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Orr on focusing on Cooke: ‘That’s silly’

03.18.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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Before and after Thursday’s game against the Penguins the Bruins will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup champions team. Many of the major alumni from the era are in attendance at TD Garden and were made available to the media in an afternoon session in the executive suite on the second level of the stadium. Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith and Fred Stanfield, among others were in attendance to rehash the memories of that great Bruins team.

Yet, the members of the last great Bruins dynasty could not completely escape the drama that the current incarnation in embroiled in. For the most part they were diplomatic and are trying not to stoke the fire and the media did its best to keep the topic on 1970 as opposed to 2010.

“Just getting together and seeing the guys again is really what it is all about,” Orr said. “I have to thank the Bruins for doing this. They have really been first class.”

Orr was bullish on the notion that the 1970 team would still be a great squad even in the current era of the NHL.

“We had a pretty good hockey team,” Orr said. “If you look at our lines they would be a pretty good team today too. We were pretty close. I don’t believe we had any ego problems or anything like that and we knew it was more fun to win than to lose and we loved to win hockey games … we didn’t need anyone else taking care of our problems, we could care of those ourselves.”

The group of reporters around Orr held out questions about Matt Cooke and the Penguins for about six minutes before finally succumbing to the temptation to ask one of the greatest hockey player of all time what he thinks about the situation. He reiterated what the current players said earlier Thursday — it is about the two points and to make it a point to go after Cooke would be “silly.”

“The Bruins have to go out tonight and play. It is two points, they are in a fight. And the Penguins are struggling a little bit. First of all I think that it is going to be a heck of a hockey game. It would be silly for the Bruins that their key thing to be to go after a player,” Orr said. “That’s silly. It would be a silly thing to do, it would be a silly thing for all of us. I was listening to a talk show coming in and the fan was ‘you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to take [Sidney] Crosby out.’ Come on. That is silly.”

Orr did express his opinion on the nature of the hit and what he thinks of Marc Savard.

“In my mind, it was an illegal hit. In my mind, a player like Marc Savard, who is a great hockey player, you bump him, you grind him, you get in his way. But, he is a player that you don’t run over like that. There were periods where that was understood that,” Orr said. “It would be like like me, during my time, running over Jean Beliveau from behind or blindsiding him. You just don’t do that. I was a pain in the you know what, so I was hit a lot. I would hit so I am going to get hit back but Marc, you just don’t do that to him.”

Orr was asked if the rules changes between his era and the current era has led to more hits like the Cooke’s on Savard but understands that the players cannot be given free reign over vigilante justice.

“The rules are pretty strict on things like that. I believe that if they let the players police it for a little while everyone will soon understand but I am not sure they will let them do that,” Orr said.

Read More: Bobby Orr, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke,

Brickley on D&C: Cooke will be dealt with

03.18.10 at 3:07 pm ET
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When Penguins forward Matt Cooke hit Marc Savard on March 7, he took Boston’s top playmaker out for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. But there was no response to Cooke from the B’s players on the ice.

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley said he thinks the Penguins won’t be so lucky tonight.

“I’m around this team all the time, they have good conviction, they do stand up for one another, and when they play physical and when they play tough, they’re a good team, and they still have some skill that makes them a threat in the Eastern Conference.”

Brickley caught up with the guys on Dennis & Callahan to hit on all things Savard and Cooke, addressing how he thinks the Bruins will respond, when they’ll respond, and why, as a team, they have to respond.

“Well, [if they don’t respond], it says that they wouldn’t be a team, that they don’t have each others’ backs. That we’re a weak team, and we’re very vulnerable, and teams like that don’t exist, they don’t last very long.”

Read below for a transcript. To hear the interview, click here.

Is it more important for the Bruins to make a point tonight to the league or score some points against the Penguins?

Well, no question they need points, given the situation they’re in, in the Eastern Conference. But that will be secondary tonight, this is an opportunity to respond, something they didn’t do at the time, when Marc Savard was hit by Matt Cooke, and they will take every opportunity to make sure their character is no longer in question.

