|Bruins put ‘B’ on the ceiling, might actually know what they’re doing||09.08.16 at 3:38 pm ET|
There are three generalizations made about sportswriters: They eat a lot, drink a lot and complain a lot. Like many generalizations, they often aren’t true, except for the last one. Sportswriters who don’t complain aren’t really sportswriters.
Twitter has only heightened this. Sportswriters send angry tweets to airlines about delayed flights as often as they send misguided tweets about Bruce Springsteen being one of the greats. With teams controlling more and more of the message, lack of availability has also become a common gripe from media members.
The plane thing is silly. If a plane can’t fly, it can’t fly. Adding any risk to your flight or someone else’s hardly sounds appetizing, so the flack writers catch for whining to airlines is well-deserved.
Yet the one complaint that is beyond mocking and completely warranted only applies to hockey writers, and it’s the “Stop telling me where to stand” complaint.
For those who don’t follow any hockey reporters on Twitter, many teams have giant logos in the middle of their dressing rooms, with the teams forbidding anyone from walking on them.
(Just to make sure you’re keeping up, “it” here means “the floor.” No walking on the floor. It’s like when kids call certain parts of the playground “lava,” only the hockey version is way more childish.)
When people accidentally step on The Sacred Part of the Floor, they’re often barked at by team employees, interns or the children of that team’s players. It is truly the most ridiculous part of a sport in which men chase each other around with sticks trying to hit one another in the penis (and then defend the guys who do it to them).
— Andrew Shaw (@shawz15er) July 10, 2013
The Bruins are among the teams with such logo placement and such rules. As newcomers to the room are scolded time and again, veterans of the beat are left to shake their heads and mutter, “If you don’t want people stepping on it, put it on the [expletive] ceiling.”
On Thursday, the Bruins answered the prayers of so many who had to pray over such a dumb thing. When the team opened the doors to its new practice facility at Warrior Ice Arena, the Bruins’ dressing room featured a magnificent three-dimensional logo with carefully placed lights to accentuate the eight-spoked B… on the [expletive] ceiling.
THE B IS ON THE CEILING THEY FINALLY LISTENED THANK GOD pic.twitter.com/dkKjQAdw94
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) September 8, 2016
“I never liked to put the jersey on the floor; I don’t know why the logo was on the floor,” once-perceived-fledgling-team-president-but-now-actual-genius Cam Neely said. “The whole concern about people stepping on it, that seemed to take up a lot of energy. I just felt that it was time to move it.”
Now, Bruins devotees might note that this isn’t really a change at all. After all, the dressing room in their former practice facility (Ristuccia Arena) did not feature a logo on the floor; the real chaos has always happened at the Garden, where the team plays its games. One time, in fact, the son of a player barked at a veteran reporter over stepping on the B. The reporter shouted something not-so-nice back at the kid, making “Don’t step on the B!” an actual thing that yielded screaming matches between children and grown men.
That’s where the real good news comes in. In explaining his confusion over the don’t-step-on-the-B hubbub, Neely said that renovations to TD Garden will affect the Bruins’ dressing room, at which point that carpet has a good chance of going bye-bye.
“In the very near future, the side of the building that faces the empty lot right now is going to be bumped out, so when that happens, we’ll probably renovate our locker room place,” he said.
Asked specifically if the logo will be taken off the floor, Neely replied, “That will happen.”
This change won’t help the Bruins’ in the standings. It won’t show up in box scores, and even the most advanced of stats won’t detect any change that this small move will bring, but it will indeed matter. For so many people (and Justin Bieber), it will bring peace of mind.
He’s made his share of mistakes (check out WEEI.com for more on that), but with this move, Cam Neely made has made his case for being the smartest guy in hockey. It’s hard to have any argument against that right now.
|John Whitesides out as Bruins’ strength and conditioning coach, transitions to community role||at 1:40 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — John Whitesides will no longer serve as the Bruins’ strength and conditioning coach, Cam Neely confirmed to WEEI.com Thursday. Whitesides, who has been with the Bruins for 15 years, will transition to a role that sees him head up a community fitness program through the Bruins, while Mike Macchioni will take over as Boston’s strength and conditioning coach.
Neely said that the shakeup was Whiteside’s decision, and that he asked to transition out of his longtime role and into the burgeoning “B Fit” program.
“John had approached us last year about an idea he had to get more involved in the community, getting out there in schools and maybe firehouses to show them the proper way to train and work out,” Neely told WEEI.com. “This summer, he had asked if there was an opportunity to transition to the community relations and foundation. It’s an area that he was looking forward to jumping into. We said, ‘If that’s what you want to do,’ we ended up creating this opportunity for him.”
Neely added the the team has also hired two additional physical therapists as they look to strengthen their overall program.
