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Bob Lobel: Why Can’t We Get Players Like That?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Have you ever thought about writing a book based on your life? How about a book about your own personal bucket list? Or, anything about you interesting enough that people will read? That’s a big trap game unless your name is Will McDonough, Bob Ryan or someone of that ilk.

I have considered a book on my almost 30 years on TV in the most electric sports culture in America. Clearly, if I were to do it justice, I would need to immediately enroll in the witness protection program. So this column is as close as it gets.

In Boston sports, everything is personal. Keeping that in mind, Bruins fans may not be overjoyed with what I have to say. Let’s go back a year ago; remember every die-hard B’s fan wanted to fire Claude Julien. A year ago the bandwagon was not so full and three Bruins players could be walking down Newbury Street and go unrecognized. That’s all changed. Now, after the Bruins’ amazing playoff run, there are fans everywhere and no one wants to fire the coach… yet!

Our Stanley Cup heroes would surely be recognized, if not by name, then by being Bruins. And, one person is responsible for the sea of change that brought the Bruins into the conversation with the other three championship teams. One person has made this a very lovable and user friendly hockey team. He’s almost brought it back to the glory days, when the world was flat and they won two cups in three years. The one person of course is Tim Thomas.

This is a lovable team and what makes them so adored is the way they came out of nowhere - making one of most exciting playoff runs ever that included three series that went seven games. Let us not forget the reason the Bruins won the Stanley Cup was because the goaltender statistically had the greatest playoff run ever turned in at that position in the history of the National Hockey League.

Think about that. There were better teams, there are better teams, but what made the difference was Tim Thomas. Actually, barring injuries, Thomas may have a better team in front of him than last year. He put them on his back, carried them to the Cup and carried them to the White House, even if he didn’t join them there.

Following his White House snub we have come to know him as a feeling, thinking and controversial human in addition to being able to stop pucks. But the puck-stopping has not been as frequent this year. Thomas may have become more interesting off the ice but if he can’t stop pucks, the interesting gets old fast.

It would seem that anything less of a performance by the new “Facebook Tim” will not result in a happy ending for this band of Bruins. There is no way to connect the two except in the court of public opinion; either you performed better than any athlete in the history of Boston sports during the playoffs (which he did) without Facebook, or you do it again with Facebook.

He created the new Tim Thomas but he is going to have to rely on the old one if he wants to bring the B’s back to glory. This is not unlike Rob Gronkowski and the Super Bowl where Gronk was That Guy for the Pats. They depended so much on him being clear and present that they would have won easily, if that were the case. Then there would have been no Giselle talk, no DeOssie talk, no mention of Tom Brady being over the hill and so on and so on. The Bruins have done the impossible in this decade of championship decadence. They literally rose from a moribund joke of a franchise to provide the most exciting of all the titles.

Hell, even Whitey Bulger came home to feel it.

This may be Thomas’ last year here. I think we need to judge him on what he did for his sport, his team and his town for 6 glorious weeks. Let him post what the hell he wants and let him not be judged on that, unless you believe the two are connected. If that’s the case, then they are in for an early spring exit no matter how much better they are on the ice.


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