Outside the Spoked B #1 — Hello, Mr. Stanley

9707920-large      (Above photo credit:  AP)

By:  Karen Still           Follow Me @bluinsfan2017

Welcome to Outside the Spoked B:  Eastern Conference thoughts from a Western Conference mindset!  This will be a series of articles about how my first year following the Bruins coming from a strictly Western Conference background (namely the St. Louis Blues) went and what I’ve learned so far in the process.  I don’t have a set number of articles for this, but it is my sincerest hope that all who read will enjoy the rather bumpy adventures of a new fan to the Eastern Conference.

Now, instead of the beginning of the 2017-18 season two weeks ago, I figured the best place to start would be to talk about what it’s all about–the Stanley Cup.

Lord Stanley’s coveted cup has the distinction of being the oldest trophy in pro sports.  As such, it has many interesting tales to tell, including what it’s like to be used as a cereal bowl by our very own Ball of Hate.

What does it feel like Bruins fans?  No seriously what does it feel like to win that coveted trophy, to watch your boys hoist it high over their heads, screaming in celebration?  We here in St. Louis want to know.

The Blues themselves had only made it to the Stanley Cup Finals 3 times since their founding back in 1967; and it was in those first 3 seasons, one of which was against your Boston Bruins.  Where the great Bobby Orr was immortalized:

I remember watching this particular highlight in a VHS on Blues history growing up.  It was the first time I had ever heard of Bobby Orr (in fact, the only Bruins I really knew about growing up in the 80s/90s were him, Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, and Andy Moog that I can remember right now).

Since then, the Blues only made it to the 3rd round twice: in the 2000-01 and 2015-16 seasons.  I had been keeping token tabs on the former, but it is the latter that I really want to talk about.  That is where I think I might have felt a small smidgen of what it’s like to win or come close to.

It’s always electric, highly-charged atmosphere whenever the Blues play the Blackhawks, regardless if it’s the playoffs or not.  This 1st round matchup was no different;  there was a lot of back and forth, dirty plays, great goals, god-awful (and some would say biased) officiating and as per usual just an outright bloodbath:  all those things that we as Blues fans have come to expect out of this classic rivalry.  There was also a lot of ‘rivalry’ among the fans of both clubs, especially with the advent of social media.  I did my best to stay out of these, mostly because of my superstition that if you trash talk/troll your opponents too much, it’ll jinx your team.  This is especially true during the playoffs (but believe me the burning hatred I have for Chicago was very much alive and well).

The best memory of that series I have was in Game 7 (4-25-16).  It was a Saturday night, and I get out of work late.  I listened to the game the entire way home, zoning in on that like a hawk.  Once I was there, I kept all the lights off and paced about my living room, the only sound being my own overactive, racing heart.  Game 7s, in general, are notorious for raising one’s blood pressure and shortening fingernails.  It’s the ‘do-or-die’ aspect of it, the ‘win-or-go-home.’  Then when Troy Brouwer scored with 08:31 left to go in the game, I think I screamed so loud that I was really and genuinely surprised that I didn’t have the cops called on me.  The amount of that energy kept me going for the rest of the game, keeping on the Blues to hold on.

And hold on they did, eliminating the Blackhawks and heading to the 2nd round to face Dallas.  It’s always a great feeling to not only defeat but eliminate your team’s most hated rivals–that’s something all teams and their fanbases can relate to.

The Dallas series I don’t have any memories of, although a lot of people thought of it was boring.  I’m rather indifferent about the Stars, but nonetheless, that series likewise went 7 games in which we took, heading to the 3rd round for the first time since 2000-01.

The Sharks weren’t a team I knew much about but again, the Blues were pushing, and pushing hard.  The atmosphere around St. Louis, was like a subtle, crackling electricity;  you Bruins fans know the kind–that ‘silent but ready to explode’ sensation having come so far already but with still a long way to go.  It was amazing to see the city so alive and pulling for this Blues team and beautiful too.  The thoughts I had was like ‘we’re so close, we can do this.’ It was…unreal and near indescribable.

