NESN To Let Naoko Funayama Go In Latest Headscratcher

Around 8:00 last night, just as the NBA draft was getting rolling, NESN sent out a press release announcing that they would not be renewing the contract of Bruins reporter Naoko Funayama.

Releasing the respected and professional Funayama is just the latest curious move from the network, which has had very high turnover across all departments of the organization.

Some have said that the network rivals or surpasses WEEI in the dysfunctional department. Fitting that the two have partnered up in many ways.

In the release, NESN states that NESN has incredible appreciation and admiration for the work that Naoko has provided the network during this historic chapter of rebirth of Boston Bruins hockey. 

So why let her go? She was respected by all, whether it being colleagues in the media, the players and coaches she interacted with, and viewers.

The announcement much immediate outcry and backlash against NESN, as well as words of support for Funayama. My buddy Ken Fang does a great job summarizing the reaction in a post from early this morning:

How to Anger Boston Bruins Fans? Let Popular NESN Reporter Naoko Funayama Go

Fang also posted the following on his Facebook page:

A source has told me Red Sox butcher Tom Werner made the call to axe Naoko in favor of Leah Hextall.

Now, I like Leah Hextall, and hockey is in her blood, but if true this still screams the point that Werner is the most out-of-touch of all the Red Sox ownership – which says a lot – and the direction that NESN has taken since he took over has been a screaming indication of that.


Elsewhere in the local sports media, CSNNE announced yesterday that a new eight week primetime program, “THE SHOW” will debut next Monday, July1st at 8:30pm.

The announcement describes the The Show as The format will be similar to Comcast SportNet’s long-running signature baseball program “The Baseball Show” but with an interesting twist and perspective exclusively from the younger fan-base. The show will be hosted by Trenni Kusnierek and will feature panelists Chris Gasper, Marc Bertrand and Rich Levine. The show will feature plenty of staged “mock debates” which are all the rage in sports programming these days.


NBC scores big with hockey fans – Chad Finn’s media column this week examines the ratings that NBC scored for the Bruins/Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals, and has other notes, such as the two items above.


So, anything else happening these days?

I guess the better question should be what’s happening next? The last week has been day after day of headline stories, with most of them leaning toward the tough side of the fan experience.

The latest, of course, is the seemingly completed trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with Jason Terry, to the Brooklyn Nets. Danny Ainge made good on his vow not to let his mature produce rot on the vine here. Adrian Wojnarowski, as usual, was the man breaking the story (and seemingly every other story) last night.

The idea of KG and Paul Pierce especially, putting on a Brooklyn Nets uniform just makes my stomach turn. But I understand that this needed to be done. I guess whenever you can get the Nets franchise to fork over three first round picks (with an option to swap picks in another year) you HAVE to do it, especially when you consider that at least two of those picks will be after the Nets have squeezed any remaining value out of KG and Pierce and those two have retired.

I also really, really hope Ainge has more in mind for some of these Nets players that are said to be coming here. especially Kris Humphries.

The Garden is going to have a much, much different feel this season.

A few of the top links on the matter:

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett get traded as the Celtics finally blow it up – Paul Flannery, SB Nation.

Danny Ainge won’t let these Celts grow old – Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald.

Celtics made painful decision to start over – Gary Washburn, Boston Globe.

Huge trade further proof Nets, other ‘haves’ playing different game – Ken Berger, CBS Sports.

Also, check for widespread reaction to the deal, and the draft.



After watching the arraignment yesterday of Aaron Hernandez, and then seeing the report this morning from FOX25 that Hernandez is being  investigated in Boston double-killing from last July, it makes you just question everything in this world.

It is mind-numbing. It is equal parts unfathomably brazen and stupid. Of course, if he did get away with a double-murder before, it would account for being so brazen with this killing.

Meanwhile while on with Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio, former Ravens coach Brian Billick is saying the Patriots will take a hit because players will fear that the organization will not have their backs if they hit rough times. Billick of course, was the head coach when Ray Lewis faced charges in a double-murder case, and the Ravens stuck by him.

