Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ode to Fred and Derek

As Bruins fans, much like our chosen team, we both tend to focus (historically) a bit more on the Battles than the overall War.

Many of us have gotten used to, at one time or another, a shortage of something for followers of the Spoked-B. Be it a second line, a substantial Left Wing, goaltending, coaching, defense past Bourque, there was always something that had us still rooting while mentally overcoming some pre-destined disadvantage.

Unfortunately for this fan, the broadcast crew since Fred Cusik and Derek Sanderson has been lacking in one form or another.

For those who didn’t remember these times, this isn’t really for you. Go back to Pokemon, texting, or watching “Saw” movies, this is for the more (ahem) experienced fans.

Fred and Derek, as they came to be known (convenient considering that was their actual names) breathed life into teams that couldn’t cut it and teams that came oh-so-close. Short explanation: They saw some shit.

Fred Cusik was the consummate broadcast professional…almost.

Fred was silky smooth, interjected enthusiasm at just the point in the action, and knew how to fan excitement.

But he had one element that elevated him from super-polished pro to a true Bruins Broadcaster.

He had just the right touch of sarcasm. Fred didn’t take many shots, but the ones he took were made with snipers accuracy, especially if the target was Derek Sanderson.

It was good to have a professional and balanced opponent for Derek to have as well, a lesser play by play man would be eaten alive by “the Turk”.

When the play described a good play-by-play description or the game just got boring, that’s when Derek could be counted on to ride to the rescue. His quips were frequently the stuff of legend.

Did the goalie give up 5 goals on 10 shot’s?

“He’s got sunburn on the back of the neck from the red-light”

Did the goalie get hit while out of the crease?

“If he leaves the crease he’s fair game…this isn’t tennis”

Did a Bruins player get beat so bad that he was removed from the ice with a spatula?

“I think he got a few good ones in there…”

Was a “soft” player trying to pick a fight and draw a penalty?

“I don’t know who he thinks he’s fooling…”

Fred was always there to real Derek in, and on the occasion the game wasn’t ‘popping’, set him lose.

It never took more than a “what do you think about that, Derek?” to introduce a hilarious monologue on just that event that was guaranteed to offend nearly everyone equally.

It was genius.

Fred and Derek had chemistry, when the game was great they knew when to step back (except for the well timed golden tones of Fred’s) and when the game was a dud, they made some of it fun (does anyone remember the famous ‘Derek’s dog ringing the doorbell sketch’?)

As Bruins fans we had great broadcasters for decades, we were comfortably, we were satisfied, we were happy.

We were about to pay for those sins.

You can’t really fault Dale Arnold and Gord Kluzak, sure they had less chemistry than a raided meth lab but they were following the wrong two guys.

You don’t follow Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin with Regis and Kathy Lee, it just doesn’t work…you have to ease into that transition. Like over several hundred years.

The Arnold and Kluzak cavalcade of droll was replaced by the easily excitable Jack Edwards and the somnambulistic Andy Brickley.

Now don’t get me wrong, Edwards does inject some life in to the game he calls, but he has a tendency to act like a hyperactive ten year old that got into the Mountain Dew a little heavy at somewhat inappropriate times, like…anytime the Bruins have a puck.

“Brick” also has his good points, like the fact that he can call plays that happened in a 1/10 of a second accurately, unfortunately he adds all the life to the broadcast that one would expect from a long time and well traveled journeyman player, which is unfortunately not much.

So there we are Bruins fans, if you think we have it rough just listen to a Florida Panthers game some time, where they actually refer to the players by numbers. Apparently someone injured themselves at one point on some tongue-twister name like ‘Vokoun’ or ‘McCabe’. I guess I’m saying we could have it a lot worse.

But it still doesn’t ease the pain that we will never hear the great tandem of Cusick and Sanderson again, except on the NESN ‘classic’ re-broadcast games.

That reminds me, I have to stock up on VHS tapes.

Fred, Rest in Peace my man, you’ve earned it.

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