Tiger Woods' coach responds to the critics

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Tiger Woods' coach responds to the critics

From Comcast SportsNetORLANDO, Florida(AP) --Tiger Woods' swing coach says criticism of his client is getting out of hand."I know everyone has a job to do, and I get it," Foley said this week on "Fairways of Life," a radio show hosted by Matt Adams on XM Sirius. "But if it is about the game of golf, Tiger Woods is an extremely important part of the game, and I think everyone understands that. It has just gotten to the point where the tearing down of Tiger as a person and a golfer has become just too much. I think it is just out of hand."Woods has been under more scrutiny than any other golfer since he turned pro in 1996 when he was 20 and won twice in seven starts on the PGA Tour. The criticism has sharpened in the two years since Woods was exposed for extramarital affairs that cost him his marriage and impeccable image.He tied for 40th at the Masters, yet most of the attention was on how Woods kicked his golf club after missing a tee shot on the 16th hole of the second round. He said the next day, "I'm frustrated at times and I apologize if I offended anybody that that."Foley began working with Woods at the 2010 PGA Championship, and Woods has shown signs of getting back toward the top of his game. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month for his first PGA Tour win since the scandal in his personal life unfolded the night of Thanksgiving 2009.Foley has gone through his share of criticism, too, especially in the early stages of Woods learning a new swing."I realize it is 2012 and we have dotcoms, and you have to write five articles a day, and you run out of things to write about," Foley said. "But we should be in a position where we are trying to help and lift up and support a player like Tiger Woods instead of tearing him down, because everyone in the golf industry is better off because of his existence."Foley's comments came at the end of a 20-minute interview, and he raised the issue without prompting."That is basically one thing I want to get out," Foley said. "Tiger is a wonderful person, and he is a good dude, and he lives a complex life. I think things have got to slow down, and it has got to stop, the daily referendums and the criticism."Woods' performance in the Masters has kept him in conversations, however. It was his highest finish in a major as a pro -- except for the three times he has missed the cut -- and kicking his 9-iron became a lasting image of his week at Augusta National.A few days after the Masters, former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said on Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio that Woods' antics were an "embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta." The comments were startling because Azinger has long been a supporter of Woods."I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way," Azinger said. "He's not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill, I thought, Here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.' I don't know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule."Jack Nicklaus was asked Tuesday about Woods' game and said he didn't know what was going on."I don't know what goes (on) between his ears," Nicklaus said. "That's really the X factor. His golf game and his golf swing looks pretty similar to what I've been looking at and he hits a lot of great shots. But you never know what's going on in somebody's head."

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him.