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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Spoken from a true hockey heart

As Lou Lamoriello –the modern godfather of Friar Puck and unmistakable front office cornerstone of the New Jersey Devils- has shared his thoughts this week on winning the builder’s ballot for the next Hockey Hall of Fame induction class, the paradoxical nature of his comments are tougher to overlook than his own team’s notorious defensive set-up.

Yes, of course one expects him to describe himself as “humbled” and “surprised,” as he has universally conveyed all week and will surely reiterate come the November 9 ceremony in Toronto. After all, he is the quintessential executive influence in the hockey world.

But still, he is the quintessential executive influence in the hockey world, his influence vastly blanketing both the collegiate and professional breeds at that. There is no reason not to term PC’s own Schneider Arena as the First House That Lou Built and likewise, the Prudential Center –christened by the Devils in October 2007- can be dubbed the Second House That Lou Built.

Those buildings each safely stash reminders that Lamoriello breathed life into the Friars as head coach and athletic director, directly gave life to Hockey East by anchoring that historic five-school convention in July 1983, and proceeded to breathe life into the Devils, who have won three Stanley Cups over his 20-plus-year reign in the front office.

You know, therefore, that he had to have been secretly entertaining thoughts of receiving yet another token of his achievements –namely a plaque in the Hall. And he just might have been forgiven if he let his true satisfaction slip orally when others might not be.

Take it from this author: for any reporter who has yet to cement regularity on the NHL beat, even one bearing common Providence College ties, trying to reach someone of Lamoriello’s caliber is akin to Ray Kinsella’s quest for a get-together with J.D. Salinger. It was around this time last year that Lamoriello was expectably sopped up in all of his standard summer tasks with the Devils, yet agreed to answer an interview for the New England Hockey Journal’s website in recognition of Hockey East’s twenty-fifth birthday, as it were. (http://www.hockeyjournal.com/Article.php?ArtID=999787)

Pardon, but from the standpoint of a scribe-in-training, that really is peerlessly humbling.

Yet here is Lamoriello again, continuing to set the proper precedent. With his twin mountains of contributions to the collegiate and professional game alike, he has appropriately demonstrated the Hockey East mission statement for all players to consider.

And now, every time he earns something either in part or singlehandedly, he lets the credit rub off on others. And he has done this a lot in recent weeks in the wake of his Vanguard Lifetime Achievement Award –formally bestowed thirteen days ago at the Cox Rhode Island Sports Awards- and his selection to the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame the preceding week.

That’s simply how the puck tends to turn. You approach your role in the game humbly, pleasurable results ultimately fall into place, and then you avoid fixing what’s not broken and accept the success with more humility.

And, evidently, in Lamoriello’s case, you carry on to pursue another achievement, presumably another Cup.

Transfer winds picking up boomerangs
The forthcoming dual holiday on Wednesday, July 1 –i.e. Canada Day and NHL Free Agency Launch Day- reminds all women’s college hockey buffs of the equivalent smattering of transfers we see each offseason. And already, the increasing leak of 2009-2010 schedules points to multiple old friend tangles bound to occur in the coming campaign:

September 26, Dawson College at Connecticut- It’s strictly a cross-border exhibition, but what better way for Alexandra Garcia –Brittany Wilson’s heir apparent in the Connecticut crease- to start her first season as No. 1 than to stare down a bushel of shots from her former associates?

October 9, Syracuse at Boston College- One-time BC blueliner Gabrielle Beaudry bolted after her sophomore year for the smallest of smaller ponds in Syracuse. Now she will return to Chestnut Hill as one of two seniors for the second-year program.

October 10, Syracuse at New Hampshire- Following right up on Beaudry’s homecoming, Orange co-captain Stefanie Marty and goaltender Lucy Schoedel will each take a return dip in Lake Whittemore.

October 10, Connecticut at Clarkson- This is the most jutting item in the bag. Would-be UConn senior Dominique Thibault, who had twice topped the Huskies’ scoring charts, won the league’s Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, split the “C” with Nicole Tritter this past season, and spent her springs on the track and field team, will take the form of a Golden Knight for this match.

If that weren’t enough –and one might argue it isn’t seeing as this one is in Potsdam- Thibault’s first eight regular season games with Clarkson will be against WHEA satellites: BC October 2-3, Providence October 9, a two-night excursion to Vermont October 16-17, New Hampshire October 23, and Boston University October 24. Whew.

What the puck?
Timmy the Tweeter? Say it’s not so. Well, a full Zamboni’s-load of good that plea will do, for a recent routine sweep check of all resourceful news sites confirmed that Friars’ foreman Tim Army has stamped a Twitter link on his team’s official web page, following the lead of men’s basketball coach Keno Davis and ominously blazing a potential trail for yet more of his Friartown colleagues. Regardless of whether or not one is willing to see if Army can/will make the necessary tactical tweaks to reverse the fortunes of his team this winter, it is mildly depressing to discover just what he is doing with his downtime, to say nothing of his hard-earned PC education.

What the puck? Part II
With all due respect to stimulated locals, the recently rumored pool for a “mini-tournament” at Fenway Park next January seemed a little random what with the Friars and Vermont along with BC and BU –the latter two being more no-duh suspects. And even though this appears to have been initially suggested by the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont –an ideal role model for any budding sports scribe in this region- further details have been wavy at best. One anonymous source is convinced that PC is either slated to square off with BC or is having its leg pulled altogether.

Still, this is all a great concept, and while there is still time, all constituents of New England hockey –from the AHL, to the EJHL, to preps, to both men’s and women’s collegiate programs- ought to capitalize and get in on the all but confirmed Fenway Ice Fest.

Quick feeds: Defender Amanda Shaw, one of the first alumnae from the Lazarene BU women’s program, will spend the coming week with the Canadian national inline team at the Women’s World Championship in Varese, Italy. Thereafter, she will settle across the border in Switzerland with the Zurich-based ZSC Lions women’s pro team…Soon-to-be Friars Alex Velischek and Tim Schaller were ranked No. 63 and 103, respectively, amongst North American skaters by the Central Scouting Service heading into this weekend’s NHL Draft. As of this write-up, both had yet to shake hands with a team’s front office cabinet. Meantime, Landon Ferraro, stepson of PC women’s great Cammi Granato, is Detroit’s second round choice and Warwick’s own Mac Bennett –bound for the University of Michigan this autumn- was selected 79th overall by the Montreal Canadiens moments before this report went to press.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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