FOXBORO - Between them, Brian Waters and Gerard Warren have spent 23 seasons in the NFL and played in 341 games. Neither has been to the Super Bowl. Until now. "This is what I've been dreaming of since I was a kid," Warren said Monday afternoon in a locker room almost devoid of players but crawling with media. "Now it's reality. I'm there. Been looking forward to this my whole life."A khaki colored fishing hat perched atop his head, Warren's smile broke widely as he reflected on the opportunity. "I've just been wishing I could be there, bro," he said when asked what it's been like all these years watching peers play in Super Bowls. "The stars were aligned and I'm here now."Warren, the third-overall pick in 2001, once made it to the AFC Championship game (2005with Denver). Waters? Three total playoff games. All losses. "Im overjoyed," Waters said Sunday night. "This is an unbelievable deal. This is probably the most excited I have been in a long time, since the birth of my children probably. God knows this has been unbelievable and I have been truly blessed. I appreciate my teammates and these guys welcomed me here and just gave me an opportunity to do something special.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.
-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.