CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Manager Bobby Valentine scoffed at reports that a rift is developing between him and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
I think its lazy journalism, Valentine said before Mondays game against the Phillies of any perceived power struggle.
Thats what I think. I think its an easy story to write. It has no validity. Absolutely none. I could have written it on Dec. 3. Are you kidding me?
There are some writers who are lazy and some writers that are clever. It was a clever journalist that set that all up, too. It comes with the territory.
Valentine, who said he communicates "a few times a day" with Cherington, compared his relationship with Cherington to that of his relationship with Tom Grieve during his tenure with the Rangers.
Its dissimilar to my relationship with Joe McIlvaine with the Mets. Similar to Grieve and early in my relationship with Steve Phillips in New York, he said. When Steve became GM we had both been in the organization for three years. With Tom, he was there and I wasnt. So there was a lot of sharing in what he had to do to get me caught up. And thats been a similar thing. We were both young guys and now Im an older guy.
BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.
Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season.
No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal.
“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind.
“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”
Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season.
Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while it’s all happening around the NHL world ahead of tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eric Engels says that a torturous February shows that nothing will come easy for the Montreal Canadiens.
*Some raw locker room video from the Florida Panthers with local D-man Keith Yandle holding court with reporters.
*PHT writer James O’Brien has some early thoughts, and some praise, for the Washington Capitals landing puck-moving D-man and big ticket rental player Kevin Shattenkirk.
*The Toronto Maple Leafs up their playoff cred by landing gritty, big third-line center Brian Boyle ahead of the trade deadline.
*Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are the city of Chicago’s longest-tenured teammates having spent the last 12 years together with the Blackhawks.
*Patrice Bergeron and Toucher and Rich are getting together for their 10th annual Cuts for a Cause, which will be on March 27.
*For something completely different: Jimmy Kimmel gives his perspective of the debacle that went down at the end of the Academy Awards on Sunday night.