I’m fairly sure I was in my car, on the highway somewhere between Quincy and New Bedford, when I got a call from Mick Colageo and his message was simple, to-the-point and more than a little excited:
“They got Chara.”
If you’re not familiar, Mick is a hockey svengali and criminally underrated. He sees the game clearly, understands its nuances and can place it all in context, be it historical or present-day. If he was calling me and that excited, this was a tremendous moment.
I don’t know if even he could’ve seen what was to come: fourteen seasons as the captain of the Bruins, lifting the Stanley Cup and creating countless Paul Bunyan-esque folk tales along the way. Zdeno Chara has shown would-be goal scorers the door and sent anyone who dared to harass a Boston netminder into the fifth row. He’s blasted in goals from the blue line with terrifying velocity and, when given the chance, shown skill and poise with the puck. He’s logged hours and hours on the ice, extending shifts and keeping the wolves at bay when needed. He’s been the ultimate quiet leader, treating teammates young and old with respect and demonstrating exactly how much work was to be expected — and if anyone was ever able to hang in the gym longer than him, I never heard about it.
Through it all, there were moments where it felt like Chara would tower over the Boston blue line forever. If I had known even half of that was to come when he signed up, I’d have careened off the road. Continue reading
Thinking about the idea of the NHL’s dueling “bubbles,” the image I couldn’t get out of my head was that, best case scenario, this ends with a team getting the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman and celebrating to the echo of a nearly empty arena. No boos for the commissioner, not even the resigned gaze of those unfortunate fans who have to watch the visiting team hold the trophy aloft.
And because I’m not a player, my real issue with this was from the self-centered perspective of a fan — how is it going to feel watching a team win the championship in a vacant rink?
I don’t have an answer for that, and I won’t until this tournament winds down to a close some time in late September. But I do know, after watching the Bruins set the Carolina Hurricanes aside in five games, that I’m just about as invested as I ever am. I can’t go to a bar with friends to watch a game and I can’t even partake in the futile exercise of seeing how expensive playoff tickets are getting. Even the start times of these games — 11 a.m., 4 p.m., etc. — is messing with my equilibrium, nevermind the incongruous act of watching hockey in the middle of oppressive August heatwaves.
But I’m here, and I’m in, pretty much as deeply as I’m ever in. And while the Bruins are alive in the bubble, I’m in on Jaroslav Halak. Continue reading
As I’ve noted in the past, when it came to card collecting, I had very little in the way of prospecting or futures trading. Opening a pack and finding stars from other teams was cool, but any Bruin was, at worst, equal to any Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier that fell into my lap.
So at some point in 1994, Gordie Roberts tumbled out of a pack of Premier, which was excellent. The more Bruins that could be accumulated in my binder, the better. I already knew Roberts, who already seemed to be one of those Bruins that seemed to always be in the right place. He didn’t light up the stat sheet (he had 7 points that year), but he didn’t seem to spend a lot of time in the penalty box, either. I had already been to my first Bruins game at this point, so I was aware that he was an older guy who (along with fellow defenseman Paul Stanton) had won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh before arriving in Boston.
Still, two things surprised me when I first saw this card. I was startled to see him here sans his gloriously 1980s mustache — I hadn’t been paying extremely close attention before the 1993-94 campaign, obviously. But it was when I flipped it over to the back that I was blown away: Roberts had apparently been playing hockey since the beginning of time. Continue reading
I was trying to think earlier: when was the last time I knew for sure that I would be home, all day, every day?
Throw out any year beyond college, since I’ve been thankfully employed for that time. That’s five days a week, minimum, where I know I have to leave the house. College, too, included classes for nine months, and by then I had friends and a part-time job, so even the summers were spoken for.
The friend aspect was lesser in high school, and even middle school, but there were still some days during the summers then — maybe a Friday or Saturday here and there — where I’d have plans and get to leave the house. This basically takes me to sixth grade and earlier, during the summer, sans friends, where I knew I’d be indoors, left to my own devices for entertainment.
I’m not 10 anymore, but I am home. I’m going to be home for some time, and there’s not much else to do. So forgive me if I revert to some pre-teen tendencies, like playing with hockey cards. Continue reading
Posted in Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Hockey, Hockey cards, Quarantine Cards
Tagged Andy Moog, Bobby Carpenter, Boston Bruins, Cam Neely, Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Ray Bourque, Rich Peverley, Sergei Zholtok, Zdeno Chara
There is hardly the space to shower the correct praise upon all the Bruins who deserve it.
For example: Tuukka Rask is playing at a god-level, to a point that the “what took so long” crowd has conveniently overlooked that he’s been an excellent goaltender in this league for a decade now. Patrice Bergeron is as solid and skilled a player as one could hope to be. Brad Marchand is a professional jerk in all the best ways. David Pastrnak is a kid at heart who also happens to be a total sniper. David Backes is chasing a dream. Zdeno Chara is defying time and age and remains absolutely terrifying.
And those are the primary storylines as the Bruins line up against the St. Louis Blues in an effort to get their name on the Stanley Cup for the seventh time. Missing in there is David Krejci, quietly leading his line, playing in every scenario and generally being the silent stalwart he’s been since earning his place in 2007.
For a group that cherishes its history and loves to fete its longtime players, Krejci doesn’t get the attention he likely deserves. But through this most recent playoff run, he’s done nothing to damage his place in history. Continue reading