My Bruins Stanley Cup Runneth Over!

(Photo Credit: Evan Michael)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

With each passing off-season day, hockey fans pining for the puck’s return can at least find entertainment in the weekly stories about where their sport’s most cherished chalice–The Stanley Cup–is going or has already gone. For, it’s a Summer tradition for the winning team’s players to take it on a myriad of individual journeys — from hometowns to Alma maters to theme parks to dive bars (here’s my favorite story so far featuring Natick’s own John Carlson of the Cup-winning Caps).

For me, personally, the Cup-touring Summer season was most memorable exactly seven years ago to the week when I found out that Bruins goalie / 2011 playoff hero Tim Thomas was bringing a special silver trophy (actually three special silver trophies as you can see above) to his high school in Davison, Michigan. Right on the (skate) heels of the B’s epic postseason run which successfully brought The Cup back to Boston for the first time in nearly four decades, I discovered the briefest of press releases documenting this buried underneath the police scanner reports — a fitting place, one could argue, since Thomas did in fact steal a few wins on his way to claiming the Vezina, Conn Smythe and every save-related goaltending honor you could think of during those magical and memorable ’11 playoffs.

At the time, I was the morning anchor for the local CBS affiliate in Lansing and also produced a feature series about “the good news stories” happening across the state. I figured this timely Tim Thomas trip would most certainly qualify but with press credentials limited and almost all going to the sports reporters and anchors in the market, I knew it was going to be a near-impossibility for this lifelong Bruins fan in the heart of Hockeytown to “B” there. Or, so I thought:

Who would’ve ever imagined that a pair of flowy black slacks, a whispy white shirt and a dusted-off gold tie could make for a winning wardrobe combo good enough to qualify as a “beat reporter”!? Well, that’s what I was wearing when I emailed in my request to be in Davison and faster than a Zdeno Chara All-Star slapshot, my credentials arrived, complete with a Cardinals / Bruins hybrid lanyard.

Naturally, I made sure to wear the exact same outfit to the event itself, proving for cameras across The Mitten and Mass. that the Black ‘N Gold were indeed a part of my professional life just as they much as they were/are my personal life. Even “TT” himself took notice after the press conference when I went to shake hands and say hello, thank you, congrats, thank you, good job, thank you and the like.

Do I regret not being able to say anything clever with my :15 seconds of Summer time Cup fame, as evidenced by my tongue-tied Tim Thomas tomfoolery in the above clip?  Sure, I do. I definitely wish I could’ve spouted off some impressive stats or witty anecdotes or historical how-do-you-do’s befitting of my skills as a broadcaster and bespoke-d Bruins fan.

But considering how looonnngggggg the off-season can be for hockey fans, journalists, bloggers and beat reporters, I was “B”-yond happy to have such a lasting and unforgettable experience next to not only The Stanley Cup, but also a modern-day Bruins legend of the crease. And it’s this reason why we all should be paying attention to where The Cup is going, who’s sharing in it and celebrating with it, and who’s scheduling it to be near YOU!

Andrew Ference Cup

(Photo Credit: WBZ-TV)

Former Bruins assistant captain and heralded postseason D-man Andrew Ference proved this exact point in the Spring when he brought The Cup back to Boston to revel in the amazing memories of the 2011 campaign with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche. It didn’t take long for social media to enjoy this or for anyone around New England who was watching. There’s just something special about the shine of that silver reflecting the face of a favorite player on YOUR team (I tip my cap to you, Patrice Bergeron). It’s captivating. It’s motivating. It’s what the game is all about.

That’s why the Summertime can be just as exciting and eventful for us humble hockey-ites. If there’s not something to immediately look forward to, then there’s definitely something close by worth remembering. I don’t know if that’s how it goes for you, but thanks to July and August of ’11, that’s how it will always “B” for me!

Bruins Coaches & Scouts Positively Impact Young Players

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(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

What do the coaches and scouts of the NHL Bruins and Julius Caesar have in common? Well, besides having an affinity for all things black and gold, they are both believers in an old Roman proverb:

“Usus magister est optimus.”

Thanks to the four years of high school Latin I took while back in the Berkshires of Western, Massachusetts (I knew it would finally pay off!), I can tell you what it means:

“Experience is the best teacher.”

And you’d be hard-pressed to find a more accessible, capable and successful organization, as of late, which brings that experience behind the bench–and behind the scenes–than in Boston. From the coaching staff to the professional and amateur scouting departments, the Bruins organization is filled with the ideal mix of resumes all with the right amount of know-how when it comes to selecting, developing and ultimately pushing young talent to the tops of their game.

