Because I tend to not blog on the weekends, here is a feature that will run through the entire season. It aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact about each team that played. And hell, there’s a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I’m totally ripping off just about every other blogger ever’s weekly column, but that’s something you’ll have to deal with on your own time.
Danger: This post contains language that some people might not like. This will be the only thing on the site that regularly does so.
Ed. note: I wrote this two years ago (and updated it a bit for this posting) after being inspired by the absolute insipid pointlessness of attending another boring Beanpot, which begins anew for the 57th time tomorrow night on NESN and Rogers SportsNet. I like to repost it every year just ahead of the Beanpot because, well, it’s the worst tournament in sports. Enjoy. Or don’t. I couldn’t care less either way.
The Beanpot, for those that don’t know (and count yourselves lucky if this is the case), is kind of a big deal in Boston. It’s been going for 57 years and seems to be something the city as a whole, whether or not you’re a hockey fan, gets geared up for.
The tournament is basically an excuse for the four colleges that are located within the city of Boston, proper (Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and Northeastern University) to get all their fans together in the TD Banknorth Garden/FleetCenter/Boston Garden/Boston Arena, drink themselves into a stupor, and talk about how much they hate those jerkoffs at BC or BU while four moderately boring hockey games happen in their midst.
It’s tough to describe to people who don’t live here why the Beanpot means anything to anyone. It’s the same four teams (two, really) playing for some small trophy year after year after year, and yet, of all the sporting events in the known universe, Sports Illustrated once picked it as the 12th-best sports experience a person can go through. Like, in the world.
Think of it like this: four teams make a tournament based upon nothing but geography. The local sports fans and media go out of their collective minds over it. The same two teams win literally 75 percent of the time. And, in the end, nothing is solved and no one cares.
Sounds terrible, right? It is.
The event is held, as it has been since 1952, on the first two Mondays in February. Now, there is lots of folklore associated with this Tournament of Tournaments, this bastion of interscholastic athletic competition:
One time, and this is true, Red Martin missed the team bus from BC to the Boston Garden and had some type of a good reason like a flat tire or something. His coach, legendary Eagles bench boss Snooks Kelley, deemed this treasonous act inexcusable, and punished Red by making him play literally 58 minutes of the game that he almost missed. The only reason he didn’t play the full 60, of course, because he took a hooking penalty in the second period.
Then there’s the tournament during the Blizzard of ‘78, that oft-remembered winter storm that dropped feet upon feet of snow on the Hub within the span of just a few hours. The snow had barely begun to fall as the puck dropped for the 5 p.m. game between (I think) BC and Northeastern. BU was playing the late game that night, obviously, and as the night progressed, the snow blanketed the streets ever thicker.
The two teams playing the early game, along with most of the fans, had beaten a hasty retreat from Causeway Street that night because, well, the T (Boston’s mass transportation authority) had announced they were shutting down service early. Discretion being the better part of valor, it figured it wanted the good people of Boston to not die in the elements or get stuck in the Garden for who-knew-how-long. Conditions be damned, though, BU and Harvard went out and played that late game despite the early game playing into overtime.
The Terriers beat Harvard, as they invariably do, and the team quickly hopped on the team bus and slogged a path down Storrow Drive, back to BU’s campus. The going, however, was predictably slow. Even more legendary than Kelley is BU coach Jack Parker, who has since taken part in 42 of the 56 Beanpots in some capacity since its inception, and on that night, Parker made the bus stop several times to pick up any passerby that happened to be headed in that general direction. At some point, though, a BU player piped up that Parker should also make the bus stop in front of The Dugout, a popular bar that all the BU players frequented. Parker, of course, would not allow this. He would, however, let the bus stop at a nearby church if the boys wanted to get in a quick prayer before they went to bed. Many of the players, understanding that Parker was simply allowing them to go to the bar without actually saying so, spent the rest of that night and most of the following day in The Dugout.
These unnervingly boring anecdotes are just two that are told, year after year, by those that lived them to gales of laughter from people who don’t seem to understand what actually constitutes an entertaining story.
Anyway, the real reason the Beanpot is so terrible is that BU has won quite literally half of the Beanpots that have ever been contested (a whopping 28 of 56 through last year). BC is next with 14, Harvard follows with 10, and NU brings up the rear with a crummy (and thus appropriate) four.
