Pats add a headache to address a headache

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Pats add a headache to address a headache

The Patriots have dipped their hand in the metaphorical garbage can once again and drawn out . . . Aqib Talib.

He is, as we say, troubled.

A former first-round pick from Kansas in 2008, Talib was suspended two games for disciplinary reasons in his junior year in college. Before the draft, he admitted to failing three drug tests (weed). And he's currently serving a four-game suspension for performance enhancers.

Talib also got in a fistfight at the rookie orientation symposium in 2008 with another player, got in a fight with a teammate in 2009, got in a fight with a cabbie in 2009 (that earned him a suspension from the 2010 opener) and had gun charges against him dropped in June.

He finds trouble, trouble finds him. Who knows? They hang out, put it that way.

Yet, as with other "troubled" players the Patriots have plucked -- Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco (I should have a button on my keyboard that I can hit which just pops their names up) -- Talib might be nice with some cleaning up.

Comes in, mans one of the corner positions, kicks Devin McCourty to safety full time, plays out the final season of his rookie contract, likes it here, re-signs, and becomes a good player and okay citizen.

Or he may not work out at all. Hell, he could be shooting holes in the solar panels at Patriot Place by Thanksgiving, terrorizing cabbies in Providence, and be sitting on a bale of weed in Foxboro center when the Patriots tell him that "it's not working out." And then he fights them.

These are the things we know:

The Patriots liked him very much in 2008 when he was coming out of Kansas and spent a lot of time working on him and visiting with him before drafting Jerod Mayo in the first round.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano and Bill Belichick are tight, so -- while this is not a sweetheart deal (New England gave up a 2013 fourth-rounder in exchange for Talib and a '13 seventh-rounder) -- the Patriots probably had the inside track to getting this done because they are out of conference for the Bucs, and the Pats knew Tampa Bay wanted to move him.

The Buccaneers decided they wanted to move Talib when they resigned themselves to the fact he would leave at the end of this season as a free agent.

Talib is 6-feet-1, 205, and 26 years old. He has 18 picks and 53 passes broken up in 58 games. He fancies himself a shutdown corner and always wants to cover the opponent's best receiver. He also got destroyed by Hakeen Nicks (10 catches, 199 yards) earlier this season and his play has been below his standards prior to the suspension.

He was not a problem for Schiano this year, according to sources in Tampa, but he is still dogged by maturity issues.

The signing of Talib will bring on the "what price success?" conversation and clucking about the Patriots wanting to have it both ways -- model organization, but one amenable to hiring guys with legal issues if they help the cause.

The Patriots' mindset on this stuff is simple. Every incoming player gets a clean slate. If they dirty said slate, there will be no debate. The player will be gone.

"But what about the children?!"

A) You don't have to have Aqib over for dinner. B) The children -- and everyone else in the house -- will be over it if the Patriots occupy bleak Sundays in January with playoff games.

To the Patriots, the end (winning games, fixing their secondary) justifies the means (hiring a serial jerk to help them win games and cover wide receivers).

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

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Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.