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Every newbie watching the Bruins on NESN since 2008 has shared the same ‘wait whut?’ moment: when did NESN start participating in MIT Job Fairs? Who’s this Bruins locker room reporter speaking in a tone like she’s in the tower at Augusta and conducting interviews as though she knows the game? Why are the players smiling and unguarded when she talks to them, do they know and like her or something? And there doesn’t seem to have been the slightest attention paid as to whether or not my fourteen year old nephew is downloading her. Something is amiss.
Yeah, no, that was Naoko Funayama. NESN fired her last week, wanted to go in a “different direction.” And since Funayama was already doing informed, smart interviews with players who liked and respected her… we’re not sure what that ‘different direction’ is but we’re pretty sure boobage will factor.
Liked/loved/respected by all. This is who you hire and try to keep. This is not who you fire.
Hey NESN: nobody likes organizations who are pricks to their employees.
And also, nobody likes prickish orgs who are also simultaneously stupid and transparently greedy. And finally, when your organization isn’t a real ‘self-built’ business but a pre-funded manifestation of the local teams’ fans’ affection… in that uniquely gifted instance… the first bullet on your mission statement should read: “Don’t be pricks.”
But no. It turns out the execs at NESN are too smart to be constrained like that. Smart like WEEI was before they had competition. Smart like if NESN execs were reviewing this post they’d tell me to change that last sentence to ‘wicked smaht’ you know, because Boston types like to be provincial, and also shouldn’t I have a cheerleader poll in the sidebar cos page hits?
Sadly, the firing of not-hot/flirty-enough Funayama is no surprise. A quick look at the Red Sox side of the house is instructive. (more…)
If you’re a casual hockey fan I don’t need to tell you this but: the Bruins-Penguins series should be epic. For my Browns-centric friends, there’s a whole Steelers angle here that’ll help you understand the fuss if you don’t already.
As Browns fans, we look upon the Steelers with loathing and respect and bewilderment. They’ve consistently brought a mix of incredible talent with requisite dirtiness to deliver more championships than any other team back to their fans. The bewildering part is that the high success has been maintained for decades. Bradshaw and Lambert give way to Roethlisberger and Harrison. Even the ‘down period’ between those eras yielded six straight playoff appearances with freaking O’Donnell/Tomczak/Stewart at QB.
Now picture the same special kind of dominance except the ‘down period’ is 15 years instead of 25.* A team blessed with the two best players in the league yet also a cheap-shotting team who move a step beyond concussing players (Cribbs-MoMass-McCoy) and onto ending careers.
That’s the Pittsburgh Penguins.
What are the chances that a team could manage to build around the two best players in the league twice in 15 years? Yet here we are and the Lemieux/Jagr era has been followed up with Crosby/Malkin. The 90s supporting cast of Mullen HOF, Murphy HOF, Francis HOF, Coffey HOF, Trottier HOF, Stevens, Recchi, Straka, Tocchet, Barrasso gives way to the current Iginla, Letang, Neal.
(Ok, they’re not as stacked as that 90s team but the Roethlisberger Steelers weren’t as stacked as Bradshaw’s and still won two SBs.)
But unlike, say, a Red Wings dynasty where you just tip your cap… the Penguins manage to be hate-able and for Bruins fans the hate is personal.
Ulf Samuelsson ends Cam Neely’s career.
My all-time favorite hockey player and it’s not close: Cam Neely. You’ve never seen a player with the combo of big and physical and bad-ass yet with such masterful scoring touch. A once in a generation player completely different from the style of Gretzky or Lemieux. He was his own enforcer and that’s partly why his career ended technically at 30 but actually at 25. Here’s the video of Samuelsson’s infamous leg check. It led to myositis ossificans** the net being that his injured muscle turned into an inoperable brick of bone.
Following the aforementioned injury, Neely managed to play only 9 and 13 games, respectively, over the next two seasons, and never played more than 49 games in a season after that due to the pain associated with the now chronic condition.
Neely’s 50 goals in 49 games in 1993-94 was the greatest season-long performance I’ve ever seen. Harry Sinden’s subsequent low-balling on Cam was the darkest mark in the dark period Sinden/Jacobs/Kvartolov era. Fortunately for the Bruins, Cam forgave them and has proven himself to be a great president.
Ulfie stayed with Pens through their back-to-back cups before moving on. Not usually a fan of Tie Domi or head injuries but there’s an element of justice here.
Matt Cooke ends Marc Savard’s career.
Marc Savard was an important part of the 2010 Bruins. He was an in 2008 and 2009 and was trending to his usual 90 points as the Bruins’ first line center. Then
the cheapest shot one of the top-5 cheapest shots in the history of the NHL.
Matt Cooke was not fined, nor was he suspended or reprimanded in any way for this hit. Marc Savard is assistant coach for his son’s pee-wee team.
Don Cherry gets it 100% right here. It includes a highlight reel with about ten Cooke cheap shots: