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Memories, like right-field corner of Duff's mind

by Brian Duff
I wish I could tell you that physically I am writing this week from the right field roof, which was our broadcast location, at Fenway Park.

Alas, my time in Boston was far too short, so I remain there only in spirit, but loaded with great memories.
Memories like walking down to field level for the first time, entering near the right field bullpen, and inexplicably hearing the voice of none other than Doc Emrick.

As I made a quick right turn, there was the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, sitting in the bullpen, conducting a radio interview by phone. My only disappointment ... he wasn't on the bullpen phone!
I couldn't believe our good fortune on the NHL Network.

What is quickly becoming our signature show at this annual event, the four and a half hours of coverage of the practices on New Year's Eve began with an incredible snowfall.

No one will ever forget life imitating art (in this case art being the commercials the NHL used to promote the game) as the home side made it's way to rink, and before long were immersed in the final Boston snowfall of 2009.
Sadly, and with apologies to Dan Craig, the snow didn't come into play on New Year's Day.

What did was raw emotion.

Perhaps the most thoughtful, non-cliche interview in the game today, Boston's Tim Thomas was close to being overwhelmed by the moment. Not the Winter Classic victory, but rather his selection to the U.S. Olympic team. And at the end of the day, that may be what I remember most from January 1, 2010.

That's not an indictment of the game between the Flyers and Bruins, but rather a genuine appreciation for honest people like Thomas, who maybe a handful of years ago, could  never have imagined a day quite like this.
Three places I hope to see the Winter Classic:

* Central Park in New York

* Beaver Stadium in Pennsylvania

* Anywhere in California
Monday night oddity -- Speaking of the latter, what an odd site Monday night.

Kings on the power play, late first period vs. the Sharks.

Dan Boyle loses his stick and Patrick Marleau tries to help out by throwing his own to his teammate. Amidst the confusion, and fumbling of the lumber, Los Angeles scores, and gets the opportunity to score again (which they did) as Marleau was sent off for throwing his stick.

As much it may have been just one bizarre play amidst 1,230 regular-season NHL games, I could certainly understand if someone saw this as more representative of the Sharks' failures in year's past.

Like a relay team in track and field that is loaded with great individuals, collectively they just can't seem to work in lock step and pass the baton.
Find the connection -- What do John Stevens, Andy Murray, and Ken Hitchcock have in common?

The last time I checked, none of them were great goaltenders.

Look, I get it that coaches "acts" wear thin with many players, and I'm not suggesting that coaches shouldn't -- at some point -- take the fall for a teams struggles.

But as I've noted before, Stevens lost his No. 1 netminder to injury then took the fall weeks later as the Flyers went into a freefall.

Andy Murray's game plan on home ice couldn't have been that bad. How many times did the Blues have a lead well into period two or beyond, only to suffer embarrassing defeats?

Did the plan change, or did the players stop playing it properly? Have you seen the goals Chris Mason allowed in what turned out to be Murray's final game vs. Vancouver?

And that brings us to the hot seat upon which Ken Hitchcock appears to be situated with Columbus.

If Steve Mason is half the goalie he was last season, we're not having this discussion.

Is he the only problem? Far from it. But he is the most significant.

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