and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.
The start of the NHL season is less than a week away, so its time to start talking a little hockey. There isn't much point in talking about the pre-season - especially when you are a member of Leaf Nation - so we are going to look two of the big stories in the NHL this week.
Days after playing host to the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of an embarrassingly small crowd (even by pre-season standards), the Boston Bruins announced that former Bruins great Cam Neely had joined the team's front office, accepting the position of Vice President (of hockey operations we assume). The Boston media has welcomed the move as a sign of better things to come - fan reaction, for the most part, has ranged from lukewarm to indifference.
First off, we will applaud Cam Neely for being the ultimate team man. The man Bruins fans love and refer to as "Sea Bass" is no fool - he knows that the organization as it now stands is in deep trouble, with barely a flicker of light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. He knows that what's left of the Bruins eroding fan base will be looking him to do the impossible - turn this craphole franchise around and fast.
Neely's reputation will always be good with fans of the Bruins so he isn't risking much - he will never be faulted for this team's (read Chiarelli's) problems and mistakes - however, he also has very little to gain in this ventur. The Bruins fortunes aren't going to turn around in the foreseeable future so the odds of him being associated with the resurgence of the B's are long at best. Still, Neely decided to try and help the team in whatever way he could - by being the face of a sagging franchise. Neely will be looked at to be an ambassador for the team - by wooing fans to the TD Banknorth Garden to representing the team at Board of Governor meetings that the Jacbos don't want to attend. Neely is taking a hit for the team - by signing on, he'll take some of the heat off the people currently running the team. Neely's a champ.
Now for the Bruins. Shame on the Bruins management and members of the Boston media for portraying this stunt as anything other than a sham.
We wouldn't expect the Bruins management to own up to what this is really about - banking on Neely to rekindle fan interest and get the focus off how irrelevant this team has become under their so-called leadership. Bestowing the title of VP on Neely is one thing - fine; telling Bruins fans that he is there to provide input and help GM Peter Chiarelli is full of crap.
If Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs were serious about Neely's opinion on the state of the hockey team - the hiring would have included an announcement that Peter Chiarelli had been relieved of his duties. A team only considers bringing in the experience of a consultant when they have a lame duck GM - see the Maple Leafs search for a senior hockey consultant to "help" John Ferguson Jr. Which brings us to an interesting angle; is Neely's hiring a sign that GM Peter Chiarelli is on his way out? We found it rather amusing that Peter Chiarelli told the Boston Herald that he "had been wooing Neely for some time." What kind of GM would want to bring back an icon at a time when people are questioning his ability to get the job done. The fact that a quote wasn't attributed in the story makes us believe that Chiarelli didn't want to say it on the record because it wasn't true.
As dysfunctional as the Bruins are - it wouldn't surprise us if the Jacobs were using the hiring of Neely to get rid of Chiarelli at the end of the season. It'll go something like "philosophical differences in the management team" - Bruins fans will see this as Chiarelli and Neely not agreeing on the on-ice product and Neely winning the battle in Jacobs' boardroom. The pressure would be off Bruins ownership for another bad hire at the GM position. This one stinks folks.
Speaking of stinks. The Boston media who are painting this as the beginning of the return to old-time Bruins hockey are dreaming...or smoking crack. Peter Chiarelli is not going to be looking to Cam Neely for advice and guidance - regardless of what he and the ownership tell the media. Chiarelli was schooled in Ottawa, a team noted for lacking heart, toughness and balls - most of Chiarelli's moves have been directed towards turning the Bruins into the SenaTards. From what Chiarelli has told fans and the media about his philosophy - other than the standard "we want to be a team that is tough to play against - his ideas are almost polar opposite to Neely's view of what a team should look like.
If they did their job, and actually followed the happenings across the league, they would know that this type of hire is one of two things:
- a job as an ambassador - to show up at team marketing events, shake hands with fans and invite them back to the Garden, and in Boston's case, having a credible hockey person to spend some time talking to Hazel on The Buzz. It is NOT about providing input or suggestions related to the on-ice product. The Leafs did this with Darryl Sittler a few years back - it didn't do much for the on-ice product.
- a corporate killer - to create friction with the GM currently occupying the job. When there is serious disconnect and dissatisfaction between ownership/upper management and the lower level management - a person will be brought in to accelerate the departure of the person occupying the position in lower management. Again, the talk of the Maple Leafs hiring a hockey consultant was leaked shortly before the Leafs announced that JFJ would not be offered an extension to his contract that will expire at season's end.