If you’re going to read/listen to a lawyer who talks sports, I’d stay away from Harry Manion and Mike Florio, and go to Michael McCann (@MCCannSportsLaw ):

Breaking down the murder case against Aaron Hernandez

Former Patriot Matt Light told the Dayton Daily News “I have never believed in anything Aaron Hernandez stood for.” The writer though, inexplicably fails to follow up with any sort of request for elaboration.

Peter King even emerged from his annual vacation to do a finger-wag on Hernandez. He just had to contradict himself while doing it: Peter King: Lord Of Retrospect

The case has given John Dennis plenty of excuses to make jokes about anal rape, a subject he is seemingly obsessed with. Also, it’s nice to know seemingly the majority of the Dennis and Callahan audience these days is consisted of either former convicts or prison guards. You’d get the impression that the D&C show was piped into the jails as punishment for the criminals.

There are many other things happening in Boston sports right now, and I think I’d prefer to focus on that stuff for now.

John Lackey. This is the guy that we thought the Red Sox were getting when they signed him to that huge contract. He struck out 12 yesterday, helping the Red Sox to a 5-3 win over the Rockies at Fenway.

John Lackey all anchor, no rancor – Gordon Edes looks at how Lackey is anchoring this staff with Lester struggling and Buchholz out.

Who’d have thought it’d be Lackey to the rescue? – Sean McAdam has Lackey as the Red Sox best starter right now.

Are they OK without Clay? A look at how Sox rotation stacks up without Buchholz – Alex Speier has a thorough look at the state of the rotation.

Doc Rivers was introduced as head coach of the Clippers yesterday, and took some time to talk with the Boston media afterwards.

Fact or fiction: Doc Rivers’ odd call to Boston media – Ben Rohrbach has an exhaustive look at Rivers’ session which seemed to contradict some of what has been said from the Boston end of things.

After uncomfortable end, best to just wish Doc Rivers well – Steve Bulpett says we should just move on.

The NBA draft is also tonight, and despite not having a coach or system to project players into, the Celtics need to make a solid pick at #16.

Celtics need to score big in draft – Gary Washburn says that the Celtics up and down track record in the draft needs to improve. Washburn has the Celtics taking Shabazz Muhammad in his mock draft. Mark Murphy has Shane Larkin as the pick.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli held his season-ending press conference yesterday, and revealed that the team will not re-sign Andrew Ference or Jaromir Jagr, but would like to bring back Nathan Horton.

“Simply the right thing to do.”

Shortly after Aaron Hernandez was arrested this morning, the Patriots announced that they had released the tight end, ending his three-year tenure with the club.

They ended the announcement of the release saying that they believed it was “simply the right thing to do.”

The decisive action could mean that the team also knows that this is about to get a whole lot worse.

What a mess.  At least now he is “former” New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez. This robs sports radio of at least one storyline – “Why haven’t they released him yet???

There will still be a lot of noise around this team when camp begins a month from now, and it will continue. They’ve always been able to shut out the noise. This might be the ultimate test in that regard.

Gone In 17 Seconds

And just like that, hockey season is over.

It was a gut punch to be sure, losing in such a fashion. I’m not sure about you, but when something bad happens in my life, I don’t immediately try and remember all the other bad things that have happened to me.

The Boston Globe however, operates under a different way of thinking. The charges of Joe Sullivan received their talking points last night, and the message came through loud and clear:

Kevin Paul Dupont:

As painful as the ball through Bill Buckner’s legs, Bucky Dent’s homer into the screen, and that one too many skaters on Forum ice in ’79, the Bruins botched Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in epic fashion Monday night, coughing up a pair of goals in only 17 seconds at the end of the third period.

Dan Shaughnessy:

Before you could say Grady Little or David Tyree, the Chicago Blackhawks had their own Miracle On Ice and captain Jonathan Toews was hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head.