Just in the past two years, we’ve seen it happen with the likes of Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Donato, to name but a few of the up-and-coming B’s players that could easily wind up future all-stars and/or impact players.  And there’s no reason right now to think that won’t happen with players like Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork (ready for NHL play) or Zach Senyshyn, Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen or Jack Studnicka (on the cusp of NHL play).  And the big reason why all of the above has been possible is because of the names listed below:

Bruce Cassidy – Head Coach

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(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

If you want Experience with a capital “E” then there’s no better man on the B’s to look at. Sure, tons of writers and bloggers and beat reporters have profiled Coach Cassidy before (so I won’t do that again here), but here’s an impressive reminder of why “Butch” has one of the best working-with-young-guys track records in the game (and winning records–68-28-13 to start his regular season Bruins bench boss career) AND what each of these bullet points means for developing the Sundance Kids.

  • 1st Round Pick — Cassidy can relate to the expectations and pressures of not only being selected high in the draft (18th overall), but also by an Original Six team (Chicago).
  • 5 pro seasons, 3 European seasons — He knows what it takes to play at the most competitive of hockey levels, in two very differing leagues, and can translate that to today’s NHL game.
  • Coaching positions in the ECHL, IHL, OHL and AHL (then of course the NHL) — There’s no better way to develop youth than to see it up close in all its hockey stages and watch players as they grow, encouraging them along the way.

All of this is in addition to his time as an assistant and later head coach in Providence and then assistant under he-who-must-not-be-named in Boston.  In short, Butch Cassidy has exactly the right amount of experience to lead the Sundance Kids currently on his roster, and the ones pushing to be on it soon, for the foreseeable future. With a talented communicator, teacher and mentor like this behind the B’s bench, sometimes a big trade isn’t necessary as @bruinswriter12 Max Mainville recently BlackNGold Hockey blogged about!

Jay Pandolfo, Joe Sacco & Kevin Dean – Asst. Coaches

(Photo Credits: Getty Images/NHL.com)

You can add three more former pro players and coaches to the “Experience” list now with Kevin Dean (top left), Joe Sacco (bottom left) and Jay Pandolfo (shaking hands with Cassidy) returning to the B’s bench for the upcoming season.  And all from varying backgrounds with the ideal combination of leadership, wherewithal and hockey sense.

  • Pandolfo is an ex-Bruin player and former 2nd-round pick who played 15 years in the NHL after a national championship winning career at Boston University. This is a guy who understands how young players think, how they translate success from the college ranks to the professional ranks, and how they can make the most of their unique skills.  He honed in on recognizing those particular skills and talents as a Bruins player development coach then later the Director of Player Development. So there are no better hands to be in for young B’s players than Jay Pandolfo’s.
  • Sacco, a 4th-round pick by another Original Sixer (Toronto), also cut his teeth at BU before a very successful 13-year NHL playing career followed by a decade of coaching across the AHL and NHL.  Additionally, he played for USA hockey in the World Ice Hockey Championships and at the 1992 Winter Olympics.  Who better to groom the likes of McAvoy, Donato, Carlo, Acciari and other USA kids playing on the B’s (and also hoping to follow in his footsteps at the Worlds or the Olympics) than a guy with this kind of past and pedigree.
  • Kevin Dean, like his fellow assistants, played college hockey in New England (UNH) and was a 5th-round pick, thus giving the B’s 4 coaches from 4 different rounds in the draft and 4 different success, hard work and determination stories to share with their youthful players.  Furthermore, Dean helped turn the Baby B’s into one of the best AHL teams during his time as a Providence assistant and head coach. And as @hockeygirl29 aka Jen Stasio recently wrote here, he’s the type of coach who knows how to pick “The C” on a player’s jersey. His familiarity with many of the organization’s prospects has been key to their improving skills (and personalities) over the past few years and he’ll undoubtedly continue to hone in on that with more new talent coming up the Pike.

Bob Essensa – Goaltending Coach

Perhaps my favorite of all the Bruins coaches, especially after the above went down, Bob Essensa has been with the team since 2003, working closely with all the B’s netminders — from starters to backups to prospects — both in The Hub and down in Providence. He played for a dozen seasons in the NHL before becoming a full-time coach, but it was his unprecedented junior & collegiate success in Canada and at Michigan State University where he made a name for himself between the pipes. In particular, Essensa was coached by the legendary Ron Mason of MSU and CCHA lore (Central Collegiate Hockey Association) and learned a lot from one of the greatest hockey coaching minds in the game (Pierre McGuire concurs–just hit play below).