Will this just be the Bruins taking the body all night tonight, or will there be a line of Boston tough guys lining up to drop the gloves with this guy?

My expectation is that, and if I was Danny Bylsma the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I would make sure Matt Cooke starts tonight. Don’t give it a chance to continue to percolate, wait for this first shift, and allow the crowd and everybody else to get behind this. I would start him, put him on the first shift, and I would expect Boston to line up guys like [Zdeno] Chara and [Milan] Lucic and [Mark] Stuart, and make sure it’s a very long night for Matt Cooke. You almost feel like, don’t suspend this guy, make him have to play the whole game, he can’t take any shifts off, he has to play the full 60 minutes, that might be the best retribution that you can put on the ice.

So what happens after the puck drops — or will it even drop before something happens?

Well, this is all speculation, but I think, first of all the puck has to drop, or you get in more problems with the league. But, yeah, you call him out. It’s very plain and simple. Whoever lines up against him, you want to make it the longest night possible for him. The analogy is the whole Mike Richards hit on David Booth, that is the lightening rod that has been all the discussion with hits to the head all year long after that hit. What happened after that hit? Did Florida respond, was there a five-on-five brawl, was that frontier justice, to steal a line from Jack Edwards, in play — that didn’t happen. But it was the ensuing game when things needed to be addressed. And they were addressed. And Mike Richards went out on the ice, expected to be challenged, was challenged, and once he stood up for himself, and once they got through that and things were settled, everybody was pleased with how it was handled.

Any chance we sit here tomorrow and say boy, nothing happened last night?

No, I don’t think we’ll have that conversation tomorrow.

What if he chooses not to fight?

I’m not sure. That would not be the best course of action for Matt Cooke, and I don’t expect that to happen, and I don’t think that will be allowed to happen. This is a guy that plays on the edge, he’s a repeat offender, if you take a look at the list of guys that he’s fought in his career, its not a who’s who list of tough guys in the NHL, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Do the Bruins feel bad about their lack of response on the night it happened?

I think so. I think so, if you go back to that night in Pittsburgh, I know Jack didn’t see it, I saw it out of the corner of my eye because we were following the puck. I talked to other people that were broadcasting the game, they didn’t see it.

Michael Ryder saw it.

Michael did see it. And he did go over and try to do what he did to Matt Cooke, but if you talk to the players on the ice, it was one of those situations, one-goal game, they need the points, nobody got a real good look at it outside of Michael Ryder, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt that it didn’t happen, there was no immediate response. I brought up the Florida and Philadelphia situation for that reason. Sometimes you just don’t see it if you’re on the ice, I know in the old days, well, contact, your player goes down, there was an immediate response, that’s the way the game was, it’s not like that anymore.

So the self-policing rules have changed a bit since you used to play?

Oh absolutely. And they have to revisit this whole instigator penalty, until they change that, nothing will change. And the league has some black eyes they have to address, and this is definitely one of them. Hopefully they will, because they got it wrong, plain and simple. This was a blind-side hit to a defenseless player in a position where he had no idea the hit was coming. It was predatory in nature, he targeted the head, and he’s a repeat offender — how can you not suspend this guy? And I don’t understand the logic behind it, they had an opportunity to make a difference, to make the right call, and they didn’t do it. Again, I will reference the Richards hit on Booth, when that happened, they said we have to take a look at this. And there’s been hits to the head after that, where there’s been no penalties on the play, no priors, I’ll use Curtis Glencross’s hit on Chris Drury, no priors, yet they suspended him because it was a hit to the head, something they have to address. Now, they have a chance to really lay the law and change the rule, say this was intent to injure, and they drop the ball.

But the irony would be if Michael Ryder had done something about it, he might get suspended instead. That’s sick.