Chris Gasper:

This time there was no reward for the Bruins, only a cruel twist of fate that will make Bolland as dirty a word in these parts as Dent, Boone, or Tyree.

Thanks, guys. I had totally forgotten all of those events. Wow!

Rich Levine of CSNNE joined in with the Globe brigade, even in an article praising the team for a fantastic postseason run.

 And Boston fans inducted another member into the club. A new memory to file away with Buckner’s, Dent’s and Tyree’s, with Welker’s drop against the Giants, and the Celtics’ blown second-half lead in Game 7 against the Lakers.

Thankfully, in looking around the Boston sports media scene this morning – written edition anyway – other writers found more original stories to write instead of the same old tired nonsense.

Stanley Cup Stunner – Leigh Montville captures the scene. Also check out this breakdown of how things went wrong at the end for the Bruins by Jack Dickey on the same site.

‘Hawks stun, Bruins done – Steve Conroy, Herald.

The better team won, but . . . – Joe Haggerty, CSNNE.

Bruins’ fortunes change in flash – Jackie MacMullan, ESPN Boston.

Pain does not tell Patrice Bergeron’s story –  Stephen Harris, Herald.

Bruins suffer the agony of a lost chance in Game 6, but were admirable to the end – Chad Finn,

This says it well in Finn’s column:

Only the habitual self-defeatists among us require or desire a list of the most painful recent defeats in Boston sports lore. They will revel in parades that will never happen and banners never to be raised.

The Bruins brought us to the cusp of July, and did so in a fashion that fostered admiration, loyalty and respect. That doesn’t go away in 17 seconds. In 13 short weeks, they’ll be right back out there on the ice.

Meanwhile, Red Sox, the stage is yours alone.

Not The Best of Sports Weekends For Boston

It hasn’t been a good few days, either personally or for the Boston sports scene.

On the other hand, if you’re a sports radio host or TV reporter or newspaper, this has been a bonanza. Murder! Misery! Heartbreak! End of eras!

We’ve got:

  • The Hernandez case.
  • The Bruins losing two straight in the Stanley Cup Finals with the possibility of the series being over tonight.
  • The Red Sox losing 3 or 4 in Detroit, in ugly fashion.
  • The Celtics trading their coach to the Clippers, officially waving the white flag on their status as contenders.

I don’t know where to begin on all of this, so I’ll offer my ramblings.

The Aaron Hernandez case is equal parts disturbing, perplexing and disgusting. The reports being put out there in the media from various “law enforcement” sources certainly sound like they got the guy and his cronies dead to rights. Every day we’ve had (very definite) reports that Hernandez is about to be arrested. He hasn’t been. Yet.

The Globe has gleefully jumped on this story as a chance to take down the Krafts. Bob “the hit man” Holher has been put on the case. (His first effort was laughable.) Dan Shaughnessy is as happy as he’s been since 2003.

I do wish the Globe would disclose at some point that the Krafts snubbed them (Shaughnessy specifically) at a media breakfast back around 1997, and that since that time, the Kraft family has been in the crosshairs of Joe Sullivan’s charges. It might add some context to the coverage.

It’s become a referendum on the entire Patriots franchise and way of doing things, which many media view as revenge time.

Lost in all of this seems to be that a young man lost his life in a violent fashion. It’s an afterthought in the coverage.

If you have to read about the case, I recommend these two pieces from last week:

A Mystery That is Not Like the Movies – Mike Tanier from Sports on Earth.

The Stupid, Stupid Implications About Aaron Hernandez’s “Ominous” Past – Barry Petchesky from DeadSpin.

I did find the graphic in the Globe Sunday NFL notes yesterday amusing. They had all the Patriots players with Red Flags pictured over the years. Some of the crimes against humanity:

Brandon Lloyd: Work ethic. Attitude.

Chad Johnson: Unprofessionalism.

Randy Moss: Immaturity. Lack of hustle.

Brandon Meriweather: Immaturity. College issues.

