Gov. Baker Paves The Way For Pro Sports To Return To Massachusetts

GilletteSocial

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker provided a glimmer of hope for live sports to return in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker clearly misses sports – we all know he is a proud supporter of our state’s hometown teams.

So on Friday, Baker announced that the state’s professional teams would be allowed to begin practicing as soon as Saturday, June 6. That is also the same date Massachusetts residents should learn more about the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which would begin Monday, June 8.

“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said during Friday’s press briefing. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Professional sports have been idle since mid-March when the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) paused their respective seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Since then, both leagues have been working diligently to find a way to restart their seasons safely in “hub cities.”

Major League Baseball (MLB) delayed the start of its 2020 season but continues to be stuck in neutral due to ongoing contract discussions between the players and owners.

Both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) have announced plans to return to the pitch in the coming weeks, which should excited local New England Revolution fans.

Baker believes live sports would certainly help all of us during this unprecedented time. Additionally, it would be a great outlet for many, who have been consuming older contests these past few weeks, including a 2007 playoff run by the Boston Red Sox on NESN.

“I think for all of us live sports, and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again because not only will it be a significant milestone for those of us who are fans but it will also send a big signal that we’ve continued to do all the things that we need to do to contain and control the virus,” said Baker.

Noontime Commentary: It Is Time To Pull The Plug On All Spring Sports

baseball-fallen-accessory-ball-collage-equipment

Is it time to officially pull the plug on all spring sports, including high school games? (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It may be time to pull the plug on spring sports, including all high school games, along with any other leagues or tournaments that were scheduled to start, both this month or over the next few weeks.

Sports will return – I know they will – but playing games to convening along the sidelines to cheer on our hometown student-athletes to storming the gates at Fenway Park just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do during this time of uncertainty. 

We are expecting a “surge” here in Massachusetts, which could have started yesterday or today – who knows? – and it will certainly challenge all of us, as well as our communities, hospitals, health professionals, and everyone else that has bravely stepped up to help combat the spread of COVID-19. And this so-called “surge” – may be the first of many to come? – is certainly a sign that future games and contests will either be canceled or postponed.

Games, which were scheduled for today and yesterday, have already been canceled. Professional leagues like the NBA and NHL are staying optimistic about finishing their respective seasons while the MLB is pondering the thought of playing games in both Arizona and Florida next month.

Meanwhile, there is a slew of college athletes sitting idle – sadly, they will not return to the ice, hardwood, track, baseball or softball diamonds, volleyball courts or lacrosse fields later this spring. Their respective seasons are caputs.

And then there are the high school student-athletes, who are eagerly awaiting an announcement from their state’s Governor to say schools will re-open and spring sports will happen. But sadly, I don’t think high school spring sports will occur, along with any professional or minor league events for quite some time.

The thought of watching our friends and neighbors compete in crowded gymnasiums or local parks just doesn’t seem like a logical plan to me, especially during a time where many, including myself, are seeking some signs of hope, as well as a light at the end of the tunnel. I am an optimist – I always look at the glass half full, not half empty – but from everything I have read, heard or discussed with friends and colleagues within the sports world makes me think (and believe) that games will not be played either next month or in early June. And the thought of games being canceled or postponed weeks from now – i.e. fall sports like football, soccer, field hockey, and others – is also a possibility.

We need to be patient. We need to adhere to the advice of our local (and national) medical workers and scientists. We need to listen to our local Governors, mayors, and town representatives, who are working hard to keep us safe and provide some sense of normalcy to all of us in the coming weeks and months.

Spring sports will return to our lives one day, along with future dinner plans at our favorite neighborhood restaurants to movies, picnics and so much more. But for now, I think it is best to pull the plug and play it safe.

Sports History: Detroit Sweeps Boston In The 1943 NHL Stanley Cup

7519381

Boston’s Bill Cowley recorded a career-high 72 points during the Bruins’ 1942-43 season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Boston Bruins Alumni)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

For many of us, the thought of hearing about the Stanley Cup Finals in April may seem strange or unusual – normally, the title round is played in late May or early June these days – but on April 8, 1943, the Boston Bruins competed for a championship, but wound up losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth and final game of the series.

Boston, which beat Detroit in the 1941 Stanley Cup in four games, was looking to erase memories of the 1942 postseason, which saw the Red Wings outlast the Bruins in a three-game semifinal series.

The Bruins had won four regular-season contests against the Red Wings during the 1942-43 season, including an early March affair by two goals, but that particular victory didn’t seem to help the Black and Gold identify a winning formula to beat Detroit weeks later in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Detroit won all four contests against the Bruins, including the April 8th meeting at the Boston Garden to clinch the series with a 2-0 victory. Boston was held scoreless during the final two contests after producing two goals in game one and three in game two.

Prior to facing the Red Wings, the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens in a five-game semifinal series. Ab DeMarco Sr. clinched the series and secured the Bruins a spot in the title round with an overtime goal at 18:44.

Boston was awarded the O’Brien Trophy, which was presented to the league’s runner-up from 1939 to 1950 while Bill Cowley earned the Hart Trophy (most valuable player). Cowley, who recorded. career-high 72 points during the 1942-43 season, was named a first-team league all-star, while Frank Brimsek, Jack Crawford, and Flash Hollett represented the Bruins on the second-team. Additionally, coach Art Ross was named the second team’s coach.

