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November 29, 2013

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Page 14 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, NOVEMBER 29, 2013 .< HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss THE HERO RETURNS -- They put down a walkway on the ice, the surface he had glided across all those de- cades ago. But now it was dif- ferent. It was an occasion to honor and remember those great Boston Bruins teams of the early 1970s. The visiting team once again was the St. Louis Blues, who furnished the opposition in the Stanley Cup Final back in 1970 and provided the backdrop to one of the most famous photographs in ath- letic history. This night, however, would focus on the start of a game rather than its conclusion. And so it was that right on cue following the announcer's in- troduction one Robert Gordon Orr was once again out on the surface of the Garden, mak- ing his way out towards the center to participate in a cer- emonial puck drop. Judging by his appearance time has seemed to treat Orr well, especially for a man in his mid 60s. There were a few streaks of white in his hair, somewhat resembling the color of the ice over .which he reigned on Causeway Street so many years ago. Orr merely smiled and waved, looking quite at home adorned in a Bruins jersey. Then the puck was dropped, photographs were taken and Robert Gordon Orr, immortal- ized in the flight of victory -- first by photograph and video and later in statue form on Causeway Street -- took his leave. Back through the tunnel he went returning to history, to emerge once more some night in the future when memories seek into rekindle thoughts of deeds well clone and victories attained. As we noted back in 2010 when his statue was dedicated: Forev- ermore in Boston Lore -- Bobby OIT. KINGS OF THE CALENDAR -- If you need a somewhat different Christmas gift for the diehard Bruins fan in your life, you may want to con- sider the 2014 Pucks & Pups Calendar that the team has placed on sale in the pro shop. We say somewhat different because the calendar is a de- parture from the normal team photographic calendar that contains either action shots or players posed in full uniform. Instead, all of those pictured in this calendar are shown in street clothes. Several were photographed outdoors or at home. And all were pic- tured with friendly dogs -- either with their own or those on loan from the Massachu- setts Society for the Preven- tion of Cruelty to Animals (MSCPA). The result is an interest- ing look at another dimension of the lives of those we think we know -- but really don't. When fans and media mem- bers encounter players, coaches and administrators at the Garden we are seeing them with their game faces on. That's understandable. T_h_a_t js_ _w_h_ere_ _tbe_z _work_. _ The calendar removes that part of the equation and in- troduces another. Those pho- tographed are relaxed, smil- ing, at ease. Away from the workplace, additional dimen- sions of their personalities come through. Indeed, looking at a photo of coach Claude Julien and his dog Max, pictured to- gether on the back deck of the family home, we realized that we had never seen the coach so relaxed and contented. It was like seeing a different person. The same can be said for many of the others pic- tured with their furry friends. We would also like to add that the photography is superb with all of the pictures suit- able for framing once 2014 transitions into 2015 some 13 months from now. GAINING EXPERIENCE -- That's what these young Celtics are doing as they make their way through the first few months of the NBA schedule. What coach Brad Stevens takes note of is how his team plays at times -- with the goal on trying to extend finishing games well. "Sometimes when you play with emotion and energy it's hard to sustain it," said Stevens after a loss to Indi- ana. "We just ran out of gas, largely due to what they were doing." The challenge comes to extend those portions of the game where his team plays well. "I think you've got to take away -- and this doesn't make it any easier in the locker room right now or make it any easier for me -- that we have been able to play with the good teams at least for periods of the game. And hopefully we can get to the point where, like in Miami, we can finish off a game." Stevens added one of his challenges right now is to have the players remain posi- tive in their outlook. "Hopefully, we don't get down. We can stay up. We can take the good and realize that no matter what we just have to utilize it, get better and understand that we'll see a stretch like this (playing sev- eral good teams in a row) again. Maybe we can play bet- ter next time." Perhaps the Celtics took Stevens' words to heart. After the loss to Indiana at the Garden, the C's came back the next night to beat Atlanta on the road, going on a 10-2 run to end the game and outscoring the Hawks 30-13 in the final period to post a 94-87 victory. All of Boston starters scored in double figures. Even though they returned home with a 5-10 record they were only two games out of first place in the weak Atlan- tic Division. If somehow the C's could become even mildly warm they might find them- selves the leaders of the divi- sion, a somewhat interesting scenario that's still possible despite the negative predic- WISE WORDS FROM CASEY STENGEL Casey Stengel must have been