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‘Grapes’ gives B’s some love 11.23.08 at 7:53 pm ET
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Everybody knows that Don Cherry has always harbored a soft spot in his heart for the Spoked B of the Boston Bruins — the team that gave him his first shot behind an NHL bench — and the inimitable Grapes gave the Big, Bad B’s a couple of screaming one-timers during the must-see Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada last weekend.

First Dandy Don — decked out in a Looney Toons tie in honor of the Grey Cup held in Montreal last weekend — tosses a few deserved attaboys at Marc Savard for potting his 600th career point last week, and then praised the B’s center for the all-around game he continues to play for Coach Claude Julien in Boston this season. He’s built on last year’s All-Star worthy season with a campaign that currently has him ranked second in the NHL in assists (19), third in points (27) and third with a sterling +13 mark for the season. This from an undeniably gifted skater/playmaker that was a minus player in all but one season before coming to Boston, and is currently still a -61 for his career. Three more years of a Julien/Savard combo might just see him break into positive territory.

The Savard kudos continues a growing back-and-forth mutual admiration society  between the crafty center and the God Father of blustery hockey talk in the Great White North.

A little later on Cherry also ladles some puck love for the “great Canadian spirit” that defenseman Andrew Ference displayed when he powered right through the pain of a broken tibia in his right leg to still clear the puck during a PK situation against the Canadiens. As B’s fans will remember, Ference was hit in the right leg with an Andre Markov slapper, dropped to the ice in obvious pain, and then battled several times to regain his footing. The felled blueliner then cleared the puck from Boston’s zone once he got back on his skates.  Ference was diagnosed with fractured tibia several days later, but — even after repeated viewings — it simply doesn’t get any less compelling watching the blueliner battle to get to his feet and do his job before gingerly skating off the ice.

Courtesy of the wonderful world of youtube, Cherry’s bon mots on Savard start at about roughly the four minute mark and Ference is at roughly the 5:50 mark…enjoy.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Don Cherry, Marc Savard
Every picture tells a story… 11.20.08 at 8:57 am ET
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With the Boston Bruins enjoying a renaissance and starting to capture the imagination and attention of the Boston sports fan, now would be a good time to take a look at one of the best pictorials ever done on the Original Six franchise by one of the best photographers ever to cover Boston sports.

Black and Gold – Four Decades of the Boston Bruins in Photographs is out in bookstores and available on line. It is a piece of work that chronicles one man’s life of documenting one of the most storied teams on ice. But the real hook in the book are the stories that go along with the pictures that were taken by Bruins photographer Steve Babineau.

The text was written by former NESN Bruins reporter Rob Simpson with a sincere and heartfelt foreward provided by none other than ‘Grapes’ himself, Don Cherry.

My personal favorite story behind the photo is a tale of Adam Oates, Brett Hull, Neil Young and a guitar.

In the ‘Scrapbook’ chapter, ‘Babs’ also does a great job of including his two sons and daughter, detailing how they have been with him every step of his impressive photojournalist career.

For those who cover sports now at TD Banknorth Garden, not only is ‘Babs’ a fixture, but so, too, are his sons Brian, an assistant equipment manager, and Keith, who has followed in dad’s footsteps as a team photographer. His daughter Jamie is also now a photographer who can be seen in and around the Garden.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Don Cherry, Steve Babineau,
B’s Bruiser returns to the Looch Lair 10.28.08 at 9:32 am ET
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It’s a homecoming tonight for Vancouver homeboy Milan Lucic, who played junior hockey for the Vancouver Giants and is appropriately pumped to play his first ever NHL game at GM Place against the Canucks on Tuesday night. The local Vancouver media has the requisite “prodigal pugilist coming home” stories with the best of them including a photo gallery and baby picture of Looch before he became the 20-year-old glass-shattering Hulk lurking on the TD Banknorth Garden ice.

Lucic told ESPN’s Louise K. Cornetta last weekend that he was understandably besieged by ticket requests in his home city, but he instead bought just seven tickets for his parents, siblings and grand-parents to attend the game. Lucic’s older brother Jovan, however, rented out a luxury box at GM Place for at least 70 of Lucic’s closest admirers, so there should be an usual amount of cheering and “Looch Calls” for the Bruiser in the Spoked B on Tuesday night. 

