NESN’s Executive Vice President Is Out

Happening now, we’re just learning through Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that NESN’s Executive Vice President of Programming and Executive Producer Joel Feld is leaving after five years on the job.

Feld has overseen changes in game production with the Red Sox and Bruins as well as steering the channel towards some non-sports related programming including the horrible “Dirty Water TV”. More to follow as the news becomes available.

UPDATE, 8:35 p.m.: We have the official statements from NESN including quotes from Feld and NESN President and CEO Sean McGrail.

NESN Statement:
Joel Feld has decided to leave NESN after more than 5 years of service as the network’s executive vice president of programming and executive producer.

“Over the past five years Joel has made significant contributions to NESN’s growth and success,” said Sean McGrail, NESN’s President and CEO. “We are very grateful for the passion and leadership he brought to work every day and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Statement from Joel Feld:

“Leaving NESN is one of the most difficult career moves I’ve ever had to make. The talent and production team – behind and in front of the camera – are the best in the business. The standards and work ethic they bring to the office every day made my job a whole lot easier and more fun than I ever could have imagined when I came to Boston in 2005. I’m especially grateful to the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins organizations who provided me a professional opportunity that people dream of their entire lives. I will treasure the experience and good memories for the rest of my career and wish continued success for NESN and all the great people I’ve had the privilege to work beside.”

NESN says a search for Feld’s replacement will begin immediately. No word if anyone will fill Feld’s position in the interim.

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Celtics Trade Still Has Plenty of Doubters

The Celtics are in San Antonio tonight to take on the Spurs. Jermaine O’Neal practiced yesterday and is expected to play for the Celtics.

With just a few weeks before the playoffs begin, there is plenty of worry about this team, and the integration of their new pieces, as well as their state of mind. Jackie MacMullan on ESPN Boston today, has Ainge speaking about the deal, and admitting the risks that went along with it. Bill Simmons explored this topic with WEEI play-by-play man Sean Grande on the B.S. Report Tuesday, and Simmons is clearly one of those who believes the trade was a disaster to team chemistry. In fact, they were making the case the Danny Ainge’s entire legacy as GM of the Celtics hinges on this trade. Simmons says that the Garnett deal will always be dismissed by some as Ainge’s buddy doing him a favor.

Some of these concerns are valid, however, I have to rebut one major point that Simmons, as well as Glenn Ordway and others have been making repeatedly since the deal was made. They’ve stated emphatically that the Celtics were the heavy favorites to win the title at the time that the trade was made and that since the trade, that is no longer the case. That’s a pretty easy statement to make, and it is true on the surface, but can it actually be used as an argument that the trade was a failure?

Consider this. Say the trade was never made. Perkins remained a member of the Celtics. Remember, he was already injured at the time, and would miss the next three weeks. Who was going to play center for the Celtics in that span? Glen Davis? They would’ve likely had to sign the skinny kid, Chris Johnson for the remainder of the season, and he and Davis would’ve been your center rotation for three weeks. Meanwhile, let’s say the team still signed Troy Murphy. Because of the shortage of big men he would’ve had to have played more minutes, and he’s been a disaster thus far. If Davis is in your starting lineup, you’ve got absolutely no scoring in the second unit, with the exception of a few outbursts from Delonte West, who was also injured during that time. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen would be playing huge minutes, with no rest. Perkins would’ve felt pressure to return even sooner, and who knows how effective he’d have been?

Meanwhile, the Lakers and Bulls would’ve still be on their other-worldly streaks that they’ve been on since the All Star break. The Celtics undoubtedly would’ve dipped some in their play. Would the Celtics still right now be the undisputed favorites to win the title? I don’t think so. People like Ordway would still be scared to death of the Bulls.

While some have said they like the deal long-term, as it gives the Celtics the possibility of some nice pieces for the future, they say that Ainge sabotaged hopes for a title this season. I think you can make the argument that Ainge made the deal as much for the short-term as he did for the long term. He knew Perkins was injured and that the Celtics would be without a true center for better than a month. He knew that there was no offense on the bench, no one to give Pierce and Allen some rest. Simply put, he had to make this deal.

Now, all the other arguments about team chemistry, confidence, ubuntu, the time to get new guys acclimated – you can make arguments (still flimsy in my opinion) for those points. But you cannot point to the Celtics record and standing in the league at the time of the trade, and since then to make any sort of case that the trade was a failure.

