropped me off at my apt. on his way to NESN and I decided that home was the best place to spend the rest of the day. Kind of a start-over but not really: I probably never should have left the ‘house’. I’d take care of the tire on Thursay instead, after the crummy weather. Aside from a work-out, I indeed stayed home.
I feel bad for the family/friends of the, as it turns out elderly, woman who was struck by the train. My day didn’t come remotely close to even paling in comparison.
Biscuit North America
NESN allowed me to work in my spare time (ha ha ha ha ha) on a show for the NHL Network. Because of time constraints I only help produce one show a month for the next six months, as long as it doesn’t conflict with my regular gig(s).
The show debuts Friday night at 8 if you want to check it out. It’s kind of like a Rubber Biscuit, only for all of North America. It’s called “Hockey Odyssey” and runs again Sunday at 4 pm I believe. Good variety of tales from Winnipeg, and like I’ve found with the Biscuit for whatever reason, should be popular with the kids.
That’s been a satisfying bonus about the Biscuit by the way, because kids are our future hockey fans. It’s great to have so many on-board, and sharing their thoughts at Bruins’ games. I’ve had a few parents comment about the late debut time, Saturday at 10:30, but it always airs a few more times earlier in the day, later in the week.
Speaking of the Biscuit, special thanks to Terry O’Reilly this week. He’s not really fond of doing interviews much anymore, and his preference nowadays is to unwind, enjoy hockey retirement, and do his thing. He does by the way still play hockey a couple times a week and still joins the B’s Alumni Team at charity games. Otherwise, I get the impression he just wants to chill out away from the limelight, which is of course fine and wonderful. His generosity with his time for us and his openness were greatly appreciated, and whether or not we see or hear from him as much anymore hasn’t changed one thing: He’s a class act and a very cool guy.
Oh and by the way - - don’t miss the show about him – - I guarantee, you will love it. He’s what hockey should be.
All the best,
Holy Mackerel It's January 17th Already
How nice to have the shoe on the other foot. The last two seasons, it was about this time, or maybe even a little bit earlier, when we walked away from a loss and said as a crew "well, there goes the playoffs, this season's over". Well, that's not the case this year as the B's remain in the thick of the mix. That's not the case for the Leafs right now. They are teetering on that point of no return - and the Bruins can give them a shove over the precipice Thursday night. If Boston wins, not only will they be at 50 points, the Leafs will be stuck at 42 and needing to go 24-and-12 to get to 90 points. Not gonna happen. If the Leafs win tonight, they'll still be clinging, but they'll also still be looking at a tall task. You have to look at point totals, you can't look at how close you are to other teams, because you're fighting with eight or ten others. When it shakes out, you're looking at needing 90 or likely 92. The Bruins can "unofficially" eliminate Toronto with a win.
Big day: Happy Birthday to Jessica, a viewer who replied-to-blog and pointed out that she shares a birthday with B's defenseman Aaron Ward. Happy birthday to him as well, on this January 17th.
More hockey talkers:
Your female hockey fans over here in the State of Washington again. We totally agree with you on the NHL Network's "On The Fly". Thank goodness we can get some kind of hockey talk during the day. Sometimes it feels like we have woken up on another planet where no one has even heard of hockey!
As I've mentioned before, it is even harder when you are Bruins' fan who live 3,000 plus miles from the team. We were over there for the Bruins/Devils game and for Wives' Carnival and I felt like a sponge just soaking it all in!! One day they will let us get NESN on our side of the continent, or maybe we'll just move to that side and hopefully at least find people to talk hockey with!
I hope you had a great time. Enjoy the games!
And another contributor, sharing a common sentiment:
Tim Thomas belongs in the all-stars. I think it's a travesty that he's not there and once again shows that this very capable puck stopper is woefully underrated. I'm terribly disappointed by the league's decision to keep him home, but I ho he will use that as yet an other chip on his shoulder to motivate him even further and keep being the best at what he does.
This is just retarded.