The Looch started slowly during B’s training camp this fall amid expectations that he was going to immediately morph into Cam Neely as a 20-year-old NHL neophyte, but it’s fair to say he’s now hitting his stride after creating a youtube sensation with his monster hit against the Maple Leafs and then following that by rattling off the first hat trick of his career last weekend. Much of Lucic’s success can be traced to the natural physical gifts bestowed upon the hulking power forward, but the youngster also has the work ethic to match — as his former Vancouver Giants strength and conditioning coach, Ian Gallagher, told Pucks with Haggs last month: 

‘€œHe certainly did a lot of his power speed-work and he’€™s getting older now’€¦so his game is coming along appropriately fast. The first step is all about power that allows you to go from a stationary position to full exertion very quickly. So plyometrics are a big staple of his program and power cleaning is a big staple of his program. Change of direction is big with a lot of diagonal sprints where they’€™re stopping and going quickly There was steady growth for Milan over the summer. He’€™s got great genetics and he’€™s a very committed person. He came back very motivated and very willing to improve, and his scores improved over the summer as you expect somebody would that’€™s got the proper motivation. Nothing surprises me with Milan though because he’€™s got a real disposition for growth.’€

‘€œHe’€™s got a great frame to put on muscle mass and handle it. He’€™s got great levers and he’€™s got a very strong core and a good musculature to him that allows him to excel,’€ said Gallagher. ‘€œHis leg mass is tremendous. His leg press is well over 900 pounds for eight reps and his power clean for reps is 275 pounds, which are both really football player-like numbers.

‘€œWhich is a little amazing because he’€™s got a very unassuming musculature to him. Because you look at his arms and there’€™s not a heck of a lot of mass to them, but his core is just so bloody powerful. His legs are massive and his trunk is massive, and when he gets those big muscles going it demonstrates itself in a powerful way when he collides with somebody or when he’€™s shooting the puck. I think it’€™s one of his biggest assets.’€

 

 

 

New rules kicked around at GM Meetings
Here’s a good piece from respected columnist Ken Campbell from The Hockey News about some of the rule proposals discussed at the GM Meetings in Chicago that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli mentioned to Pucks with Haggs last week. Included in the proposals are some pretty revolutionary ideas, like penalizing players for leaving their feet to block shoots.
Offense has been up thus far this season, but these kinds of rules would really take the NHL back to the offensively heavy NHL days of yore. Diving to block shots is such a time-honored, gritty way to play ‘D’ in your own zone that I’d be hesitant to take it out the game, but wide open hockey does have its positives. 

–In other link news: Don Cherry takes some well-aimed shots at Dallas Stars bad boy Sean Avery during last weekend’s Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada after the rough-and-tumble forward backed out of a few fights over the last week — including a potential scrap with New Jersey Devils forward David Clarkson, who dropped his stick and had the gloves coming off in anticipation. Something tells me Clarkson might have been defending the honor of legendary goalie Martin Brodeur, who Avery called “fatso” during the playoffs last season when the NHL adopted the “Avery Rule.”

 
 

 

 

 

Read More: Boston Bruins, David Clarkson, Don Cherry, Hockey Night in Canada
A Canadian man and his stick 09.26.08 at 3:18 pm ET
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Let’s drop the puck on this Bruins blog, which will become “Pucks with Haggs” in the very near future, with one of my favorite B’s-related moments from last winter. I have the NHL Home Ice Package and religiously watch TSN’s Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday, and always look forward to the dapper Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner in between periods.

With that as the preface, the best Bruins rant from “Grapes” came late in the season with the Black and Gold pressing for a playoff berth. Cherry caught a juicy bit of footage of center Marc Savard on the Bruins bench seemingly talking to his stick and patting the head of the stick like a pet schnauzer. Hockey players are obviously very in tune with their tools of the trade, but Cherry seems to be intimating that Savard was professing deep love to his hockey stick while waiting for his next shift.

I asked Savvy about this before the team departed for Halifax and here’s what he had to say: “I don’t really talk to my stick. It’s just been a habit my whole life because I really love my sticks. I do love my sticks, though, but I’m not telling them that I love them. I’m always checking my sticks and making sure they’re not broken and there’s no snow in the blade…or just taking care of it. I’m always taking care of her and making sure she’s ready to go. Maybe I was talking to Muzz [Glen Murray] beside me as I was fooling around with it. I didn’t really see it, but a bunch of my buddies that always watch Hockey Night in Canada told me about it [at this point defenseman Dennis Wideman chimes in from the next locker over and says that Savard taped the show and watches it all the time]…so I autographed a stick and sent it to him after the season was over. I signed it: To Don, take care of it for me.”

Was Savard really whispering sweet hockey nothings to his stick, or was he talking to Murray sitting next to him on the bench? You be the judge, and let me know what you think at jhaggerty@weei.com

Read More: Dennis Wideman, Don Cherry, Glen Murray, Hockey Night in Canada
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