With another season of hockey hounding approaching, it's about time that I reflected on the past season. Not only did my hounding efforts move 1,200-plus miles south, where the coolest days are in the 60s, but I'll still be able to harass a few dipstick dealers.
For simplicity's sake, my review will be broken down into three separate categories:
The Good: As a whole, the Bruins were a good bunch. Did Joey Thornton eventually park behind the Ristuccia Arena? Wouldn't you? Did Ray Bourque get tired of seeing us? Certainly. Did Glenn Murray s sig become more of a scribble as the season wore on? You betcha.
But, hounds were blessed by the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes and Hannu Toivonen, who always made a point of signing. Late-season additions Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm, part of the Thornton deal, were quick with a Sharpie, too.
Even better than adding to the collection were the memories from the Bruins' practices. Taking the buyout from the Boston Herald allowed me to attend far too many, and spend way too much money. I don't mind, though. It was always fun.After arriving in Tampa Bay, I quickly found that Martin St. Louis, Ruslan Fedotenko and Darryl Sydor didn't have any problems signing multiples. Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards would sign, but usually limited it to one per person. You know what? Sean Burke never once asked to personalize an item.
As always, certain teams lived up to their hound-friendly billings: the Buffalo Sabres, the Florida Panthers and the Habs.
The Bad: Though he first came across as a down-to-earth person, Brian "The Lone Star Stiff" Leetch quickly became the no-hit prima donna that Big Apple fans can have back. The Maple Leafs, too, were downright rude, but what do you expect from a group of chronic underachievers?I will say, though, that the Leafs did provide one of the season's funniest moments. One night, outside the Ritz Carlton, Toronto's aging midget thug, Tie Domi, became the third man in after teammate Jeff O'Neill started mixing it up with some hounds. All we could think of, as he stood among quite a few taller people, was how short he was. From there, a visualization of Li'l Tie wearing a little boy's sailor outfit, skipping along the sidewalk, quickly became seared in our minds.The Downright Silly: What in God's name was Bruins GM Mike O'Connell (who was later fired by Boston) thinking when he traded away Joey Thornton after watching his two major free-agent signings Alexei Zhamnov and the abovementioned Leetch contribute very little to the season? As I've said many times on this blog, it was the coach, Mike Sullivan, who was the problem. He never had the respect of his players. Sullivan was fired, too, but it was way too late by then.