MANCHESTER — NESN’s Bruins broadcast team of Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley has deep New Hampshire roots, and Saturday they were in Manchester getting ready for the upcoming season with Bruins fans.
Thousands of fans visited the B’s Fan Fest Tour at Arms Park, the second day of a seven-city tour throughout New England. Head coach Bruce Cassidy and several players were on hand for part of the day.
Edwards, who grew up in Durham, graduated from Oyster River High School and the University of New Hampshire, got his start in broadcasting at WGIR-AM in 1979, and moved to WMUR-TV in 1981 before moving on to work in Boston, for ESPN and ultimately the Bruins, whose games he has called since 2005. Brickley played hockey at UNH from 1979 to ‘82, and had a 14-year NHL playing career. He joined WBZ radio in 1996 as color commentator for Bruins broadcasts, moving to TV in 1997.
“Yeah, it’s awesome, “ Edwards said of sharing the booth with a fellow Wildcat. “It’s always great to be back in New Hampshire.”
The Bruins played until June 13, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The preseason begins in less than a month. Edwards called the shortened summer “a concern” going into 2019-20.
“I think the guys who form the core of this team — Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, Rask, having been through it twice before (2011, when the Bruins beat Vancouver, and 2013, when they fell to Chicago) — I think they know how to deal with the short summer.
“The major concern is with the players who have a significant opportunity to make a difference this coming season — the Jake DeBrusks, the Danton Heinens, even Charlie Coyle, who by far this is his longest playoff run. Those guys need to show up ready to work and having done their offseason work.”
Edwards also expressed concern that the shortened off-season has hindered the long-term signings of Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, two young defensemen who likely figure large in the team’s plans. He also said the team has a big decision coming with defenseman Torey Krug, who is going into the final year of his deal, and forward David Backes, who has two years left on a five-year, $30 million deal but was often a healthy scratch in the playoffs.
Edwards called the team’s signing of forward Brett Ritchie “instructive” after the Stanley Cup Final loss, where the bigger Blues wore down the Bruins, including suspensions for two illegal head shots. Ritchie is “a big, speedy guy with the emphasis on big, and although he can score, he’s better known for really brutal, clean body checks.”
“I have a theory that (St. Louis coach) Craig Berube saw an opening and he coached to it (in the Final), and the opening was that they could send their fast, big physical players,” Edwards said. “The math works because they had two players suspended one game each for headhunting hits.
“The acquisition of Brett Ritchie sort of weaponizes the Bruins’ capabilities and I think if there’s any question as to why they brought him in that might be one of the potential answers.”
“The Bruins clearly are going in the right direction,” Edwards said, crediting general manager Don Sweeney, who earned the NHL’s General Manager of the Year award last season. “There continues to be upward pressure on the parent club’s roster from Providence, players who are capable of stepping in and making immediate contributions.”