Les Miserables

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Les Miserables

By Michael Felger

We have another Montreal game tonight?

Oh, goody . . .

Felger,Which fans do you think are the worst? Philly sports fans or Montreal fans? As a Boston sports fan, I believe that Philly sports fans are animals.WillNewton

In terms of pure menace, youre right. There is nothing worse than a Philly fan. But if youre talking the "worst" fans in North America, its Montreal and there isnt really a close second. I mean, we all remember the Eagles fans being ugly down at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, but as far as I can remember, I dont remember any of them calling the cops on Rodney Harrison after the game.

Montreal fans are babies of the highest order. Frauds. Hypocrites. And the worst part is that the media up there doesnt keep them in check. They make it worse.

What Montreal has attempted to do to Zdeno Chara through all of this is despicable. Arrest him. Ruin his reputation. Vilify him. All for a questionable hockey play that the NHL deemed 100 percent legal. Not even Philadelphia fans would do that.

Hey Felger,I was watching you and Haggerty the other night debating about who would be a good matchup for the Bruins in the playoffs. I cannot believe Haggs is dismissing the Penguins so easily. Is he watching the games or does he just look at box scores and see that Crosby and Malkin arent there and assume they are no longer a contender? Not sure why he is commenting on hockey if he isnt watching the games.VictorCambridge

Its hard to see when your glasses are tinted black and gold and your poo bear underwear are riding up high in the back. Poor Joe. Watch that team play. Theyre tough. Theyre smart. As their coach likes to say, they grind you down. Theyve been without three of their best players (add Orpik to Crosby and Malkin) and without the very best player in the league (Crosby) for months -- and yet they have virtually the same record as a Bruins team thats been relatively healthy the entire season. If the Penguins had their full lineup, theyd beat the Bruins in five. In their current state, theyd still probably beat them in seven.

Mikey,Im liking this bickering with you and Haggs. How long have you two been married now? Good stuff, keep it up!But anyways, my hockey question of the week: Why is the NHL and Bettman so scared to exercise their power and only go straight by the book? Is it the NHL union? Also, I'm on the Tyler Seguin bandwagon. I'm convinced that if he'd gone to the Oilers and Hall was here, Seguin would be a 20-30 goal scorer. He needs 12-15 minutes a night and to be on the PP. He has the skills and, from what I read, has the work ethic and a great attitude. I am totally convinced he will be a top 10 scorer!And on to Tuukka. I've thought about this a lot: Wouldnt you have been flipping your lid like he was with the crap playing in front of him? I dont think he got a fair chance to be the No. 1 goalie this year. There was no competition since Thomas was so good early. If Im pissed about it, he's probably pissed too, and this is his way of venting frustration towards his team and mostly towards Claude for the way he has not allowed him to get into a routine. He didnt play back to back games until January!DaveWoburn

Agreed on the by-the-book nature of NHL justice. They could easily invoke the "intent to injure clause more than they do and eliminate plenty more dangerous hits from hockey. They could have gotten Chara on in and they could have gotten Cooke on it last year. The NFL has gone outside the book and its had an impact. Head shots are down. Just another example of how the NHL is behind the rest of the leagues in North America.

Meanwhile, Seguin to the power play? Yes, of course. Beyond that, nothing is more important to the future of the Bruins than his development. Whoever the coach is next year, that has to be priority No. 1.

And dont worry about Rask. Hes got a long career in front of him. Hell get over it.

Hey, Felg,I agree with everything you say about the Bruins. The ONLY thing we disagree on is Bergeron; I like him. Everything else you say is genius. Let me ask you this, where is Haggerty? I remember after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup on their westCanada trip (oops, I mean after they went 6-0), the Bruins were all the sudden the best team in the league? Wow, let's not get ahead of ourselves. A lot of callers were even agreeing with that -- and I just could not believe it. Also, insanely good job calling out the buffoons on that radio show up in Montreal. That was priceless. Keep up the awesome workThanks againNeal

A: A quick clarification: I like Bergeron very much. I just dont love his contract (I dont think hes a 5 million player) and I think Krejci is better. But Bergeron is huge for this team. They need him in the playoffs big time.

Hey Felger,The only word to describe the Bruins this season has been inconsistent. They win 6-of-6 on a road trip and fans are starting to think of a parade down Causeway in late Mayearly June. But then they follow that up with losing 6-of-7. Incredibly inconsistent.The success of the Bruins is extremely dependent on the play of their goalies. When they play well, the Bruins usually play well. With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, I think it is time for Claude to pick a goaltender and stick with him for the remainder of the season and the playoffs (an off night here or there is fine, but he needs to pick one). Having two goalies and playing them both consistently doesnt allow them to get into any rhythm and flow. You dont want to go into the playoffs with your starting goaltender cold and rusty, thats why I think now is the time to pick a goalie and ride him. That guy is Thomas in my opinion, tough to go against his experience in the playoffs.Ryan
Yup, its Thomas. Peter Chiarelli even said the other day that he expects Thomas to get 6 or 7 of the remaining 10 starts. So thats the guy, as it should be.

