Category Archives: Boston Bruins

Searching for Bobby Orr and the other great Bruins

A few months ago I finally crossed “Searching for Bobby Orr” by Stephen Brunt off my reading list, and it was fantastic. It painted a vibrant picture of rural Ontario in the 1950s and early ’60s, and set the stage for how Bobby Orr was able to remake hockey forever. And it began at the earliest stages, when a coach with incredible foresight realized the benefit to taking his most talented young player and having him anchor his team, rather than merely placing him at center like any other coach would.

The result was the greatest player anyone had seen to that point, and only Wayne Gretzky has a true argument as a better one. For nine years, Orr was an offensive force from the blue line the likes of which the NHL had never seen, and he was as good at reading defenses and skating back to stop oncoming rushes as anyone.

Reading it made me wish I could’ve been born about 15 or 20 years earlier to watch Orr take over Boston and turn New England on its head. But it also pushed me to wondering about other eras of Bruins hockey, and then comes the inevitable sketching of imaginary rosters, all-time teams and the like. Continue reading

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I stole this from a hockey card

I’ve gone through a revival with the Tragically Hip in the past couple of years. I’d seen them live about a decade ago and kept a few of their albums close, but obviously, the news about Gord Downie’s condition and ultimate fate spurred a re-inspection.

In what’s sure to not be a shocker, there was a lot more there than I’d initially found all those years ago. There was a depth to the lyrics that was much richer than I’d realized, the music was at once involved and catchy … the Tragically Hip was a goddamn great band. This shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone who cares about rock and roll.

Obviously, a song that’s captured my attention in the past year is “Fifty Mission Cap.” It’s one I knew, but I clearly listened to Day for Night a lot more than Fully Completely. So it found its hooks into me in a new way — I catch myself singing it to myself constantly now, and I also decided to finally dig into the story. And so we meet Bill Barilko, a 24-year-old defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs who scored the decisive goal in the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Canadiens. In a still that almost previews Bobby Orr’s famous, Cup-clinching goal 19 years later, Barilko is seen lunging forward on a loose puck, firing it past Montreal’s Gerry McNeil. Continue reading

Rick Nash and a return to something old

Yesterday afternoon, I went flipping through the channels in that first bit of post-Olympics viewing and landed on the Red Sox and Orioles in Spring Training. I know that happened because my primary memory of this was in seeing the Orioles’ hats with a full-bodied cartoon bird swinging a bat, which was cool. That cartoon bird is hard to mess up, and with the mostly leisurely and whimsical nature of Spring Training, that kind of graphic works nicely on a hat.

The other thing I remember is that the Red Sox apparently have three different guys wearing no. 18 in camp, which pretty much sums up where the two guys not named Mitch Moreland stand on the odds table to make the team.

But that’s about it. The game was on, but I was mostly waiting for the Boston Bruins’ pregame to start, since they’d swung a trade for the New York Rangers’ Rick Nash earlier that morning. It cost them two draft picks, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey’s exiled contract and a college prospect, but they got it done and added a big, rough-and-tumble goal scorer to David Krejci’s line. It’s not the Ryan McDonagh trade I wanted them to swing with New York, but it’s pretty good. Continue reading

Ignoring baseball because it’s the Cup

This is Tuukka Rask. He does not play baseball.

This is Tuukka Rask. He does not play baseball.

Last night, the Red Sox were down to their final strike when Will Middlebrooks, batting against Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, laced a change-up into the outfield for a bases-clearing double. The Sox went up 4-3, Junichi Tazawa picked up the win in relief, and if I’m imagining the scenario correctly, most of the crowd went home happy, since this took place in Tampa and no one there seems to care about the Rays one way or the other.

Apparently, it was a hell of an at-bat for Middlebrooks, who is rebounding from a minor slump and on his way back towards the torrid pace he carried through April, when the Red Sox were busy surprising a jaded fan base and sitting in first place. The mighty Jon Couture actually has a great breakdown of Middlebrooks’ at-bat here, complete with his growing patience and his success reading the pitcher and the situation.

They’re a game back of the Yankees this afternoon for the top spot of the American League East, and they’re playing some fun games, even when they lose. But don’t ask me about details, because I’ve missed all of them lately. Simply, it’s because the Bruins are in the playoffs, and it is functionally impossible for me to concentrate or devote any sort of emotional focus on the Red Sox when this is the case. Continue reading

Summer, baseball and your Bay State options

There's no shortage of baseball in the Bay State. (Graphic by Nick Tavares)

Summer and I don’t get along. I get cranky in heat and humidity, I don’t like having to sit in air conditioning, I can’t standing being in a hot room without air conditioning, I don’t like bugs and too much time in the sun makes me dizzy.

But I live for summer, and that’s almost entirely because of baseball. Most of my favorite memories in the summer involve either some form of the national game or screaming my brains out at a concert. But Pearl Jam isn’t on tour this summer. So baseball will have to do. Luckily, living in Massachusetts, I’m never too far from a game.

The desire to catch a game, though, had been lower than any summer in recent memory. Continue reading