Unfortunately, an eighth place team with 3 All-Stars, not-gonna-happen. Especially given the tradition of inviting at least ONE player from each team as a courtesy to them and to each team's fans. That's the case with the back-up goalies to Marty B. Timmy has great numbers and has had a great year, but that's the way it is and he'll have to forget about it and move on. I thought it (or something) was a distraction in the Montreal game. He's competitive and I think he took it to heart. As they say in Philly - "fuhgetahboutit". (Hey, if a goalie gets dinged, he's gotta be next in line as a replacement. Just ask Savard via Heatley)
Check out the Biscuit Saturday night. NHL Insider on referees Chris Rooney (from Southie) and Don Van Massenhoven. And check out Friday night college hockey, Biscuit Boy (third person reference) doing play-by-play. Can't wait to get back at it after a three year hiatus. Enjoy the game. All the best.
Rob, I couldn't agree more with your writing today. (1/11) I have picked up HNIC on Sirius for hockey talk occasionally, but that is it. WEEI, especially after NESN relieved Dale, never talks hockey and 790 out of Providence rarely does as well. We have a group of six people that get together every Thursday to watch the B's, the hockey package and talk hockey. We call it Hockey Night in Attleboro. so there is some talk of hockey going on in Mass., you just have to look hard for it. Keep up the good work.
Thank you and glad to hear it. Grass roots is alive and well. New England is the center of puckdom, I don't care what anybody says. The media will come around again when the Bruins are perennial contenders. A lot of it's up to the team. Winning on, marketing off. Happy hockey talk. All the best.
History Repeats Itself
First of all. I was listening to thunder this morning. Apparently we have screwed up our weather. It's January 11th. And two years ago when I was living in Cambridge, I remember when it thunder-snowed!! Oh well.
Les Hated Habs
The Bruins lost to the Canadiens ... again. Similar M.O. The B's came out fired up in front of the big crowd and lost their composure. I hate to break the news to anyone, but the hit from behind was a hit from behind (and to bring back and compare the Bergeron hit - c'mon - not fair - different everybody - and we can't compare every boarding/charging call to that). Kobasew came from a distance on a straight line to get him. The Schaefer elbow. Legit, it was basically like a punch to the head with the elbow. Sturm's wasn't horrible, but he did lead with a high elbow to the head. And so on, and so on. To blame the officiating is the oldest out in the book. Not buying it.
Aside from putting the best power play on the power play, and then having to play come from behind against Montreal yet again, the B's showed another inadequecy we can't forget. They don't have much scoring punch. Lucic scored a nice goal from Krejci, but prior to that, the B's earned a fluke one off the boards from Ward. Periodically, the lack of talent and scoring depth up front rares it's ugly head. Part of the reason the B's play and have found success with Claude's dump and chase and clog it up system is because it's the system that best fits the personnel. Get it deep, race for it and try to make things happen. When they get off to a slow start in a game, fall behind, and have to open it up, especially against talented counter-attackers, they're in trouble. Another crack at the Habs in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, big test in Philly Saturday.
Hard Core Hockey
Maybe part of it is the success of the other teams in N.E. right now, and maybe part of it is the performance of the Bruins in general since the lock-out, but for a hockey region like ours, there sure isn't much hard core hockey talk. I mean, it's cyclical I'm sure, if the B's make the postseason and continue to make strides, it'll likely pick up. But media wise, there doesn't seem to be much demand.
I don't say much during the games, I don't really have the time or opportunity to spontaneously discuss personnel, current events, history, systems, tendencies, etc. That's called a color man or a host. In that sense, with thirty-five years of following the puck, I'm overqualified for my game night job, of my many jobs at NESN. It is what it is. But at the same time, where are the other outlets to purge all things puck. There are one, maybe two weekly hockey radio shows in this area. No dailies. There is no talk about hockey much that I've noticed on the other talk dailies (although I admit I don't listen much because I'm not in a car). But what a shame. N.E. should be (and is in a lot of other ways) hockey HQ.
Where do I get my fix. I'm a guest once a week on a radio show in Montreal. I'm a periodic guest on two different shows in Toronto. Does a hockey Yankee really have to go North of the border to talk hard core hockey and/or to even get the opportunity? Apparently so. It's nuts. I'm talking about the Bruins, breaking down Bruins hockey, but it's never in Boston.
I am working on a second and third hockey/media book. That's cool. But it's not spontaneously conversational.
And while speaking of hard core hockey ... Is there a better show on television than "On The Fly - Final", which airs repeatedly each morning on NHL Network as the carry-over from the night before? I think not. Check it out.
