And on the third day, the Bruins remained silent. Again.
Just as they did on the first day, Friday, and just as they did on the second day, the entire Black-and-Gold franchise opting to slip under a cone of silence with five forwards, including primo scorer David Pastrnak, forced into COVID protocol late last week in Buffalo.
Sunday served as yet another day of continued radio silence from the bedraggled, banged up sons of Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs. The Bruins again made no one available for comment, be it from the player ranks, coaches, management, media staff, medical personnel, ownership, bullgang, or gallery gods.
What we have here is failure to communicate. Other than the fortunate few of us left with a trace of snow in the driveway, how else would we know it’s still hockey season around here?
The first day of spring arrived Sunday, the very thick of the NHL’s ’21 regular season, and it might as well have been mid-August when it came to anyone around the Bruins having something to say, any insight to offer, be it about the pandemic-induced pause to the schedule or any of the infinite bits of minutia involving what for decades has been one the city’s most interesting, and best chronicled, pro franchises.
Maybe team president Cam Neely, GM Don Sweeney, or coach Bruce Cassidy finally will emit a plume of smoke — be it black, gold, or otherwise — on Monday from the Causeway hockey cathedral.
If so, great. Because it is still hockey season. Or is it? Hello…hello…hello……?
For now, we are left only with the score sheet from Thursday night, a 4-1 win in Buffalo, as testimony to the current state of a club clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot in the MassMutual East.
▪ Will any of the club’s legion of injured return soon, once the franchise is out from under COVID lockdown?
▪ Has Brandon Carlo made any substantive steps in his recovery from a March 5 concussion he suffered at the shoulder of the dastardly Tom Wilson? By the way, Wilson returned to action Saturday night. He assisted in the Capitals’ lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers.
▪ Might Sweeney be able to make a meaningful deal prior to the April 12 trade deadline?
▪ Could it be worth giving winger Jakub Lauko, now with 13 points in 13 games, a promotion from Providence?
▪ How did the five players “in protocol” — Jake DeBrusk, Craig Smith, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, and Pastrnak — all make it back to Boston Friday while segregated from their teammates? Centers drive lines. Was it Krejci or Kuraly at the wheel of the minivan?
▪ Will Sweeney et al petition to make up some games after May 8, the date the league initially set as season’s end? If the Bruins can get on the ice Thursday vs the Islanders, they could be faced with a backbreaking stretch of 28 games over 45 days.
It would be great to know some of that, wouldn’t it, Bueller? Uh….Bueller…hello….?
If the blackout goes any longer, heck, we might have to resort to an NHL MassMutual East actuary at the company’s Springfield Worldwide HQ opening the books and sharing thoughts on the the club’s life expectancy in the playoffs.
Oh, the utter joy, MassMutual Actuarial Insider, brought to you by NESN.
If time with a bean counter sounds like a return to the scintillating Fred Creighton days, that’s not entirely accurate, because the tidy, soft-spoken Creighton was canned as coach only seven games prior to the start of the ’80 playoffs. With a record, by the way, of 40-20-13. He never got to the playoffs.
“It was murder,” said then-GM Harry Sinden the day in March when he sent Creighton packing hours before the Bruins took the ice in Atlanta to play the Flames.
The Bruins had stumbled along with a 1-2-4 mark over the previous two weeks that spring and Give ‘em Hell Harry, never short of something to say, or the time to say it, was disgusted by the lack of physical and emotional play from his charges.
He saw too much peripheral play, said Sinden, which, by the way, often has been an issue with this season’s Bruins, 41 seasons later. Some themes never die.
“We’ve had some pretty atrocious performances,” Sinden told the Globe’s Fran Rosa. “Maybe it’s the players who are wrong, but there’s no way I could replace 20 players.”
Sinden, less than a year from not extending Don Cherry’s contract as coach, ignited a 6-1-0 final kick from his charges and led them to a first-round series win over the Penguins before they were dismissed by the Cup champion Islanders in Round 2.
So there is always something to say, and an ever-present Boston media corps eager to chronicle it.
Few NHL teams across North America, particularly in the US, have enjoyed the uninterrupted, extensive media coverage the Bruins have received here, even when the on-ice product skidded worse than a freewheeling Zamboni. The coverage has endured, amid an ever-more crowded landscape that saw the Celtics and then Patriots open for business. Long ago, this was really only a baseball, hockey, and boxing town.
Sadly, the franchise’s willingness to engage has diminished increasingly for more than a quarter century, beginning once Mike Milbury opted out of the Boston GM track and headed off for a very short stay as the BC coach. Milbury hot-footed his way out of the Heights before coaching a single game.
The GM lineage here since Sinden stepping back has included Mike O’Connell, Peter Chiarelli, and Sweeney, the latter taking office six years ago. Polite and professional, all three of them, but none with Sinden’s brass or his near-carnival-barker’s acuity for keeping his team front and center in the city’s crowded sports discussion.
It was Sinden, in the thick of the ’92 Albertville Olympics, who pondered the threat of then prospect Joe Juneau turning pro with a Swiss team rather than signing with the Bruins.
“Well,” mused the unflappable Sinden, “I hope he learns to yodel.”
Days later, Juneau signed his four-year deal ($250K a year) and made his NHL debut with the Bruins.
Nearly 30 years later, Sinden’s words still resonate. Silence has a way of just disappearing, with the potential for fan interest to trail right behind it.