The idea of a particular villain, a true public enemy, still exists for most hockey fanbases. More than any other sport, one player can send an opposing arena into hysterics by merely hopping over the boards. Rivalry as an idea in sports has calmed down over the years, given player movement and other factors. But hockey can still cling to the days of when Boston put Ulf Samuelsson’s picture in the post office for altering Cam Neely’s career. It wasn’t all that long ago that I made up my own swear words directed at Ryan Kesler (and I really liked Kesler as a player the rest of the time!). You’re not a Rangers fan until you know where “Potvin Sucks!” goes, etc.
This sort of vitriol or bile, the kind of thing that when kept in the least amount of reason without spilling over, what makes hockey fandom what it is, has always been something Boston Bruins’ play-by-play man Jack Edwards has tried to tap into, for…well, not better, just worse. I’m sure there was a time when Edwards was an excellent broadcaster, though it feels like it goes all the way back to when I was in school 107 years ago.
Since Edwards took over as the Bruins announcer, he has clearly strove to be the fan in the booth, the unpolished sort who wants to broadcast the game the same way the guy in Section 303 would if given the chance. He has laughed maniacally when a Bruins opponent has lost a fight or received a big hit, while turning the other way during any of Brad Marchand’s antics. It harkens back to another day of hockey, long gone, and for the most part, its departure from modern times is a good thing. There is a way to thread this needle, to try and connect the passion hockey fandom used to have to how it applies today. It’s just that Edwards has consistently missed and faceplanted into the housecat most of the time.
In recent years, Edwards has lost most of his ability to follow the play at all or not sound like he’s being broadcast at three-quarter speed while his audio is filtered through the bottom of the Fenway, which only makes his attempts at sounding “like one of the guys,” even more desperate. After all, the latter part is only supposed to be his spin on the job. He’s still supposed to be able to do the job, which sounds less and less like he can.
Edwards once again vomited up some more unidentifiable gunk on the mic on Wednesday night as the Bruins were hosting the Lightning.
I don’t know if Edwards has a problem with Pat Maroon or just thought he was an easy enough target, being a fourth-line vet that most hockey fans are familiar with given that he’s been on a team that’s appeared in the Stanley Cup final four straight seasons, including with the Blues in 2019 that kneecapped the Bruins. So maybe Bruins fans have it out for Maroon and Edwards thought he would tap into that to try and gain some cred. Seeing as how it was three and a half years ago, it’s more likely that Bruins fans have let all that go.
You would categorize all of this as a cheapshot, if it could even qualify as so. Maroon may be a large man, but he’s also a professional hockey player in his mid-30s. By definition that puts him in better condition than 98 percent of the population. Who cares what the outer shell might look like if the lungs and muscles contained within can still perform at this level?
This isn’t John Kruk waddling up to the plate in a night game in July. Hockey fans everywhere have mocked any hockey scribe who tried to mock Phil Kessel about his supposed out-of-shape nature, given all the stories we’ve heard from current and former teammates that express just how good of shape Kessel is always in and how loved Kessel is in general. This is the lowest common denominator that Edwards is reaching for, and he’s not even close to it.
What were Edwards and analyst Andy Brickley’s points? “Boy that guy sure likes to eat, as he skates in his 671st NHL regular season game while I mock his body and eating habits as an addled old man who can barely decode the action in front of me much less describe it to the very audience that’s depending on me to do so?”
Edwards is actually lucky that Maroon didn’t want to make any more light of it than using it as a platform to donate to Tampa Bay Thrives. Which of course only makes Edwards look more petty and stupid than he already did.
Maybe this is the kind of thing that Bruins fans respond to, but I tend to doubt it. And if it is then they should be as rightly mocked as Edwards is being in the hockey world. There is still room for an opposing player to draw the ire of a fanbase, and for that team’s broadcast to echo that. Hockey is better when it’s passionate. But there is plenty of on-ice material to cause that, or even stuff that’s said in the press. This was a drive-by on Maroon for no reason other than tapioca-brain Edwards thought it was funny. Maybe he’ll learn his lesson by the Bruins moving on from him after this season as play-by-play guy and replacing him with someone who doesn’t sound like he just emerged from a dark room for three days. Should that happen, Edwards may be shocked to find out that Maroon has better things to do than give a shit.
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