Missed opportunities on the media’s part
Fear not, Black and Gold complain-o-philes. Even with the Bruins’ offering you, and even themselves, a considerable hunk of time to savor this week’s nearly flawless conquest of the Canadiens and in turn sharpen your claws for whoever is on tap for Round Two, you needn’t experience withdrawal symptoms from kicking that habit of accentuating the flaws at TD Banknorth Garden.
You just need to be a tad flexible and transfer that acrid energy from ice level to the affectionately dubbed Ninth Floor and the backsides, laptops, and messenger bags that by all counts should be occupying it, but aren’t.
We Rhode Islanders grudgingly deal with the epitome of this nuisance. A week ago, the front page of the sports section in the Providence Journal featured a centerpiece photo of Celtics’ cornerstone Kevin Garnett and a concomitant story on the news of his season-ending injury. No doubt, that had to be reported and analyzed, and it was. So were some of the latest happenings on the quickly thawing Red Sox and the Patriots, who dig for their future in today’s NFL Draft.
Translation: you had the latest on three of Boston’s major pro teams all written by a real live Journal author for the edition of Friday, April 17, the morning after Game 1 of the Bs-Habs series.
Where was the account of that competitive thriller? On the next page, and as always, it was merely a vanilla-flavored blurb imported from the Associated Press.
From a Bruins’ Buff standpoint, each game got exponentially more thrilling. A week ago tonight, the Zamboni could have taken a breather on account of the host club’s polishing the Garden pond with bleu, blanc, et rouge rags, 5-1. No morning-after recap to equate or preserve that exhilaration the next day, unless you looked to the Boston papers.
On Monday, the third time in six years that these rivals have locked twigs on Patriot’s Day and the first time it ended in palatable fashion for New Englanders, most outlets filled up on the Sox, the Celts, and the Marathon.
And on Wednesday, Montreal backstop Carey Price played the lead role in reenacting every sparse opponent-friendly occurrence the Canadiens’ had to offer, emulating Patrick Roy’s sarcastic save dance from 1995 with still a good period-plus remaining in his team’s push for preservation. This coming after the likes of David Krejci, Phil Kessel, and Michael Ryder deposited fleeting, Cam Neely-esque goals to sculpt a sturdy 4-1 lead for the newly almighty Bruins. It’s minimally disappointing Tim Thomas –Price’s triumphant counterpart- didn’t pounce on the buzzer to duplicate Reggie Lemelin’s kneeling, helmet-holding fist-pump from 1988.
Actually, what’s more relevantly disappointing is that the preceding paragraph could have been somebody else’s. It could have been tucked deep into a New England newsstand as the lead for one of umpteen recaps of Game 4 on Thursday.
Yet it wasn’t, and we all know why. But being able to ascertain the reason doesn’t make it any more acceptable.
Figure it out: the Bruins beat all of their sporting peers to the one-of-a-kind Spoked-B logo, effectively signifying Boston’s influential outreach to the rest of New England. One of those spokes clearly penetrates Providence, as evidenced by the sturdy presence of the Baby Bs down at the Dunk, which serves to draw another underline under “absurdity.”
Last time I checked, there are no Providence Celtics or –apart from Peter Griffin’s place of employment- Pawtucket Patriots. The factual Red Sox’ feeder club at McCoy Stadium still gets a helping of informative ink during their season. While it is not much, it dwarfs what either of the Bruins’ teams is allotted.
Only now, with the AHL playoffs churning, are the P-Bruins answering to ProJo reporters. But you’ll notice that they are only being spotlighted in the form of feature stories composed on off days. Every actual game of their first round tussle with the Portland Pirates (a 4-1 series win polished off last night by the Jr. Spokespeople) has been detailed in the same old cut-and-paste-off-the-team’s-website format.
For the minor leaguers, it’s sadly nothing like it was as late as the beginning of this now-waning decade. I might buy the “Well, it’s just because newspapers are withering” theory, except the Sox, Pats, and Cs are all getting regular game recaps and notebooks on a constant basis during their respective months of operation.
So let me slug another slap shot into the Providence River and ask again, why not the Bs? As I recall, papers from without the Hub hesitated to cast a constant eye on the Celtics until they were certified contenders and their push for the championship intensified near the climax of last season.
Newsflash: the Bruins are well beyond that baptismal stage now. And just look at the prospective scenarios for the second round. They could be paired with Sloppy Sean and the Rangers, spelling an innately enticing Boston-New York card.
Or it could be the Carolina Hurricanes –the second reincarnation of the WHA’s New England Whalers- on deck.
Or you could be looking at a series with Pittsburgh and its celestial (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, etc.) youth movement, or Philadelphia, where one stimulated sportscaster told us a few weeks ago, “The crowd wants a call for a hit from behind!”
Again, are the likes of ProJo going to pick up the pucks any time soon, or are they just going to stay back and buy into Jim Donaldson’s ice-allergic system?
At least acknowledge the fact that the farm team is right here to slake sport-hungry Rhode Islanders by slaking those same people’s appetites for quality beat coverage, will you?
Al Daniel can be reached at email@example.com