Games like last night's are the one's you circle on the calendar when the schedule comes out. A game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a fellow Orignal Six member, a division foe.
And did I mention that Phil Kessel plays for them? You know, the same Phil Kessel who was drafted #5 overall by the Bruins, had innate scoring ability, questionable work ethic and ultimately forced a trade out of town when the Bruins wouldn't meet his exorbitant contract demands. The same guy we traded for Toronto's #1 draft pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft, the pick that ended up being the #2 overall selection that the Bruins used to draft Tyler Seguin.
And to make it even more special, the Bruins decided that last night they would honor one of their all-time greats, Milt Schmidt.
So, let's take a look back on this one:
Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)
- Regular Season game #8, home game #3
- Boston Bruins (4-2-0-0) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-2-1-0)
- First Northeast Division matchup of the season
- Milt Schmidt Night at the Garden
John Blue Plate Special
It is one of the greatest additions one can make to just about any savory recipe and make it better.
A few years ago, Heather and I were at the Fours figuring out what to order. I was in the mood for a Johnny Kelly (fried boneless chicken breast with swiss cheese and supreme sauce). I was figuring out ways to tinker with it when it hit me: add bacon. At this time, Heather was always ordering a Larry Bird (grilled chicken with lettuce and tomato) in a wrap with bbq sauce on the side. Seeing my newfound discovery, she tried the bacon as well. Needless to say, we've never ordered the Larry Bird without that crispy pork addition again.
Fast forward to last night and I was making good time heading into town on the Pike eastbound until I was approaching the Weston tolls. The traffic reports said that traffic was at a crawl and there was an accident on Storrow Drive west that was screwing up things downtown. After a couple failed attempts at taking some shortcuts to bypass the mess, I finally arrived downtown around 6:30. With time rapidly running out to grab a bite to eat, I stashed my car at the Government Center garage and met up with Heather a few minutes later.
The silver lining to this was the fact that she and I had decided ahead of time that we'd go the Larry Bird route with onion rings for this one, so by the time I got there, our food order was already in. A few drinks later, the food came. It was delicious (as is the norm there) and I headed into the game.
The Couture Corner
I can't lie, part of the reason I get so excited for Toronto games is the fact that the Leafs sweaters are some of my absolute favorites in all of hockey. Simple two-tone and classic, much like the Celtics or Penn State, they are everything a classic hockey sweater should be. This past offseason, they made some revisions to their look, namely adding a double hemline stripe and changing their shoulder patches to the classic 32 point maple leaf.
But we didn't get to see those last night. We got better.
Toronto wore their 3rds. My hands-down favorite look in the NHL.
Introduced in 2000 and back after a one year hiatus in 2008, the Leafs' 3rd sweater is a throwback to the late 50s-early 60s. Just a classy, classy look.
As for the Bruins, they broke out their 3rd sweaters for the first time of the season. These are the black ones with the secondary logo on the chest, not the Winter Classic ones. Normally, I'm not a fan of the B's wearing these for Original 6 games, but I made an exception for this one.
As one might expect in a matchup of these teams, the fans got dressed up for this game. I actually found a couple of noteworthy shirts:
As beautiful as the Leaf's 3rds are, these two sweaters bring shame and disgrace (in my mind, at least):
Eric Lindros and Gary Roberts
Lindros was, well, Lindros. Massive, massively talented and massively underachieving (when he wasn't massively injured with a concussion).
As for Roberts, he was a great player with Calgary (winning the Cup in 1989), then injured his neck, sat out a season and returned to the NHL first with Carolina, then the Leafs, before moving on to a bunch of other teams. He wasn't a goon - he didn't have the size. He wasn't a pest like Sean Avery. Rather, he was sorta dirty and played with some sandpaper in his game. I never liked him. And I wasn't alone in that view.
But wait - we have an added bonus:
1980's Dave Taylor Los Angeles Kings
I'm scratching my head as to why this guy was wearing this sweater, but it was worthy of a mention.
What say the powers that be?
As for what I wore, well, let's just say that you know a game is special when the fans break out their Bobby Orr sweaters. And there were plenty to be seen, including mine.
The Row 12 Rundown
The biggest news to report was that this was the season debut of John Barry in seat 11. Pretty much the usual crew was there as well.
Special thanks to Paula for hooking us up with some Halloween candy!