The 1942-43 season also marked the debut of Bep Guidolin, who was the youngest rookie in NHL history. Guidolin played four seasons with the Bruins before returning to Boston to coach the team during the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.

Noontime’s All-Decade Boston Bruins Team (2010-19)

Boston Bruins

Members of both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Boston Bruins players pose in front of the team’s last Stanley Cup Banner. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

It’s time to kick-off a brand new week here at Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) – we are calling it the “All-Decade Week” where we will be producing content about various sports teams from the past ten years, beginning with our very own Boston Bruins squad from 2010 to 2019.

We’re excited for a fun week of content on the past decade of both Boston and New England sports – we hope you are as well – so again, enjoy our very first team of the week, which highlights some key members of the Black and Gold, including skaters from the 2011 Stanley Cup squad.


Noontime’s All-Decade Boston Bruins Team (Starting Line-Up)

Offense (Forward): Brad Marchand (2018-19): Marchand was a player to watch last season as he tallied a career-highs in assists (64) and points (100) while netting 36 goals (he was three markers shy of matching a career-best of 39 goals from 2017). He tallied additional career-bests last season in power-play goals (10), game-winning goals (nine), even strength assists (36) and four power-play assists. In the postseason, he recorded a career-high 23 points in 24 contests, including a pair of game-winning goals.

Offense (Center): Patrice Bergeron (2013-2014): A four-time Frank J. Selke Trophy Winner, Bergeron has been a key member for the Bruins, both this current season and since he arrived in Boston for his initial campaign with the Black and Gold in 2003. The tenured center claimed his third Selke award during the 2014-15 season after producing 62 points in 80 regular-season contests. He scored seven game-winning goals, which matched his mark from the 2016-17 season while tallying 243 shots on goal. He averaged close to 18 minutes of ice time and was considered for the Hart Memorial Trophy (placed fifth) and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (placed 13th).

Offense (Center): David Krejci (2013-14): A nominee for both the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and Frank J. Selke Trophy, Krejci concluded the 2013-14 season with 69 points on 19 goals and 50 assists. He netted 16 even-strength goals, which is just five less than his career-best of 21 from the 2011-12 season while also recording three power-play goals and six game-winning markers. Finally, he concluded the season with a career-high of 16 power-play assists.

Defense: Zdeno Chara (2011-12): One year after captaining the Bruins to its sixth Stanley Cup Championship, Chara turned in an impressive 2011-12 season which saw the defender record career-highs in assists (40) and points (52), as well as be considered for the Hart Memorial Trophy and James Norris Memorial Trophy for the top defensemen. Chara concluded the regular season with eight power-play goals, 10 power-play assists, and 224 shots on goal.

Defense: Torey Krug (2013-14): A nominee for the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year), Krug concluded his team’s 2013-14 campaign with 40 points on 26 assists and 14 goals to go along with 77 blocks, 50 hits, and 24 takeaways. He tallied eight even-strength goals and two game-winning tallies while tallying 183 shots on goal. In 12 postseason contests, Krug produced 10 points on eight assists and two goals while recording 13 blocks, eight hits, and four takeaways.

Goalie: Tim Thomas (2010-11): A winner of both the Conn Smythe Trophy and Vezina Trophy, Thomas backstopped the Bruins to their sixth Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history by yielding 1.98 goals per game in the postseason. He concluded the regular season with a career-best 2.00 goals allowed average and .938 save percentage. He won 35 games – he started 55 contests – and recorded 1,699 saves. He won 16 postseason contests and posted career-highs in shots against (849), saves (798), and save percentage (.940). He also registered four shutouts in the 2011 postseason.

Commentary: Are You Ready For Life Without Sports?

Basketball Hoops

Are you ready for life without sports? (PHOTO COURTESY: CubesAndPiii on Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

Get ready for a few weeks and months without sports – it is going to happen.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), both this week and over the past few weeks, sports are going to take a backseat. And I am fine with that decision.

The health and well-being of our athletes, coaches, team representatives, and of course, the fans, is what matters most during this time.

I know many fans are upset – what will I do without sports? – while others believe the games (and practices) must go on. But I believe the only way we can return to the field and bleachers is by adhering to the advice of our doctors, health officials, and scientists, not angry parents or fans.

The decision to halt professional, college and high school sports was certainly not an easy one, but again, this decision, a domino effect on Thursday after the NBA suspended its season late Wednesday evening, was the right thing to do. And again, I know many, including college and high school seniors, were extremely distraught to hear their dreams of competing for a March Madness title or state championship would not occur, so I sympathize with these men and women, including the high school seniors that may not get a chance to compete this spring on the baseball or softball diamond or even the school’s outdoor track.

So, with really no local games or college basketball to watch today, tomorrow, and Sunday, I guess it is time to embark into a world that won’t include sports, but instead concerns over the well-being of our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

Will we read more books?

Will we binge-watch, both old and new shows?

Will we get outside and soak in the sun (when its nice, of course)?

Or will we just hunker down and wait for the apocalypse of the coronavirus to vanish?

No matter what happens, life will be different – I guarantee it – but as I mentioned earlier today in my ‘Daily Noontime,’ we will persevere and come back stronger. And that is because I am an optimist.

While I know many of you may find life quite boring and odd these next few weeks and months without sports, just remember that our favorite teams and athletes will eventually reemerge. But until that time comes, we just need to smile, laugh, and find something else to do to keep us preoccupied while we anxiously await the return of professional, college, and high school sports.