 

The Bruins were smart to recognize all of this when they brought Essensa on 15 years ago and many of the B’s best goaltending prospects and players have greatly benefited from it no matter where their careers went (Andrew Raycroft & Manny Fernandez = thumbs down, Tim Thomas & Tuukka Rask = thumbs up).  This is very exciting news for aspiring Number 1 B’s netminder Dan “Darth” Vladar, as @markallred27 our Editor-In-Chief pointed out in a recent blog post!

Jamie Langenbrunner – Player Development Coordinator

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(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

Anybody who appreciated Jamie Langenbrunner as a player, and as a Devil, would never have their expectations bedeviled in his current capacity. Langenbrunner is now in his fourth season as the B’s Director of Player Development, working extensively on exactly what his job title suggests: the successful development — both as players and smart hockey gentlemen — of the Bruins prospects.

Candid, yet cautious, optimistic yet realistic, Langenbrunner’s personality is exactly what the current core of Bruins up-and-comers need.  And the fact he’s consistently on-the-ice pushing them, as well as in the front office pushing his friends in management, goes to show you he wields influence, admiration and respect similar to the way he did as a player — a player with his name engraved on the Stanley Cup twice! Solid motivation for the young guys to see and be around.

PJ Axelsson, Matt LindBlad, Dean Malkoc – Scouting Department

(Photo Credits: Getty Images/NHL.com)

I’ve always thought it sport savvy for any organization to utilize former players as scouts.  They have a feel for the team and management, they appreciate the passion and drive of the fans, they know the ins-and-outs of the city and playing environment, and they can speak genuinely about their time on and off the ice.  The Bruins have the made the most of these connections since hiring PJ Axelsson, Matt Lindblad and Dean Malkoc as scouts after all of them spent time wearing the coveted Black ‘N Gold.  Here’s why they’ve made an impact, and continue to make one, on some of the B’s best and brightest:

  • Axellson was one of the toughest, most skillful Bruins forwards for the better part of a decade and it showed by his adoration and appreciation from the fans, teammates, coaches and management.  Who didn’t want to feel the need for Swede whenever he was on the ice or in the locker room?  Well, now a part of the draft room, Per-Johan is the Per-fect international scout, helping acknowledge and nurture talent from Europe and North America, building the B’s brand both abroad and at home.  He’s an invaluable asset for new players like Joakim Nordstrom & Chris Wagner who play similar on-ice styles to his while also being a role model for current role players like Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork and JFK.
  • Linblad’s tenure with the Bruins, like his NHL career, was cut short due to injuries and bad luck.  But that didn’t stop the Dartmouth alum from recognizing the off-ice intangibles he brought to the rink everyday in other youthful players: balance and speed, puck-moving skill, skating power and defensive positioning. He currently scouts California and the West Coast for the Bruins.
  • While Malkoc was never known for offense during his brief NHL career, he did have a reputation as a hard-nosed, utility D-man and proved it during his limited playing time in Boston.  His time as an amateur prospects scout, however, has been much more successful, as he works throughout Western Canada to highlight top prospects that could bring the same rugged characteristics befitting the spoked-B that he did.

Svenake Svensson, Mike McGraw and Tom McVie – Veteran Scouts

(Photo Credits: Twitter/NHL.com)

If an organization decides your expertise, wisdom, hard work and most importantly, Experience, are worthy of having your name etched onto the Stanley Cup as a Scout, then you know you’re good at your job and doing things the right way.  That can definitely be said for Sven Svensson, Mike McGraw and Tom McVie — all long-time Bruins scouting experts and team ambassadors who’ve helped the franchise stay relevant, entertaining and competitive for the last 30 years (give or take a few forgettable campaigns — I’m talking about you, 1996-1997).

