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Bear Essentials: The B's Tampa Bowl

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.

The Big Lebishski -- I am often told that life does not start and stop at my convenience.

So, early Friday morning, sitting in my hotel room, minding my own business, and looking at this rug -- that really ties the room together -- I was not surprised to hear my phone ring.

"I'm looking for Bishop," said the caller.

"Nobody calls me Bishop. You got the wrong guy. I'm the Bish. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Bishness, or uh, Bisher, or El Bisherino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."

"We've been frantically trying to reach you, Bish," said the voice on the other end. "Coach says we are all going bowling."

And what do you do when The Coach, B's head coach Claude Julien tells you that you are bowling -- well, by golly, you bowl.

After all, "the Bish abides" and so did the rest of Boston's Florida contingent.

So, 36 members of the Bruins travel party very happily forewent practice to hit the lanes.

And, after being split into teams of four and traveling by bus to a bowling alley, all involved had a good time playing hooky from the rink and "throwing rocks" at Pin Chasers in Tampa.

"Yah, this is the boys just out having fun," said Marc Savard. "You know, we are in such a serious mode playing these games that we've been in [recently]. And every game is like a playoff game

"So it's nice to get away like this and have some fun together."

As you might imagine, the techniques of the various bowlers, from Savvy's outstanding PBA stroke to my own terrible Fred Flintstone imitation, were all over the map -- just like the hometowns of the Bruins themselves.

"Yah, I've bowled a couple of times," said Pettri Nokelainen. "It doesn't look like I have.

"I just chuck it at the first pin.

"That is all I am doing -- I don't really have a strategy," he said.

Obviously, the point of the morning excursion was a couple of hours away from hockey and the seriousness of the playoff race and although the Bruins remained competitive, it only went so far.

"I use the arrows," said Glen Metropolit. "The arrows are fivet fee away from me.

"And I chuck it toward the middle arrow.

"That's the secret," he said.

NESN's Hazel Mae graced one team's roster.

"I think I held my own," said Hazel, who was concerned about not living down a bad performance. With a laugh, she added, "I had to do well."

In the end, the team consisting of Glen Murray, David Krejci, John Bucyk and Derek Repucci was named the top team over three games.

And what about my game?

Well, to the chagrin of my teammates (Metro, Jeremy Reich and Keith Robinson), who thought that clues to my bowling prowess lay in my physique (i.e. I'm shaped somewhat like a bowling ball), I was not a prodigy and was clearly "out of my element."

But while I did not throw any rocks on Thursday morning, I did have fun, which I think was the point.

And, of course, when I got back to my room, the rug was still there, intact, and tying the room together.

P.S. Apologies to the Coen brothers. If you are lost, and are able to watch Rated 'R' movies, check out one of my favorite movies -- "The Big Lebowski" -- for all of the bowling humor that you would ever want and a clue to what I am writing about. Hockey returns tomorrow. JB
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