“Okay,” you might be saying, “but you still have a 50/50 shot of BU not winning it. And that would at least make it somewhat interesting, right?”
Wrong. Only once every three years is it even remotely interesting. That’s because, by rule, BC has to play BU in the first round that often. Otherwise, the first games of the tournament will be BC vs. Perennial Loser No. 1 and BU vs. Perennial Loser No. 2. They will both blow their competition out of the water and meet in the finals, as they so often do. Put it this way, the last time there was the potential for a BC/BU final that didn’t happen was 1998. And BU won the championship game against Harvard because, well, they always do.
Hell, the last time neither BC or BU won was 1993. And even then, BC had only lost out because it played BU in the first round. The sad truth is that there has never, in 55 years, been a Beanpot final that didn’t involve both the Terriers and Eagles watching from the stands. Never.
I attended the Beanpot two and had no intention of writing anything about it, but then IT happened.
It shouldn’t have surprised me, of course. It happens every year. But boy was I annoyed with the fact that, for the umpteenth time, BU and BC met in the finals.
And it’s not just that they’ll meet there again, it’s the crushing inevitability of it. I’ll tell you what I mean.
I spent the first game (BU-NU) sitting with a friend of ours who is a BC alum. We watched with a combination of awe and terror as NU came out of the gate and, wouldn’t you know it, handed the Terriers their lunch for the first 10 minutes of the game, outpossessing, outhustling, outworking, outskating, and generally outplaying them.
After just three minutes of this, we noted that there was, “No way they keep this up.” But, much to our surprise, the teams were both held scoreless in the first period, and NU had an 11-8 shot advantage.
“When do the wheels fall off?” my friend asked.
I answered, but didn’t really need to. We both knew the reality of the situation. “As soon as BU gets one decent chance.”
As it happened, the first decent chance came with the Terriers on the power play, following a typically weak penalty call. That’s another thing you have to understand about the Beanpot. BU will ALWAYS get the questionable calls to go their way. It’s as universal and self-evident a truth as there is in sports.
BU’s Chris Higgins, a local kid who grew up loving the Terriers and dreaming of playing in the ‘Pot (another all-too-common theme around these parts), used the empty space to feed a slick pass through the slot to his linemate, a dynamic do-anything-to-win forward by the name of Pete MacArthur who was camped, undetected, on the backdoor. P-Mac, as he’s called, one-timed the puck past NU goalkeeper Brad Thiessen and, just like that, the game was over for all intents and purposes.
BU scored three more times, including a pair of goals from erstwhile Terrier Dan McGoff, who forced Thiessen to put the puck in his own net, and then scored a completely unnecessary power play marker with just 24 seconds left.
NU, of course, never answered, and the First Seal was broken. BU had just downed an opponent that had given them absolute fits in their two previous meetings that season (a 4-3 loss and a scoreless tie), and had done so with disconcerting ease. It shouldn’t have been that easy. But again, the inevitability was overbearing.
All that was needed now was an Eagle win over the Crimson and we’d have the same familiar dancing partners as we always did. The twist, though, was that BC had dropped a game to Harvard at home 4-0 earlier in the season. This, too, must have portended a better game, if nothing else.
Harvard, for its part, seemed not to buy into the idea that they should just roll over and die given that this was the Beanpot. They, like Northeastern did to BU before them, took it to BC in the early going. Dylan Reese even put the Crimson up 1-0 on a pretty weak shot just 8:12 into the first period. Surely, Harvard was not going to go as quietly into the night as the Huskies had.
Then Benn Ferriero evened the game with an equally soft goal 9:15 later and it was over. BC added goals in the second and third period, shorthanded and on the power play, respectively and the tickets were officially punched. Not that anyone doubted for a second that they would be.
For what seems like the 500th time, BC and BU would meet in the Beanpot Championship, and I couldn’t have been be less thrilled.
The next year, BC and BU played eachother and the Eagles prevailed in overtime, setting up a date with Harvard, which had beaten Northeastern in the early game. Shockingly, the Eagles, one of the two teams that ever wins the ‘Pot, won 6-5 in OT. Because they had to.
They always do.