And the inconsistency is easily explained. Its what happens when youre good but not great.

Felger You DB!I think you greatly underestimate the backlash from the NFL rule changes that increase on-field instant replay. The reason why I brought up sponsorship is pretty simple. While anyone selling anything wants to be associated with the NFL, you wont find a bit of signage or a single logo on those sideline replay confessionals. You would assume that, say, Sony would love to see its name burned into tens of millions of viewers retinas as officials review a call. But for once, advertisers know better. They know that they way replay is currently conducted in the NFL is a joke perpetrated on viewers just to allow the on field staff to save face. The way to go is obviously a full-time official buzzing Hochuli and telling him, "Hey Pecs, you blew it reverse the call. But instead were subjected to an impromptu commercial break as the crew chief decides for five minutes what the meaning of inconclusive is. Viewers are sick of the never-ending commercials as it is. And now there is the possibility of one of these after every scoring play? Thats the NFL equivalent of Potassium nitrate, because nothing will collapse a touchdown pants tent faster than being subjected to five minutes of Hochulis beefy ass sticking out of the replay booth like a peep show with arena seating. Oh yeah, sponsors want a piece of that! Sony adores customers going into Best Buy for a new 5-D TV before the Super Bowl and getting the douche chills when they see their logo. BTW, any idea on why Mazz gets so worked up when I agree with you? Youd think I had trademarked the phrase "Youre Absolutely Right Mike!MikeAttleboro

Now, now, Mikey. Theres plenty of me to go around to both you and Tony.

As for the new replay provision, I see your point. But you know more commercials are coming. The touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial thing is already insufferable. Just wait until we get the touchdown-commercial-Hochuli explanation-extra point-commercial-kickoff-commercial flow. I just thought it would open up more sales opportunities, but maybe youre right. No one will want to be associated with it.

Bottom line: I dont think people understand how bad its going to be. Every time a runner slams into the pile at the goal line the ref is going to go under the hood. Its going to be brutal.

Hey Felger,Just listened to a recent interview Mike Francesa had with John Mara, the Giants owner, where he discusses the Giants' policy regarding the payment schedule of season tickets during the lockout. (Giants season-ticket holders are not required to pay up front during the work stoppage). Now, put yourself back in college where your professor had you "compare and contrast." Do that with the Patriots payment schedule policy that requires payment in full by March 31. See the difference? Like the saying goes, "it's all about the money."
Would you pay full price for a Broadway production or theater district performance five months in advance if you didn't know who was in the cast, or how many rehearsals they had? Probably not. But Patriot season-ticket holders are expected to pay for a similar situation. The Giants have the proper approach.Your comments please.Dick

If Kraft wanted to be a mensch on this he could easily tell the fans to hold their money during the lockout but he doesnt feel like being a mensch. Simple as that. Up to you whether you want to continue to give him your business.

Felger,I didnt like it when it happened. I have watched for weeks as all the folks in the official Greg Dickerson Celtics NBA ball bag sold us Krstic as a tremendous offensive rebounder and scorer and Jeff Green as the replacement for James Posey in waiting.Just me, or did it seem like the urgency to bring back the "small lineup" went from 0 to 60 on trade day? I haven't heard the C's say they missed that lineup for two years, and all of a sudden it's all you hear out of the sack.I listened to them list this trade as a steal because Green brings you length, youth, energy, quickness and flexibility. (And did you hear he can play the 3 and the 4?) Perkins brought defense, toughness and championships. I like the second list.Hows your boy Tony feeling about that "chance that the Celtics might be "significantly better?Didnt like it then. Dont like it now.Peace,
JakeBoston

Careful, Jake. Youre going to make Dickerson cry.

Yo, Felger,Listen to 98.5 every day and watch Comcast reruns every morning out here in Northern California. Below is something I e-mailed to the local sports station regarding the eminent moving of the Sacramento Kings to Anaheim. It is only my opinion, but the repercussion of what Stern did to make sure Los Angeles got a chance at Game Seven (in 2002) has had a decade-long ripple effect that will ultimately kill an entire team. . . . the recent power-hungry, look-at-me comments from the dictator Stern concerning Van Gundy, as well as the twitter crap with the MN ref, are just a reminder of how those conniving a--holes screwed up royally in Game 6. Stern took control of history like a puppet master controls his dummies on strings. Sacramento WAS devoted to the NBA and the Kings, and if the league was true to us, we would have been true to the league-even during these financially hard times. Stern blew it, created a game for big TV bullies and continues to control a fraudulent league . . . "Jeff

Ah, were getting to that time of year again. You cant talk about NBA playoff series without talking about the refs. Nice league you got there, Tanguay.

