Tag Archives: Boston Bruins

Detroit’s On Fire!!!

Oh my, indeed.

Yes, the city of Detroit is on fire again. Well, not literally. I’m talking about the city’s sports teams.

The Detroit Tigers are currently scrapping it out with the Texas Rangers for the American League Championship and the right to go to the 2011 World Series for the first time since 1984. Young, tall fastball pitcher Justin Verlander and a lineup of crackerjack batters are lighting it up on the mound and at the plate. After two games in Texas, the team returns this week for three straight nights at home and a chance to take the lead in the series and set things up for a pennant victory.

Meanwhile, the shocking and still undefeated Detroit Lions are slated to take on the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football tonight at Ford Field here in the Motor City capturing the national spotlight. It’s the first time in a decade that the Bears have played in Detroit and the Detroit Lions offensive line will do their best to protect young quarterback Mathew Stafford who has a bad history of being knocked out of games by the aggressive Chicago Bears defense.
Stafford has suddenly become the “franchise QB” for the Lions and their new spread offense has been modeled around him. Meanwhile, the 2 wins and 2 losses Bears come to town with something to prove and a chance to bring the soaring Lions back to earth.

Oh yeah. And then there’s always the always sensational Detroit Red Wings, who play hockey at the Joe Louis Arena, right next door to where I live. The Red Wings are so good that most locals have come to pretty much expect them to go to the Stanley Cup finals every season. Anything less than that from this team of fast skating, sharp shooters is considered a disappointment. In fact, most local hockey fans believe the aging Detroit Red Wings are well overdue for another Cup Championship and it would be very sweet to see a Detroit Red Wings-Boston Bruins Stanley Cup final in May of 2012.

Yup, with all the excitement here in Detroit, I almost missed the festivities at the “new Garden” in my beloved Boston, where I was born and spent most of my life. And truth be told, I still miss being back in Boston where I can best root for (gulp) the Red Sox, Bruins and New England Patriots.

But for the time being, I’m still here in Detroit and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it is really a lot of fun to see these Detroit teams playing so well. Heck, if there’s any city in these still United States, it is Detroit that needs something to be proud about. It is Detroit that needs something, anything to rally around. I mean, look what the New Orleans Saints did for that beleaguered city. And the Saints are still going strong as N’Awlins slowly tried to come back from the devastation of Katrina.

So I’ve jumped upon the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions bandwagons and who knows how long that ride will last.

But for the first time since I moved here almost three years ago, I can honestly say that it is kinda fun to live in Detroit.

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Boston Bruins Win Stanley Cup!!!

Congratulations to Goalie Tim Thomas and the entire Boston Bruins team for their Stanley Cup Victory last night in Game Seven against the Vancouver Canucks.

Wow!

What a game!

What a night!

The Bruins had to win their third Game Seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs to capture the holy grail of hockey. It was the first time in 39 years, going back to 1972 and the Orr/Esposito era, since the Bruins went all the way!!!

For me, it was one of the happiest sports moments of my life and as I celebrated over the phone with my sister Patricia (or Patty Cakes, as we call her) and my lovely fiancee, Janet, all I could think of was that my father must have been smiling somewhere and taking in all the glory.

I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning listening to Sports Talk Radio and even got through on the phones to deliver my congratulations to the Boston Bruins and their fans. I wish so badly that I could be in Boston for the Bruins Duck Boat Parade.

In the end the Bruins won with heart and with skill, with toughness and with agility, with grit and talent – just like the Big, Bad Bruins of old.

And now they are all legends, part of the great sports history of the City of Boston. (Seven Championships in 10 years, not too shabby)

Again, congratulations to The 2010/2011 Boston Bruins on their Stanley Cup victory. Whooo-hooo!!!!

This one’s for you, Dad.

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Boston Bruins: Tonight’s Date With Destiny

So it all comes down to tonight’s Game Seven. The Boston Bruins have gone 40 years without winning the Stanley Cup.

Tonight they could win it all. But they’ll have to do it on the road.

The Boston Bruins have now played more than a hundred games in one season in their quest for hockey’s holy grail. And now they need one more “W” in Game 7 in Vancouver.