  • Svensson, you could say, is the man who taught Axelsson everything he knows about scouting throughout Europe while based in Sweden (I call it the sson-to-sson relationship) since he’s been doing it successfully for almost three decades.  Many prospects the Bruins find in both the Finnish Elite League or the SHL come with his recommendation so fans should be thankful to see all the upside in players like Urho Vaakanainen, Axel Andersson, Joona Koppanen, Victor Berglund and Oskar Steen, among many talented others.
  • McGraw works to find, critique and recommend high-end talent from high school, college and the USHL and with North American hockey producing recent studs like Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk and the B’s own Charlie McAvoy in the draft, it’s an integral part of the Boston scouting machine. However, the Bruins have also had recent success taking players directly from college like Torey Krug from MSU (Bob Essensa would be proud), Noel Acciari from Providence College and the recently departed Austin Czarnik from Miami.  So McGraw’s pipeline to talent is timely and needed for the B’s to maintain their current growth.
  • Tom McVie is nothing short of a Hall-of-Famer in this aspect of hockey, having earned respect in all facets of the game throughout his illustrious career (which you can expertly read about thanks to the “My Expansion Story” articles NHL.com did last year). He currently scouts from professional leagues on the West Coast so if the Bruins are looking to add top-notch talent from the West and Pacific divisions of the ECHL, he’s your man.

It’s obvious the Bruins have stocked their system with talent in more ways than one, as evidenced by the aforementioned roster of coaches, scouts and player personnel who bring the Experience factor to the game the same way this current group of young players will bring the Excitement factor.

And unlike Caesar’s last Shakespearean words, “Et tu, Brute,” I think it’s fitting to say “Et tu, Bruins” these days.

Because yes, “Even You”, Bruins fans, can be encouraged by the men Behind the B’s for 2018-2019 and beyond!

Happy Fourth (Line) of July Bruins Fans!

Bruins Fourth of July(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

First and foremost, I fancy you’ll have a fun, fireworks-filled, festive Fourth with family and friends! Furthermore, I’m faithful the Bruins will soon have a fan-followed, fast-functioning 4th line of fresh faces all with fundamental hockey facets! And with those hectic few days of “free agent frenzy” now finally finished, it looks like the aforementioned figures will indeed be finely featured for 2018-2019.

Alliteration aside, here’s why speculating about the Bruins 4th line this year will be fun: the guys that could replace the likes of NASH & SCHALLER are named NORDSTROM & WAGNER.  Sure, their on-ice talents might not equal that of the recently departed, but those are certainly strong surnames. George Carlin would be proud & impressed (especially if pronounced with a Boston accent). When was the last time you messed with a WAGS or NORDS? That’s right, didn’t think so.

(Photo Credit: AP Photos)

And that brings me to my next (Marty La)point(e). Man, have the B’s had some historically awesome surnames and nicknames for their “fourth liners” or “grinders” or “energy guys,” however, you’d like to describe them.  And I’m not talking about the famous MERLOT line that just like the vintage vino, lingered long after it hit you. Or the more recent Cardiac Kids / Mid-Life Crisis line that fellow writer Jacob Albrecht aka @bruinsfan3725 referenced when we were reminiscing. I’m referring to the other solid Stanley Cup-winning or runner-up seasons for the Bruins, going all the way back to their first championship during the inaugural month of the Hoover administration (now there’s a sucky surname). To wit:

1929: Who’d want to tussle with the likes of MICKEY MaCKAY (could’ve also been a mobster), RED GREEN (two colors for your moniker–I’m turning yellow just thinking about it), or CY DENNENY (you can’t even say it without sounding like you’ve been clocked)?  Sure, there wasn’t technically a “4th line” back in these days–or the many years that followed–but when these guys jumped the boards, you felt it. And so did the opposing team.

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(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder)

Let’s fast forward a decade and now deal with a perfectly-fitting–and timely–hockey nickname. Well, at least until a certain Jean-Claude Van Damme movie came out and literally iced that notion.

1939 (and also parts of 1941): Mel “SUDDEN DEATH” Hill! Yup, there was a B’s hockey player known as Sudden Death because of his you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-that-guy-scored heroics in the playoffs that year (3 OT winners… in one series!!!).  Not even the above production’s epic all-star goalie Brad “Get Back in the Crease!” Tolliver could’ve stopped this version of “Sudden Death.”**

(**At one point in the near future, there will be a blog post solely focused on the ridiculousness of this movie and how they actually used real players, teams, jerseys, broadcasters, ESPN graphics, music themes, etc. all in an effort to get fans back into hockey post two very recent lockouts. Or so the scuttlebutt goes.)

Now let’s look at some names on two Boston teams that almost won the Cup in ’88 and ’90, respectively.  Sorry to skip the famous Bobby Orr years but I’m positive Mssrs. Marcotte, Sanderson & Carleton will forgive me.

1988 (and also parts of 1990): If you walked into a Bruins bar during the waning days of the Reagan administration and heard people talking about LYNDON “LB” BYERS or MOE LeMAY, you already knew what the conversation was about.  In fact, you probably had a good chance of making a few bucks off a tipsy patron if you asked: “Who do ya got tonight in the BYERS vs. LeMAY fight?” These gritty grinders personified pugilism but also puck-sense, nearly helping the B’s fight off the Oil.  Sadly, just like in a prize fight, Edmonton literally and figuratively knocked the lights out of the Bruins in four games (well, 4.5 games technically).