Corey Dillon: Poor attitude.

Rodney Harrison: Dirty reputation.

Bryan Cox: Fights. Fines.


The Doc Rivers era in Boston came to an end when the Clippers finally coughed up an unprotected first round in 2015 for the rights to the Celtics coach. It was an ordeal that needed to come to end, especially with the draft this week, a decision required on Paul Pierce by the end of the week, and free agency and the future of Kevin Garnett in Boston needing to be decided quickly.

Some are calling for harsh criticism of Rivers because of his reluctance to be part of a rebuilding project here with the Celtics. They’ve contrasted his situation to that of Ray Allen, who became public enemy number one among Celtics fans following his decision to sign with the Miami Heat last offseason.

The situations are quite different. Rivers has not complained at all about his experience with Boston, and I don’t think he ever will. Allen griped about his role, his starting position, his relationship with Rajon Rondo, and said he didn’t feel wanted, even though Boston offered him more money than Miami. There is also the matter of Allen joining the team that had just eliminated the Celtics in an emotional, draining  seven game Eastern Conference Finals series.

Rivers, who has reportedly had his own clashes with Rondo, isn’t going to go public with those incidents, and allowed the Celtics to get something in return for his services. The contract signed by Rivers seems to have been done with that understanding, safeguarding the Celtics for five years, and allowing them to at least get an asset if he chose to leave. He is also going to the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that has no sort of rivalry with the Celtics. (and could implode at any time.) The blow is softened somewhat by those factors.

If Rivers was not going to be committed to a rebuilding of the Celtics, this was probably the best way to go. I’m disappointed he’s gone, and will miss his presence here, but he’s always got a positive place in Celtics lore.


I had to laugh out loud at Dan Shaughnessy’s duplicity over the Bruins. The guys at Dan Shaughnessy Watch do a great job breaking down his flipflop/throw the blame on the fans.

Bruins/Blackhawks Game Four Notes

While the Bruins and Red Sox continue to roll along, both the Patriots and Celtics have had pretty awful offseasons thus far.

The latest is of course the two incidents around Aaron Hernandez, who appears to be in some pretty deep trouble, if you believe some of the leaks coming from law enforcement.

And yes, there are many leaks.

While I have my fears, I’ll try to reserve judgement until the facts emerge.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox swept a double-header from the Rays yesterday, including a game winning home run from Jonny Gomes, and the Bruins are set to play game four of the Stanley Cup finals tonight.

Here are some pregame notes, courtesy of NHL Network:


Chicago @ Boston, Game 4, BOS leads 2-1, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT, NBC, CBC, RDS

* Since going to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams leading the Final 2-1 have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 83.0% of the time (39-8). (Elias)

* The Bruins have a 2-0 all-time record when holding a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks are 0-3 lifetime when trailing 2-1 in the Final.

* The Bruins are 11-2 in their last 13 games (since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals), with both losses coming in overtime. They have outscored opponents, 40-21, in that span.

* Since tying Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with 51 seconds remaining in the third period, the Bruins have trailed for just 57:43 of the 850:54 they’ve played (6.8%) and have not trailed by more than one goal in that stretch.

* The Bruins have won seven straight games at home, outscoring opponents, 21-10. They haven’t allowed a goal in their last 186:28 of play at TD Garden.

* The Bruins have won each of their four Stanley Cup Final games contested at TD Garden, outscoring the opposition, 19-3 (17-3 vs. Vancouver in 2011, 2-0 vs. Chicago in 2013).

* The Bruins and Blackhawks both are 2-1 in Game 4s this postseason.

* The referees for tonight’s game are Dan O’Halloran (#13) and Wes McCauley (#4). The linesmen are Jay Sharrers (#57) and Pierre Racicot (#65).

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask hasn’t allowed a goal in the last 122:26 of play dating to the first period of Game 2. He leads all netminders in wins (14), goals-against average (1.64) and save percentage (.946) this postseason.

