Friday, June 10: A heartfelt farewell to Mr. Hockey


Friday, June 10: A heartfelt farewell to Mr. Hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wishing a respectful and awe-inspired Rest in Peace to Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, after he passed away today at 88 years old. I didn’t bump into Howe much during the last 13 years covering the Bruins and the NHL, but I did feel the aura of greatness around him as we brushed past each other for a brief moment in the bowels of the Bell Centre at NHL All-Star weekend back in 2009.

I just remember thinking to myself that my hockey-loving dad would have been so jealous that I was sitting there hobnobbing with Mr. Hockey, and I wished he had been there with me for that moment. That’s what I thought of every time I saw reports about his declining health in recent years, and when I heard about Howe’s courageous battle to stick around for a few more years with his beloved family after some thought he wouldn’t.  

That was true to his spirit, just as all of the tributes that are pouring in now are a credit to the larger-than-life man, just as much as the legendarily great hockey player.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the story of Howe’s passing on Friday after an amazing life and an NHL career that spanned generations.

*Speaking of Howe, here’s a classic ESPN SportsCenter commercial that perfectly captures his personalty and the legend surrounding the man.

*Hall of Fame hockey writer Michael Farber also recalls having a cup of tea with Mr. Hockey in a rarified moment of delicacy and sophistication.

*Shifting gears into this week’s Stanley Cup Final, here’s video proof of what goes on with Ron McLean and Don Cherry when they hit the road together.

*Former Minnesota Wild interim head coach John Torchetti was definitely bruised about getting passed over the for the Wild job, and has joined the Red Wings coaching staff.

*Martin Jones is putting his name in the San Jose record books as his headstand efforts on Thursday night pushed the Sharks to a Game 6 against the Penguins back at the Shark Tank.

*Some of the NHL owners out there are clearly getting comfortable with the idea of advertising on their player’s sweaters.

*Flames President Brian Burke says that Calgary might not have a head coach in place until after the NHL draft later this month.

*For something completely different: movie composer John Williams was given a rare honor with an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.



Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.