We see Neely being a better fit as an ambassador. People in Boston shouldn't be getting excited about this year's Boston Bruins - but look on the bright side, the Patriots and Red Sox are looking good.
For those of you remarking on the irony of our belief in the Maple Leafs chances this year when their front office woes are very similar to Boston's; we have two words for you - HAZEL KARMA! Leafs make the playoffs this year.
We're pretty sure that most of you have seen the hit that has brought the NHL to the forefront of the sporting news in North America (ok, it was big news in Canada) - if our girl Hazel didn't bring it to you on SportsDesk, we're pretty sure ESPN carried it. Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie laid out Dean McAmmond of the SenaTards with a vicious and totally illegal head shot.
There have been calls to have Downie suspended and the Flyers fined. We say big deal - what would it mean to suspend a guy who isn't going to make the team? For those of you who think a return to old-time hockey where a team's policeman would put an end to guys like Steve Downie, Jordin TooToo, and Ryan Hollweg by beating them to within an inch of their life - forget it. These guys play in the grey zone - often crossing over to the dark side with cheap dirty hits because that is the only way they will stay in the league. To guys like this, getting a beating or two is the price they are willing to pay to pick up a big NHL paycheck.
If the NHL was serious about cleaning up head shots - from the owners who say they want to protect their investment in players, to the players themselves who talk about their peers not having any respect, to the commissioner's office who dole out banana republic justice - all three sides would get together and agree on a suggestion we made last year.
It would be almost impossible to pass - but if they were serious they'd do it. It goes something like this: the suspension should not be given to the player committing the act, but rather assessed by the league to a member of that player's team who is of equal value to the person who was on the receiving end of the infraction.
We'll go back to the Cam Janssen/Tomas Kaberle incident. Janssen was given a three game suspension for a dirty hit on the Leafs defenceman. The decision to suspend the meat head had little, if any, effect on New Jersey. Toronto lost Kaberle for eight games and with it a shot at the playoffs last year. If the NHL was serious about eliminating this garbage the New Jersey Devils would have paid for Janssen's indiscretion by having the suspension applied to a player on their roster of equal value to Kaberle - in terms of minutes played, points, position on team (ie. number one defenceman). If guys like Janssen want to go after front line players - their team should lose a front line player as punishment (though we wouldn't suggest withholding salary from the player serving suspension - the offender still loses salary).
You can bet that NHL coaches would be cutting guys like Janssen, TooToo, Downie, etc if they were losing front line players because of their stupidity. That is the only way to clean up the NHL - make the coach and organization get rid of these guys.SUGGESTED READING MATERIAL FOR HAZEL
As we have mentioned before - we don't know if Hazel checks in here, and we wouldn't tell you if we knew she did. But nonetheless, we are providing you with discussion topics if you ever bump into Boston's most loved sports media personality - apologies to the devilishly handsome Bob Ryan. Warning - its all about being a member of Leaf Nation; we'd like to think she still is.Toskala isn't getting to worked up yetCox spends the week writing questions to himself and answers them on FridaysCola might not be ready to start season with LeafsNewbury tries to spark Leafs in right wayMaurice tells Leaf Nation to chill outReport on Leafs v Sabres - things were ugly at ACCLeafs lineup taking shapeSundin marks 10th year as Captain of the BudsQuestions on goaltending - Toronto/Boston/FloridaMLB Mickey Brantley becomes President of the J.P. Ricciardi Fan ClubTHURSDAY'S THREE STARS
Florida Marlins SS (and former Red Sox prospect) Hanley Ramirez
had two hits, including a home run, and two runs batted in to lead the Fish to a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.
St. Louis Cardinals (and former Red Sox) P Joel Pineiro
pitched eight shutout innings, limiting the Mets to three hits and a walk while striking out six, in a 3-0 win.
Baltimore Orioles (and former Red Sox) LF Jay Payton
had three hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs in an 8-5 win over the Blue Jays.
Oh relax Red Sox Nation - we aren't laughing at the Sox - you guys are fine...the magic number will go down tonight.FRIDAY THREE PLAY
Apologies for not checking in yesterday - technical issues. We finished Wednesday night 4-0 bring the total for the week up to + $210.
We'll take a look at things and get Tilt to post tonight's three play later today.
That's it for today gang - we'll be back later tonight with the NFL picks - thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps!
Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.