Beav's Banter: Cedric Gillette
He’s the Eagle-Tribune's 2017-2018 Max Bishop Award winner and a card-carrying member of Beav’s World. We’re so thrilled to have Andover (Mass.) High School standout athlete and now Andover alum Cedric Gillette back to visit. Or, as the Eagle-Tribune calls Cedric, “A man for all seasons.”
We’re especially glad to talk to Cedric in advance of Beav’s return to Andover for another special screening of the documentary, Four Games in Fall, set for Saturday, August 4 at the J. Everett Collins Center for the Performing Arts.
Building off a strong second half and incredible run in the NCAA Frozen Four, Coach Mel Pearson’s Michigan Hockey Wolverines should be national title contenders heading into 2018-19. Those chances greatly improved over the weekend when star defensemen Quinn Hughes opted to return to college and put off his NHL career at least one more season. The superb skilled skater was drafted seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks after an impressive 29-point freshman season, which is a record point total for a first year blueliner. This news is a win for all involved—the Wolverines, the Canucks, and most importantly, Hughes. Hughes makes EVERYONE better.
With or without Hughes, Michigan returns a lot. This team is already junior-heavy and has players throughout the lineup who have played large roles with big minutes and production. The defense has returnees led by captain Joe Cecconi, Luke Martin, Nick Boka, and Griffin Luce. Hughes makes these guys better. The incredibly successful first line for the Wolverines is all gone but a fully healthy Will Lockwood joins Jake Slacker, Josh Norris, Brandon Warren, and Jack Becker in a talented forward group. The Pastujov brothers—Michael and Nick—plus Dakota Raabe and James Sanchez also showed up big late in the 2018 campaign. And reports have transfer Luke Morgan starring at the recent Detroit Red Wings development camp. Hughes makes these guys better.
Hughes NHL team—the Canucks—are in rebuild mode from the Sedins-Luongo era. They have some young pieces up front and eight NHL defensemen under contract. Six play. This is not ideal for a kid defenseman who needs to play and play big minutes. The puck and games find talent. Hughes has talent. He is an NHL skater today. Coach Pearson has seen some guys in his day. He claims his returning blueliner has some of the best wheels he has seen. Kathy and I had Mel on our podcast in the PRESEASON and he talked up his new blueliner. BEFORE coaching him. He came as advertised. Hughes makes his coaches better.
This process and decision worked out. Hughes followed his heart and head. He knows he can play in the NHL. He has played for Michigan. And he liked it. A lot. But he has unfinished business here. Two games short was enough to send the kid back to Ann Arbor and Yost. Vancouver can wait. A national title can’t. The Canucks wait will be worth it when they get a better, more mature player who follows fellow college star defensemen Zach Werenski and Charlie McAvoy paths to the NHL after their sophomore seasons. That’s the plan and it should work out well for Quinn, the Canucks, and the Wolverines. Because Hughes makes things better.
Football is Near
I know football is near. How do I know this? I got hit with about 75 texts, calls, emails, and tweets today about the New England Patriots. And around 75 percent of them had NOTHING to do with Tom Brady. This is a GREAT thing. Kathy and I have had so many Patriots guests come on our podcast and they all say the same thing: There is no offseason with this team. This is how a quarterback, coach, and owner trio that will someday be in the NFL Football Hall of Fame, won five Super Bowls, playing in eight over the past 18 campaigns. Dull, the Patriots are not. Neither is my life.
Tom Brady and his non-six pack abs showed up WAY early for training camp. I am sure someone from the Boston Globe will write he cares more about his own “brand” than his team. Apparently that myth needs to be reexamined. The man is 41. He was the 199th pick in the draft—the seventh quarterback selected that weekend. SEVENTH. He is one of two players from that class still active. The other? A Punter. Tom Brady has money, a great family, and supermodel wife. HE DOES NOT NEED THIS!!! The issue is not motivation or drive. If you’re worried about #12 and #87 not showing up for voluntary workouts, you need to go watch golf. Brady and Gronk could train at Waffle House and kick ass. They are the solution. Not the problem.
The team had a tough, tough end to the 2017 Super Bowl and lots of offseason stories. No more Nate, Dion, Dola, Malcolm, or Matty P. They added some good veterans and had an excellent draft. The team tried to restock and rebuild both lines of scrimmage. Brady and Belichick are still here. So is Gronk, Devin, Donta and Trey. Let ‘em write the obit. The door is not closed and if it was, Tommy would just cave it in. You call him the GOAT but try to take down him and his team. Thank you. Nothing—NOTHING fuels him than doubters and challenges. #LetsGo
The Boston Celtics and Marcus Smart need each other, and they know it. And last Thursday, the team and its defensive identity worked out a four-year contract. The deal is worth nearly $50 million, and both the Cs and Smart are happy. Marcus is the senior tenured player on the roster—an ultimate glue, junkyard dog type player whose value far exceeds statistical contributions. Yes, he is at best an average shooter, but he makes three or four plays a game that help the Cs win. He is almost a sixth starter and plays around 30 minutes a night. This was a good day for the player and team.
