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December 30, 2011     Post-Gazette
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December 30, 2011

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Page 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, DECEMBER 30, 2011 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss TOPS AT THE BREAK -- The Bruins, who are, of course, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, looked every bit as good as that title suggests as the National Hockey League paused for its recent Christ- mas Break. The B's entered the break having won 20 of their last 23 games, a rocket ship ride that saw them climb from being a last place team at the end of October to first in the Eastern Conference as Christmas approached. The Bruins owned a con- ference pacing 23-9-I mark through 33 games and per- haps just as importantly, were setting the standard for the entire league in two vital statistical categories. For the Black and Gold were showing they could ac- complish things at both ends of the rink -- on offense as well as defense. The last game before the break the B's put on an impressive display of offensive power, downing the Florida Pan- thers, the leading team in Boston Bruins versus the Florida Panthers. (Photos by Rosario Scabin, Ross Photography) the Southeast Division, by an 8-0 count. The eight goals enabled the B's to become the league leader in goals scored with 119 while the shutout meant the team was also pacing the NHL in fewest goals allowed with 63. Those were a pair of mighty fine stars to put atop the Bruins' Christmas tree -- resting just below the one that represented the Stanley Cup Championship. Add another for leading the Eastern Conference with 47 points (just one behind the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks) and you had a Yule tree blazing like a bea- con in the Bruins offices on Causeway Street. So all was well at Christ- mas time at the Garden as the members of the Bruins paused to reflect on the accomplishments attained COR NER TALK by Reinaldo Oliveira, Jr. HOPE YOU ALL HAD A MERRY CHRISTMAS/ It's Buone Natale- Italian Feliz Navidad m Spanish Nollaig Shona Dhuit- Irish Joyeux Noel French Froehliche Weihnachten German Feliz Natal mPortuguese I'd miilad said oua Sana saida-- Arabic Merry Christmas English Greek Kala Christouyenna -- Greek Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova m Hebrew Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun -- Chinese Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia- Polish LET'S REMEMBER THIS MESSAGE To all Fight Family Members, I hope you had a "Merry Christmas!" and some punch! "God Bless America!" "POW!" & God be with you all[ during the calendar year of 2011. A Stanley Cup Cham- pionship in June, leading the Conference and first in the league in most goals scored and fewest goals al- lowed through Christmas plus the continued outstand- ing performances by goalies Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. Yes indeedl a banner year for the B's as the calendar pages change to 2012. What the New Year holds for the Bruins remains to be un- veiled but if it's anything like 2011, buckle your seat beats and be-prepared for another memorable ride. CAM COMMENTS -- In the December issue of Sporting News Magazine Bruins president Cam Neely reflected on a number of points concerning his ten- ure with the Bruins, both as a player and front office executive. Neely, who retired some 15 years ago in 1996 at age 31 (has it really been that long?), noted that the B's came close to winning the Cup twice during his playing days then added: "Winning the Cup is what you get involved with an organiza- tion for. To have an opportu- nity to get back with an organization in a manner that I felt worked for me and where I felt I could have some kind of impact -- it was the right goal for me and the right opportunity." He recalled that one of the best times during his play- ing days was when the cir- cus came to town just as training camp was ending. "We were gone for two weeks on a West Coast road trip. I thought it was fantastic to break camp and get away on a long trip." Neely was forced into early retirement by injuries. But he says he doesn't dwell on it. "I try not to worry about how things might have been different if medical technology were better when I played. I try not to look at that -- it's too frus- trating and you'll make your- self sick." IN MEMORIAM -- Re- membering veteran Bruins game-night staffer John Mossman, who died one year ago (January I, 2011). Having a conversation with John was like talking to a world guide from National Geographic. John and his wife often took cruises -- but not the leisurely type that last for a week or so. Some of the ones they went on lasted up to 90 days. Let's see, there was the one that took them to New Guinea, another that explored a good portion of the upper Amazon River in Brazil and yet another that stopped at many of the ports in the various nations that line the coast of Africa. That book that lists a thousand places to see before one passes on -- John was for- tunate enough to live it. COMMENTARY -- It was Chris Ford, then serving as coach of the Celtics, who observed that Christmas "is the No. 1 family day of the year." Yet it is the NBA that continues to go against that value, choosing to play five games on the day that means family to so many. Some may say that the millionaire players should play on a day such as this. But such a view neglects to take into account the small army of people who also must work on the day of a game, even if that day is Christmas Day. For in- stance, there are box office personnel, ticket takers, ushers, food vendors, park- ing lot attendants, security personnel and sanitation services staff that never get on TV but still must report to work. Across the NBA it is individuals such as these, performing thankless tasks in low paying positions, who are deprived of being with their loved ones. In the future let's have a moratorium on Christmas games so everyone may enjoy "the No. 1 family day of the year" with those who are near and dear to them. KI~ I~ Fully Insured Lic #017936 Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211