And that brings us back to today, since we’ve already opened up about the MERLOT line of the 2011 and 2013 seasons, and tipped our cap to last year’s talented troupe. So, who will join the ranks of Bruins fourth line lore as we gear up for what will undoubtedly be a very challenging and competitive 2018-2019 campaign? Will the defensive punch of ACCIARI pair well with the gritty goal-scoring of KURALY again? Will WAGS & NORDS play a pivotal role off the bench? Will some of the young guns get fired up and challenge for a spot or two? Your guess is as good as mine, right now.

But no matter the player, the name or the nickname, anyone playing on the 4th line / the energy line / the grinding line this season, should hearken back to the days of yore, Orr and yesteryear and learn from the most successful of their predecessors.  Because the name of the game in today’s NHL is all about speed, skill, fight & finish — and the best 4th lines have them all.

I’m confident the Black N Gold will remember this fact as we celebrate the Red, White & Blue this Summer. Happy Fourth (Line) of July, Bruins Nation!

What A Time(Zone) for Bruins Fans Afar!

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(Photo Credit: Evan Michael)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

“Hooray for Hockeywood” if you enjoy following from afar your favorite team, and your favorite team’s pursuit of their favorite new forward, and don’t mind all the forward and backward EST to PST time zone tomfoolery like:

  • Watching “night games” in the afternoon and “weekend matinees” in the wee hours of the morning
  • Avoiding all forms of social media because you’ve DVR’ed (not to be confused with JvR’ed) the game and don’t want it spoiled while you’re still at work
  • Being the first or last to know something fun/cool/speculative/breaking when it comes to important calendar dates like The Draft or Trade Deadline or…

FREE AGENCY.

That’s right. There’s nothing like being a West Coast Bruins fan, and also self-proclaimed tweeter-twitterer-twit (that last one is probably the most accurate), on and around July 1st. Without fail, you spend a consistent portion of your way-too-invested-for-not-being-on-the-team-payroll time wondering who’s staying and who’s leaving; will this big free agent sign or that big free agent choose elsewhere; when should “the feed” be refreshed–now or later?

Tweets like this get you fired up beyond belief when you wake up bright & early in Los Angeles only to realize it’s lunchtime where the news broke in Oh, Canada.

You now think you’re not only “B”ehind on all the hockey happenings, but you have to play catch up as quickly as possible! So you put a plan in place for the eve of free agency and tell yourself to be like Steven Tyler singing on the eve of Armageddon — you don’t want to miss a thing.

Yet, somehow, someway, you do:

Wait a second?! It’s still June 30th where you live and you stayed up ’til practically midnight waiting for news to drop on your B’s getting that player from the Islanders, not this player!

So you convince yourself to just go to bed because how much is really going to happen between 3am and 9am EST or as your fancier-than-necessary alarm clock will translate that to: midnight to 6am PST. Right?

Wrong:

You gotta be kidding me! How are you so far out of the loop, you repeat to yourself.  And what’s with all the updates on the Bruins signing every Islander BUT the guy that you want. Even the New England Sports Network, the station you pay extra for just to watch out here on the left coast, is trolling you it feels like. Oh, and speaking of Network, you now begin to go all Howard Beale:

That’s right! You’re not not going to take this anymore. Oops. MOORE!

Like the tagline for Jaws 2 (a timely Sharks reference that has nothing to do with San Jose), just when you thought it was safe to go back in the proverbial water aka frozen pond, you realize there’s just no way to keep up with everything that’s happening “in the future” back home. It’s the way it is out here in laid back laissez faire LaLa Land and that’s OK with you. You’ll miss out on some things, but only a few.

SEVEN!? A few is not seven. Old Espo… he was seven. But certainly not a “few.” By the beard of Brent Burns (now a fitting San Jose reference), how did you sleep/nap/scroll past all of this?

And that’s when you realize perhaps it’s more exciting to not be “in the know” all the time and “at a distance” from your hometown team. That’s when you realize it’s actually quite fun to be a fan from afar while the puck professionals pound the pavement back in Boston. That’s when you realize you may feel, at times, all alone on an island but it’s much, much better than being all alone on this island:

LEAF it all behind, that’s all you can say after missing out on so much this free agency period. Thankfully, you’re heading into July still feeling good about your favorite team and perhaps a new favorite forward:

EST… PST… no matter the time(zone), there’s always something BRUIN this time of year, especially for frenetic faraway fans like you!

