It was widely speculated during the off season as to who would get the A that spent its time most recently on hall of famer Mark Recchi’s chest. The top names mentioned were Andrew Ference, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton.

Krejci was left out even though he wore the A in a few preseason games. Given his lack of vocalization, and his expiring contract I’m not sure this comes as a as much of a surprise as some might think. Dennis Seidenberg for all he contributes is logically eliminated simply because of who he frequently plays with, captain Zdeno Chara.

The reasons for Thornton and Lucic being left off are almost the same. The NHL front offices don’t like fighting. Lucic for all of his thirty goals, smart defensive positioning, and willingness to talk to the press is still best known for swinging his fists. Shawn Thornton despite being an adopted Bostonian for all his work in the community, down to earth presence, and very much blue collar work ethic is known exclusively for his fighting.

To the average NHL observer there is no difference between Shawn Thornton and say a Colton Orr or Donald Brashear.  For Lucic it is almost worse, he’s gotten disciplined for some rash acts, and drawn recent media attention for an public confrontation with his girlfriend. Some might say the NHL offices aren’t quite as observant as the average fan, blogger or beat reporter, and there is some evidence to support this. While Thornton’s point total last year was the equal of Colton Orr’s entire career, and poor Shawn is victim to Julien’s cruel belief that every player should have a regular shift it is easy to see how some could confuse the two. Milan Lucic in turn is expected to finish this his fifth year with more goals in those five year than Donald Brashear had in a NHL career that started back in 1993 and run until 2010 obviously they too are cut from the same cloth.

I looked at my Blackberry at 5:07am on Saturday. Three of the people I follow on twitter were already in position downtown. Ya, I was unlikely to get a great spot. I didn’t much care, but it was amazing to see knowing that the forecast included a hot morning and thunderstorms as late as six pm Friday.  Like thousands, and thousands, and thousands of others I got on the Blue line at Wonderland with friends after barely escaping the first tshirt vendor of the day.

The train was full before we left. The train was Tokyo full when we got to Boston. It was about 8:25 when we switched over to the Green line for the ride to Copley. Fans everywhere showed their appreciation for the team.

Bruins fans show love for #30

Fan ages ranged from these two young ladies above, to

…who clearly appreciates nice young men. Boston’s hockey fans look a lot like Boston itself,

long memories

an appreciation for the finer things in hockey,

one can’t go to a Bruins game, or even the parade and not notice how much love, so many different people have for the team.

Boston Public Library

No parade featuring the Boston Bruins would be complete without recognizing some of the broadcasters, and Jack Edwards and Naoko Funayama were on hand and smiling. Sadly, no one reported seeing Rene Rancourt.

Jack Edwards & Naoko Funayama aboard a duckboat.

With the fun tees and signs just about down, and having covered the coverage, the next post is on the players.  It should be noted that despite several days between winning the Cup and the parade, a full million people in attendance, there were no major disturbances and certainly, no riots.

Over the last two and a half days the watering down of the potential storylines has become greatly apparent. It isn’t a surprise, or news that this leads to some pretty putrid press production.  But the influx of non hockey media into the sport at this time of year just makes it worse. After reading stories in various newspapers by baseball and football journalists who decided to notice hockey every few years, I’m 100% convinced that having shy four year olds with missing teeth and chocolate smeared on their face asking players questions would be better than some of what I’ve seen.

  • “What’s your favorite color Mr. Kesler?”
  • “Can your Mommy tell you twins apart?”
  • “Are you scared to fly?”
  • “Why didn’t you bite him back?”

And half a hundred other questions would make for more compelling reads than entirely too high a percentage of the sewage being poured out in bits and bytes.

One of the most nausea inducing questions turned story length waste products is the “Oh what a devastating loss this was for the Bruins?” article and talking point that has been running across sports radio and media like a bad flu. Really? These guys have this year lost after taking large leads, had blatantly biased officiating against them, seen three players go down with concussion on the ice, and lost a game in which their captain was ejected for a clean, if late hit in an unfortunate area of the rink. On the scale of devastating running from merely ok sex to having to listen to Gary Bettman kvetch about not knowing how to explain something to his daughter, this loss probably ranks pretty low,  right around having the in-flight meal delayed by turbulence for half an hour.