Rask’s save percentage (.9463, 617 SV/652 SA) also is slightly higher than Jonathan Quick’s record-setting mark (.9461, 509 SV/538 SA) from last year’s playoffs (minimum, 15 games). He has stopped 282-of-290 shots (.972) over his last eight games, posting a 6-2 record and three shutouts in that span.

Series-by-Series Breakdown:
ECQ vs. TOR: 4-3, 2.49 GAA, .923 SV%, 0 SO
ECS vs. NYR: 4-1, 1.86 GAA, .936 SV%, 0 SO
ECF vs. PIT: 4-0, 0.44 GAA, .985 SV%, 2 SO
SCF vs. CHI: 2-1, 1.22 GAA, .960 SV%, 1 SO
TOTALS: 14-5, 1.64 GAA, .946 SV%, 3 SO

After being a surprise scratch for Game 3, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said forward Marian Hossa is “likely” to play in Game 4. Hossa is tied for the team lead in points (7-8—15) and game-winning goals (2) this postseason and also paces the club with three power-play scores.

Boston forward Daniel Paille has scored the game-winning goal in consecutive games, becoming the first player since 2006 – and only the second in the last 17 years – to do so in the Stanley Cup Final (Edmonton’s Fernando Pisani, vs. Carolina in Games 5 and 6).

Paille has four goals, including three game-winners, in 19 games this postseason. He had four goals, none of which were game-winners, in 46 career playoff games entering 2013.

Home teams have won a record 58 games this postseason (.699), surpassing the previous mark of 57 set in 92 games during the 1991 playoffs. The last time home teams had a winning percentage of .600 or higher during the Stanley Cup Playoffs was in 1993, when they went 52‑33 (.612).

Boston has killed off 27 consecutive penalties dating to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, including all 11 Chicago opportunities through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins have an 88.9% penalty-kill rate during the 2013 playoffs (56-for-63), including an 88.6% mark at home (31-for-35).

Chicago has not scored a power-play goal in its last 20 chances dating to Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks have an 11.3% power-play success rate this postseason (7-for-62), including a 3.7% mark on the road (1-for-27).

Chicago forward Bryan Bickell and Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid are chronicling their Stanley Cup Final experiences with blogs on

From NHL Network – Morning Stanley Cup of Joe 6/18/13

This post is provided courtesy of the NHL and NHL Network.

BOSTON 2, CHICAGO 0; BOS leads 2-1
Daniel Paille’s goal at 2:13 of the second period held up as the game-winner and Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for his third shutout of the postseason.

Visit and tune to NHL Network for all of the latest playoff news, highlights and analysis.

Boston forward Daniel Paille scored his second game-winning goal in as many games, becoming the first player since 2006 – and only the second in the last 17 years – to record game-winning goals in consecutive Stanley Cup Final games (Edmonton’s Fernando Pisani, vs. Carolina in Games 5 and 6).

Someone scored consecutive game-winners in each of four straight Finals from 1992 through 1995: Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux in 1992, Montreal’s John LeClair in 1993, NY Rangers’ Glenn Anderson in 1994 and New Jersey’s Neal Broten in 1995. Each of their teams went on to win the Stanley Cup. (Elias)

Paille now has four goals in 19 games this postseason. He had four goals in 46 career playoff games entering 2013.

Three of Paille’s four goals in the 2013 postseason have been game-winners, tying him with teammate Nathan Horton and San Jose’s Logan Couture for second in the League. Paille had no playoff game-winning goals entering 2013.

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 28 saves to post his third shutout of the playoffs, tying him with Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick for the postseason lead. Rask also leads all netminders in wins (14), goals-against average (1.64) and save percentage (.946) in 19 starts.

Rask has allowed no more than one goal in each of Boston’s last eight victories dating to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He has a 0.57 goals-against average, .980 save percentage and three shutouts in those wins.