It appeared as if this series was likewise going to go a full 7 games.  It all came to a head at Game 6 (5-25-16).  This was one of those times I was glad that the game didn’t start until 9pm my time, so I headed to one of my favorite restaurants to watch it after work.

The more the Sharks took the lead, the more energy I could feel being drained from the room and my own heart was sinking.  I was near tears when they couldn’t pull it through but I wasn’t ticked off–in fact, I was proud of them for having fought and overcome some near impossible obstacles to get as far as they did.  No-one ever expects the Blues to get that far and yet they did.  Was I let down?  Sure, but I think I was sadder and felt for them more than anything.

I think the main thing with that season is that the Blues were tired:  they had fought two adamant opponents to 7 games each to reach the 3rd round, and it sucked the life out of them.  They tried, they pushed, and they just ran out of gas.  If anything, it’s this interview right here that I think sums it up 100%:

This moment still stays with me and brings me to tears every single time.  The amount of pure, genuine emotion from then-Captain Backes just tears me up.  This also reminds me of just how very human all of these players are. It’s one of those moments in which you realize for a short moment just how much these men sacrifice for the ultimate prize in their sport.

So there you have it Bruins fans–that is my story of the quest for the Cup as I can best remember it.  Now please tell me, is any of this what it feels like to watch your team win it all or come close to?  Is it what it’s like to drink from the proverbial Cup?  Am I close or like my original team, still so very far away?  If you wish, please feel free to let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned:  there’s a lot more to come!

Honorable Bruins Birthday Mention – Andre Savard

 

( Above Photo Credit:  pintrest .com )

By: Mark Allred                     Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Andre Savard  9-2-53

After having an outstanding four-year career with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League posting an astonishing 451 points in 206 games, the Boston Bruins selected center Andre Savard in the 1973 National Hockey League Amateur Draft with the sixth overall pick in the first round. The 6′-1″ 185-pound Temiscaming, Quebec, Canada native was also drafted by the defunct World Hockey Association’s Quebec Nordiques in the 1973 first round going third overall. The WHA was in operation from 1972 to 1979 ultimately folding while couldn’t compete with the powerful NHL gaining popularity through expansion.

Savard played for the Bruins for three seasons ( 19773-74 to 1975-16 ) contributing 114 points in 228 games with his first NHL team. In 1976 Savard signed with the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent. after seven years with the Sabres organization he would play two campaigns with the Quebec Nordiques who joined the NHL after the demise of the WHA. His last year in the NHL was in 1984-85 where he left the game retiring of serious knee problems. He would go to coach and manage in the American Hockey League until he would return to the highest level of hockey in July of 2000 when he joined the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens as director of player personnel to General Manage the same year according to The Official Website Of The Hockey Hall Of Fame.

In 790 career games in the NHL Savard posted 211-271-482 numbers in his 12-year stay in the NHL and got the chance to play with so many talented Bruins players of the past such as Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Ken Hodge, and Wayne Cashman.

 

My All-Time Boston Bruins Starting Lineup

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By Court Lalonde @courtlalonde

Growing up a fan of the Boston Bruins during my lifetime has had its ups and down along with moments of pure ecstasy. I only started watching the Bruins in the mid 80’s because of an excellent reason; I was only born in 1979. I never got to see the great majestic skating, pure talent of Bobby Orr. I heard many stories from the media to fans of the Bruins. I can say without question, that he is the single greatest player to lace up skates for the black and gold. I was lucky enough to get to watch the second best player to wear the black and gold, which to me is Ray Bourque. Until I even knew who Bobby Orr was, I thought that no other defensemen in the game could play the way he did.

