It was a very nice surprise to see 'The Captain' Ray Bourque on NESN again last night. However, instead of appearing in between periods during a Bruins contest, this time he was being interviewed on the channel's Red Sox pre-game programming.
Sitting next to Dennis Eckersley, and interviewed by Tom Caron, the B's Hockey Hall of Famer from 2004 talked about being honored at the Sports Museum on Monday night. Bourque, who will be joined at 'The Tradition' by former Patriot Stanley Morgan, former Celtic Cedric Maxwell and the 1967 Boston Red Sox, was obviously humbled and excited about his night at the museum.
"It's really a great event," said Ray while sitting on the sunny Yawkey Way TV studio. "I've been there every year they've had it -- this is the sixth year. And some incredible people have (been honored) there and this year there is a great list of guys going in."
Bourque, instead of speaking of his own myriad accomplishments, changed directions and focused on the Sports Museum itself.
"It's really for a great cause," said the former defenseman of The Tradition. "The Sports Museum, if you've never been there, is at the TD Banknorth Garden and there are so many neat things to see.
"From the professional, the high school and college levels, the Marathon -- so much has happened in Massachusetts and Boston in terms of sports.
"And they have it all right there," he said.
Eckersley, who entered the Baseball
Hall of Fame in 2004 and who wore an outstanding hockey-style
mullet throughout his playing and broadcasting career (business in the front, party in the back), asked Bourque about how closely he has followed the Red Sox this season.
"Have you ever seen anything like this?" asked the Eck, referring of course to the Sox then 14.5 lead over the Yankees and their domination of the American League East.
"They are off to an incredible start," said Ray. "And it's so much fun to come to the park, I'm sure, for these guys."
Caron reminded Bourque of the Bruin Presidents' Trophy Year of 1989-90 -- a year when the Bruins, much like this season's Sox, rolled over much of their competition en route to the NHL's best record. The Bruins then made it through three rounds of the playoffs until an ill-fated date with the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.
Bourque said that some teams, like his B's that season, can 'overcome' any overconfidence and take regular season success into the playoffs.
"It depends on the team," said Ray, inferring that a mix of coaching, veteran leadership and attitude are important.
"Still, you are always looking at positioning," he said, before imitating a locker room conversation. "Okay, let's win our division. Let's maybe get first overall (because) that gives us home ice throughout the playoffs.
"There's always something to play for.
"But when you are winning and on a roll, you just want to keep it going," said Bourque.
Surely The Captain needed no extra motivation, no matter what game he was playing and the highlight of last night's NESN piece was video of Bourque taking batting practice at Fenway Park several years ago.
With a NESN anchor as his batting practice pitcher, Bourque acquitted himself well.
"I played a lot of baseball growing up," said Ray, with a huge smile. "I couldn't wait to (hit at Fenway).
"I put four over the Green Monster and into the screen."
Eckersley sounded impressed and as he watched the tape remarked, "Looks like you had a good hack!"
Bourque just smiled some more.
"I hit a lot off the wall, though," said Ray. "I'll tell you that wall is high!"
And so is any Bruins fan's opinion of #77.
---By the way, for more info on The Tradition, click here. To see the video of Ray speaking on Yawkey way go to nesn.com.