Now a few quick links for today:

Five questions for the Celtics down the stretch – Paul Flannery with a look at some things the Celtics need to figure out in the next few weeks.

Celtics getting big boost – Julian Benbow has more on Jermaine O’Neal’s return to action. Mark Murphy has more on O’Neal.

No more sitting pretty – Chris Forsberg says that it is time for the bench to step up.

Boston enters season with target on its back – Ron Chimelis has a preview of the 2011 Red Sox.

Meet the 2011 Boston Red Sox – Gordon Edes goes over the opening-day roster player-by-player.

Sox good enough to be second to none – John Tomase wonders if this is the best Red Sox team of all time.

Saltalamacchia ready for a fresh start with Red Sox – Sean McAdam has the new starting catcher ready to go.

Red Sox fit Carl Crawford well – Michael Silverman has the new outfielder comfortable with his new team. Tony Massarotti lists Crawford on his “Most likely to disappoint” list.

Marcus Stroud eager to extend himself – Ian Rapoport talks with the new Patriot, who is looking forward to revitalizing his career in New England.

Zdeno Chara brings it at both ends of ice – Rich Thompson has the Norris trophy candidate priding himself on being an all-around defenseman.

 

Bruins Stay Hot, Blank Blackhawks

The Bruins continued their hot play last night, as Tim Thomas solidified his grip on another Vezina trophy by blanking the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 at the Garden last night. Get all the coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

Bruins power toward playoffs with 3-0 victory over Chicago – Mike Loftus has the Bruins looking to continue playing desperate hockey. Rich Thompson has the Bruins getting the best of an original six rival.

Recchi has a winning plan – Kevin Paul Dupont has the 43-year-old Bruin saying that he will retire if the Bruins can win a cup. Douglas Flynn has Recchi reaching yet another career milestone last night. Joe McDonald has more on Recchi’s retirement plans. Danny Picard has Recchi able to still teach lessons after 22 seasons.

Thomas on his way to another Vezina – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins goaltender locking down the award with his performance last night. DJ Bean has Thomas returning to the unbeatable form he showed in October. Stephen Harris has Thomas in playoff form. James Murphy has Thomas again at the top of his game.

Shawn Thornton bloodied but unbowed – Thompson’s notebook has Thornton needing 40 stitches above his eye for a non-combat-related injury. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has more on Thornton. The Patriot-Ledger notebook from Mike Loftus has rookie Brad Marchand notching his 20th goal of the season night.

Red Flops – Dave Dyer finds problems all over the Red Sox roster, saying it would be foolish to write them in as AL Champs.

What the Red Sox learned this spring – Gordon Edes has 10 things we’ve learned about the 2011 Sox.

Red Sox count on Clay Buchholz – Scott Lauber says that the Red Sox are placing a lot of faith in the young righthander.

As park is left behind, memories spring to mind – As the Red Sox played their final game at City of Palms park yesterday, Nick Cafardo got nostalgic.

Developmental dilemma for Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias – Alex Speier examines the dilemma the Red Sox face with the phenom shortstop.

Not open-and-shut – Peter Abraham’s notebook says that the opening day lineup is still in flux. The Herald notebook from Scott Lauber has more on Terry Francona’s choices for opening day. Tim Britton’s Red Sox Journal has Buchholz looking strong in his final spring start. The CSNNE notes from Maureen Mullen has Carl Crawford picking up an award from the Tampa writers.

Celtics facing major issues as playoffs approach – A. Sherrod Blakely looks at some things the Celtics need to get straightened out before the postseason arrives.

Celtics’ slide wasn’t part of the plan – Peter May says that this year’s slide is much more concerning than last year’s.

Problematic Celtics need to be answerable – Julian Benbow has the Celtics hitting their rough patch, just as all other top teams have had theirs this season.

Rookies lose time for learning – Karen Guregian says an extended lockout will make it very difficult for rookies to contribute to the Patriots this season.

Andy Reid, Bill Belichick Represent Rare Models of Head Coaching Consistency and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe goes around the NFL.

Felger/Tanguay “Dustup” – Real or Contrived?

So I’m a day late on this one, having had yesterday wiped out with an illness, so I’m catching up with this Gary Tanguay/Michael Felger dustup on Sunday/Monday.