Boston is trying to win a World Championship and you cannot win one with just offense and flash. Marcus Smart can control a game without scoring ten points. He is an Olympic-level pest and the type of player every title team needs. For Celtics’ fans over 40, this is a better version of ML Carr. Younger? James Posey. The team now has much-needed, long-term security with fellow guards Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier due to be free agents after next season. This deal had to happen and credit general manager Danny Ainge and Smart’s people.
I know Marcus does crazy stuff sometimes—on and off the floor. But winning matters to him. So, does being a Celtic. That’s important in today’s NBA. Basketball wise, he does not need to shoot. And on a team with offensive firepower, this is huge. On a team with stars, his energy stands out. He is also a good rebounder and passer who gets Coach Brad Steven’s offense. He loves covering big and small, short or tall. And he competes his behind off. And Marcus Smart will be in Boston for the next four years.
Beav's World bringing 4 Games in Fall to The Collins Center In Andover, Mass August 4th
. Beav's World and The J. Everett Collins Center in Andover, Massachusetts are teaming up to show an amazing documentary on the Patriots- NFL Deflategate controversy -Four Games in Fall. The event is Saturday Night August 4th and we are pleased to confirm Jay Flannelly aka the Beav and the film director Julie Marron will be in attendance for the show. Flannelly is a Andover native and long time friend of Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. Their relationship became public during the entire Deflategate saga and was national news. Neither likes to discuss this subject but Marron's work is so amazing we felt it was important to promote this project. Special thanks to Andover High School Principal Philip Conrad and Collins Center director Scott Worthley for making this happen. As we confirm more details, we will update here beavsworld.com #FillThe4th
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Our Good Friend Jim has been in the news lately. His spot in Beav's World AND Michigan Football is always safe. Kathy and I had Brandy on our Podcast last September. Great guest, better guy. #GoBlue #ThrowBackTuesday
The End is near for Golden State
No, the sky is not falling for the rest of the NBA because The Warriors signed all world Center Demarcus Cousins to a 1-year deal last week. Quite the opposite- this move to me- shows the end is near for Golden State. Why? Simply put- a true all-star team does not work in the NBA. You need role players and guys who can play without shooting the ball 25 times. Hell, this team shows the value of Draymond Green. He does the garbage work. How are you going to make this work with a team killing malcontent looking to cash in for big bucks? He is a ball dominant player who has played on 1 winning team in 8 seasons. And oh- he is coming off a torn Achilles tendon – an awful injury for any player, let alone someone who is not going to be confused with Mr. Olympia anytime soon.
Golden State is a great, great team but do not forget The Houston Rockets had a 3-2 lead in the conference finals then Chris Paul went down. They have 3-star players—Cousins, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson- who can be free agents after the 18-19 season. They are hated throughout the league and get everyone’s best effort. And they make few friends with the officials, the team racks up technical fouls like victories. They have been incredibly fortunate with injuries and are due for some bad… things. The law of averages had to hit them.
I am a big Pat Riley fan. He talks about the Disease of More--- the idea that winning leads to players wanting more- for them- money, shots, fame- and that over rides …winning. They focus on themselves not sacrificing for the team. And in pro sports, talent does not win alone- talent can lose to a team that is both talented, together and HUNGRY. The NBA is hard. You need the team on the same page and we have seen Warriors Coach Steve Kerr grow frustrated with his team not showing up, He famously had them coach a game to keep the guys stimulated. Father time is undefeated and wears down teams not just bodies.
Golden State is a great roster and organization. But the NBA is tough and has many great players. Lebron James is lurking in Los Angeles with Magic Johnson. The top young team in the NBA adds two all stars in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to a team that lost in Game 7 of the conference finals. The 76ers have an up and coming roster in Philly, Oklahoma City is dangerous, and Houston won 65 games. The league is better than you think, and I am betting on the field not the team. Take the other teams. You can have Golden State.
The Detroit Lions- a team not known for either intelligence or decision making- fired their radio play by play announcer today. After 31 years. On July 10th. Folks, the team reports for training camp in about 2 weeks. Jim Brandstatter deserved better. And he is better than the team he covered and radio station he worked at. Timing is everything and because both WJR radio and the Detroit Lions do not understand this and fired Jim, they have earned a stay in… Beav’s Penalty Box.