Prior to coming to the Bruins, Whitesides served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for Boston College’s men’s hockey and women’s basketball. He became something of a fan favorite with Bruins fans in recent seasons, as he was frequently shown barking at his players with expletive-laced speeches on NESN’s “Behind the B.”
Macchioni has worked with the Bruins for a number of years, serving as the Providence Bruins’ strength and conditioning coach in recent seasons and also acting as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the B’s. Prior to that, the Warwick, R.I. native was a strength and conditioning coach for Providence College. Macchioni was on hand for this summer’s development camp, as he had been in previous years.
“He’s always been helping out at development camp,” Neely said. “He’s worked with Providence, so our group knows him pretty well. He’s excited about the opportunity.”
|Claude Julien says he feels safe working for Cam Neely||06.10.15 at 10:39 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien is back for a ninth season as Bruins coach, and he said Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena that he doesn’t feel his status is temporary.
Furthermore, he said he feels safe working for B’s president Cam Neely, who has reportedly wanted to fire him in the past. The Boston Globe reported after the season that Neely wanted to relieve the coach in January.
“That’s what’s been out there. Is it the truth? That’s the biggest question,” Julien said of Neely wanting him gone.
Neely infamously said years ago that the Bruins can’t win games by a 0-0 score, something that was perceived as a shot at Julien. Both he and Julien say they’ve moved past that comment — Julien even noted they go out for drinks — but that isn’t what’s in question. What’s in question is whether Neely is going to want Julien gone again at some point.
“I think it’s foolish to think that a president is just hovering over a coach’s head, waiting [to] fire him,” Julien said. “He’s had the power, I guess, to do that, and he didn’t. I think right there and then, it’s got to tell you something. It’s not an issue for me.”
More to come from Julien.
|Cam Neely mum on final say, seeks better president-GM communication with Don Sweeney||05.20.15 at 3:36 pm ET|
After the Bruins introduced Don Sweeney as the team’s next general manager, Neely stressed the importance of communication in the front office, prompting a question as to whether he felt he and Chiarelli communicated as well as they would have liked.
“The communication could have been better,” Neely answered.
Chiarelli was the GM before Neely was president, but Chiarelli’s success prevented Neely from picking his own guy until the Bruins missed the playoffs this season.
Given that Sweeney is both a former teammate of Neely’s and the general manager of Neely’s choosing, the working relationship between he and Neely figures to be better. He claimed that his friendship with Sweeney did not take priority over the qualifications of other candidates.
“I’ve been president of the Bruins since 2010,” Neely said. “I have not hired a friend.”
Neely repeatedly deflected questions about who gets final say on player personnel, but noted he doesn’t want to do his general manager’s job.
“I’ve made it very clear: I’m not a GM. I don’t want to be a GM,” Neely said. “I want the GM to do the job, but I want to know what’s going on. I don’t know how much more clear I can be with that. If the GM wants to push and fight and say ‘This is the right thing,’ then I’ll sit down and listen. I want to have conversations. My door is always open.”
Neely was then asked who’s responsible for the moves the team makes, whether good or bad. He said that the president should take responsibility, but still avoided whether he makes the final decision. Asked who makes the call when the hockey operations department is split on a decision, he responded “tie goes to the runner.”
“Then who’s the runner?” multiple media members asked.
“Ultimately, if Don feels strongly about something, I’ve got to allow him to do his job,” Neely said, “but if I feel strongly about something then I’ll let him know. But this total autonomy thing, since I became president in 2010, it’s been [considered] a big deal, and I don’t get it. I really don’t.”
The Bruins fired Chiarelli on April 15. He has since taken over the Oilers as team president and GM. Because he had term on his contract that the Bruins would pay had he not found work elsewhere, the Bruins can seek draft pick compensation from the Oilers. Neely confirmed the Bruins are seeking a pick from the Oilers, which would be a second-round pick in one of the next three drafts. The Oilers get to pick which year they give up the pick, making it unlikely that they’ll part with the third pick of the second round in this June’s draft.
|Claude Julien’s fate with Bruins still undecided||at 3:01 pm ET|
While the Bruins now officially have a general manager, the situation with their head coach remains unclear.
Speaking at his introductory press conference, Boston GM Don Sweeney would not confirm whether he intends to retain or fire Claude Julien. The Bruins gave their final two general manager candidates the opportunity to meet with Julien, something Sweeney did earlier this month. Sweeney also spoke to Julien upon being promoted on Wednesday.
Both Sweeney and Julien were at a number of Providence Bruins games down the stretch as well.
“I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion,” Sweeney said. “As to where I think things need to change and to what direction we need to change as a group, and also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously as a coach and as a person. It’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in and that we can move the group forward.