Tonight the 2010/2011 Boston Bruins will play on the other side of the continent in the Canadian city of Vancouver.

They’ll be playing for all the fans who have followed the Black and Gold through the years.

They’ll be playing for one of the toughest Bruins ever Eddie Shore:

They’ll be playing for legendary Bruins captain Milt Schmidt, who not only played…

But who also coached, and served as President and assistant General Manager and who served as Banner Captain before Game Six..

Tonight they’ll be playing for other Bruins legends like Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, Phil Esposito and the greatest ever, Bobby Orr…

Yes, Bobby Orr who was on the last Bruins team to win the Stanley Cup in 1972…

The Bruins will play for all the guys who came after 1972 and never won the Stanley Cup in Bruin’s uniforms. For Ray Bourque, Craig Janney, Goalie Pete Peters and the current Bruins President Cam Neeley, who was traded to the Bruins from Vancouver and may want the Stanley Cup more than anyone in the building tonight…

For all these guys, the Bruins will take the ice tonight with their eyes on the prize. Lord Stanley’s Cup. In all of sports, it’s probably the most sought after award…

Just one more win. That’s all it will take for the Boston Bruins.

There destiny is in their own hands. There’s only one thing left to say:

Go Bruins!!!!

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Boston Bruins: One Game From Glory


Last night the Boston Bruins tied their Stanley Cup final series against the classless Vancouver Canucks 3 games apiece. Now we must wait for tomorrow night. The first Stanley Cup finals game seven in the history of the Boston Bruins franchise (est. 1924).
Here’s something to pass the time and get in the mood if you happen to be a Bruins fan. (Be sure to watch the full screen version.)

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The Boston Bruins, My Father and Me

I’ve been watching the Boston Bruins, in their quest for the coveted Stanley Cup, for the last couple of months. And I could be wrong, but I swear I’ve been watching the games with my father. Which seems impossible, since he passed away away in 1989. But it feels that way. Let me explain.

I’ve been a Bruins fan since I was 10 or 11 years old. With aluminum foil attached to the rabbit ears of our puny television set, I remember watching the Big, Bad Bruins on Channel 38. Through that often snowy, fuzzy VHF TV image I got my first taste of sports legends like Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Johnny “Pie” McKenzie and Goaltender Gerry (Cheese) Cheevers. My father and I would watch pretty much every game that was televised, enthralled by the end to end rushes by a Bobby Orr and that incredible scoring machine named Phil Esposito. When the Bruins scored we’d jump to our feet and hoot and holler. When they’d fight we’d yell at the TV, as if they could hear us. For a kid like me, it was heaven on earth to watch the Bruins with my Dad.

My uncle Fran was a Boston police lieutenant, who had the assignment on Bruins game nights to maintain peace and civility at the Boston Garden press entrance. This, my dear reader, was akin to having the key to paradise. Whenever we wanted, including during playoff games, my Day and I would scoot surreptitiously through the old turnstiles and into the old Boston Garden. Oh, what joy!

So even when the games were sold out, we could get in. We didn’t always have a seat, but we could stand behind the last row of the first balcony. I’d often find a couple of seats and sometimes, if folks didn’t show up, we sat in the seats for the entire game. But for a 12 year old kid, just being in the building with such greatness was fantastic. I can remember going down to box seats near the ice before the games to watch the Bruins warm up. Now mind you, these were the days before helmuts, so we could get a really close look at our heroes. Orr, Espo, Ken Hodge, Johnny Pie, Wayne Cashman, Freddy Stanfield, Don Marcotte, and the rest.

But mostly we watched Orr. With his shock of light brown hair, our hero was a sight to see in person. He seemed not to skate, but to fly around and around the ice during warm-ups. He skated faster and shot harder than anyone else on either team. And this was during the warm-ups. When game time came he was even more intense. Night after night after night, Orr carried the Boston Bruins. He was dynamite on ice.

He was the greatest hockey player ever. Period.

My father cheered the Bruins on with an intensity that seemed to sometimes exceed that of the Bruins players. He was incredibly passionate about sports and it showed. When the Bruins would score, he would yell “GOAL!!!” so loudly and the sound seemed to come from deep inside him. It was a guttural sound of glee. In fact, it was so loud, sometimes I’d be slightly frightened by it. That’s how intense he was. And if there was ever a fight, he would holler just as loud.

