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OTBH: It's the (Historical) Off-season Doldrums

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Come, twiddle your thumbs, olde tymey style.


Ah, the off-season. That magical time when the teeniest of controversies becomes news, and hockey fans start to obsess over AHL (or ECHL, for that matter) signings. After the frenzy of the playoffs, followed by excitement of the draft and then free agency, the back half of July is just so -- dead.

This year, the hockey community has at least had Olympic news to look forward to during the summer doldrums. Rosters! Snubs! Camps that aren't really camps! It gave us all a bit of something to kvetch about while we pine for rookie camp and pre-season games and finally, finally October. In some senses, then, we are lucky to have the distractions we do. The same certainly cannot be said of hockey fans of yesteryear.

Imagine this, if you will. You're a Boston-type person, living in 1925. Prohibition is still raging, women are only 5 years into being able to vote at the national level, the economy in the U.S. is booming, and your city has just witnessed its first season of professional hockey. You have clearly become a committed fan of the newly minted Bruins team. You're excited! You're pumped! Go Bruins! Even though they didn't make the playoffs, you have a good feeling about next year, and so you pull out your local newspaper to catch up on off-season transactions and predictions for the following year...

...only to flip through newspaper after in newspaper in vain, since not one article about the Bruins was published in the Boston Globe between the end of the season (the last day of the final was March 13 1925) and the beginning of the following one. A search through the archives pulls up a number of articles about baseball, where ‘bruins' is used to refer to the Chicago Cubs (doesn't look like they had a great year, by the by), and one completely amazing article entitled "Japanese Island Being Overrun by Thousands of Destructive Bears."

(Not to mention an article published the following week with the title "Farmer Bags Cubs With his Lantern: Bruin Romping Over Three States." Bears, guys. Wacky fun times.)

In fact, there is literally nothing in the Globe about the Bruins until November 23 (the season was slated to begin on November 26), when the paper began touting the Thanksgiving night matchup between the B's and the newly formed Pittsburgh Pirates. Nothing! No Bruins hockey news for eight full months! And there wasn't even a lockout!

The only League news in general came in April (welcome to the NHL, New York Americans!) and September (welcome to the NHL, Pittsburgh Pirates!). So that's five full months -- five -- with not one ounce of professional hockey news.

Things were still happening behind the scenes, of course: the League implemented a $35,000 salary cap, there was a new 14-man roster limit (only 12 players could dress for any one game), and the abovementioned Americans and Pirates joined the NHL, while the Hamilton Tigers were dropped from the League. Perhaps speaking to the newness of professional hockey in the hub, these transactions were hardly mentioned in Boston-area newspapers, and so you, as a brand-new fan of Boston's team, had no choice but to twiddle your thumbs for many, many, many long months before the Bruins made their triumphant return (or not so triumphant: they actually lost to the Pirates in that first game back, by a score of 2-1).

The moral of the story: Olympic squad rosterbation and arguments about who will be Boston's third line winger (again) (some more) may not make for the most scintillating hockey discussions to get us through July/August. Compared to the very first Bruins offseason though, it's a downright cornucopia of news and information.

(Although, really, Brad Marchand being invited to Team Canada's Olympic camp will never be as hot-button of a topic as rampaging bears on a small Japanese island. I mean, come on.)