Rask’s shutout marks the first blank sheet of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. There were only three shutouts in the 12 Stanley Cup Finals contested from 1987 through 1998 (one each in 1991, 1992 and 1996), but there have been 23 in the 14 Finals since then, with at least one in every series except 2010, when Chicago beat Philadelphia in six games. (Elias)

With Boston’s victory, home teams improved to 58-25 (.699) in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, setting the NHL record for most wins by home clubs in a single postseason. The previous mark of 57 was set in 92 games during the 1991 postseason. The last time home teams had a winning percentage of .600 or higher during the Stanley Cup Playoffs was in 1993, when they went 52-33 (.612).

Boston won its seventh consecutive home game, marking the second-longest home winning streak in the 2013 playoffs (Los Angeles: 8 games). The Bruins improved to 8-2 at home this postseason, where they have outscored opponents, 28-17.

Boston has won each of its four Stanley Cup Final games contested at TD Garden, outscoring the opposition, 19-3 (17-3 vs. Vancouver in 2011, 2-0 vs. Chicago in 2013).

Led by forward Patrice Bergeron, who won 24-of-28 draws, the Bruins dominated the face-off circle in Game 3, posting a 71.4% winning percentage (40-16). The Bruins led the League in face-off winning percentage during the regular season (56.4%) and now have passed San Jose into first place among 2013 playoff clubs (56.1%).

Bergeron was the League’s top individual face-off performer during the regular season, posting a 62.1% success rate. He also leads the League in the postseason (62.7%).

In addition to his face-off prowess, Bergeron tallied Boston’s insurance goal in Game 3. He has 4-2—6, including one game-winning goal, in his past six games.

Boston denied all five Chicago power plays in Game 3 and now has killed off 27 consecutive penalties dating to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, including all 11 Blackhawk opportunities through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins have an 88.9% penalty-kill rate during the 2013 playoffs (56-for-63), including an 88.6% mark at home (31-for-35).

Chicago went 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 3 and has not scored a power-play goal in its last 20 chances dating to Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks have an 11.3% power-play success rate this postseason (7-for-62), including a 3.7% mark on the road (1-for-27).

Chicago forward Ben Smith made his 2013 postseason debut following a late scratch of Marian Hossa. The 24-year-old Smith has strong ties to the New England area – he grew up in Avon, Conn., earned First Team All-New England honors in high school at The Westminster School (Simsbury, Conn.) and won two national championships in four years at Boston College (2008, 2010).

Smith played 10:23 of Game 3, recording one shot on goal, two blocked shots and a -1 rating. He had not played in the postseason since Game 7 of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals versus Vancouver and had not appeared in any NHL game since Chicago’s regular-season finale at St. Louis April 27.

Boston forward Jaromir Jagr earned the primary assist on Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal. The assist increased Jagr’s career postseason point total to 197 (78 goals, 119 assists), moving him past Paul Coffey (59-137—196) and into sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s all-time playoff points list.

Most Career Playoff Points
1. Wayne Gretzky: 122-260—382
2. Mark Messier: 109-186—295
3. Jari Kurri: 106-127—233
4. Glenn Anderson: 93-121—214
5. Jaromir Jagr: 78-119—197
6. Paul Coffey: 59-137—196

Boston forward Tyler Seguin assisted on the game-winning goal, giving him a helper in each of the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. That equals his total from the first three rounds of the playoffs, when he recorded 1-3—4 in 16 games.

The Bruins have a 2-0 all-time record when holding a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks are 0-3 lifetime when trailing 2-1 in the Final.

The Bruins improved to 4-0 in Game 3s this postseason. The Blackhawks fell to 0-4 . . . Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford made 33 saves, his fifth 30-plus save performance in the 2013 postseason . . . Home teams now have won the past 10 Game 3s in the Stanley Cup Final. The last road team to win a Game 3 in the Final was the 2002 Red Wings over the Hurricanes (3-2 in 3OT) . . . View a time-lapse video of Game 3 in 70 seconds . . . Prospect Nathan MacKinnon was mic’d up when he attended Game 3.