I remember one Bruins game we attended during which we found seats fairly close to the ice. The Bruins were playing the rival, hated New York Rangers, with their star defenseman Brad Park. Orr, who was so tough nobody would dare challenge him to a fight, was bickering with Park all game. You knew something was brewing (Or Bruin?). Suddenly, near our end of the ice, Orr and Park dropped their gloves and squared off to fight. The refs let them go at it. The two star defensemen hammered away at each other. About halfway through the fight, my father, who was standing already, screamed out, “You get him, Bobby” and I swear to this day that I thought my Dad was on the verge of scaling the Plexiglas and jumping onto the ice to join in the fight. Ha ha ha. I was actually surprised, my Dad wasn’t ejected from the game, along with Orr and Park.

In the 1972 playoffs, when we watched a couple rows back behind the last row of the balcony. The game was tied in when we watched Bruins left winger Ace Bailey (who was tragically killed during 9/11, a passenger on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center) went whipping down the near side. We stood on our toes and saw Bailey’s flash of blond hair as he skated in and scored the winning goal. It was pandemonium inside the old Boston Garden. The Bruins would go on to win their second Stanley Cup in three years. It would also be their last Stanley Cup for 40 years and right up to this final series. But I’ll never forget my father using his best broadcast voice (his dream was to be a sportscaster) to recound Bailey’s goal to me after the game. Good old Ace Bailey…

Hard to believe that was 40 years ago. So many things have changed. I’m older now and have much less hair, and hopefully much more wisdom. The old Boston Garden was the victim of the wrecking ball. It has been replaced by a monolith of a building in the same spot with absolutely no personality, called the “new Garden.” Yeah, sure. And as I wrote, cancer stole my father’s chance to live to an old age. I still miss him all the time.

But the game of hockey has basically stayed the same. There was a fellow named Gerry Cheevers who used to mind the net for the Bruins. He sure was a character. Cheesy would mark his face mask with a magic marker every time he got hit in the face.

Now we’ve got another truly great goalie named Tim Thomas, from Michigan, who pretty much stands on his head to stop every shot that comes at him. He’s truly the best player on the ice every night.

The names have all changes, but the spoked B still stands out proudly in Black and Gold. And tonight the Bruins will play one of the most important games since they first started playing 77 years ago. If they lose, they will have had an incredibly exciting, with a very sad end. And if they win, they’ll have another shot for the cup in Game 7 in Vancouver.

Either way, I’ll be watching. And when the Bruins score (and hopefully they’ll score early and often), my father’s spirit will be sitting next to me, screaming his guts out, jumping in the air, throwing his arms out to me, in victory.

Yes, in sweet, sweet victory. So, for my Dad, and for all the fathers and sons who have similar stories, let’s hope the Big, Bad Bruins win.

Go Bruins!!!!

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The Runaway Horse

In an effort by my parents to improve my skills as a hockey player when I was 15 years old, and most likely to also get me out of the house, they sent me to summer hockey camp. It was quite a wild adventure.

Now I should preface this by the fact that I wasn’t an incredible hockey player to begin with. Even though I had been playing since I was about 10, I was just a little bit better than mediocre. I was a heck of a skater; in fact, due to the amount of time I spent skating on a pond in the woods behind my house I could probably skate circles around every other kid in my neighborhood. But to be a great hockey player you have to be able to hit – and hit hard and get hit. And in order to do that you have to be fairly big. While I was tall, I was only about 140 pounds soaking wet. So I got killed in the corners and that wasn’t so good when it came to digging the puck out of the corners so the center could score.

Anyway, I digress. This hockey camp was run by a former minor star in the NHL who’s name I can’t seem to remember. But, it was 35 years ago, so I hope you’ll give me a pass. Ron something. Bill whosamagig. Doesn’t really matter. Let’s just say it was this guy:

Nah. That’s Philadelphia Flyers star and Boston Bruins arch-nemesis Bobby Clarke. I just liked the photo.

So this was a summer day camp. Meaning that I didn’t sleep overnight at the camp. I just stayed there during the day, which was enough for me.