Felger,I saw that you answered my question about Mark Sanchez on Sports Sunday. Are you out of your freakin' mind? So down the road, you would be okay with your 17-year-old high school daughter sleeping with a 24-year-old dude she met in a club at two in the morning? There is a huge maturity discrepancy between a high school senior and a 24 year old working man. I wonder if Mrs. Felger would be on board with your twisted view!!KenWhitman

Im not going to let my daughter date until shes 30 (the windows and doors of my house are going to lock from the outside), so the scenario you lay out is completely impossible.

Nice try, though.
Read Felgers weekly column Mondays. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag Thursdays. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Krug out 6 months, Krejci 5 months after surgery

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Krug out 6 months, Krejci 5 months after surgery

It sounds like the Bruins will be without puck-moving defenseman Torey Krug at the very outset of next season.

Krug (right shoulder), Matt Beleskey (left hand) and David Krejci (left hip) all underwent successful surgeries in mid-to-late April for injuries sustained over the wear and tear of NHL duty last season and both Krug and Krejci are now facing recovery times on the long end of things. 

Krejci’s rehab and recovery is initially set for five months after undergoing surgery with renowned hip surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly on April 25, but the hope is that the 30-year-old playmaking center will be ready for the start of the regular season.

It’s the same rough timetable Krejci faced following hip surgery on his right side after the 2008-09 season and, seven years ago, the center was able to start the season on time.

Krug is up for what’s expected to be a long-term new contract after July 1, and will be out six months after undergoing shoulder surgery with Bruins team doctor Peter Asnis on April 21. That means there’s a good chance the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Krug will miss the preseason and be out the first few weeks of the preseason at the very least. 

Shoulder injuries are also always a bit of a concern for NHL defensemen considering all of the pounding those players absorb on a nightly basis, and that goes doubly so for a smaller blueliner (5-9, 186) such as Krug.

Any absence at all is tough news for the B’s considering Krug was second on the Bruins in ice time (21:37) among defensemen this season, and led all Bruins blueliners with 44 points last season in a challenging year for a clearly undermanned D-corps.

Beleskey is expected to undergo a six-week rehab after his April 14 surgery with Dr. Matthew Leibman at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.  

Tuesday, May 3: Stamkos, Subban as 10-year-old teammates

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Tuesday, May 3: Stamkos, Subban as 10-year-old teammates

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while starting to actually feel badly for the Republican Party.

*Lukas Head revisits an old photo taken with Steven Stamkos and PK Subban when all three were youth hockey players together.

*A disappointed Brooks Orpik gets emotional when discussing his playoff suspension. Maybe he should stop lining up guys for predatory hits if he doesn’t want to be suspended. His track record, and unwillingness to answer the bell for his actions, is well-chronicled.

*Barry Trotz hints that the Pittsburgh Penguins received preferential treatment in the aforementioned Brooks Orpik suspension.

*A heartwarming story of the San Jose Sharks saving the black cat that somehow jumped on the ice at the Shark Tank prior to Game 1 of their playoff series.

*Congratulations to the inspirational Travis Roy, who was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame last weekend.

*Bob Hartley is fired by the Calgary Flames. Could it be that it was done to make room for Bruce Boudreau, asks Puck Daddy?

*Former Bruins enforcer PJ Stock did some kind of FaceTime television hit with Rogers Sportsnet to make some playoff predictions.

*For something completely different: Jerry Thornton has a number of local Boston businesses banning Roger Goodell from their premises.

 

 

Youth needs to be served

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Youth needs to be served

This is the second in a five-part series about the breakdowns that doomed the team this season, and what must change for the Black and Gold to once again get moving in the right direction. 

In the days after the Bruins' regular-season demise, it was striking to hear Don Sweeney speak about the development path of David Pastrnak.

The Bruins general manager paid the second-year forward perfunctory compliments about the prodigious skill set that made him a first-round draft choice. Pastrnak -- in spite of getting almost no power-play time, even though he's one of the most gifted offensive players on the roster -- scored five more goals and roughly the same number of points in about the same number of games as he did in his rookie year, despite suffering a fractured foot in the first month and then competing in the World Junior tourney around the holidays. He also gained steam at the end of the season, scoring goals in three of the final four games while the rest of his teammates struggled.

But Pastrnak, one of the youngest players in the NHL at age 19, struggled with puck management and turnovers, and had some rough nights as a teenager making his way in a rough-and-tumble man’s league. He's still on the learning curve, something Sweeney readily acknowledges.