What We Learned
Atlanta — John Anderson sounds like a man defeated. He has to be dead inside. Absolutely dead. He’ll maybe get fired at the end of the season. Don Waddell will continue to have a job. Good work, everyone.
Boston — The Bruins sure looked convincing this weekend, beating the Rangers 1-0 and the Habs 3-1, but undoubtedly the best performance came from still-rookie goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 35 saves and looked poised, confident and rather fantastic. Kid does look like the real deal, and whether he ends up splitting time with Timmy Thomas next year (should he re-sign) or gets a quick-fix veteran 1b guy to show him the ropes or even goes in as the No. 1 goalie all alone, I don’t think Boston will miss Manny Fernandez all that much.
Buffalo — Ryan Miller seems like a nice and very boring guy.
Calgary — Terribly sad news out of Calgary is that Jean Lefebvre will no longer be covering the Flames. Jean was always a great read and, judging by his farewell post on CalgaryPuck as well as his reputation in general, a great guy. I’m very upset to see him go. I considered him one of the best hockey writers working today.
Carolina — After not playing a lot early in the season, Cam Ward’s played in like 16 straight or something crazy like that. And the ‘Canes next three games are at Vancouver, San Jose and Phoenix. They’re figuring to play Wardo in all three of those games as well, for some inexplicable reason (Vancouver being awful of late, why not give Leighton a go?).
Chicago — Pat Kane: a me-first kinda guy.
I asked the second-year winger which felt better, breaking his goal-less streak of 12 games or winning the game?
“Probably the goal, I don’t want to lie to you,” Kane said. “It feels good to get a win too, definitely. It’s nice to contribute in a win.”
Colorado — Good news everyone: Forsberg’s not coming back this year. At least ONE old, washed-up Swedish center isn’t gonna keep everyone on pins and needles guessing whether or not he’ll get a boatload of money to have no positive effect whatsoever on his team.
Columbus — Hmm, Steve Mason has started 17 straight games and has been making out with Phil Kessel? Yes, let’s start him against Dallas. This makes perfect sense.
Dallas — The Stars have won four in a row? How? Because Turco’s allowed six goals in his last four games despite facing 109 shots (.945 save percentage)? That’s probably how.
Detroit — I haven’t been watching too many Detroit games lately. Why have they lost five in a row? Is it just Osgood? Is it worse than that? Someone fill me in.
Edmonton — Funny story: I almost died this weekend. Almost killed a woman and a baby as well. This all happened at once.
I was driving on a two-lane highway when some snow squalls started up, came over the top of a hill and saw a car that had spun out and was facing the opposite direction. “Not good,” I thought, and slowed down a bit more. Then I saw what I was later told was a woman that had slipped in the middle of the road while attempting to cross the highway on foot. In high heels. At the top of a hill. In a snow storm. HOLDING A FUCKING BABY IN HER ARMS.
Somehow, 10 cars missed her, but failed to miss eachother. I was hit by two of them, one a small tractor trailer, and was basically told that, had I not been wearing a seat belt and been hit in the EXACT SPOTS where I was hit, I would be dead right now. So that was a pleasant Friday night.
Florida — If there’s one team I want to sneak into the playoffs this year, it’s the Panthers. Just so we get to hear everyone in the Canadian media bitch that Florida made a HUGE MISTAKE by not trading Jay Bouwmeester for what was sure to be an unsuccessful postseason run.
Los Angeles — Lookit the bright side, if Denis Gauthier was Chris Pronger, he wouldn’t be facing suspension for this hit at all:
Minnesota — Best part of Coach’s Corner this week was when Don Cherry, while deriding Cal Clutterbuck for only fighting with his visor on, accidentally-on-purpose called him “Buttercup.” Classic. So funny even Ron McLean laughed.
Montreal — Ugh those jerseys.
Nashville — It’s very sad indeed when a team is left longing for a defenseman with three goals, a decent second-line forward, a guy that’s done for the year, and a guy who is probably done playing pro hockey forever. Yeah, they’d really kickstart that offense alright.
New Jersey — Jamie Langenbrunner had some kinda week. Three straight two-goal games. Almost doubled his season output in four days. Jeez.
New York Islanders — So the Isles want to move? Tough. You’ve got another six years in that dump of a rink.