Yeah, that’s true. You know, that’s why I said, this is, and I’ll steal another line from Jack Edwards, dartboard justice, there’s no logic, and there’s no reasoning sufficient for me to be able to understand the rules that come down from the office in New York. And Colin Campbell is going to be in attendance tonight, and the two teams will be addressed, and there will be warnings put out, they created this culture. They created it. And now they want to manage it, and I think it’s up to the Bruins to handle it themselves.

Is there any chance Sidney Crosby or [Evgeni] Malkin pays the price for this?

That’s the other layer of this. We’ve already talked about the five-on-five brawl that might have ensued years ago. I know, when I broke into the league back in the early ’80s, when your good players were targeted, OK, you might want to go after the guys that targeted your good guys, but you went after their skill guys — that’s the way it works. And, I think that’s part of the message that needs to be sent in Pittsburgh. That if Matt Cooke isn’t going to be suspended, and everybody wants to focus their attention on Matt Cooke, the other layer is then lets focus on their skill guys. Apparently it’s OK to go predatory in nature and target head hits on skill guys because the league’s saying it’s OK.

When Savard walks into the locker room again, will there be a chill between him and Michael Ryder?

Nothing will change there, they’ll still be very good teammates, they will understand the situation, that will not be a problem. I think if the situation just goes away tonight and there’s no response by Boston as a team, then you would have a problem, but that won’t happen.

If the Bruins chose to do nothing tonight, that sends a message — what is that message?

Well, it says that they wouldn’t be a team, that they don’t have each others’ backs. That we’re a weak team, and we’re very vulnerable, and teams like that don’t exist, they don’t last very long. They don’t make playoffs, they don’t have deep playoff runs. I’m playing along, but that’s not going to happen. I’m around this team all the time, they have good conviction, they do stand up for one another, and when they play physical and when they play tough, they’re a good team, and they still have some skill that makes them a threat in the Eastern Conference. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the Dallas game last year and how much that brought that group together when things got a little nasty out there with Avery, but this is an opportunity for them tonight, and they will seize it.

So if he fights, who does he fight?

Who will relish the opportunity? Certainly Milan Lucic is on the roster, Mark Stuart is in the mix, Zdeno Chara is along there — you look at your leaders and your tough guys and guys that can handle the situation to be at the top of the list, but it could be anybody, it’s the ultimate team sport. There’s 20 guys in the lineup.

Claude Julian was uncomfortably calm after this incident, is he that way behind closed doors?

No. You try to know your audience, you try to get certain results depending on who you’re talking to. You know, what do I need out of this situation and what’s my best tact, he’s very smart that way. You definitely know who’s boss over there, he has a firm hand, he knows when the team needs a good, swift kick, and at that time, he tried to control his emotions. And he did hope, as did I, as did everybody, that the league would handle it properly, and they didn’t. So, my anticipation is that Claude will have no problem with his teams’ emotions tonight.

So what he said in public might not be what they’re saying in the locker room — does that go for Lucic when he said, “Right now we’re in a dog-fight to stay in a playoff position, right now that’s what’s on our minds. Savvy would be a lot happier if we just got a win against Pittsburgh.”

Well I think that’s been the message coming from inside the locker room ever since the Pittsburgh game.

Tell me he doesn’t mean it, though.

Well, you know, read between the lines, and I think actions speak a whole lot louder than words. And I can appreciate that sentiment coming from the Bruins, saying that it’s all about points and wins will be retribution enough, but I think we know better.

Does this start to unfold drop of the puck, first shift, first period?

I’m hopeful Matt Cooke starts the game, I think it’s the smartest move that Pittsburgh can make, I think that’s what Dan Bylsma will do. That is my expectation, that it will happen early, they’ll want to try to get it out of the way, not let it build into a frenzy. Pittsburgh, you know lost last night against New Jersey, they’re slipping in the standings, and I think this situation has also been on their radar ever since the Cooke hit on Savard.

Milbury on D&H: ‘Mired in this Neanderthal B.S.’