Full disclosure here- Both owners of Beav’s World are HUGE fans of Jim. The voice and person. He has been a guest on our podcast and Brandy was nice enough to host us and Kathy’s son in his booth this year before a Michigan game. Jim is a beloved figure in Beav’s World. He is a rare talent who can do play by play (Michigan Football) and color (Lions), breaking it down for the average and expert fan. This is the type of guy you want to be your guide during a broadcast. You can trust his eyes and ears. And he was...fired? SMH
People get let go all the time. It is not always for a good reason or anyone’s fault. Hell, the two owners of this website have been canned. Stupid Bleep bleep Bleep. It appears the Lions and WJR wanted to go in another direction. Good for them. Be sure to tell Jim and give him notice. Maybe he wants to do games for another team or do a national broadcast. July 10th? Most of those slots are filled. Jim Brandstatter deserved better. 31 years. WITH THIS TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim is one of us—the voice of the fan. He tells it like it is- good or bad. He can break down a play and sometimes see the future. He was not a cheer leader but was for the home team. This is a big, big loss. For a team that has had many. The winner here is Jim- who gets to sit, have Thanksgiving at home and Sunday’s off. The Lions fan losses. And because the team and WJR did our friend Brandy wrong, the earn a nice stay in Beav’s Penalty Box.
The defending AFC champion New England Patriots had an interesting offseason and lost some big-name players who showed up in big spots. Monday nights, championship games, Super Bowls, last-minute plays—these guys did it. Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler and Danny Amendola are losses, on and off the field. But this is the NFL, which famously stands for NOT FOR LONG. Changes happen, and the team added some talent via free agency, the draft and trades. Let’s take a quick look at how the Pats look as training camp draws near.
The Solder loss is obviously huge, but the team loaded up on talent on the offensive line and Dante Scarnecchia is one of the best coaches in the NFL. PERIOD. Between LaAdrian Waddle, Trent Brown, and Isaiah Wynn, the left tackle position will be okay. I think the O line group will not fall apart. Remember this also: The Pats quarterback is decent and gets the ball out. FAST. The team has an elite tight end in Rob Gronkowski and always keeps a back in help in pass pro. Seven men blocking for 12? I like our odds.
I am a big fan of both Dola and Lewis. They both stepped up huge for us in big spots and played best in big games. Neither had a crazy contract offer so that makes it more frustrating. I honestly think this was about role and use. In the Patriots system, the carries and catches are spread out. And both players have had injury issues. Part of the reason #80 was so strong in the post season is the team did not run him into the ground with Julian Edelman out. The Pats loaded up at running back in the offseason- drafting Sony Michel, resigning Rex Burkhead and adding Jeremy Hill in free agency. Backs on this team must pass protect and run routes. There are no easy downs. Multiple backs play and the roles change week to week. Ask your friends who play fantasy football. A runner who has three touchdowns in week one barely played after week six.
Look at the wide receiver depth chart. The team has seven pros back. Edelman and Malcom Mitchell missed all of 2017. Kenny Britt is back for a full season, Cordarrelle Patterson is a new toy for the team and an elite return guy. Do not forget the Pats play Gronk a lot and almost always have at least one running back in the game. They run a lot of 11 personnel—one tight end and one back. That means three wide receivers in the game. They have seven who can play. Danny is now the #1 receiver in Miami. You would leave too for good money. This is the rare deal that works for all three parties—old team, player, new team. My guess is by week three Danny might miss TB12 after two or three games with Ryan Tannehill.
The Malcolm Butler thing is what it is. I think the team lost a solid player in the last offseason when they did not pay and shopped him. #21 was an emotional guy and max effort player. He seemed lost at times and had an uneven year. His lack of size versus bigger receivers is a huge deal—see the Carolina game. And the team was not going to pay big $$$ for a number two cornerback after paying Stephon Gilmore last offseason. Jason McCourty is a top three corner and like his brother, a low-maintenance, high-character, shows up Sunday guy. I like Malcolm and what he brought to the team, but this is a business and biz wise, the Pats did the right thing. So did #21.
The team really invested in the front seven in the offseason—draft, free agency, and trades—should turn this group around. Big time. The defensive line is ten deep and can rotate guys
all day. Both Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton should start and Derek Rivers looked awesome before he missed the season with a knee injury. Deatrich Wise and Vince Valentine could really step up in years two and three. I love this group. The Pats linebackers get better by just having Donta Hightower back. The team plays two linebackers most the game and when he is out there with Kyle Van Noy, the entire D looks BETTER. Harvey Langi was showing promise before his car accident and rookies Christian Sam and J’Whaun Bentley could get playing time. The Patriots defense will be MUCH improved in 2018. MARK MY WORDS.