New York Rangers — My favorite part of Kevin Paul Dupont’s puff piece on Tuukka Rask yesterday? The term “overhyped Broadway Blueshirts.” The sooner we all realize it, the sooner we can all begin apologizing to me for ever doubting that I was right about the crummy Rangers.
Ottawa — Jan Hejda runnin’ down Jason Spezza? Yes, that IS very funny.
“Especially (Spezza). He dumped the puck in three or four times. He seemed like he didn’t really want to play, like their season was maybe done.”
Jan Hejda kinda picked up on what we’ve all picked up on in the past two months or so. Good for him for saying it though.
Philadelphia — Somebody’s got a serious case of the boo-hoos. Hint: The reason the Flyers are penalized so much is that they’re a chickenshit cheapshotting team. Fact.
Phoenix — Shane Doan must have been very relieved when he heard his best buddy in the whole wide world would only be out a week or so, rather than a month or two.
Pittsburgh — God did the Pens not show up at all for the Leafs game on Saturday. Everybody on that team got thoroughly punked out by Toronto in one way or another. P.S. How is that Garon trade working out for you?
San Jose — If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time all year anyone has been three points clear of the Sharks at the top of the standings, as the Bruins got their 80th point this afternoon against the Habs and San Jose remains at 77. The Sharks, of course, have the benefit of three games in hand, but with five of their next six on the road, things might not be so easy for them.
The Sharks, interestingly, have played six more home games than road games in the first 48 while the Bruins have played two more away from Boston than at home. Boston, by the way, has an appreciably better road winning percentage (.750) than do the Sharks (.690).
St. Louis — The Blues just recalled this guy from the AHL.
So uh, look out for those rights.
Tampa Bay — Interesting thoughts from the Bolts about changing how video replay works. Of particular note was Mark Recchi’s assertion that it should allow pucks to be kicked into the net. I’m all for it. It’s a skill move. I’m interested to hear what you think about that.
Toronto — Goddamn, that game outta Luke Schenn on Saturday was in-cred-i-ble. Shut down Malkin and Crosby all night, leveled Malkin in the neutral zone, beat the hell out of Tyler Kennedy, ate up more than 23 minutes despite spending five in the box, and had an assist. Great job from that kid. He’s a keeper.
Vancouver — Poor Mats Sundin. Didn’t even get to climb over the boards when his team pulled the goalie and had an extra skater for over a minute last night. That’s one expensive-ass benchwarmer. He’s been just awful since he came back. Who saw THAT coming?
Washington — I’m just going to use this space to sing the praises of the great Mike Green until everyone gets on board with calling him one of the best defensemen in the league. I know he’s not what you’d call “good” at what you’d call “defense” but he’s getting better at it and he’s probably the best offensive d-man in the game today. Greenie’s awesome. Go Greenie.
Play of the Weekend
Oh my god, Miikka Kiprusoff.
Gold Star Award
For the second week in a row, it’s this guy:
Next week’s game I’m totally going to watch on Center Ice if I’m home
Chicago at Calgary on Thursday should be a pretty good game, don’tcha think?
Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill
Simon Says, hosted by Simon Gagne.
Soccer update only I care about
Liverpool won today against Chelsea behind an inspired two-goal performance by Fernando Torres, who seems to be rounding into form very nicely following his long battle with a number of injuries. The Reds need Torres to play this way for the remainder of the season if they wish to remain in the title hunt.
College hockey update only I care about
Well Lowell had one game this weekend, at Maine, which I had chalked up as a loss because, well, Lowell hadn’t won at Maine since the end of February, 2001. Right, before September 11th. That’s how long ago. But Lowell eked out a 3-2 win to remain a point out of a home ice spot in the Hockey East playoffs. So that’s nice.
The No. 1 DVD I own and kind of want to watch this week but likely will not
Mighty Ducks. The first one. It rules.
An update on last week’s “No. 1 DVD I own and kind of want to watch this week but likely will not“
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User Homesick might have come up with a trade that, while not terrible, certainly would have almost no impact whatsoever on either team:
I realize that 14th in the west just isnt what it used to be(8 points out with 34 games to go) But if the Preds are too far out at the deadline; what do you think the asking price would be for these 2 players? I’m thinking they need some offense(29th).
*Only if Zanon agrees to an extension before hand
It’s so stupid it just might work in real life.