McHale made strong impact on Garnett, Lee

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McHale made strong impact on Garnett, Lee

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee were closely tied to Hall of Famer Kevin McHale before either played for his former team, the Boston Celtics.

When McHale returned to the TD Garden on Friday as head coach of the Houston Rockets, his two former players were eager to reflect on their time under his watch.

McHale has been part of Garnett's basketball career since the day he entered the league in 1995. He held the role of Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves when they drafted Garnett with the fifth overall pick 18 years ago. McHale served as head coach during the 2004-05 season, and was in the front office when the Timberwolves traded Garnett to the Celtics in 2007.

"Kevin hasn't been my coach for a long time but he's taught me a lot," said Garnett. "So I see the similarities and I see some things I remember that are refreshing to my mind sometimes when I'm watching his teams play. The disadvantage is that he taught me everything so he's probably telling them everything that I know. But in competition it's always good to see people you've worked with before still in the game, still a part of the game."

Lee spent much less time with McHale but the impact was still as strong. McHale became the head coach of the Houston Rockets for the 2011-12 season when Lee was a guard for the team. In one season, they developed a close bond that meant just as much on the court as it did off to Lee.

"He's a great coach," said Lee. "He's a great communicator. He'll come out there if somebody's not getting it right and talk to them until they get it right without getting on them. He's positive. As a person, he's just a great person."

Playing under both McHale and Doc Rivers, two former NBA players, Lee sees similarities in their approach with their players and a few differences in their systems.

"They're similar in the case that both of them are players' coaches," said Lee. "They both played the game and they've been apart of it they understand what players need to get going and what not. But as far as system-wise, Doc's more of an instructor with his system as far as running sets, executing. As far as McHale, he has that trust in players where he lets you go out there and just play."

Garnett and Lee got the win over their former coach on Friday, as the Celtics beat the Rockets, 103-91. Garnett finished the night with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Lee had one of his strongest showing of the season with 14 points.

Regardless of the outcome, they welcome him to the Garden any time.

"I think Kevin's one of the best teachers I've been around," said Garnett. "He has a lot to give to the game, always has. He loves basketball, so any time you have someone who loves basketball that much, it's good that they're still around."

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that. 

 

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.