All the best.
Two Shannons and a Feeble Mind
Hey, My Minds on Hockey!
So I met Shannon (first name) a few evenings ago. Was supposed to e-mail about Ireland (I'm planning a trip) and a couple of other things. Despite having a pen and pad in my pocket (I realized later) I tried to memorize an e-mail: that lasted about nine minutes.
The next day I was supposed to call Shannon (last name) about a project down the road a bit. Yeah, I forgot. I think I might be a little overextended at the moment.
Needless to say, the e-mail and the phone call are a couple days late, and counting. At least I know the phone number.
I'm getting a lot of things done, I just want to get it all done. I write things down, I just write things down in too many places. I'd like to jot down my schedule for you, but our brains might explode. I need personal assistance.
Oh well, at least it's fun. Even when I am forgetting things.
Mother Nature Working Against Me
Today is Tuesday. I've been convinced all day it's Saturday. Plus, it's like spring outside. Weren't we watching an outdoor hockey game in Buffalo about a week ago, it was snowing, and sleeting and blowing. What happened to all that? No wonder I'm confused.
By the way, it was a great show, I'm on board with the rest of you. Let's bring an outdoor game to Boston. I like the Fenway idea. Less seats, but boy what an atmosphere.
Let's wait a little bit though - we don't want to kill the uniqueness by playing one of these things every year. Every other year works!
I was joking with Coach Julien the other day that if the winning streak (now 3 games) continues, I'll do what I can to help his team by living by old baseball superstitions. By like, maybe not changing my socks. We agreed that probably wasn't a good idea. Good feeling about this one tonight though. We'll see.
Enjoy the hockey. Temperature needs to drop about 30 degrees. I'm ready to play some pond hockey!
By the way, if you request items, or responses to your e-mails when you click on the "e-mail a response" thing, make sure you put your mailing address, or e-mail address in the body of the note, or I won't see it. Thank you. All the best.
Happy New Year Viewers
Mailbag kids: In no particular order. Things change so quickly that often the questions or comments are already answered or you've been made to look pretty smart. But here we go anyway, from the last couple/few weeks. Thank you to the well wishers not included below.
As a long time Bruins fan (good times and bad), I feel the Bruins need to get back to the beginning of the year 'form'. Also, they are in great need of a goal scorer/sniper. Any chance of this happening in the near future???
Now that Peter Chiarelli moved Brandon Bochenski and shored up an injury depleted D unit with Shane Hnidy, I think a scoring winger would be the next thing on the wish list. Especially since Bochenski didn't get it done in that area when he was expected to do so on the second line. That's a hole. The lines look pretty good at the immediate moment given the injuries, but the talent is not deep. Chiarelli says he's always looking to improve the hockey club.
When are you making your "pilgrimage" to Providence this year? You guys noticing how our P-Bruins ??? Best team in the AHL so far. I want to see the Cup come to Providence!! Let's see some hockey in June, the PawSox can wait.
Yes sir, the P-B's look very solid. Good stuff. We expect to be down there pretty soon. In fact, we're doing a Rubber Biscuit on the AHL all over the Commonwealth. Just look at all of the great pro hockey being played at the 2nd best level, all over the state. We're gonna pop into Lowell, Worcester, Providence, and Springfield. And for a different show, we're headed to Portland.
whats your view about kessel? Their was negative article in globes abt Julien not liking his style of play and work ethic and that he is probably will be traded. Whats your view of Kessel and his attitude and will the bruins trade him?
I think that would only occur at this point in desperation, or if a great opportunity to upgrade came along. He's still just a kid, with a lot of maturing yet to do, and I think the B's are willing to be patient given his upside. If he's still not getting it, or defensively irresponsible come the end of the season, then maybe they'll start to wonder. But he's got the speed you need these days in the NHL, and with the right coaching and patience, and him buying in, there's great potential. Don't give up yet.
I see Don Cherry is defending Chris Simon for stomping on another player with his skate. He earlier defended Randy Jones for the blind hit that sidelined Patrice Bergeron.
Personally I think both cases are completely indefensible. Do you think Don Cherry is becoming a contrarian *%#(@&% artist, or is there some merit to what he says?