Since the dawn of sports “the best player” has been debated back and forth endlessly. In boxing the Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman vs Mike Tyson vs Evander Hayfield debate  will probably end shortly after the heat death of the universe. In baseball, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson,  Cy Young, Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken are names that will forever be bounced around clubhouses and little league fields. Will anyone ever learn anything about the NBA and not have their current idol compared to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain? The NHL has it’s own list of deified players and the debates are just as raucous, as any other sport.

One of the reasons the debate over Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretzky as the greatest player of all time will probably never end is that it is a question with multiple layers. Who is more entertaining? Who is more skilled? Those are just two of its parts, but if you compare the styles of say Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin you get divided on this question from the word go. Both are dominant at their position, but is either truly the top of the charts in both categories? Neither holds a major single season record. Then if you compare them by to other active players you’re getting a different mix. Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks, Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins and Henrik Lundquist of the New York Rangers all play the same position. It’s hard to argue they all play it in the same style. Of the three, Lundquist is the youngest (by days) but has played the most NHL games. Hiller has phenomenal numbers in one Stanley Cup Playoff run, and Tim Thomas set a NHL record this past season and owns a Vezina trophy.

For my money I’d rather watch Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames play for three minutes than watch Denis Wideman of the Washington Capitals play for ten. While the talent divide there is higher than in the other comparisons, there are people who adore each player. Comparing defensemen with different styles is probably even more futile than debating centers vs wingers. Dustin Byfugelien of the Atlanta Thrashers score more goals than any other defenseman, Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers had more blocked shots than anyone,  Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins had more shootout goals than any other defenseman, and Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild averaged more shifts per game than any other blueliner. None of them were nominated for the Norris Trophy. Instead the nominations when to Zdeno Chara of Boston, perennial nominee Nik Lidstrom, and the often overlooked Nashville Predators Captain Shea Weber.

On the ice, even the rawest pinkhat couldn’t mistake Chara and Lidstrom, and getting Byfuelien confused with either Weber or Letang would probably require more alcohol than any establishment is going to sell you. Yet all across the nation Burns to Weber each of these guys makes a case to be, and is the favorite of fans all over the map. I’ve seen both Byfugelien (Thrashers) and Lidstrom jerseys on the streets of Boston, not with the regularity of the local captains, but there. Watching hockey in any given major market means you will see the jerseys from all over the NHL in the stands, and that’s the way it should be.

While in the middle of reviewing the Bruins cap crunch, I took a minute or four off to look at the All-Star Vote totals. Sure, the school yard format threatens to make a game that’s as real as Pam Anderson’s chest even worse, but that’s not the point. The point is there are players in non-hockey markets ahead of the Boston Bruin’s players.

While it makes me want to vomit to know that Carey Price is ahead of Tim Thomas in goalie voting, I can accept that. I mean seriously, it keeps the Montreal fans from flipping cars and burning cruisers so it’s a good thing for the environment, the court systems and law and order in Quebec. True Price has done little but watch better goalies get traded away in his career, but with all the work he put in helping the Smurfs on his team reach things on the top shelf I can live with this one, I guess. Besides Montreal doesn’t have anything to do with any real sports other than hockey so… But, that’s not the point.

And given that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have been force fed to anyone who hears anything about the NHL since before the lockout was over, it’s not a shock that they are top five vote getters, hell they might even deserve it. Chicago is one of the largest cities in North America, so last seasons Norris Trophy Winner Duncan Keith is a natural as well, and he does deserve it. Nicklas Lidstrom is pushing triple digits in age, and as the hockey fans have more sense and class than the hacks who vote people into the Hockey Hall of Fame, it’s not surprising Lidstrom is on near the top given that this is probably his last hurrah. But alas, that’s not the point.

Even that whiny, one zone, overpaid git Phil Kessel is high on the list. Given that Toronto fans are delusional enough to believe they got the better of that trade, and thought they’d be in the playoffs this season, I’m kinda surprised he’s not even higher. I’m going to have to guess that his failure to top the list is due to the passionate love Leaf Lovers have for the Raptor’s who are just as dynamic as the Maple Leafs. I wonder if Brian Burke is GM of them too?