Doosh of the Day
More often than not, when the Bruins play one of the Canadian teams, a certain contingent of 'fans' tend to take a misguided jingoistic tack, confusing an NHL game featuring an American based team with many Canadian players with an Olympic or World Cup team.
This especially holds true for the two teams from French speaking cities Montreal and Ottawa, but for whatever reason Toronto doesn't elicit the same reaction. And I appreciate that.
I always fear that some nitwit will boo 'O Canada'. Its happened before (and was quickly quelled when it did). Doing so automatically garners you Doosh of the Day status. Fortunately, no one went this route.
But I still need to find someone to nominate, so I'm going to go in a completely different direction and announce that the Doosh of the Day is none other than Espo, Phil Esposito.
Let me explain.
Being Milt Schmidt night and all, Cam Neely (himself having his number retired by the B's) had a special surprise during the pregame ceremony - the best players in Bruins history, the most revered names (at least the ones who are still alive) were trotted out from the Bruins bench: Orr, Bourque, Bucyk and O'Reilly. Retired numbers 4, 77, 9 and 24 respectively to go along with Schmidt (15) and Neely (8).
There was one glaring omission - Phil Esposito and his number 7.
Espo apparently has a long running tiff with the Bruins front office (read: Harry Sinden). He's been noticeably absent from that last few number retirements. One of the teams greatest scorers, Espo wasn't there to honor the man who, as General Manager, acquired him in one of the greatest trades ever and under whose regime he won not one, but two Stanley Cups. A man who at the tender age of 92 may not be around all that much longer for future gatherings of the greats.
For all I know, Espo my not have been invited. But if he was, then he should have been there. And because he wasn't he's a DotD.
The Clothes Line
There certainly wasn't a lack of candidates for this. I saw a Vladimir Ruzicka home sweater, a bunch of Adam Oates ones, even some quality Wendel Clark Leafs ones. Sadly, I did not see any Tie Domi ones.
But I saw these guys, and they are the hands down winners:
Borje Salming and Stan Jonathan
Salming is a Hall-of-Fame defenseman who was one of the first Europeans (he's Swedish) to go on to a successful career in the NHL first with the Leafs and then the Wings.
Jonathan is one of the toughest players to ever don the Black & Gold. 5'8" and 185 pounds, he was small but he could hold his own with the biggest of pugilists on the ice (208 PIM in 1979-80). A Native Canadian (Indian), he had a decent scoring touch and was one of Coach Don Cherry's favorite players.
The Home End
The Bruins have always been the best team in town when it comes to honoring their own. Classy ceremonies with a cavalcade of hockey royalty is par for the course.
In the past, the Bruins have scheduled retirement ceremonies as means of boosting ticket sales. But this one was different. Obviously, it wasn't a retirement per se, but it had all the pomp and circumstance that typically accompanies one.
This ceremony seemed to be the brainchild of Cam Neely. Now the President of the Bruins, Cam has shown that he has a firm grasp of the "Bruin Way". He knows that there is a blue-collar work ethic and a respect for the storied history of the franchise. What better time than to honor one of the all-time greats for his 75 years as part of the Bruins in a multitude of roles (player, coach and GM), than for Cam to arrange for this fete for Milt Schmidt.
There were the standard laudatory accolades and gift presentations as well as a heartfelt speech by the man himself. But the best part of the ceremony, right after Schmidt finished his words, was when Cam made a surprise introduction of the other retired numbers and that they would be giving #15 a formal raising to the rafters. Apparently, back in the day numbers were simply retired with no formal ceremony. Cam obviously felt that this was the perfect opportunity to rectify that. It was heartfelt and I'm blessed to say that I was there to see it live.
There were other highlights to the night, the Bruins winning 2-0 being one of them. Patrice Bergeron potting his first goal of the season (PPG, the eventual game winner), Tim Thomas continuing his hot start (5-0, 0.60 GAA, 2 shutouts, 9.80 save %) and Nathan Horton dropping the gloves with Dion Phanuef for his first fight as a Bruin put smiles on everyone's faces.
But the absolute best part of the night was what transpired right after Seguin scored the second (and final) goal of the game. The Garden crowd began to chant "Thank you, Kessel" in unison. I was laughing, as were most of the people in attendance, Seguin included. Chant of the year, only 3 home games in. And one of the best I've ever heard in my life. Thats saying a lot.