03.18.10 at 12:50 pm ET
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NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in with Dale & Holley show (audio here) to talk about Thursday night’s Bruins-Penguins game and the potential for nastiness involving Penguins villain Matt Cooke. Milbury said he’s heard that NHL vice president Colin Campbell will address the teams prior to the game. Said Milbury: “That’s what I’m hearing. I don’t know what he’s going to say, but I’m sure there will be references to past incidents, [Todd] Bertuzzi-[Steve] Moore, for example, and he doesn’t what any nonsense and what-not, which is good. We had such a great buzz after the Winter Classic. We had such an incredible buzz after the Olympics, and now we get stuck and mired in this Neanderthal B.S., which is really unfortunate for the sport.”

Milbury said he expects the Bruins will seek retribution early. “I hope it isn’t silly. I hope it’s mano-a-mano and confrontational and sends a message to Matt Cooke that this isn’t going to happen. And I actually think if it happens twice, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. But I don’t want it to deteriorate. … The actual game had such a positive buzz. I don’t want to lose that in the circus sideshow here. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think there’s a need to go after Sidney Crosby in any untoward way.”

Added Milbury: “The Bruins, their macho is challenged, their ego is challenged, their self-esteem is on the line. I think they’re going to feel compelled to get even, whatever that means. I’m not so sure they have to. I wish all this stuff happened spontaneously rather than a planned event, but it happens.”

Milbury said it’s important not to let things get out of hand, for the sake of all involved. “We want a hockey game,” he said. “A hard-played and well-fought — no pun intended — hockey game, where if there’s a way to get some measure of justice when you feel like justice had not be been served on a cheap-shot hit to your teams’ most valuable player, so be it. So be it. Man, oh, man, this is not a real war, this is a professional hockey game to be played hard and within the boundaries of the rules, for the most part. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that people get hurt out here.”

As for Campbell, Milbury said: “I think he’s done … what he thinks is right, by the book. You may have issues with that, but I know Colin Campbell well enough to know he takes the job seriously. … He struggled with it. He struggled with this decision big-time.”

Milbury said the Penguins should let Cooke know his dirty play will not be tolerated any more. “It’s disgraceful if they haven’t addressed it already,” Milbury said.

As for the Bruins’ chances to make the playoffs, Milbury said: “I think it’s going to be Boston or New York, and I give the edge to Boston now.”

Read More: Bruins, Colin Campbell, Matt Cooke, Mike Milbury

Claude Julien pregame press conference, 3/18

03.18.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien spoke to the media after Thursday’s morning skate. For a transcript, click here.

Read More: Claude Julien, Matt Cooke,

Julien: This is not the 1970s

03.18.10 at 12:26 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed and unusually large group of media after their morning skate on Thursday before their game against the Penguins. Like the Boston players, Julien deflected most talk about how his team will handle Matt Cooke after his hit that put center Marc Savard out for the season with a Grade 2 concussion on March 7. Julien also noted that Blake Wheeler, Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Wideman did not participate in the morning skate because of a flu bug that is going around the team and that each will be a game-time decision.

Here is the transcript courtesy of the Bruins media relations staff:

On what his message was and will be for Bruins, in light of all of the media attention surrounding tonight’s game:

I don’t think I have to say everything I said in that dressing room. The one thing I can tell you is there’s an importance for us to win and get ourselves in the playoffs. That’s obviously pretty important for us, and the rest will take care of itself.

On if the best retribution in his mind (despite others’ opinions) is to win tonight’s game:

You can do [it] a lot of ways, and we’ll deal with the situation when the situation comes about, but we know that the number one thing is to win a hockey game here.

On what he thinks Colin Campbell and Terry Gregson will say to him, Dan Bylsma, Peter Chiarelli and (Penguins GM) Ray Shero today:

No idea. Really, no idea. I’m preparing for my game and whatever they tell me, we’re going to listen and see what they have to say, but I have no idea. Obviously they don’t want this to get out of control. That’s why they’re here and they’re certainly going to keep a close eye on it, including the referees and I think everybody knows that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke,

Shawn Thornton pregame press conference, 3/18

03.18.10 at 11:49 am ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton spoke to the media following the team’s morning skate on Thursday and answered questions about Matt Cooke and the condition of Marc Savard.