Remem”B”ering It All: The B’s, The Basement & “BTBB”!

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Evan Michael   |   Follow Me On Twitter @EVAN007onTV

“You play by the rules, or you don’t play at all!”

The echo of these words, usually delivered by my father in the most serious of tones, would carom off the cellar walls like a hastily iced puck would do off the old Bahhston Gahhhden boards.  It was his way of reminding 7-year-old Evan that even in the made-up sport of “basement hockey,” there was still protocol.  There was still a gentleman’s code (or in my case kid’s code) that should never be broken. No goofing around. No whining about losses or bragging about wins.  No going into overtime aka “the-real-Bruins-game-is-on-so-you-can’t-keep-pretending-to-be-Andy-Moog-all-night-down-here-because-I’m-not-missing-Renee-Rancourt-singing-the-anthem-again” time.

Believe me when I say my Dad played by the rules.  Bernie played by the book.  Because of this, I learned to love Boston hockey much in the same way By The Book Bernie” (BTBB) did: with plenty of puck passion, attention-to-detail, and respect. I knew exactly what I was getting into between the B’s, the basement and BTBB. And I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

When you grow up in Western Mass, in the beautiful Berkshires of the Bay State, you have a choice of where your fandom will lie — across the minutes-away border of New York state or with Boston.  That choice didn’t exist for my Dad. His loyalty was always with the hometown, Beantown boys.  He “bled Black N’ Gold” as many guys his age used to say (and as this eponymous blog reminds us daily) when watching their favorite team take the ice.

Naturally, I followed suit.  I wanted to cheer on his team, and now my team, just like how we played hockey down in the basement.  Sure we’d yell, scream, hoot & holler–sometimes at each other in jest, especially when he’d go all Gerry Cheevers on me and play the puck (aka sponge ball) way out past the blue line (aka carpet demarcation line).  But it was all in good fun!  It was a bonding experience. The B’s brought us together and still do to this day, which is why I feel like it’s come full face-off circle for me now as a fan, a comedic writer, and a son.

Well, this son and lifelong B’s supporter/complainer just talked to BTBB about the team I remember first watching with him and how so many names from back then are still relevant now.  Strike that… they’re integral. Bourque. Neely. Sweeney. Donato (just to name a few).  And with the ladder also being a father-son connection, I was all nostalgic when it came to our conversation. The main point: could some of his favorites who just missed out as players on Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup back in the 80’s & 90’s now achieve that success in management. Namely, Dealin’ Donny since good ol’ Sea Bass himself played a pivotal role in constructing the 2011 title team. My answer: you bet my Bruins Wives Charity Carnival autographed Vinny Reindeau towel they can!

But can they do it as soon as 2019? Based on the truly remarkable, surpassed-all-expectations-despite-the-moans-and-groans-of-losing-in-the-second-round-to-ugh!-Tampa 2017-2018 season, I definitely think so.  And I don’t even think they need that “JT” whose making more Twitter & social media headlines than his same-initialed entertainment counterpart to do it! (Full disclosure: if I just imagine, just imagine, just imagine John Tavares in a Bruins jersey, I truly can’t stop the feeling.)

Speaking of feelings, how Sweeney and Neely, and in turn, Cassidy, have turned things around in just a few short years in “The Hub” is not only promising for the future of the B’s, but also their fans like myself and BTBB.  This current team is the ideal blend of youth and experience, of talent and leadership, of workmanlike will and sportsmanlike skill — qualities that every Dad hopes for in his son and every son hopefully admires in his Dad.  They’re also qualities imbued within the fabric of the team by the aforementioned higher-ups whose hirings were crucial to the success of the franchise, both in the past, in the present and undoubtedly in the future!

So when our conversation turned to the B’s so far having a slow off-season, what with no 1st round pick in the draft or Kovalchuk signing, I started to joke to my Dad about Mr. Sweeney using, perhaps, some persuasive and bribery-based tactics to lure other promising talents to Boston.  It was at this moment when my (crazy) train of thought was cut short by an all-too-familiar fatherly edict: “Evan, that’s against the rules!”

And Lord (Stanley) knows, you either play by the rules, or you don’t play at all.  BTBB was right again. Father does know best.  Thankfully, when it comes to the management of the Bruins, so does one of Dad’s favorite former D-men.  In Don We Trust!