beside himself manag- ing the hapless 1962 NY Mets. After years with the powerful NY Yankees, he ended up at the helm of a god- awful expansion team that season. At one point during that hopeless year of baseball when the new guys on the NY block went 40-120 for the season, Casey, it was said, looked up and down the dug- out bench and asked: "Can't anybody here play this game?" I think right now the big- gest losing team around is Team Obama. When they're not re-writing new lines to a losing cause, they are still playing hit and run after the final out of the inning. The hapless '62 Mets are now seemingly looking like by Sal Giarratani the 2013 Boston Red Sox champs. CARDINALS DEAL FREESE TO ANGELS Call it a freese-frame but the former World Series MVP David Freese was traded by the Cardinals to the LA An- gels in a four-player trade that re-unites Alberto Pujols with a pair of ex-teammates. It looks like a fast fall for Freese who was at his peak during the 2011 Fall Classic. Freese this past year went 9 HR - 60 RBI -.262 Batting Average but batted only . 158 (3 for 19) with no RBIs in the six-game World Series ver- sus the Red Sox. CANO HAS JAY Z AS NEW AGENT Robinson Cano a five-time All-Star second baseman is a free agent and is looking for a 10 year deal in the neighborhood of $300 mil- lion. Jay Z has also been talking to the NY Mets but as far as the Yankees are thinking, they have no in- tention of going to Cano or Jay Z's new neighborhood. PRINCE FIELDER GOING TEXAN The Tigers and Rangers have agreed to a blockbuster trade that would send Fielder to Texas for second baseman lan Kinsler. Fielder signed a $214 million, nine-year deal with the Tigers before the start of the 2012 season. Kinsler just finished the first season of his $75 mil- lion five year contract. Many in baseball were sur- prised that Fielder who hit 55 homers over the past two seasons would be let loose but his numbers took a nosedive this year as he fin- ished with 25 homers and a .279 average. In a 136 games, Kinsler had 13 home runs and batted .277. BOBBY ON BOXING Roberto Duran Visits New England Former Lightweight Champ and all-time great boxer Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran made a very rare appearance in New En- gland recently. Duran was in Portland Maine on November 16~ for a fight card that was held at the Portland Expo. This was the first boxing show at that historic loca- tion in over 21 years. Duran was joined by Boston's own former great Welterweight Champion Tony DeMarco. I can't help but think of what a bout be- tween these two amazing warriors would have been like. Tony told me he consid- ers Roberto one of the best to ever enter the ring, and he also opined about the fa- mous "No Mas" bout Duran had with Ray Leonard. He said that Hands of Stone did a stupid thing in quitting in that bout. He was someone who feared no man, and thought he could do any- thing in the ring. When Leonard started showboat- ing, it frustrated him and he just threw up his hands. It was one of those brief mo- ments in a man's career where he does something dumb and then has to live with it for the rest of his life. It is a shame when one brief moment in a man's career overshadows his many great victories. I prefer to focus on the many highlights of his remarkable time in the ring. On Sunday, the 17th, I had the opportunity to catch up with Duran in Peabody, MA. At 62 years of age he looked trim and fit and was very warm and friendly. Though he still looked like he could go fifteen rounds he did not instill the fear that was once his trademark. He met with fans, signed autographs, and posed for pictures, being very generous with his time. I must say it was a lot of fun being with him and partak- ing in his funny banter, though I did miss out on a tions of the pundits. ......lot of it because_of the_lan- by Bobby Franklin Tony DeMarco and Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran. Roberto Duran's fist. guage barrier. Next time I will brush up on my Spanish. It is amazing to see how un- marked his face is after over 30 years in the ring with more than 100.bouts against the best fighters in the world from lightweight to super middleweight. Though he was known as a brawler, this is evidence of what a superb defensive fighter he was as well. Roberto was asked whom out of today's crop of fighters he would like to fight if he was still in his prime. He shook his head and said the only one who could give him any challenge would be Floyd be easy pickings. I have to agree with him. He said that life has been very good to him and he is quite happy. Duran had many great bouts and truly deserves to be rated near the top of the list for all-time great Light- weight Champions, but I will always remember him for his battle against Marvelous Marvin Hagler for the Middleweight Crown in 1983. Fighting at 25 pounds over his prime weight he gave Hagler all he could handle in losing a very close decision. Next year two movies about Roberto Duran will be coming out. One is a docu- mentary on him and the other is a major motion pic- ture about his life that will star Robert DeNiro, Edgar Ramirez, and Ellen Barkin. I am looking forward to see- ing both films. In other boxing news, two members of Ring 4 recently passed away. We are sorry to have lost brothers Doug Keefe and Mike Joyce. May _May e lhex= _th~ 3;~s_t_wQul_d _ t_h.e.Y_ Rest_ in .Pe a_ce._ ......