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.
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.
Naoko is pro at rink and better person. Type to keep, not let go. Genius move, NESN.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) June 28, 2013
Over the last several seasons, no one worked harder and was more under-used than @NaokoFunayama. Better things ahead for her, I'm certain.
— Matt Kalman (@TheBruinsBlog) June 28, 2013
Sad to hear about @NaokoFunayama. Showed up every day, worked as hard as anyone, and did it all with a smile. A rarity in the business.
— Dave Goucher (@DavidCGoucher) June 28, 2013
(3/343747) I can't imagine the last three years without her. NESN will not upgrade her position because there is no one better.
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) June 28, 2013
— Randy Scott (@RandyScottESPN) June 28, 2013
I leave you #BringBackNaoko zealots with this: Fighting the good fight is not only the right thing to do, it can be a heck of a lot of fun.
— Jack Edwards (@RealJackEdwards) June 28, 2013
@NaokoFunayama naoko …..:(
— Tyler Seguin (@tylerseguin92) June 28, 2013
And then there’s the irony of Funayama’s most recent tweet, regarding Ference’s departure:
Sports can be cruel- give everything to the team, so much to the community, and still you're out. We'll all miss @Ferknuckle. One of a kind.
— Naoko Funayama (@NaokoFunayama) June 26, 2013