November 18, 2011
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"Monday Night RAW" was in Boston on Monday and damned if the most popular and successful wrestler of the last 15 years wasn't in the building
That man is wrestler-turned-actor The Rock, and it's quite appropriate that he brought some serious heat to TD Garden, because the building's only residents this winter have completely co-opted his act.
Students of the squared circle will remember that when the Rock entered the professional wrestling game, he was Rocky Maivia, painted as a "blue-chipper" who should have success simply because of who he is (a third-generation wrestler).
But fans hated Rocky Maivia. Even though he was supposed to be a face, they chanted "Rocky sucks" during every match. And it got so bad that the WWF had to embrace how hated he was, put him in a heel stable, and turn him into The Rock.
The rest is history. Now that he was able to embrace his darker side, The Rock quickly became one of the most hated and successful wrestlers ever, and eventually so transcended the line between good and evil that he became wildly popular for doing exactly the things that made him a jerk immediately following his turn.
All of which is a long way of saying that some people just aren't meant to be the good guys. This is true of the Boston Bruins, who have dominated the conversation in hockey this season first because they were shockingly awful and for the most part personality-less. Perhaps a summer of partying hard (and shirtless) robbed them of their "compete level" or whatever you want to call it; but like any good heel, they found a perceived injustice and rallied around it.
Remember, around the time the Bruins started winning every game they played and grossly out-competing opposing teams, they also did something the Canucks, widely viewed as the faces of last year's Stanley Cup Finals, often resorted to: bitching about the officials. In a Chris-Jericho-circa-1995 move, the Bruins said they'd been unfairly targeted by officials for being too tough on other teams.
After that Oct. 29 game, they were actually being called for more penalties than before. Though they averaged 15.3 penalty minutes through their first 10 games, that was heavily skewed by a 68-minute gong show against Carolina. They got whistled for 15.1 PIMs a night in the following six. But all of those were wins.
It was all a matter of accepting what they are. As with the Four Horsemen, just because they were the best didn't mean they had to wear white hats and be nice guys. And as their success has grown, so too have their heel tactics. First there was obviously Milan Lucic(notes) cleaning out Ryan Miller(notes), which the put-upon Sabres used as an opportunity to trash talk through the media about the team.
But the Bruins are pretty good on the stick themselves, and soon everyone from Claude Julien — "I know for a fact if Milan had intended on hitting him, he would have never got up" — to Peter Chiarelli — "I am also proud that Milan took the high road, and chose not to engage in an exchange of words…" — was in on the action.
Telling anyone who would listen about how much worse it could have been for those dumb enough to obstruct their path to a playoff spot is heel-move enough, but going through official team channels how noble they had been in clobbering a largely defenseless goaltender? That's some nWo-level work right there.
And that's to say nothing of Brad Marchand(notes) putting out edicts about what nicknames people are allowed and, more specifically, not allowed to call him. Classic move there as well. Who does he think he is? One of the Mounties Quebecers?
Of course, every Wrestlemania shows us that even the meanest villain eventually has to lose, and certainly this run of Bruins success isn't going to last forever. No one can score four or five every night now that it's no longer 1991.
But right now, the Bruins having their swagger back is entertaining as hell.
Oh cool the NHL might come back to Hartford maybe
Imagine my dismay when I read The Hockey News yesterday and stumbled upon Adam Proteau's latest story.
Normally I'm a fan of Proteau's but the contents of this one were, just based on the headline, going to make me angry: "Would the NHL return to Hartford?"
The short answer is, "God I hope not."
What was Hartford drawing when Karmanos packed up for Raleigh? Barely anything. How decrepit was the Whalers' rink? Very.
So what's the new hot plan to get an NHL team back to town? Building a new rink? Nope! It's to renovate the 37-year-old Hartford Civic Center — now known as the XL Center — which seats 15,635 for a cost of just $105 million. And who would front that money? You guessed it, the taxpayers.
I know it's the new cool thing to talk about how great it would be for teams to go back to old NHL cities and bring back the glory days of wholly unsuccessful franchises, but at some point, this has to stop, right? There has to be some point at which we just accept that urban decay in some North American cities has simply precluded the league can from folding its struggling franchises back into rinks that seat less than 18,000 or have little corporate funding just because of a minority of fans — who set Brass Bonanza as their ringtone — have overly-romantic, rose-tinted memories of guys in Cooperalls and obnoxious green sweaters losing to the Bruins 6-2.
And if they do somehow get a team back in Hartford, where does it stop? People won't be happy until every team south of the Mason-Dixon line is returned to their rightful places as Quebec Nordiques, Hamilton Tigers and Montreal Wanderers.
And where does that leave the Golden Seals?
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on career milestones: "Goaltender Marty Brodeur got his 37th career assist tonight. But to my defense he plays the whole game."
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