This was a strange hockey camp. It’s the only hockey camp that I’ve ever seen before or since that had a skating rink where we would practice and play games on some type of slippery hard plastic material. I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t ice. My parents must have got a heck of a deal, sending me to a hockey camp with a rink without ice.

I swear this today to you. It was some type of synthetic ice which I suppose has the advantage of not having to have those cooling elements that keep it frozen. Now I realize that some of you may think I’m making all of this up, so I searched the World Wide Web and found a video that proved my point. Watch and be amazed and imagine an entire regulation ice rink made of some kind of synthetic plastic.

Again, our rink was bigger than that. It was a strange sensation – skating on plastic. And it was a little bit harder to push off on your back foot. But that’s okay we were told. That will make you a stronger skater when you finally skate on ice. Okay, whatever.

One thing is for sure. It certainly cut down on the need for a Zamboni. Here’s one they could probably have afforded at this apparent low budget operation.

Here’s what they look like today, in case you haven’t been to a game recently.

That bed is in case the Zamboni driver has a second or third job and needs a bit of shut eye during the periods.

Anyway, the hockey camp turned out to be pretty good. I ended up a much better player (probably because of that synthetic ice, eh?) My sister ended up dating one of the instructors who played for a while with the Boston Bruins. (Sorry to mention that, Patty)

But you’re probably wondering why the title of this blog is “The Runaway Horse.” Well, sit on back little doggies and I’ll tell ya.

It seems hockey wasn’t all we did at this camp. I mean you can only play and practice hockey so many hours a day. I remember there was a pond. There were other summertime activities, like baseball or softball and maybe even a bit of soccer. But the highlight for me was that they owned a horse. (Great right. They could afford a horse, but not a damn Zamboni.) But I loved this horse. I can’t remember his name either, so let’s call him….Horse.

Well, one day I was taking a little ride on Horse and something went terribly wrong. The guy who prepared Horse’s dinner mistakenly rang the bell (this may have been a typical hockey prank) and old Horse heard the bell which, like Pavlov’s dogs set off his salivary glands) and Horse took off. So no longer was Horse trotting. No longer was horse walking calmly like a good horse usually does. Horse took off and started to gallop at a pace I can only compare to Secretariat’s speed in the final leg of the Kentucky Derby. And at 6 feet, I was no jockey. In fact, the only think I can honestly say I was…..is terrified. This was the fastest I’ve ever gone on any animal (including a camel) in my life. And this is what it looked like in my distorted mind:

Fortunately, the horses trainer saw what was happening, noticed the look of sheer horror on my face and said the secret word (all horses have secret words that mean something to them but not to us) which slowed the darn thing down to more of a…well….to a stop.

I got off and didn’t ride again for about 10 years. I went on to become a star hockey player, scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals and I even let the horse’s real jockey pose for a photo with Lord Stanley’s cup.

And if you believe all that I have some synthetic ice that I’d like to sell you.

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My Childhood Hero – #4, Bobby Orr

When I was just a boy, Hockey Fever swept Boston and Boston fell in love with Bobby Orr. My life, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of other hockey fans, would never be the same.

This “Fever” of which I speak happened in the late 1960s and coincided with the arrival in Boston of a young man named Bobby Orr who would begin a seven-year, injury-shortened love affair between fans and one extremely talented athlete.

If you lived in the Boston area in the late 1960s, Bobby Orr was akin to the second coming. The blond skating and scoring sensation grew up in Parry Sound, Ontario (about 2 hours north of Toronto and, what seems on the map like a million miles away from Boston.) It is said that Boston Bruins scouts were on a trip to Canada to check out a couple of other players when they happened to spot Orr and decided that day that he would someday wear a Boston Bruins jersey. After courting the Orr family for about a year, the Bruins organization did just that. They convinced 14-year-old Bobby and his parents (especially a reluctant, protective mother) to sign on the dotted line in the kitchen of an ugly old home next to the railroad tracks, not far from the frozen rivers and ponds on which Orr had been skating and playing “shinny” hockey for the previous 10 years.

If the Bruins front office could have had their way, they probably would have had Orr playing for the franchise team in Boston the next night, but in the NHL you had to be 18 to play in the big leagues, so Orr played for several years on the minor league Oshawa Generals, a mere child competing against players much older than he was.

