Hockey East: A Banners Day

By Elliot Olshansky - September 25, 2007

Good afternoon from Logan Airport, all, where I'm waiting for a flight that will take to me to Rochester (eventually...more on that from my next stop). I was at Hockey East Media Day earlier today, which was held at Banners restaurant at the KurtCenter (better known to many of you as TD Banknorth Garden).

The official business is in my notebook column, which will be up on shortly. But while I'm sitting here, let's have a little bit of fun, shall we?

First of all, Banners is not the usual spot for Hockey East - Legends Restuarant, accessible off the concourse, is where we usually are, but because the Bruins were having Media Day today as well, we got sent upstairs. The players in attendance certainly didn't mind, as they got a kick of watching the Bruins practice, since Banners - part of the KurtCenter's luxury seating area - has a fantastic view of the arena.

The BU guys were particularly focused on the events in the arena, and in other BU/NHL news, former Terriers netminder Rick DiPietro fought former Michigan goalie Al Montoya on Monday night as part of a wild brawl during the Rangers/Islanders preseason game. DiPietro got the better of the exchange, by all accounts, and at least one Terrier is hoping that a Terrier beating up a Wolverine is an omen for BU's late-October trip to Yost Arena. "Hopefully," said Terriers goaltender Karson Gillespie, "we can, as a BU hockey team, go in and beat up on Michigan."

However, it looks as if the secret to the former Terrier's pugilistic prowess can be found elsewhere in Boston. Upon taking the head coaching job at Northeastern two years ago, Greg Cronin started the Huskies on boxing training to improve their footwork and core strength. While scheduling issues have put the kibosh on Northeastern's ring training, it's a favorite exercise of the Huskies' bench boss, and he's implemented it in previous stops with the New York Islanders and the National Team Development Program.

"Oh yeah, they were all doing it," said Cronin, who worked with DiPietro as the Director of Player Development in both places. "When I was the player development guy there, all the young guys did it. They had to do it, and I had Rick in the U.S. program, so he was doing it then. Ricky enjoys that."

Best dressed at Media Day, in what's becoming a regular occurrence among the coaches, was Vermont's Kevin Sneddon. What can I say? The guy has nice suits. "Toot" Cahoon of UMass went for the sweater vest as part of his attire, a la Jim Tressel, and it works for him.

Speaking of Sneddon, he and I talked about a couple of "off the beaten path" topics. One is the Catamounts' season opening trip to Miami, where UVM won last season's Ice Breaker Tournament.

"We're walking into the lion's den a little bit there, aren't we?" Sneddon said. "They're certainly going to remember the way they opened their building last year with us in the championship."

Vermont forward Peter Lenes might not use the words "lion's den" to describe a return trip to Oxford. As you may recall, Lenes really enjoyed the scenery on his last trip to Cady Arena. Upon mentioning that to Sneddon, the UVM head coach said, "Yeah, he certainly did, and we've had a talk about that."

Something tells me that someone won't be happy with me for bringing that up again.

In addition, the Catamounts will be hosting UMass-Lowell in the afternoon on Super Bowl Sunday, so I asked Sneddon is Blaise MacDonald and his team are invited to stay and watch the game.

"We talked about that," Sneddon said. "I said to Blaise, 'We'll do everything we can if you really want to watch. We'll try to organize something for you where you can take the guys to see it afterwards,' but I'll leave that up to him."

With the way the Patriots have started the season, something tells me, that MacDonald and the River Hawks will be looking to take advantage of Sneddon's hospitality.

Meanwhile, it's time for me to head out. I'll talk to you soon, from...BALTIMORE???

Posted by Elliot Olshansky at 04:38 PM on September 25, 2007

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