As you may know from past entries, I love "Coach's Corner" on HNIC. But I think Don was a bit ambiguous with this one. I kind of see what he meant, he wasn't defending the play, he was more saying "I can see why he did it", meaning Ruutu deserved it in a way for being a shift-disturber, coward type. I don't buy it. Breaking the ultimate code by using the skate blade as a weapon of sorts is a no-no under any circumstances. Case closed. Sucker punch - "I can see why he did it" - maybe, but not the skate.
On the Jumbotron today(Blues) they showed some guys with Derek Sanderson HEY HEY T-Shirts.Any idea where I can get one?
Any help people? Send in a response and I'll pass it on.
With all the talks about steroids in other sports, what is the NHL's take on steroids and have they played a role in the league at all?
The NHL adopted mandatory random testing last season. As far as I know, the entire League was tested and there was only one positive result. Sean Hill of the Islanders failed a drug test right at the end of last season and was suspended twenty games. He was able to play out the last few games of the regular season and some playoff action vs. Buffalo while the appeal was going on. Oddly enough, it was twice-an-Islander Bryan Berard who tested positive in November 2005 for steroids. Since the NHL didn't administer the test, and it was before the fulltime policy I believe, he wasn't penalized. He was banned from international play for two years.
Rob, I enjoy your insightful comments during the games. Keep up the good work. I do have a rant. I have been a Bruins fan for over 50 years and played as a kid growing up in Woburn and I do not like the changes the NHL has made to the game durong the past 20 or so years. I really have a problem with the way all these little cheap holding, hooking and interfearence penalties are called today. All it does take the flow out of the game and slow things down. As the former Bruin player and color analyst, Derek "Terk" Sanderson use to say,"This isn't tennis, let the boys play." I couldn't agree with him more. Years ago, before the days of helmets, there was none of the cheap stick work that there is today, the boys use to police themselves. Let the boys play!
Amen. Let them police themselves, and find a happy medium on the other calls.
A few years back, I read the reason behind the NHL’s switch to dark jerseys at home (sorry, I don’t remember where). During the now extinct third jersey craze, the majority of teams’ third jersey was a dark (non-white) design, so when they wanted to wear them at home, it meant making arrangements for the visitors to wear their usual home whites on the road. (And teams wanted to wear the third jersey at home since this was about selling merchandise to the home team fans).
An easy solution was to go to dark jerseys at home all the time and have the visitors wear white.
Although I too prefer the “old days” when the home team wore white, in the even older days the home teams wore dark (remember what color jersey Orr is wearing in the famous Cup winning goal from the Garden in 1970?). Apparently the original change to whites at home was to make things easier on the equipment managers: keeping the whites clean and spotless on long road trips could be a chore.
This is true. Blood stains in particular. The dark road sweaters hid them better. Now I think it's simply marketing. They sell more sweaters if the dark is showcased at home. Most would like to see the colors of the visiting team.
My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Dill Farm in June 07 for our honeymoon in Nova Scotia. The experince was inspiring, to stand at the murky long pond envisioning the native Miq-Maq, and early settlers playing a game on ice with a wooden puck as early as 1800! I am a Marine currently stationed in NC. My wife and I are avid Bruins fans (we grew up in the Boston area) and always catch a game when we visit during Christmas. However, this is the only time we can watch the "Rubber Biscuit". Our question to you is: how can we get a copy of the 2 episodes from your visits to the Dill Farm? They would certainly be a nice addition to our honeymoon collection. Keep up the excellent coverage, we love watching you when we can.
Very cool. Send me another e-mail with your contact/mail info in the body of it and we'll see what we can do. We're swamped, but we'll take a crack at it.
Off to write a Biscuit. All the best. And much health, happiness, and prosperity to you all in 2008.
Happy Holidays to the Fans
Can you believe we're already fast approaching the midway point of the season? That's right ... five games away. And for all of the early season success, and all of the early season standings watching, the Bruins need to get busy again.
I'll be pointing this out on television in the next week or so: The magic number to slip into the playoffs is 92 points. Sure it could swing a point or two in either direction, but generally in the Eastern Conference the last few years, the magic number is 92. That's the benchmark. In fact, last season, the 8th seed New York Islanders had 92 points.
