Belichick salutes NFL Films' Sabol

Belichick salutes NFL Films' Sabol

By Tom E. Curran

The passing this week of Steve Sabol moved people in all parts of the NFL - owners, coaches, players and the media - to say nothing of what Sabol and his work meant to fans.

I didn't know Steve well but I did speak with him in person or by phone several times. Warm, sincere, interested in listening, and just a deep, intelligent guy whose passion was applied to this game we all love.

In the artist's statement on his website, "Steve Sabol Art", he wrote, "Norman Mailer remarked that all artists tend to be governed by a ruling passion. I regard myself as luck to have been able to discover mine. "

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick - a football historian as well as a decorated coach - trusted Sabol implicitly.

"You cant say enough about Steve and what he has meant tothe National Football League, NFL Films and the game of football," Belichick said on a conference call with the Baltimore media on Wednesday. "I think hehas presented the game in a way that all fans, all of us, enjoy. You can see theexcitement, the entertainment and can laugh at, depending on how its beingpresented. He has done a tremendous job of gaining the trust and confidence ofthe people that he has worked with, which isnt the easiest thing to do, to dowhat he does and get that kind of cooperation.

"I think over the years he hasdeveloped a great level of respect and trust and that says a lot," Belichick added. "I dont thinkthat piece Bill Belichick: A FootballLife would have ever happened without Steve Sabol, to be honest with you.Hes a special man, and he did so much for our game, for the NFL and for thegame of football. Its a sad day. Hes a great man.Belichick granted NFL Films incredible access to do the much-celebrated documentary that was released last year. Normally pretty reserved (to say the least), Belichick explained that, "Once we understood whatwe were doing and everybody was on the same page, we had good lines ofcommunication, so it wasnt really a problem. I think the respect and trust andmutual respect that we had for each other made that a relatively easyundertaking.Sabol made things easy in a difficult line of work

Haggerty: Loss of Colin Miller not a significant one for Bruins

Haggerty: Loss of Colin Miller not a significant one for Bruins

There will be some that will absolutely crucify the Bruins for losing Colin Miller in Wednesday night’s expansion draft, and rail against an asset that was lost for nothing. Those people will also miss the absolutely essential point that the whole raison d’etre for an expansion draft is to remove assets from each of the 30 NHL teams, and do it without a cost for the benefit of the new franchise opening up shop in Las Vegas.

It could have been much worse for the Black and Gold as some teams were shipping first round picks to Vegas to shelter their own players from expansion selection, and other teams were losing essential players like James Neal, Marc Methot and David Perron from their respective rosters. The B’s didn’t entertain overpaying simply to avoid losing a useful player, and clearly, they did lose a talented, still undeveloped player in the 24-year-old Miller, who now may be flipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a side deal with Vegas.

But let’s be honest here. A whole lot of people are vastly overestimating a player in Miller that’s long on tools and very short on putting them together, and they’re also vastly underestimating Kevan Miller. The younger Miller can skate like the wind and has a bazooka of a shot when he winds up and fires his clapper at the net.

But despite those clear offensive talents, Colin had the same number of points as stay-at-home defenseman Kevan this season despite the bigger, stronger and older Miller playing three less games this season. Kevan also had more goals (five) and more points (18) than Colin did two years ago in his rookie season for Boston.

This isn’t to say that Colin doesn’t have more discernible offensive skill than Kevan when it comes to moving the puck or creating offense. He does, but all that talent hasn’t manifested into real points, real offense or anything else for the Black and Gold over the last couple of seasons. At a certain point, a prospect like Colin needs to put all the tools together into production on the ice if he wants to become the sum of his hockey parts, and that hasn’t happened in two full seasons in Boston.

Instead, Miller continues to struggle with decision-making with the puck, consistency and finding ways to turn the quality skating and shot package into any kind of playmaking on the ice. Miller had his challenges defensively and he was never going to be the most physical guy on the ice, but those could have been overlooked if he was lighting it up in the offensive zone on a regular basis.

Plain and simple that wasn’t happening, and over the last season 20-year-old Brandon Carlo and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy passed Miller on the organizational depth chart for right shot defenseman, and either Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller would slot in as the third pairing D-man on the right side. It’s clear at this point that Colin Miller needs more time and patience if he’s ever going to develop as a late-blooming defenseman at the NHL level, and he wasn’t going to get those opportunities to develop in Boston.

So how good can Colin Miller really be if he was about to get buried on a Boston defensive depth chart without much hope of being in the starting six every night unless he was able to magically transform himself into a top-4 guy on the left side?

Clearly, there is risk here as Miller could move on to Toronto, develop into the player that posted 19 goals and 52 points in the AHL a couple of seasons ago and torment the Bruins for the next five-plus years. It would become another arrow in the quiver of those critics looking to hammer GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely at every turn, and it would generate massive “Why can’t we get players like that?” homages to the legendary Bob Lobel all across New England.    

But there’s just as good a chance that Kevan Miller will still be throwing hits and soaking up heavy minutes of ice time for the Bruins three years down the road, and that Colin Miller will be out of the league after never harnessing together his considerable talent. Perhaps Sweeney could have been better about securing an asset for Miller ahead of the expansion draft if he knew he was going to lose that player for nothing to Vegas.

The bottom line is that the Bruins were going to lose somebody to Las Vegas in the expansion draft, and the Golden Knights weren’t going to do them any favors by taking on misfit toys like Jimmy Hayes, Malcolm Subban or Matt Beleskey. They did instead lose a player with plenty of raw talent in Colin Miller, but it’s not exactly somebody that’s going to be missed in Boston once Carlo and McAvoy start showing just how bright the B’s future is on the back end starting next season.