Does perception of NHL in America rest in hands of the Bruins?

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TAKIN’ A BREAK FROM ALL YOUR WORRIES SURE WOULD HELP A LOT

BOSTON — I’m a huge fan of “Cheers,” for my money the best ensemble sitcom in television history. It also has one of the iconic theme songs of any television program. I particularly like these lines: You want to go where people know/people are all the same/You want to go/where everybody knows your name

Well, everybody in Boston, the setting for fictional “Cheers,” knows the name of Penguins LW MATT COOKE. Though, as you can see from these Boston newspaper articles, he’s probably most known in this city as “bum” or “rat” or… uh, just take a look:

= Boston Herald Bruins beat reporter STEPHEN HARRIS: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/hockey/bruins/view/20100318all_eyes_on_matt_cooke_tonight_will_there_be_revenge/srvc=home&position=0

= Herald columnist RON BORGES: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/hockey/bruins/view.bg?articleid=1240586

= A “tale of the tape” from the Herald: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/hockey/bruins/view.bg?articleid=1240589

= FLUTO SHINZAWA of the Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/bruins/articles/2010/03/18/bruins_may_stir_something_up_for_cooke/

= The Glove looks at the Big Bad Bs of yesteryear: http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/bruins/gallery/03_16_10_bruins_enforcers/

Well, never let it be said that Boston’s media lacks for keeping water at a boil. Good on them. Hey, it takes a lot to knock the Red Sox off the perch in this town, so I applaud the Boston papers for playing up a big-feel NHL event. Capturing “buzz” and presenting it to the people of a community remains one of the (more-than-you-think) things that newspapers do better than other media outlets.

Readers have e-mailed me asking what I expect from the game tonight between the Penguins and Bruins at TD Garden. Honestly, I expect a lot more hockey than anybody in Boston is calling for. If I’m wrong, and a Boston Bash and/or Bloodletting breaks out – well, hey, who am I to be the lone voice against forsaking the last 20 or so years of movement away from a *mostly* respectable on-ice product?

The NHL doesn’t need what could transpire tonight. The image of this league is too often dragged through the mud by mainstream U.S. media that doesn’t cover it on a regular basis. A fiasco tonight just days after the reigning two-time MVP was suspended for a violent act – really, does anybody think that will get positive coverage in America on Friday?

This is no longer about Cooke or injured Bruins C MARC SAVARD. Tonight is about a flagship Original Six franchise doing what it should by making the Penguins pay on the scoreboard and in the standings, by taking two points and solidifying a playoff spot. The eye-for-an-eye mentality – or, in this case, head shot-for-head shot thinking – will not look good upon the Bruins anywhere but in Boston, and it will crush any mainstream momentum the NHL has gained after the wildly popular Olympic men’s ice hockey gold-medal game.

I’ll ask Bruins fans this: If what Cooke did was so disgusting and distasteful, why would you want one of your own to take a cue from him? hockeyday@tribweb.com

— BY ROB ROSSI (3/18/10)

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