“The impatience about putting players [at the NHL level] before they’re ready, it shows up at times,” said Sweeney, who invoked Pastrnak’s name while answering a question about the potential NHL readiness of promising young B's prospect Danton Heinen. “It absolutely does. We’re talking about David Pastrnak, who leads the league in giveaways per 60 minutes. He’s a tremendous talent and a tremendous young man with tremendous character, and he wants to get better and needs to get stronger.

“At times it’s unfair to [coach Claude Julien] that people will be like ‘Ah, there’s Pastrnak not out there on the ice in this situation.’ But [Julien's] the same guy that put [Pastrnak] out there (in a crucial late-season game against the Red Wings with the Bruins leading 5-1) and he makes a bad mistake and they score . . .

"That’s a bit of give-and-take that everybody has to understand with our younger players. You have to hope that they’re ready for it. [We've] done it properly (in the past) . . . [Brad Marchand] started on the fourth line and worked his way up.

"David has been up and down a little bit. That’s the piece where we need to have some depth, and we’re in a transition to get there.”

Sweeney's mention of Marchand illustrates the Bruins' problem. When Marchand broke in, the Bruins were a talented Stanley Cup contender. His first full season was 2010-11, the year Boston won the Cup. The B's could afford to slowly develop him. letting him get his feet wet in low-pressure situations before asking more of him.

That's not the case today. The Bruins no longer have that kind of quality roster depth, and won't anytime soon unless a lot of these prospects come through. That means young players like Pastrnak are forced into bigger roles they might not be ready for.

And that strikes right at the heart of Boston’s development missteps from last season.  

Some of it was organizational. It seemed pretty clear by the end of the season that Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow and Brett Connolly aren’t going to develop into core players in Boston. That's just the way it is in a results-oriented business like the NHL. It doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on the coaching staff’s work, as great coaching can’t magically turn a borderline NHL player into something he’s not.

But while the coaches handled Pastrnak well, they failed at times with Frank Vatrano and Colin Miller. Both showed flashes of NHL ability throughout the season, but spoke of losing their confidence based on their erratic usage patterns. The two of them needed stints in the American Hockey League to get their respective grooves back.

In particular, the electric Vatrano should have been back up with the B's weeks sooner than he was. The Bruins were struggling to score goals and he was rifling them home at a goal-per-game pace in Providence. As soon as he returned to Boston, he posted four points in his five games.

With Julien returning and the Bruins intent on introducing more young talent to the lineup, the transition into the NHL needs to be streamlined.

Given how much of a priority it is for Sweeney, there's no reason to think the process won't be improved.

The hope is that the next crop of B’s prospects will yield results. First-round picks from other organizations, like Morrow and Connolly, mostly fizzled last season, but Boston’s own crop of young players -- Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Austin Czarnik, Noel Acciari -- should augment the contributions of newcomers like Vatrano and Miller. And while most of last year's first-round selections (Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn) are probably still more than a year away, the feeling is there'll be a promising return from that batch of draftees. In addition, the Bruins have another two first-round picks this year.

Upper management makes the point that the present situation began developing in the final years of Peter Chiarelli's watch. With singular exceptions like Marchand the team was unable to develop its own talent, which led to overpaying veterans to stay competitive, which led to severe salary-cap issues, which led to the decay of the franchise we've witnessed over the last two seasons. 

"I think for a period of time we stopped being in an invest mode (and instead ran) with the guys we had," said owner Jeremy Jacobs. "You pay a price in this game if you’re not constantly investing in the next generation.”

Now, however, it's time to stop the finger-pointing and begin the rebuild in earnest. To their credit, the Bruins say they're doing just that.

“I think we did take a step back this year for that very purpose,” said Jacobs. 

Investing in youth is simply the way of the salary-cap world, for the Bruins and everybody else in the NHL. It will have to mean patience and longer leashes for young players under Julien.

“The younger players that we’ve drafted and recently signed and are going to develop are a big part of [the future], as long as they’re good enough players," said Sweeney. "We expect them to be. But when . . . you put them in your lineup is important . . . 

"This ownership is very, very supportive of what we need to do. It’s just, ‘Get it done.’ So that’s why the chair is warm [for everybody].”

While Julien clearly did play a role in the emergence of Marchand, David Krejci and Milan Lucic as NHL stars, developing young players has never been one of his coaching strengths. He certainly bears some responsibility for elite young talents like Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton not lasting in Boston. The warmth of his chair will depend largely on the development of the new crop of youngsters. That will be doubly so if Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy ends up getting a job as an assistant in Boston next season, and gets a chance to work with the young players he’s helped develop at the AHL level.

The bottom line is this for the Bruins: They need the best draft-and-development season they’ve had in quite a while if things are going to significantly change for the better on Causeway Street.