The Miseducation of Jack Edwards

There is line drawn in the sand in the hockey world. On one side there are the people who love Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards. On the other side: those who absolutely loathe him. There is no middle ground.

After the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens in Game Seven Wednesday night, apres postgame analysis, the camera turned toward Edwards, staring into the lens as if preparing to deliver the State of the Union.

Edwards spoke on royalty, alluding to his well-known views that the current Montreal Canadiens are fraudulent in their claim to membership in hockey’s upper class.

Maybe Edwards is right to some degree. The Canadiens saw the majority of their success in the ’60s and ’70s before the playing field in the NHL was leveled. My gripe with Edwards isn’t his opinions, but his totally misconstrued explanations in trying to voice them, with unprofessional actions spotted throughout.

Edwards went on to pull his favorite club out of the bag, in the long-winded, drawn out Revolutionary War metaphor. If it sounded familiar to Bruins fans its because two years ago on Patriot’s Day, a similarly worded soliloquy was ranted after the President Trophy winning Bruins swept the eighth place Canadiens.

Edwards would like you to believe that the Bruins are some band of always the underdog do gooders, aw-shucks’ing their way to overcoming great odds all the while powered by the American Dream.

This might be one of the most inaccurate comparisons I have heard in all of sports.

In pronouncing this Jack Edwards isn’t doing the Bruins any favors, but instead is selling them extremely short. The Bruins are not a thrown together band of misfits like Rick Moranis’  team in the film “Little Giants.” They are a team that has been carefully developed over the years to win. They are in the upper echelon of talent in the National Hockey League and have been for a few years now. They did not rowdily just burst out of some Boston bar, muskets in hand, like it was 1773.

Sadly the only “rowdy radicals” charging out of Boston bars these days are the ones that stumble out across Causeway Street screaming “CANADA SUCKS!” Talk about some “who find themselves as a certain location in history, and an accident of birth, to be in a position to carry on a tradition.”

This series wasn’t the Revolutionary War. Not even close. What played out was more like Operation Enduring Bruin Freedom, a quagmire of a battle, where though the Bruins ended up on top, they barely escaped with their lives. All the while Edwards there to egg us on and tell us we were fighting the good fight.

That good fight exhibited in behavior such as booing an injured Jeff Halperin, who lay on the ice at the TD Garden in Game 7. I understand the diving complaints. I think P.K. Subban in an amazing hockey player, but when he went to the ice like a sack of potatoes I felt sick. He is better than that. His game shouldn’t rely on that.

But when a player goes down, and stays down, no matter what the contact appeared to be there is no reason to boo for five minutes straight. There have been enough Boston players in that situation where one would believe some mutual understanding would have been reached on the matter.

This behavior in my opinion is party caused by Jack Edwards fanning the flames to the masses. That fanning coming from screams of “GET UP!!” high above the ice.

Just a week earlier while in Montreal for games three and four, Jack broadcast during the daytime in front of a deserted Belle Centre entrance. As Edwards began speaking I thought he was going to start “Jack Edwards here reporting from behind enemy lines…” Instead in fewer words Edwards basically went on to say that the way the Canadiens play hockey would cause possibly the greatest Canadien of all time, Maurice Richard, to be “spinning in his grave.”

Professionally I think referencing dead Hall of Fame hockey players spinning in their graves, who didn’t even play for the team you represent, is probably the low road. I imagine, as the camera shut off a grin came across Edwards face, thinking what he had done was so rowdy and radical. I think it was tasteless. He had the gall to lay his hands on the plaque of Maurice Richard and damn the Montréal Canadiens as team and an organization, but lacked the courage to pull this stunt while any Canadiens fans were actually around.

On January 8th, the night the Canadiens came back to beat the Bruins in overtime in Montreal earlier this year, Jack called the goal and a brush up between the scorer Max Pacioretty and the Bruins Zdeno Chara.

This is what was uttered.

“67 is the new name in the books! He’s a cocky kid and somebody is gonna get his head taken off!”

Well we all know what happened two months later on March 8th.

I can imagine even Jack wished some words back into this mouth that night.

Its not news that Edwards is a homer. It’s stating the sun is yellow.

When Shawn Thornton does it, its “frontier justice.” If Alex Henry does it’s an embarrassing display of his “pugilistic skills” while on call up from the AHL. Tell me Jack, where did Shawn Thornton hone his skills for ten seasons before becoming a mainstay in the NHL?

But there is no debating Edwards is a homer. It is fact, and not what I’m arguing.

What I’m arguing is that Jack sometimes sets the wrong example for Bruins fans. Bruins fans are as smart and devout as they come in the NHL. They don’t need theatrics, though I’m sure for Jack lovers its much more fun to watch.

They don’t need to be put into a position to have to turn a blind eye and just shrug at what he says and how he acts. When I hear people defend Jack Edwards its like a parent trying to defend their child who is acting out in a toy store. “Isn’t he just so mischievous and curious?“

I understand the appeal in rooting for an underdog. But I don’t understand the logic of how the Bruins have stood up to “The Greatest Fighting Force the world has ever known” as Jack likes to put it, nor do I agree with his actions in getting from point A to B.

If you want to root for an underdog, root for the Predators.

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One Response to “The Miseducation of Jack Edwards”

  1. Kevin Greenstein
    April 30, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    I wasn’t pleased to hear Jack Edwards’ comment about Jeff Halpern staying in Game Seven after getting clocked into the stanchion by Johnny Boychuk. Edwards said (pretty much verbatim) that Halpern could “have his brains oozing out of his ears” and he wouldn’t want to leave the game. As we saw later, Halpern was concussed by a collision with Andy Ference. It’s hard not to wonder (in the wake of the Sidney Crosby concussion trajectory) whether Halpern did himself a disservice by returning to the action after the initial hit by Boychuk, or whether the Canadiens did him a disservice by allowing him to. Because it’s pretty easy to see that the later hit didn’t seem that bad, but yielded a terrible result, not unlike Victor Hedman’s hit on Crosby, which seems in retrospect far less severe than the Winter Classic cold-cocking delivered a few days earlier by David Steckel.