I got to watch Cam Neely destroy opposing players with his thundering body checks and the occasional fight. He would score goals that as a young kid I would only dream of being able to do. I then get told about players when I’m older like Esposito and Middleton that made scoring goals like that a regular occurrence. I sure all Bruins fans could tell you where they were when the greatest moment being a Bruins fan happen to them. When you ask a fan who their favorite player is? Nine times out of ten you will get a different answer. Some will say a current player, like myself I would say Patrice Bergeron and some would say a former player. If I were to pick a former player, I would pick Ray Bourque, and that might be a head scratcher if you know me. My father played for the Boston Bruins in the late 70’s early 80’s for two seasons. The reason I didn’t pick him is, I never got to watch him. I have never even seen a video of my father playing hockey for the Bruins unless I count seeing replays of when the Bruins climbed into the stands at Madison Square Gardens to say a friendly hello to some lucky New York Rangers fans. I do wish I got to see him play and even more so than the great Bobby Orr.

I always put together every couple season a starting lineup of the Bruins teams I watched growing up to the present. I made such a list the other day and posed the question to people on Twitter. I made a selection of three forwards, two defense, and one goaltender. I didn’t pick from any Bruins teams that I didn’t grow up watching. My choices were Cam Neely, Adam Oates, Patrice Bergeron, Ray Bourque, Zdeno Chara, and Andy Moog. I got many different answers from twitter, and more than one of them brought a smile to my face for reminding me of a former Bruin great.

So my question to you, the reader is simple, who would be your all time starting line up be? Let me know in the comments or send me a message on twitter who you would pick. I would like to have an honorable mention of Joe Juneau who almost made my list. I look forward to hearing from you, or if you would like to let other members of the Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog know, they would love to hear from you.

Bruins Time Machine

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, the Bruins were granted a waiver by the NHL allowing center Marc Savard to have his name engraved on the Cup despite not meeting one of the league’s standard requirements – having played 41 games with the club or playing in at least one game of the Finals.

When local oldtimers have the rare opportunity to view the Stanley Cup, their attention is often drawn to the 1970 Bruins, the first of two championships won during the Orr era.  Some of the names are echoed in hockey history – Orr, Esposito, Bucyk, Cheevers, Adams.  “Whoa, wait a minute.  Who the hell was John Adams?” has been muttered more than a few times by curious hockey fans across North America.

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The heart of the 1970 winter was winding down in Boston and the Bruins, looking to give regular goaltenders Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston a bit of a rest before the start of the playoffs, reached down to their farm team, the Oklahoma City Blazers, and called goalie prospect John Adams up to the big club for the final weeks of the regular season.  “They told me they’d try to get me in a few games down the stretch, but it wasn’t meant to be,” said the affable Adams.  “We ended up being in a tight race with Chicago for first place which came down to the final night of the season, and I guess they didn’t trust a rookie in goal.”

The Blackhawks eventually secured first place in the East Division on the wild final nights of the season (which had actually had teams pulling their goalie for extra attackers early in the third period due to complex tie-breakers), and the Bruins settled for the second seed.

Needing an extra goalie on hand for practice and insurance during the playoffs, the Bruins kept Adams around for their playoff run, but the only action he saw was during team practices.   After winning a vicious quarter-finals series against the Rangers in six games, the Bruins ran the table by demolishing Chicago and St. Louis en route to the team’s first Stanley Cup in 29 years.

Still, Adams was a part of all the Cup festivities to follow.  “I was in the dressing room with Ace Bailey – who was injured – when we won the Cup,” recalled Adams.  “The team came pouring into the dressing room afterward.  It was a pretty crazy scene.”

When the Bruins had their victory parade a few days later, some familiar, and some not so familiar, faces were front and center.  “I was in the lead car with Bobby Orr, Don Marcotte, and Billy Speer,” said Adams.  “I guess they wanted a few big guys in with him to protect him if things got too out of control.”

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At that time teams had almost complete control as to the names engraved on the Stanley Cup, and a few weeks later Adams was told by Bruins management that his name would be put on the Cup, despite having never played a single NHL game.  An urban legend in Boston at the time was that Adams was a nephew or cousin of the team’s owners, the Adams family, but the two parties were not related.   “I even got kidded all the time by my teammates in Oklahoma City,” said Adams of the hoopla surrounding his last name.