Read More: Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton,

Bruins looking for win first, Cooke second

03.18.10 at 11:44 am ET
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There is blood in the water.

The Bruins know it. The fans know it. The media especially knows it. When Matt Cooke and the Penguins take the ice Thursday night at TD Garden, the entire NHL community will be watching to see how the Bruins respond. The situation has become serious to the point that NHL vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell and director of officiating Terry Gregson will be in attendance at the game and will address both coaches before the puck drops.

The players are not saying all that much though. Really, there is not much they can say. The instigator rule and prevents them from saying that they are going to go out and take Cooke down and purposefully going after specific players for vigilante justice has become a sensitive topic in the league. Either way, the eyes of Boston will be on Shawn Thornton, Mark Stuart and Milan Lucic to step up against Cooke early and often.

Thornton knows there is hype coming in but he is just not buying it.

“You [the media] are the ones that keep hyping it,” Thornton said. “Obviously we are not happy with [Savard] being hurt but we need the two points, we are scraping for a playoff spot.”

Do not get Thornton wrong. He is an old school type of player and understands his role on the team. At the same time, he is not looking for his own suspension and is not a fan of the instigator rule though he understands why it is in place. The letter of the law (rule 47.11 in the NHL rulebook) defines an instigator with the following criteria — “distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.”

That last part would definitely apply in the case of Cooke v. Bruins.

“I am not a big believer in this [instigator] rule anyways,” Thornton said. “We also have guys in this league who aren’t as honest anyway so I understand why it is there.”

Every Bruin is more or less saying the same thing — we need the two points tonight because we are fighting for a playoff spot. That is the bottom line.

“The focus is on the game, we have to have two points,” Steve Begin said. “It is very close right now for the playoffs. That is all that matters, that is how we are thinking this morning. I don’t know what is going to happen, what he [Campbell] is going to talk about.”

The media dug at Begin and Thornton, asking about Cooke and the Penguins with variations of the same question (ie, what are you going to do tonight?) but the answer was just about always the same — we want the two points.

“We are just approaching this game as one where we need the two points,” Tim Thomas said after deflecting a question on how the Bruins dealt with instigators like Sean Avery last year. “We are on that border for the playoffs so the most important thing is the two points.”

The game in question from last year was against the Stars in early November. The Bruins, with Marc Savard leading the way against Avery, got into a brawl that ended up sparking the team on a run from November to February last season and was one of the defining moments of the year. Thursday’s game has a chance to be a defining moment for Boston if they can deal with the Cooke issue on the ice and register a convincing win against one of the top teams in the conference. At the same time, no one can plan a defining moment.

“Those type of games, you can’t plan them,” Thomas said. “If you plan them and try to make it into a game like that then it hardly ever works. So, it could be a big win for us to make sure that we are in the playoffs. Beyond that, who knows? You just have to play.”

On the other end of the aisle, the Penguins have their own problems to deal with. They are coming to Boston on the back end of a back-to-back after being dropped 5-2 by the Devils last night and are now tied with New Jersey at the top of the Atlantic division with 87 points.

“I don’t know, I am not on their side and I don’t know how they are going to react,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “You never want to see a guy get injured like that, it is very sad. But hockey happens fast, everything happens fast and it sucks to see [Savard] go down like that and it looks like the rules are going to change a little bit and hopefully we can prevent stuff like that from happening.”

Cooke’s teammates know that he will be looking out for himself come game time.

“[Cooke] is going to come out and play the way he plays,” Eric Godard said. “He always shows up and plays the same way every night. So, I would not expect anything else tonight … [Cooke] always has his head up. He is more than able to take care of himself.

Read More: Eric Godard, Marc Savard, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cooke
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