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Fighting the good fight

Posted by Bob Lobel December 25, 2008 05:59 AM

Thanks God for small favors. For instance, there is not a revolver within reach. Why? Itís pretty simple. Hockey talk has broken out on the radio. If I had a revolver, I would either shoot the radio or shoot myself for listening. There was no warning, no sirens, no alerts, no bulletins. It just broke out without provocation. I felt as though I had just walked through a room of people suffering from the flu and there I was, with no flu shot.

Itís my fault. I should have known. My bad. To tell you the truth, my greatest asset over all of these years has been ignorance, and in this case, it has not served me well. Why? Well, the local entry in the professional hockey league simply doesnít lose. Ever. In fact, let me expand that. No one who plays in that building called the new Boston Garden ever loses. Itís the strangest thing. No one ever loses. Where it that revolver when I need it?

Because some caller is saying right now on the radio that if the Bruins had some unknown defenseman with an unpronounceable name, they would gain three points in the standings and would ultimately earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs, because the power play would produce and the penalty-killing unit would save the day. Itís scary, but he sounds as if he knows what heís talking about. But how can he know this? And why am I listening? Revolver, please.

Please calm me down. I know all about the canít-lose basketball team. I am trying not to resent them and prevent them from infringing on my memories and good feelings from the days of John Havlicek to those of Larry Bird. Iím struggling with that, but I am coming along nicely. But thatís for later. Itís the hockey talk spilling out into radioland that causes me to reach for a gun. If I had one. Itís my fault for not being ready. OK, I will get a grip. Iíll stop the revolver talk. Iíll try to understand the new order that is what we call the local sports scene.

You can blame it on the Internet and the demise of all conventional media. We do that with everything else, anyway. I am really trying to be honest here, in the holiday spirit. I am not ready for a hockey team that plays a game that is completely foreign to real hockey.

Point No. 1 about the NHL. And it is precisely point No. 1. Why does a team get one point for losing in certain convoluted circumstances? And letís face it, the shootout just flat-out sucks. Great idea, bad execution. It works in the Olympics. It doesnít work day in and day out. It adds none of the high drama that it was supposed to add. Find a revolver and shoot the shootout.

OK, there is a little more fighting, but itís not real fighting. Not really. So here we are. People are talking hockey because our team is beating every team it plays. Itís embarrassing for me to know even the people they are beating. Small-market teams with players who might as well come from Narnia. Give me a pistol, please. We could have a Stanley Cup and we could have NBA championship banner No. 18 here in Boston. We could win everything all the time. But now, when you win all the time, you lose that special quality that winning brings. Donít get me wrong. If there is one thing I would want, it would be another Stanley Cup in Boston. But itís a different game. It saddens me that the Stanley Cup has been cheapened by a bad league playing a flawed game.

But here is the real deal, in the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of self-examination. Just because I think itís a bad league and a flawed game doesnít make it so. The same applies to so many other things in our lives. The game is just different. Nobody wants things to be different if they love the way things were.

So when hockey talk invades radio like a deadly virus, maybe itís time for people like me to realize that maybe we need to change. Take the bullets out of the gun. Donít shoot anything. Just shut up and realize that things change, and youíd be much better off if you at least tried to change with them. And if the next caller on the radio wants to talk about power-play efficiency, put on some music and save yourself the aggravation. Just get over it and be thankful that the local teams in that building never lose.

Veteran TV personality Bob Lobel is an OT columnist and can be reached at otfeedback@globe.com

12 comments so far...
  1. Oh Bob...how I miss your style. I'm a life-long B's fan who despised the NJ trap and how it changed the game, but this B's team is fun to watch: up-tempo, hard-hitting, quality scorers and goaltenders...I mean, what's not to like about this young club whose style seems more like a throwback to those "good old days"?

    And yeah, some of the new rules stink, but there are plenty more that make the game even better -- no line change for the team that iced the puck, power plays automatically start in the offensive zone and no automatic off-sides to name a few.

    Posted by Rosenblatt December 25, 08 07:04 PM
  1. Bob, I feel like you do, must be because we are both old guys,

    Posted by Bruins Fan December 26, 08 09:29 AM
  1. Please, Lobel, don't ever attempt to write about hockey again. Don't ever watch Milan Lucic put a pounding on someone. Don't ever watch Zdeno Chara on the PP. Don't ever watch Marc Savard hit a teammate with a pinpoint pass. Don't ever watch David Krejci throw an entire opposing team into a panic. Don't ever watch Phil Kessel on an end-to-en rush. And don't watch the rest of the NHL either. Don't watch Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Semin, Thornton, Carter, Kovalchuk, Kane. Horribly flawed, all of them.

    I'm quite impressed at how you managed to combine ignorance, stupidity, crabbiness, ageism and xenophobia in one commentary. The only thing missing was a "hey you kids, get off my lawn!"

