By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Andrew Ference had a pretty simple message for any Red Sox player he might bump into at Whole Foods or see at a charity event.
It wont be maudlin sympathy or a contrived new-age message of redemption after the Sox suffered the worst regular-season collapse in baseball history. It will be the hockey solution to starting the healing process.
Id ask them if they want to go get a beer," said Ference, who was a part one of the worst collapses in NHL playoff history when the Bruins lost to the Flyers after leading the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, three games to none. That's about it. I dont think there was a single guy around here after Flyers loss that was looking for a shoulder to cry on or looking for sympathy. We were mad with each other.
It almost seemed surreal to those Bruins players watching it unfold Wednesday night in real time, just as it did to a nation of Red Sox fans that are still slack-jawed and a little stunned Thursday. The Evan Longoria home run added another chapter of Red Sox misery that had been remarkably absent since the 2004 World Series title.
I watch about three hours of baseball and that was it for me last night," Ference said. "It was nuts. It was almost like it was scripted for it to be as hurtful as possible. It sucks. Its not fun. Its a bad feeling to go through as a player. Youre not trying to tank. Its almost like you try too hard to turn things around and it just gets worse.
You only go through the media gauntlet if youre reading the papers and listening to what people say outside the room. I dont think as bad it was that guys cared too much what was said on the outside. We were harsh enough on the inside of the room with ourselves. From our GM to the coach and the players, we were extremely hard on each other. I dont know if the situation is the same with the Red Sox or not, but I know we were all glad the next year that we didnt blow it all up because we believed in each other.
Tim Thomas is a pretty big baseball fan and watched a few innings, but ultimately lost the remote-control battle with his kids on Wednesday night.
The Bs goaltender saw that the Red Sox were leading and the Yankees were losing big before moving on to other things in the Thomas household. He wasnt filled in until Thursday morning at the Garden about the gory details of the Red Sox demise: Jonathan Papelbons blown save and Carl Crawfords limp attempt to snag a fly ball in left field closing the pathetic final chapter for this seasons star-crossed Sox squad.
Thomas wasnt the goaltender of record when the Bruins fell to the Flyers in four straight playoff games, but he has little doubt the Sox 7-20 record in September can help them in the long run if its addressed and harnessed properly.
I dont think they need any advice," Thomas said. "I think it will simmer in those guys all winter and it will help them with motivation for next year. Thats what I think happened with us. With the way it worked out in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay, being able to come back like that, I hate to say it but it seems like it was meant to be.
Thats why sports are sports. You dont know what the outcome is going to be in situations like that.
The funny thing about the Bs collapse two years ago is that it really raised the stakes and the fan attention for the Boston hockey franchise. It seems that the more dramatic and compelling the failure, the more emotionally tied the fan base becomes in the ensuing season. For the Bruins, the pain and heartache of becoming the butt of jokes in their entire league steeled them against all coming adversity that entire year.
Coach Claude Julien believes the proud franchise of the Red Sox will bounce back.
Sports is what it is," Julien said. "One day its great and the next day its something like that. We can all stand here and speculate and have our reasons or answers. But only they know what the cause of it is. I know they had injuries and that can sometimes break team chemistry. There are a lot of reasons why those kinds of things can happen. But as outsiders, the natural thing to do is always attack the team.
Its tough. Weve been through it. Its tough to swallow and Im sure those guys arent going to be happy and proud today. But theyre going to bounce back. Theyre a very proud organization and Im sure theyre going to bounce back.
The best way to get the proud Sox franchise headed in the right direction: Save the excuses and lame attempts to explain away something that uncovered serious flaws within the team structure.
Its a matter of getting over it," said Ference. You suck it up and take responsibility for it. I think you only get into trouble if you start pointing fingers and looking for excuses. But if you take accountability and responsibly for not getting the job done, then you can move on from it.
The suck it up season started for the Sox Thursday morning.