What does this mean: It means the Bruins need to pick up six points in their next five games to be at that clip come the midway point. That'll put them at 46 points. Doable? Sure. They have Carolina and Atlanta on the road back to back, then Atlanta, Washington, and New Jersey at home. Even banged up, the B's should go 3-2 this next ten days.
Check out the Biscuit this week, with the story of the Bruins Foundation bike team in the PMC, and then the next two weeks after, Rubber Biscuit in Africa. It's an inspirational three week stretch. Enjoy. Good viewing and strong messages for kids by the way.
Meanwhile. Thanks for checking in here to the blog. Have a terrific Christmas and a healthy and happy start to 2008. All the best.
A Whacky Biz? Surely
Whacky Business 1
Six of the seven Sutter boys from Viking, Alberta made it to play in the NHL. They’re all retired as players now, but sticking around in other capacities. In no particular order or age, there is Brian, Darryl, Rich, Ron, Brent, and Duane. I ran into Ron on Monday. Talk about the rough road of an NHL scout: travel delays and hassles are commonplace. He was in Massachusetts last Thursday for the snow storm. It took him nine hours to drive from Springfield to the Garden to watch his brother’s Devils beat the Bruins, and he only made it for the second two periods. He had left Springfield about 11 am. Monday, he had a flight delayed or cancelled out of Manchester NH, finally arrived in Chicago, and had another few hour delay trying to get home. He said he was supposed to be home at 12:30 pm Mountain time, he hadn’t yet left Chicago at 4:30 Central. And other than mention the times, he actually didn’t complain about it at all. “Part of the job,” he said.
Whacky Business 2
I pointed this fact out once last year. The odd thing about our jobs, us hockey TV guys, or hoops, baseball, and football TV guys for that matter, is that no matter who makes a mistake, we’re the one’s sitting out there staring into the camera, or yapping into a microphone, potentially sounding like or looking like doofuses. The scary thing is, we commit enough wrinkles and have enough mini-slips ourselves, that we don’t need any help from the techies in the truck or in the building. Many occur because of the speed of the game, the need to talk really fast, or just because we’re human. It’s what makes the job a challenge and always interesting.
That said, some moments stand out more than others. The other night, it was a timing matter, which led to an unresolved issue. We should have resolved the discussion on the air but we didn’t. Hockey moves fast and there’s not a lot of time for certain things.
Anyway, I’d like to clarify a question I asked poorly during the game, to the boys upstairs, because I think it’s an interesting hypothetical. Nothing Earth shattering by any means, but still a fun little idiosyncrasy. The Bruins had changed lines, with Glen Murray the last of his group to leave the ice. The other five Bruins were already on the ice, moving the puck toward the offensive zone. As the puck crossed into the offensive zone, the whistle blew for offside. Murray’s skate was still on the ice, and the door to the bench (and Murray) was inside the blueline. Good call: offside. My question: why isn’t that play also a minor for too-many-men-on-the-ice or delay-of-game. The direct and indirect arguments are as follows. Murray’s presence in this case resulted in a stoppage of play. He is clearly an extra player. The other five skaters were already on the ice, involved in their shift and into the action. Murray’s slow step caused the action to stop. Is he not an extra player on the ice impacting play in this case? Sure he is. Is it grievous or intentional? Heck no. Is it Murray’s fault however that the play stopped? Absolutely. It stopped as a result of the action of (clearly) an extra skater being on the ice.
I’m not arguing for or against this hypothetical call. I was just bringing it up as a point. There are other penalties which are inadvertent, other forms of both too-many-men and delay-of-game which aren’t grievous or intentional. For that reason, I’m almost surprised this interpretation isn’t in the book: An extra skater, clearly stopping play and impacting the game.
For the purposes of holding this discussion on TV, well, we didn’t have much time, and as a production unit, on-air folks and off, none of us handled it very well.
Whacky Business 3
As co-producer, writer, and host of Rubber Biscuit, and as NESN hockey TV reporter boy (very old boy), I don’t have much time for anything. But I am working on another book, and I am working on another production project. Who suffers most? Family. Who? Family. Refresh my memory again ... You get the picture. The players and coaches and broadcasters with families who live out of the respective hockey town know what I’m talking about. It’s the road, it’s the lifestyle, and it depends on the status of your employment. Bottom line: Thank you to my family and to the few others out there in a similar boat, for your patience and understanding.
All the best.