    It would seem that Bruins fans won't be seeing you at the Garden. Thank God!

    Posted by duinne December 26, 08 10:51 AM
  1. Hey Bobby, you're an awful writer who knows nothing about hockey. you even claim to be ignorant, so why are you writing that you don't like the changes at the same time that you're claiming you don't know that much about the changes.

    What in the world is wrong with people talking hockey on the radio? Hockey is a great sport, why do the Bruins being mentioned force you to want to kill yourself? And how is it not "real fighting"? What about lucic punching komisarek makes it fake? I'm pretty sure Komisarek will tell you it was real! If the Bruins do win the cup, I hope Tim Thomas bashes you on the head with it.

    Posted by Harry December 26, 08 11:56 AM
  1. Bob,
    Go back to John havlicheck and Larry Bird. The best team in Boston is the Bruins right now.You and I know the Celtics bought their championships, the Bruins are working at it like a bunch of blue collar guys. Kinda like real Bostonians. Wait to you see how fast KG and the gang leaves the area and the Bruins set up roots here and become play charity events for the next 20 years.

    Posted by bluefox70 December 28, 08 09:08 AM
  1. Hockey is back on the sports map in Boston and the "seed" that started it was the playoff series against the Habs last spring. The series went longer than expected, the hockey was exciting, the Bruins had skill, grit and determination only to lose to a better team. But this year's team learned from that experience and this year are playing great hockey. Keep it rolling Bruins.

    Posted by Brent December 29, 08 01:50 PM
  1. Wow, so many readers seemed to have missed Bob's point. He knows that the game has its value, and he knows that this Bruins team has the potential to be one for the ages. He just doesn't like the changes in the game, and he's telling us so in a manner that requires us to read past his first two paragraphs.

    Games change and evolve. All four major sports have substantial differences from their counterparts from a generation ago. Sure, I watched and loved Bourque & Neely, Fisk & Yaz, Bird & McHale and Grogan & Tippett along with everyone else. That doesn't mean I don't have a great appreciation for Chara & Kessel, Lester & Pedroia, Garnett & Pierce and Brady & Bruschi, just like everyone else.

    Relax, everyone. Enjoy this Bruins team. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Lobel will, too.

    Posted by ScottH December 29, 08 03:21 PM
  1. "You and I know the Celtics bought their championships" How do you figure, Bluefox70? They didn't sign their new stars away from someone else through free agency. They TRADED for them. They gave up value to get value, taking calculated risks to build a championship caliber team. And their moves were vindicated by the results, which isn't always the case. They built a quality team through smart trades, after they were snakebit for the second time in a decade in the draft lottery! They successfully went to plan B to overcome that adversity. The only free agents were a couple of role players to fill out their roster (which was actually NECESSARY after they sent nearly half their team to MN for Garnett!) Now, the obnoxious Fakers DID STEAL three championships through the theft-by-purchase of a dominant center, Shaq, away from his original team in free agency bidding thanks to unfairly deep pockets. THAT'S buying a championship!

    The Bruins actually have much higher profile free agents in their cast: Chara, Savard and Ryder. But that's the (unfortunate) nature of the game (ALL games) today. And, again, free agent signings DON'T guarantee success. Ask O'Connell about Zhamnov! And LaPointe! Smart moves by competent gm's lead to success. The Bruins have an awesome blend of free agent talent (see above), savvy trade acquisitions (like Wideman), and young, in-house draft studs like Kessel, Wheeler, Lucic, etc. They're fun to watch and a worthy addition to the B's tradition, JUST AS the Celtics are, likewise. I don't understand the need to bash another fine Boston team or its players. Garnett BLEEDS green now! He has sucked up all the Green tradition and expresses appropriate knowledge and reverence of it. None less than Bill Russell finds him worthy of personal attention and guidance. Enjoy BOTH Garden juggernauts - we've endured a long stretch of barren years in that building!

    Posted by inetadv December 30, 08 06:42 PM
  1. PS: Kudos to Ainge, Rivers, Chiarelli and Julien.

    And Bob Lobel, get a life! Your commentary on the current edition of the Bruins - changes in the NHL or not - is way off base! They are a fitting descendent in the tradition of Bruins toughness, aggressiveness and spunk.

    Posted by inetadv December 30, 08 06:46 PM
  1. Bob
    You have the plan and the means...don't tease us and talk about it...just do it ;-)

    Posted by Tom January 1, 09 06:22 AM
  1. Bob.....long time viewer, first time caller! People missed the point. You're old school, and that's great. We shouldn't forget Bird and Orr, and we should learn to love the new stars. C's and B's winning is a great thing. Competitive Boston sports scene 365/24/7. No better town in the world.

    Write on Bob.

    Posted by Chris January 4, 09 03:16 PM
  1. Somewhere Eddie Andelman is smiling....

    Posted by Chip January 6, 09 11:50 AM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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