And just like that…another Boston legend is gone. For the third time in nine months, a predominant Boston athlete who has led his team to a championship has left town amidst feelings of apathy, anger, or happiness by the hometown fans. There was a time once when it was said that any Boston athlete who lead his team to a championship would be given a “lifetime pass”. This is clearly not the case. In July, Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat and fans were angered by his lack of loyalty. Allen played a big role in the Celtics 2008 NBA Title. Then in August, fans couldn’t control their excitement over the trade of Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett. Beckett, thought of as an ingrate, was the scapegoat for the 2011 collapse and said to be the leader of the “chicken and beer” brigade in the Sox clubhouse. While Beckett had become a clubhouse problem, it was soon forgotten that in 2007 Beckett was un-hittable in the post-season going 4-0 and was ALCS MVP. Without his start in Game 5 at Cleveland, the Sox would have been eliminated that night by the Indians. Beckett’s 2007 post-season stats read like this: 4-0 1.20 ERA in 30 IP with 35 K’s and 2 walks on a World Championship Boston Red Sox team. Yet it was all forgotten amidst the clubhouse fiasco and collapse of 2011. So much for free drinks for life.
Now it has happened again, another fall from grace by a star athlete who had it all in the greatest sports city in the world and seemed to lose it just as fast. The playoff run in 2011 by Tim Thomas was historic. Sixteen wins, four shutouts, a 1.98 GAA and a record number of saves. Three game seven wins, two by shutout, a 1.14 GAA in the Finals. The Vezina and the Conn Smythe, and a town bowing before him. Less than two years later and its all gone, traded to an obscure NHL franchise for a 2nd round draft pick for salary cap purposes. It started with his skipping of the team’s trip to the White House, a slight drop in performance in 2011-12, and a first round playoff exit. Then things got weird, Thomas announced that he would sit out 2012-13 to focus on “friends, family, and faith”. He is now a member of the NY Islanders. Not the end one would have hoped for.
On the ice the Bruins will be fine in the regular season as Tuukka Rask has proven that he can be a number one goalie, but Rask’s playoff success is limited to one series win against Buffalo in 2010, and a 3-0 series lead that turned into a series loss against the Flyers. He has yet to play in the post season since. Remember that we were not too sure of Thomas in the post season before 2011 and his historical run, so we will wait and see how Rask handles the pressure. He will have a veteran, playoff tested group in front of him, and a defensive minded head coach whose system won’t leave him exposed.
In the meantime, I am going to take a minute to remember Ray Allen, Josh Beckett, and Tim Thomas for what they were: Boston Champions.
Twitter is @WAquilante