By Court Lalonde Follow me on Twitter @courtlalonde
We all read every article we can about our favorite team the Boston Bruins but rarely do we get to know the person who is writing the article. I was lucky enough to sit down with long time Bruins writer Mick Colageo the other day and pick his brain. At age 60, Mick has been covering the Bruins for nearly half his life either in print, on the radio, or on the internet. “It was during my radio era and in the 1991-92 season that I began covering the Bruins, credentialed by a nationally based overnight radio show called The Sports Final,” Mick told me. He did it for free but did get to go to Bruins games and cover it. “I would make short radio reports that I recorded or gave live over the pay phone at Boston Garden’s press room door,” said Mick.
He began writing Bruins columns regularly for The Standard-Times in 95-96. During the year the Bruins opened the Fleet Center (TD Garden as we know now). “For a season or two, I wrote my column for the small daily papers owned by my full-time employer’s parent company, but returned to the first arrangement with the Standard-Times in 2000.” He became their full-time writer for the sports department and as a staff writer. He was able to cover the Bruins on a more consistent basis during the Bruins playoff runs in 2011 and 2013 and was able to travel for some away games. Mick was lucky enough to be able to cover Game 7 in Vancouver on June 15, 2011, and see the Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup.
He considers himself a hockey geek even though now covering the Bruins is a part time thing with his paper. “I have a passion for hockey and have always intensely followed the Bruins. It’s the most fun I could ever have at a job being able to structure my thoughts on the team and players and fans interact with them about it” said Mick. When I asked him what his biggest moment was covering the Bruins, he couldn’t give me just one, and I didn’t expect him to. Speaking to me about the time he was at Boston Garden for the Last Hurrah night. It was against the Montreal Canadians which be a fitting end to once hallow halls of the Boston Garden. He grew up a fan of the Boston Bruins, and now he was allowed to watch them for work. Which brings us to June 15, 2011, and being able to see the Bruins become team number one in Boston sports again. “The Cup was on the first float; the fans had wait long enough, and the news of confirmation moments before the parade began that it was the largest gathering in Boston’s history gave me a tremendous satisfaction proving what I’d been telling people for years, that the Bruins had fans just like all of Boston’s previously more successful teams” Mick said to me.
(Above Photo Credit: Bob Frid/Icon Sportwire)
I asked him if he finds it hard to be objective when he is writing about the team because I know it is one of the toughest things I have to do when I write. His answer was “Yes, the biggest change from now as opposed to 20 years ago is I don’t write the angry fan letter anymore.” Over the years he has learned to appreciate the challenges each management team has faced while covering the Bruins and began to empathize with them. He tries to remember when he is writing about the Bruins that it’s a person he is writing about. He enjoys writing about the present players, and they’re a nice group of guys he says, from Zdeno Chara on down. “Patrice Bergeron is as nice a guy as I’ve ever met. I also enjoyed talking with Tim Thomas, and Tuukka Rask is always engaging.” He has found it harder lately because he has been spending less time with the club. “Suddenly Bergy’s an old guy, which means I’m a very old guy” Mick was telling me.
We talked about the current Bruins players move, and he said to me that he thinks that Danton Heinen will be their most improved player next year and I hope he is right. When I asked him what he is most looking forward to about the Bruins next year, he said development. The Bruins are a team full of youth on their roster next year and have some young piece of their defense core that is maturing into everyday defensemen sooner rather than later. “McAvoy was a small sample, but we saw a guy that could make a spectacular blunder but could recover quickly because he had a physical commitment and the save to understand how to get better.” He feels that it looks Charlie McAvoy will climb the depth charts quickly and reminds him a lot of Dennis Potvin because he is fast on his feet and gets where he needs to go.
(Above Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
We spoke about how sometimes players and management get a bad rap. He said to me that “Krejci doesn’t have a bad contract, just bad support” and I couldn’t agree with him more. Next season hopefully with David Pastrnak returning to David Krejci’s line he will have constancy that he hasn’t had since the days of Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Mick even suggested to me that the Bruins try David Backes on his off wing on the second line with Pasta and Krejci. He did say that they will probably have a look of Bjork on that line as well along with trying the kid on the line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. I shared my opinion that Pastrnak should be on the second line because it balances the scoring, but Mick suggested that also it’s a good idea because Marchand now is a player that likes to have the puck and Pastrnak is that type of player too. At this point in Bergeron’s career, it would be a waste of his talent just to have him be the guy that covers for the defense and has a support role on the line. I had never thought of it that way before, but after Mick told me this, I won’t look at it any other way. He said that one of the times Peter Chiarelli deserved the biggest slack from the fans was in 2014. Dennis Seidenberg goes down with an injury, and he replaces him with Andrej Meszaros, and Claude Julien doesn’t even play him and instead goes with Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller. This team won the president trophy that year and should have beat the Montreal Canadians, but the loss of Seidenberg was too big of a hill to climb. The rumor at the time was that Chiarelli wasn’t able to acquire a higher caliber defenseman at the time because he wasn’t willing to part with Ryan Spooner.
(Above Photo Credit: Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire)
We talked about the Bruins defense core and what the future holds, and he said something to me that rings true “Chara should get some of that Tom Brady love for being so good at his age, and he gets none.” He said to me that it was a hard choice for Don Sweeney to chose Kevan over Colin Miller during the expansion draft. Kevan had been one of the Bruins best defensemen near the end of the season and during the playoffs stepped up and became more reliable than Colin and learned from his mistakes. Sweeney was able to have the guts to walk away from Colin who he acquired in the Milan Lucic deal that he projected high on but it just didn’t work out the way he thought it would. With the increasingly good play we have seen from Torey Krug and from what we saw from Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy the defense is something we shouldn’t have to worry about anymore and in the future. Him and I both agree that it does look like the Bruins are poised to make the playoff’s once again this season but will have some competition from the other clubs in their division.
(Above Photo Credit: Jason Kopinski/Icon Sportswire)
I feel like I could have talked with Mick for hours and never get bored with the conversation and his knowledge of the game was astounding. I do know some of the people reading this may want to become a writer someday and Mick gave me some advice that I want to share with everyone. He said to me that any young writer, especially in today’s atmosphere of white noise, when you finally know something, ask yourself some more-or-less questions like “why report it?”. If the primary answer is for your career, it might be worth more to sit on it, learn how to keep something under your hat and become a reporter a GM doesn’t mind talking to. Don’t predicate that on some golden nugget but on how much more you’re likely to learn and grow from the conversations hockey people will be willing to have with you.