Finally, at the ripe old age of 18, with the eyes of an entire city on him (the hype was incredible), Bobby Orr arrived in Boston. And not long after that, with the acquisition of several other great players including a scoring machine named Phil Esposito, the Boston Bruins were suddenly a contender for the Stanley Cup and Bobby Orr became my full-time obsession.

My bedroom walls were covered with Bobby Orr posters and articles I had read over and over about the young superstar. Orr seemed to have it all. He had winning good looks, a gentlemanly, shy manner, and, most impressively, he could skate circles around every other player in the league. My uncle was a Boston Police lieutenant and he would often be assigned to details at Boston Garden which meant that he would allow my father, also a huge hockey fan, and I to walk past the press gates. We didn’t have seats and often had to stand behind the last row of the first balcony inside the old Boston Garden, and occasionally old eagle eye, yours truly, would spot a pair of open seats and drag my dad to go sit in them. And sometimes we didn’t get kicked out.

But whether I was watching the Bruins play in person or on television, my eyes were transfixed on Orr. He was so fast and had so many different moves, faking and deking the opposition out of position to line up a slapshot from the point. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was watching a man who literally changed the way the game was played. Orr turned hockey from a defensive game into an offensive one and it was great to watch. Orr was so good his first year in the league that he won the NHL Rookie of the Year award. But he also hurt his knee that first year, suffering an injury that would limit both his playing time and shorten his career.

But nobody was thinking about Orr’s knee injury on May 10, 1970. It was a warm, spring day in Boston and about 50 of my relatives gathered at my Aunt Babe’s house (yes, Babe was really her nickname) where we witnessed what everyone agrees is the most incredible and famous goal in hockey history. The Bruins were up 3 games to none against the St. Louis Blues in the finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston hadn’t won a Stanley Cup championship since 1941, some 29 years earlier.

When the game went into overtime, the tension grew. Thinking back to that day, it seemed like we all knew what was about to happen. Just 40 seconds into overtime, Boston Bruin player Derek Sanderson, who was standing just behind the opposing net, passed the puck to a streaking Bobby Orr. Orr shot the puck between Blues goalie Glenn Hall’s pads to win the game and the championship. A millisecond after the shot, as Orr skated away with his arms and hockey stick raised to mark the win, he was upended by an opposing player. Bobby Orr went into flight and for a second seemed truly superhuman. The picture of Orr flying through the air is planted in my mind as firmly as anything else from my childhood. Needless to say, the entire living room at my Aunt Babe’s erupted in celebration, as did the city of Boston for the next three or four days. It was truly something else. A young boy’s dream had come true.

A few years later my father told me that he was taking me to Toronto during summer vacation. There we would see the Hockey Hall of Fame, do some other sightseeing and possibly make the trip in our rental car to Parry Sound, Ontario, to see the town where Bobby Orr came from.

On our way to Parry Sound we stopped at Orr’s hockey camp. Orr was there and I was thrilled when he autographed a magazine and posed for a photo. Meanwhile, my always gregarious father introduced himself to Bobby Orr’s father, Doug, and the two men began talking. My dad mentioned that we were going to be visiting Parry Sound, and Doug Orr invited us to stop by the house. Let me repeat that. Bobby Orr’s father invited us to stop by the house. When I found out, I couldn’t believe it. Things became even more surreal after we got to the Orr household, were warmly greeted (Bobby wasn’t there) and given a tour of the basement where the family kept a trophy case, which must have been at least 25 feet long, filled with trophies and pucks and other mementos. Before we left, Doug Orr gave us a couple of Bobby Orr coffee mugs, “gifts from the Orrs.” Over the years, one was broken (knocked off the wall during puck shooting practice in my cellar), but I still have the other one. My most prized possession!

Years went by, and I remained a huge fan of Bobby Orr. I even started to play the game. When Orr was forced to retire because of his injured knee, my heart was broken, and when they paid tribute to him and retired his number at the old Garden, I wept along with thousands of other Bostonians.

Bobby Orr was, in my opinion, the greatest hockey player who ever played the game. The images of him skating the length of the ice and scoring goals are forever etched in my memory.

He was my hero.

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