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This Week in Disrespect: We see through you

October 28, 2009

We promised ourselves that after last week that we would stop taking shots at Joe Bertagna and his COMMISSIONERS CORNER. We did this first and foremost because the league tricked us into thinking it had been discontinued in one of the league’s few acts of great clarity, only to find that they just sat on it a little longer than usual, in what could only have been an attempt to make us look foolish. Fair enough, you won this round, fool me once, etc.

The lesser reason for this is, of course, that we felt it was a bit too easy to make fun of the kid that eats the points off every crayon in his Crayola box of 64 and while certainly it’s fun to throw pen caps and paper clips at him and call him “Drooly Joe,” some of the luster and charm of the whole exercise was beginning to wear off more quickly than we’d thought.

So we were fully expecting to be on the lookout for ways in which someone in the media disrespected Lowell. It could have been Nancy Marapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe, who covered last Saturday’s effortless 3-1 win over Northeastern and clearly was not paying attention to how Riley Wetmore scored his goal. We thought that perhaps the distinct dishonor of getting bagged on by us for several hundred words would go to USCHO.com “Arena Reporter” Brian Russell, who several times in his initial report of Friday’s game called the River Hawks “the Minutemen” — the tipoff that you weren’t watching Amherst, apart from the jerseys, players, opponent, arena and geographic location is, of course, that Lowell beat a halfway decent team — and frankly, is an awful writer to boot (email us and we’ll give you tips on how to not embarrass yourself through the written word, Brian!). And we could have given it to the Lowell Sun again, for “breaking” the news about the Tsongas Arena over 24 hours after we did.

But old Joe Bertagna did it again. Hockey East’s Herr Kommissar is now actively kowtowing to Lowell in a shallow and transparent effort to beg his way out of any Levels on which we may have placed him, and we don’t buy his act for a second.

While certainly it’s very nice to know that we are shaping policy in the Hockey East offices, we fail to see how the second floor of an office park in Wakefield qualifies as an ivory tower. Bertagna’s pontificating on the ways in which Lowell (and *shudder* Merrimack) are making their presence felt in Hockey East is obviously not only a vain attempt to at long last curry our favor, but also only serves to highlight that he does indeed play favorites and any actions he takes to suggest otherwise in his weekly CORNER are always going to come swaddled in condescension. To wit:

Let’s hear it for Hockey Night in the Merrimack Valley! The Riverhawks of UMass Lowell and the Warriors of Merrimack have a combined 6-0 record at home as October comes to a close.

Of course these teams are undefeated at home; you haven’t gone out of your way to screw either of them yet, though we’re sure you didn’t go to bat for Merrimack when they were trying to get Stephane Da Costa eligible prior to the North Dakota series. We fail to see how this has earned you, whose CORNER is obviously nothing but his chance to get all self-congratulatory for you “brilliant” thoughts in front of everyone on a weekly basis, a hearty pat on the back.

I took in the Northeastern-Lowell tilt at Tsongas Arena on Saturday night and it was a great experience.

Of course it was, you got to see Lowell play hockey unencumbered by the responsibility of puppet-mastering the whole affair to dick them out of a Hockey East title. This is a new experience for you we’re sure. Although Tim Low, obviously aware of your attendance, did go out of his way to stroke your ego by calling a slew of absurd penalties against Lowell that of course ended up not mattering.

With a 5:00 face-off, the place was filled with kids (including six with me) and the atmosphere was terrific. The Riverhawks were picked for second in Hockey East league play …

They should have been higher. And you should have known, for the second time in this stupid article, that “River Hawks” is two words, you buffoon.

… and nothing to date has diminished expectations.

Oh gee thanks. “They haven’t been so bad yet.” This is a wonderful compliment.

Blaise MacDonald came within a goal of the school’s first Hockey East championship last March …

**** you forever.

… and with plenty of veterans back, this could be Lowell’s year.

Until the Hockey East title game against, we dunno, BU maybe? At which point you, representing the supposed interests of the league, could never allow a team that was not a member of the Big (Whatever) to win. Think of the lost revenue on Hockey East Champions gear! Think of how other conferences will feel that Hockey East allowed a team that wasn’t a perennial power a fair shake at a postseason title! Think of the ways in which interest in the conference might actually grow outside of Boston, Durham and Orono! Can’t have any of that. Better to continually butter the side of the bread that already has six and a half sticks’ worth on it than flip the thing over and give the other side a go.

Chancellor Marty Meehan and athletic director Dana Skinner have worked hard with the UML staff to make game night an experience. The crowds have responded (nearly 10,000 fans in two nights this past weekend) and so has the team.

Why it’s as though Lowell didn’t average 4,400 fans a night last year even before the wonderful run to the Hockey East championship game. It’s as though Lowell finished above .500 at home last season. It’s as though you were somehow unaware of these plain and look-up-able facts.

At Merrimack, Mark Dennehy’s club is off to a great start, highlighted by the first 4-0 home start since MC joined Hockey East. The only losses on the year were at North Dakota and the Warriors played well on that opening weekend trip.

Which, again, you didn’t help with. (We cannot believe, by the way, that it’s fallen to us to back the ‘Mack.)

Both schools have big tests within the league this coming weekend as Lowell has a Friday-Saturday home and home with Boston University (a rematch of the 2009 HE final)…

IS IT REALLY WE HAD NO IDEA! Our guess is that Lowell will be graced by the officiating of both Jeff Bunyon and Tim Benedetto this weekend and, in spite of their going out of their way to do Dear Leader’s bidding, Lowell will emerge victorious unless one of the nets is touched, even inadvertently, by a River Hawk, at which point all bets are off.

… and Merrimack plays two with Boston College, Saturday-Sunday.

The latter game might be worth a TIIL roadtrip.

And what comes next, by the way, is proof positive of how you really feel.

If you aren’t up for a trip to the big city, perhaps taking in games at Lowell on Friday (7:00) and Merrimack on Sunday (4:00) would be just the ticket.

Lowell is so good this year that “the big city” should be coming to us. In fact, Lowell is so good that it should just become Hockey East’s official team, and everyone from the big city movers and shakers at Northeastern, BU and BC to the small-town schlubs from everywhere else should be flocking to the Tsongas Arena for merely the idea that they might have an opportunity to watch ONE period of Lowell hockey. Of course this is where you should want to be.

But do you see what we mean? Clues in the context of course show how Bertagna really feels about Lowell’s awesome might threatening his pathetic excuse for a league’s status quo.

Here’s hoping the teams highlighted in this piece, both of which he couldn’t actually care less about on his kindest days, play for the Hockey East title this year. That moron’s head will explode.

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