By Mary Paoletti
PRAGUE -- I am not used to seeing Bruins fans in Prague yet.
There were some out this morning, wandering around the sun-streaked Charles Bridge. Because I've been here before, I have certain expectations for the way things are supposed to look. It's strange to me that the Franz Kafka statue now has "ART IS WAR" spray painted across his right leg. So when I see a family in Bruins windbreakers posing in front of "The Lamentation of Christ," it throws me off a little.
There are fewer 'Yotes fans. My guess at the ratio is 3:1 Boston to Phoenix.
The pregame scene at O2 Arena, site of this auspicious NHL Premiere 2010, is also a degree off from "normal."
People are milling around outside two hours before game time. They wear Chara shirts, Bourque jerseys; they drape Bruins scarves around their necks--all the usual gear--but I'm put completely on tilt when I hear these "Boston fans" speaking in Czech.
At least I think it's Czech. Oh Thursday morning I spoke with a Slovakian woman, a group of Scots and some Swedish businessmen before I found someone native to Prague.
It reminds me of the story Claude Julien told Wednesday about Europeans being so happy to see good hockey that they'll give applause to whichever team finds the back of the net.
Another difference? Many of the people are sitting around, waiting to get it. There aren't any bars around; there's no Fours, Porters or Sully's Tap to gather in for pregame drinking. Maybe nobody wants to take the time to figure out how many korunas a Guinness costs. Or maybe it's just a complete absence of hockey culture.
In a way it makes sense.
Mary Paoletti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering if the Bruins are ever going to poop, or get off the pot.
*John Tortorella wants everybody to know that he thinks there isn’t a chance that Lebron James could play hockey.
*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about whether or not Claude Julien should be fired after back-to-back bad losses against the Islanders and Red Wings.
*How did Shane Doan arrive at an unhappy place with the Arizona Coyotes where he now is open to moving elsewhere ahead of the trade deadline?
*Henrik Lundqvist’s season is entering a crisis level based on what he’s done, and the diminished performance level he’s showing as a more mature goaltender.
*A nice piece with a Canadian hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, who recounts some of the legendary moments of her career through a series of pictures.
*I totally respect the work that Travis Yost does, but stating the Bruins should stick with Claude Julien because their shooting percentage is bound to turn around isn’t good enough grounds to keep a floundering situation intact, in my opinion. You need to check where the shots are coming from and how many of those shot attempts are completely missing the net to get a better grasp on some of the reasons behind Boston’s dreadful 10-year low shooting percentage. That would also explain some of the reason why Julien needs to be replaced coaching a team that’s largely content on perimeter shots to do it for them while also only sporadically showing the effort required from a middle class talent type of team.
*The Lightning are struggling at Joe Namath levels right now without Steve Stamkos in their lineup, and they need that to change.
*For something completely different: congrats to the Boston boys in New Edition for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.