The point is there are players in non-hockey markets ahead of the Boston Bruin’s players. Here’s some of the various players from redneck crossroads, hick towns, and places where belt buckles and NASCAR are more popular than hockey, high school diplomas and hygiene that somehow have players ahead of the Bruins players on the All Star ballot count. Also included are things that just plain baffle me.

  • Michael Cammilleri (@MCammalleri13), in more games has the exact same number of goals as Michael Ryder. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, is there ergot in every dish of poutine in Quebec?
  • Alex Semin aka “Little Drummer Boy”

has more votes than Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci combined.

  • Ilya Kovalchuk who has four goals and $100 million contract has almost twice as many votes at Milan Lucic who has about three times as many points and more than twice as many goals.
  • Mike “What’s Defense?” Green has more votes than someone who actually has won a Norris Trophy. Honestly, can the Washington Capitals just reassign him to wing where he belongs? I’ll even cheer for him playing there since his complete lack of defensive play will be less noticeable there.
  • Ok, let’s leave aside the fact that he’s the captain of Toronto, and that as their continued cheering of Kessel proves they have no taste there, how is former Calgary Flames “stud” first among the Maple Leaf’s blueliners in votes? He’ll get confused, at this point he’s used to coming in second.  How in the hell is this head case ahead of Johnny Boychuck?
  • Max Talbot of Pittsburgh, Jason Spezza of Ottawa, and Jussi Jokienen of wherever, are all ahead of Milan Lucic in ballot count? I didn’t even know any of the three were actually playing in the NHL this year. Sure, the Senators play in a building that’s quieter than a library, but they are at least a hockey market (sorta). I do have to admit I am impressed that the Sidney Crosby fans in powder blue knew the name of another player on their roster. Very impressed, Kudos.
  • As far as pure shock value goes, near the top has to be Zach Parise getting more votes than Shawn Thornton. Leaving aside any other year of their careers, Shawn Thornton is far more deserving of being there this year, and would be the only player at the All Star game who’s interviews didn’t threaten Ambien’s market share.
  • Brandy Brandon “The Slasher” Dubinsky is somehow getting more votes than any Bruins forward.
  • I do think it’s really amazing that everyone who’s ever been to a Carolina Hurricanes game sent in a vote for their favorite figure skater Jeff Skinner.

But, I have no problems with Sean Avery getting votes, I think it’d be good for coverage for someone who might play with an edge, say something interesting, and has the skill to pot a goal or two to be there.

Wow, two and a half reasonable to good periods followed by ten minutes of beer league play. The final ten minutes held not one twentieth of the quality of play of the first fifty minutes.

Ference who I generally defend looked particularly out of place. He cleanly lost his man twice. Hunwick who seems only to reflect the quality of play of his partner was little better. Rask just lost the puck on two of the goals in the third after making a dazzling glove save earlier in the game. All night though the Begin line was severely subpar at best and atrocious the rest of the night.

Old friend Glen Metropolit was again a Bruins killer potting one goal and setting up another.

I nearly got to be in the middle of a fight between two guys each with a Napolean complex early in the third as a mid twenties Bruins fan and a mid fifties Habs fan exchanged threats and insults for about five minutes.

Stuart looked decent all night, with less rust to show than oe might expect.

Having lost this game the Bruins have twenty-one games to achieve the ninety three to ninety five points they will probably need to get into the playoffs.

As pointed out earlier, the Bruins moves today are useful for next season since it will provide a bit more depth on the blueline. It also clears a superfluous forward from the organization.

The Habs started the period on a carryover power play and did little with it. Over all the Bruins played better in the second than in the first (a rarity this season) and helped themselves out by keeping the puck in the offensive zone more and outshooting their opponents on the period.

Sobotka had a good period with a couple nice defensive plays, a scrum along the net and a quality shot on net from the slot.

The Garden is still packed and unlike in certain arenas it should be noted that the fans here stood, sang and cheered both anthems.