It apparently started with Felger’s comments on Sports Sunday, following the Celtics win over the Timberwolves:

http://www.csnne.com/common/thePlatform/web/swf/flvPlayer.swf

Felger started off his show by saying that Tanguay was “afraid” to cover what Felger thought was the “real” story following the game. Felger believes Rondo was sat down on Sunday as a discipline issue.

Tanguay shot back on Twitter:

[blackbirdpie id=”52207344934858752″]

[blackbirdpie id=”52207515592704000″]

Tanguay then did appear on the Felger and Massarotti show on 98.5 yesterday. Here is the segment.

Tanguay takes issue with Felger’s comments, and sounds genuinely agitated about how Felger portrayed Tanguay’s take. Tanguay claims that he actually told Felger before the show that Rondo was sitting down for more than just the finger injury that the team announced, and said that he mentioned this on the air as well.

Felger says the issue is with “tonality,” but that Tanguay is guilty for not covering that real angle more, and that everyone who covers the team is “in the bag.”

Then last night, Tommy Heinsohn came to the defense of Tangauy, ripping Felger:

http://www.csnne.com/common/thePlatform/web/swf/flvPlayer.swf

So what do you think? Is this a real feud, or contrived? I’m always skeptical about incidents like this, especially when all the material is freely available on the media outlet’s web sites. If there were a true argument or spat between personalities, I’m not sure it would be so easily available. Tanguay does appear grieved at how he was portrayed by Felger, though I’m sure some of that was being played up.

Slumping Celtics Can’t Finish…Again

Once again, the Celtics started strong, but finished poorly, losing to the Pacers in Indiana 107-100. About the only good thing you can say about this loss is that they looked better in losing to the Pacers than they did in beating the Timberwolves on Sunday. Get all the coverage at Celticslinks.com.

Don’t blame ‘The Trade’ – Gerry Callahan says again that the trade of Kendrick Perkins is not to blame for the Celtics slide.

Rondo’s spark not enough for Celtics – Paul Flannery has the point guard getting back on track, but other pieces falling short. Chris Forsberg tries to find some positives from last night.

Frustrated Allen cuts backdoor – Gary Washburn says that Ray Allen was clearly frustrated with his role last night, and his avoidance of the media afterwards speaks volumes.

Jermaine O’Neal near return – Julian Benbow’s notebook has the veteran center set to practices with the team, and hopes to play on Thursday night against the Spurs. A. Sherrod Blakely has more on O’Neal’s return,  and the Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has more on Rondo’s encouraging performance.

In Tito they trust – Joe McDonald has a feature on what has made Terry Francona the most successful Red Sox managers in Boston history. Scott Lauber has more on Francona’s style.

Five things spring training taught us about these Red Sox – Rob Bradford looks at some things we’ve learned about the 2011 Red Sox. The ProJo trots out Five keys to the season.

Albers and Reyes are keepers – Peter Abraham has the Red Sox making some tough decisions in the bullpen. Gordon Edes has more on the decision to send down Hideki Okajima. who has been the Red Sox top lefty reliever for the last four seasons.

Lackey not thrown off – The Globe notebook has John Lackey adjusting to a change of plans yesterday. The CSNNE notes from Sean McAdam have more on Lackey. The Herald Red Sox Notebook from Lauber has more on Okajima being sent down, as does the Red Sox Journal from Tim Britton.

Air has been cleared a bit – The Bruins notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has the defensemen working with the goaltenders in order to keep visual lanes clear. The Herald notebook from  Stephen Harris has the Bruins looking to keep their momentum going with crisp practices.

NESN Sets New Bruins Regular Season Ratings Record

From NESN:

Last night’s 7-0 Bruins win over the Canadiens garnered a 6.6 household rating on NESN according to Nielsen, which is the highest rated regular season game in the network’s 27 year history covering the Bruins. NESN’s previous regular season ratings record was a 6.2 household rating for the March, 18, 2010 game when the Bruins played the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.

Against a very competitive network prime lineup, which included the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Bruins ranked #1 in the Boston DMA in Men 25-54, #2 in Adults 18-49 and #3 in Households and Adults 25-54.

NESN’s pre and post-game shows as well as NESN Daily also earned strong numbers.

WB Mason Bruins FaceOff LIVE       1.4 HH rating

Ace Ticket Bruins Overtime LIVE      5.3 HH rating (season best)

NESN Daily                                        2.7 HH rating