“Some of that will involve personnel decisions. Some of that will involve staff member decisions and/or changes. That’s to be determined. He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today. That’s for sure.”
Speaking after the press conference, B’s president Cam Neely spoke highly of Julien and downplayed the belief that he has wanted to fire Julien at multiple points during his time as team president.
“Let me be clear. I think we have a good coach,” Neely said. “I know it’s been reported that we have a problem with our coach. I think over the years I would have liked to see some adjustments, but it wasn’t about [seeing] certain coaches available. For me, it was about making sure we were making the right decision with our GM first and then we’ll go from there.
Asked whether he felt Julien could change with the organization as it tweaks its approach to winning, Neely was noncommittal.
“He’s another smart hockey guy. He knows the game extremely well,” Neely said. “He’s had a lot of success. This is where Don is going to make those decisions with Claude as far as the adjustments that he thinks we need to make.
“This comment that I made in 2010 about [how] we can’t win games, 0-0, keeps getting played. Claude and I flushed that out in 2010. It’s 2015 now.”
Julien has been Boston’s head coach for eight seasons, reaching the postseason for seven consecutive years prior to this season. His 351 wins with the B’s put him 10 wins away from tying Art Ross for the most wins in Bruins history.
The pool of top coaching candidates has thinned, most recently with Mike Babcock‘s decision to coach the Leafs on Wednesday.
|Cam Neely admits he wants a voice but adds, ‘I don’t want to be a general manager’||04.16.15 at 7:52 am ET|
There was some speculation in the immediate aftermath of Peter Chiarelli’s firing Wednesday that Cam Neely might assume the role and add the general manager’s title onto his existing role of team president.
While team CEO Charlie Jacobs admitted that hockey operations will, for now, report directly to Neely, the team president said he wants no part of the gig long term.
“I’m not a micromanager and I don’t want to be a general manager,” Neely announced. “I want to have a vision, I want to understand what the vision of a general manager is going to be for the hockey club, obviously, as we move forward. I felt that I was able to have conversations and express my opinions. I felt that I was able to do that the last four or five years’six years. But as far as’I’m not a micromanager and I don’t intend to be.”
Neely did offer a critique of where he thinks the team might have gone astray over the last four seasons since winning the Cup in 2011, especially as it relates to drafting new talent.
“We have to look at the organization as a whole obviously and today’s day and age with the game and the cap and a team that is fortunate enough to spend to the cap,” Neely said. “As you have success and those players get better and you have to pay them more, you need those entry-level players to come in and be able to have an impact. It’s expensive to always get ready made players.
“It’s a nice luxury to be able to have but when you don’t have the cap space to be able to do that, you’ve got to find entry-level players. I think there was a period of time there where’I don’t think I’m saying anything that hasn’t been chronicled’we missed on three or four years on some drafts that I think right now we’re kind of paying the price for. That’s not the sole reason but that’s an area where I think we can improve.”
Neely was asked if he had input or final authorization on moves that might have led the Bruins away from a tougher on-ice image that he has preferred ever since his playing days.
“Like I said I’m not going to micromanage a GM. I want him to do his job,” Neely said. “I certainly want to have conversations about why and what the thought process is to make particular deals and trades and how that is going to look for the franchise, not just when it happens but also moving forward. The other thing to your second question, I think where we’ve had success is our four lines play hard. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t have skill and play hard. It’s something where ‘is it easy to find?’ No, but I think I’d like to see us get back to playing hard and where the team plays for each other. I think we lost that a little bit.”
|Cam Neely says next general manager will decide Claude Julien’s fate||04.15.15 at 4:57 pm ET|
While Peter Chiarelli’s fate is known, Claude Julien‘s isn’t.
Cam Neely and Charlie Jacobs said in Wednesday’s press conference that a decision has still not been made on whether Julien will be kept or fired. Neely made it clear that just because Julien hasn’t been fired yet, it doesn’t mean he won’t be.
“It hasn’t fully been made,’ Neely said of the decision. “We met with Claude this morning, Charlie and I. We told him that we really believe that once we go through the exhaustive search to find the next general manager, we will leave it up to that GM to decide what he wants to do on our coaching staff. Claude certainly understood that, but that’s where we left it.”
If the Bruins wait to fire Julien, the coach could miss out on other jobs. Julien signed a multi-year extension with the Bruins prior to this season and, if fired, would be paid it until he got a new job.
As such, there would be no incentive for Julien to quit while in limbo.
“We told him the situation and we asked him, and he said, ‘I signed a contract to coach here and I want to coach here,’ so he made that clear when he left,” Neely said. “We had planned to meet with him in the next couple days to sit down about the season and talk to him about this past season. That’s next on our agenda with Claude.”
Asked whether the Bruins would consider “trading” Julien for draft picks, Neely said the team had yet to consider it.
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