His dream of playing in the NHL did not quickly come to fruition for Adams after his taste of glory in 1970.  Cheevers and Johnston were entrenched in Boston in addition to the organization having other goalies in the system almost NHL-ready, such as Ross Brooks, Dan Bouchard, and Dave Reece.  Adams would spend the next two years back in Oklahoma City playing the majority of the Blazers’ games while registering respectable numbers.

However, the formation of the WHA for the 1972-73 season jolted the NHL as many marquee players bolted for the lucrative contracts being offered by the upstart league.  One such player was one of the Bruins’ goaltenders, Cheevers, and one of the other goalies in the system would be making the team in training camp.   Adams actually was contemplating an offer from the Houston Aeros of the WHA but decided to stay with Boston due to the positional opening created by the departure of Cheevers.  “Brooksie outplayed me in camp and got the job,” said Adams, who was sent down to the Bruins newest minor league affiliate, the Boston Braves, who also played their home games at Boston Garden.  “Brooksie was playing well but then hurt his collarbone, so I got called up again,” he recounted.

His first NHL victory came in his first start on November 18, 1972, at the New York Islanders by a score of 7-3.  “I was nervous enough as is but the thought of losing to the Islanders, who were bad at the time, made me even more nervous,” said Adams, who recalled one of the goals he allowed being scored by former Bruin Ed Westfall, who was lost to the Islanders in the expansion draft.

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Less than one week later Adams recorded his first career shutout against the Atlanta Flames.  “Orr ragged the puck in our end for the last 30 second going around our net several times,” said Adams.  “At the final horn, he picked up the puck and gave it to me.  In fact, I’m looking at it right now here in my house.”

Adams would go on to post a 9-3-1 record that season with the Bruins, not really getting much playing time after a cold spell in goal and was eventually demoted back to the Braves.  During the offseason he was traded to the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League for goalie prospect Ken Broderick, who would go on to win 9 games over two seasons for the Bruins, ironically the same number Adams achieved in his one season with Boston.  Adams enjoyed his stay in San Diego as the team sold out the building most nights and he snagged second-team all-star honors.

The good life in Southern California did not last long because just as Adams was talking with the team about a multi-year contract and looking to purchase a house, the franchise abruptly folded in 1974 leaving him without a team.

The Gulls’ GM, Max McNab, paved the way for Adams’ return to the NHL by selling his rights to the expansion Washington Capitals, headed by General Manager (and former Bruins GM) Milt Schmidt, who was familiar with Adams’s ability and character in the locker room.  However, their expansion roster may be the worst of all-time and the team’s record and players’ individual stats reflected as much.  Adams finished the season with a record of 0-7 and a 6.90 GAA.

Adams would never play in the NHL again after that season and finished out his career with minor league stops in Richmond and Thunder Bay, where he still resides.Adams has never lost touch with his Boston background and, in fact, was settling in at home to watch the Red Sox when contacted originally contacted for this article.  When asked if he still stays in touch with any of former teammates, Adams casually revealed that he works part-time for Bobby Orr’s management agency as a recruiter for players in the Thunder Bay area.  He must be one of Orr’s premier employees as he’s helped steer the Staal brothers and Patrick Sharpe Orr’s way.Adams has always followed the Bruins from afar and was part of a celebration in Thunder Bay – which has a surprising number of Boston fans – that landed Mayor Keith Hobbs in hot water for raising the Bruins flag to a high place of honor at city hall.

When asked what his proudest hockey moment was, without hesitation Adams said being signed by the Boston Bruins.  “Being given a contract by an NHL team when only six teams were in the league is very special to me.  Not too many people can say that.”

Adams admitted to getting an occasional peek at the Stanley Cup and each time he does he always checks to make sure his name is still on there.  Yes, it is, and always will be.