Naoko Funayama let go by NESN

It’s not just a couple of popular players such as Andrew Ference who won’t return to the Bruins next season.

NESN announced in a press release at 8:02 p.m. Thursday night that Naoko Funayama, the respected sideline reporter, will not have her contract renewed when it expires this summer.

Funayama worked at NESN since 2007. She was hired after covering Daisuke Matsuzaka’s introductory press conference as a reporter for New Hampshire’s WMUR during which she aided the Japanese pitcher’s struggling translator.

Funayama joined the network full-time in August 2008 as the Bruins reporter.

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In the release, NESN said it had “elected to go in a different direction” and the search for her replacement is underway.

“I want to thank everyone at NESN for five fantastic years and to also thank all the wonderful people I met along the way.” she said, according to the release.

“To have witnessed and covered the Bruins’ resurgence during this time has been a thrilling and unforgettable experience, and now I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter in my career.”

Funayama was widely respected by players and media alike for her good nature, work ethic, and professionalism, and news of her departure was greeted with remarkable backlash on Twitter.

And then there’s the irony of Funayama’s most recent tweet, regarding Ference’s departure:

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