Free Agent Frenzy
I am a big fan of both the NHL and NBA but for different reasons. I grew up around hockey—my Dad was a great player and I think I mowed lawns for half the Boston Bruins roster as a kid. The Celtics were huge in the 80s and their mantra, “substance over style” and team play, got my attention. Having Larry Bird did not hurt either. With technology today, I rarely miss a game of either the Bruins or Celtics. I also will watch an odd game of other teams. Living in Michigan, Hockey Night in Canada and one of my personal heroes Don Cherry on Coaches Corner, is almost required viewing. In an odd twist, the two leagues start free agency on the same date. July first. This date has become almost a national holiday in Beav’s World.
First the NBA. The sport long before free agency and the salary cap was built on organizations and drafting. Very few teams won titles… the Celtics, Lakers, 76ers, the Isiah Thomas Pistons, Michael Jordan’s Bulls and when he went to play baseball, Hakeem Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets. The league has always been star-driven and in that sport, one guy can change a team. When you look at the group Lebron James made the finals with this year, odds are you could find a better roster of talent in the parking lot of your local Denny’s at 3 a.m. The reality of that league.
The NHL is different. Goalies obviously play the whole game and play around 90 percent of games. A top defenseman can play half the game. An elite forward—think Sidney Crosby or Patrice Bergeron—will play around 20-25 minutes. You need depth and quality. The best way to sustain long term success? Pay and keep six to eight core guys, and mix and match with kids and veterans, and draft well. You cannot have a team packed with same-aged players just because the sport has a hard cap. In English, “hard cap” means the dollar figure. So, $80 million is $80 million. No taxes, exemptions, bird rights, etc. Your team is at 80 and set. You will not see an NHL team with Crosby, Bergeron, Connor McDavid and Nathan McKinnon as the top four centers. It does not work or make sense in that sport.
Because of the collective bargaining agreement and influx of cash, the NBA stack teams if players on the roster want it. Take Golden State. They drafted well—Stephon Curry, Clay Thompson, and Draymond Green where not top draft picks. Warriors’ management did a good job. And because these three players worked with ownership, the team continued to add role players and created a sustainable roster—appealing to a guy like Kevin Durant. Here is the key. Starting with the Larry Bird exception, NBA cap guys are a vital part of an organization. You have so many ways to keep a team together and the Bird rule—a team can go over the cap to sign its own free agents. You have other smaller rules to add veterans, but this is how you now have teams like The Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder with payrolls significantly over the cap. They should change the name from salary cap to SOFT cap in the NBA.
The hard cap makes what happened earlier this week with the Toronto Maple Leafs and John Tavares very rare. Tavares is a Toronto native but was the face of the New York Islanders for nine seasons. For those of you who are not hockey fans, the Islanders are a lot like the Green Bay Packers of the NHL. They are a “small” market—Long Island, NY—but the fan base is passionate and comes out to support the team. Tavares became the first true franchise player to move via free agency in a long time. Why? Players usually stay with their draft teams. I truly believe Tavares—a quiet, low key kid—would be in New York, but the draw of home and an upcoming team in a hockey-crazy city proved too much. An NBA comparison would be Lebron James at age 28 leaving a good team for his hometown Cavs.
The problem the NBA has now is with the soft cap and CBA (negotiated by James and his NBA players association buddy Chris Paul, by the way), 20-plus teams in this league are almost irrelevant, serving as farm clubs for the super teams. If you’re a fan of the Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers or Milwaukee Bucks, you enter the season thinking you have a chance? The beauty of the NFL is a team can go from worst to first—see the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars. You can have a great organization and front office and stars will leave. I do not fault LBJ for leaving Cleveland, the ownership-management of the Cavs is bad and he has the right to leave. But someone must explain to me why fans should go tot Detroit Pistons game on a Tuesday night when they play the Sacramento Kings.
I am not sure what the answer is for the NBA. I know free agency is fun and Kathy reminds me that I had LBJ staying in Ohio. (She conveniently forgets to mention I had Paul George staying with the Thunder.) The model gives them record television ratings and year-round media frenzy a la the NFL. The Major League Baseball financial model with luxury taxes also works where the owners can decide where enough is enough as a fine for going over. The Thunder payroll is almost $300 million—half of which is taxes. By the way, Kathy has a better chance of being on this team than Carmelo Anthony. This is a tough spot for the league because they must be the doctor who tells you, “Hey you feel great, but down the road splurging is bad for you.”
My idea would be to merge the NHL and NBA model. Have the cap. Have the Bird Rule, but only for star players. Larry Bird should never be linked with Rodney Hood. Merge that rule with the Derrick Rose rule (players that have special seasons—first team all-league, MVP, etc).—are eligible for a super max. Make it so drafted players can and want to sign with their original teams. We need a player the level of LBJ to stay with the Cavs for his entire career. (Unless the team’s management stinks. See: Cleveland). You can grandfather in existing deals and work with the players. The league is flush with enough money but not enough good teams. And a good, competitive league has MULTIPLE good teams. Like the NHL.