Whether he is considered Homeric or homer-rific, Jack Edwards has been an integral and entertaining element in the Boston Bruins’ return to relevance under head coach Claude Julien.
After previously splitting the workload on the New England Sports Network with Dale Arnold, Edwards was named the Bruins’ sole television play-by-play broadcaster in the summer of 2007, the same year Julien supplanted Dave Lewis behind the bench.
Concomitant with the competitive revival of America’s oldest NHL franchise was the return to relative national prominence of Edwards, a former ESPN personality. In addition to his natural following among the Bruins fanbase, Edwards has been aided by viral videos capturing his catchphrases and coinages.
With five full years of calling every regional telecast of Julien’s pupils in the books, here is a glance back at Edwards’ 20 best moments in that span.
Not the most creative quip NESN viewers have heard in a Bruins broadcast, but good enough for the circumstances of this skirmish last October between Chris Kelly and Carolina’s Brett Sutter.
Late in Edwards’ first season as NESN’s sole play-by-play performer, the Bruins reaped more from their valiance than most would have expected in the first round of the playoffs. When Marco Sturm virtually stamped Montreal’s first of two unsuccessful attempts to close Boston out, the visiting announcer had a rare opportunity to slight the top-dog rival’s fanbase.
He would have plenty more of those before too long.
For the New England faithful, this puts a savory spin on the same phrase that New York Yankees announcer John Sterling habitually used to describe a Johnny Damon home run when the ex-Red Sox centerfielder wore pinstripes.
This comes from the conclusion of an early-season rally versus Ottawa in 2009-10.
An incessant injury bug yielded an uncertain playoff push and virtually bumped the Bruins back to 2007-08 as they did not clinch a postseason berth until the penultimate game of the regular season.
Once they were in, though, their posture was good enough for a fairly even first-round bout with Buffalo. Boston’s eventual six-game triumph was not exactly the head-turner a triumph over Montreal would have been two years prior, but was unlikely enough for Edwards to read an extra scorecard.
At the final horn of Boston’s Game 4 victory in 2009, which completed a sweep and shut down the Canadiens’ one hundredth anniversary season, Edwards made his own clean sweep with a checklist of Montreal’s spring cleaning tasks.
“Turn off the compressor. Melt down the ice. Scrape out the logo. Last one to leave the Bell Centre, turn out the lights. The party’s over,” he said from the visitors’ television booth.
This occurred two months after the Bruins dealt Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs and precisely one month before Kessel returned to TD Garden with his new mates. Apparently, Edwards couldn’t wait that long to start stoking a new rivalry.
In the opening minute of the clip above, Edwards doesn’t mince words about then-Dallas Stars pugilist Steve Ott during this somewhat famous Nov. 1, 2008 game. He does not let up on Ott very much afterward, except for when he takes a break to issue another classic call regarding Matt Niskanen.
One of the sport’s innovations, namely graphite sticks supplanting their wooden predecessors, that was probably better off never occurring gets a somewhat subtle, yet clear and apt assessment.
The very conclusion of the video above offers NESN’s take on a hit Daniel Paille took from Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik this past February. Edwards’ creative spontaneity is on full display as he describes Paille as “flying like a teddy bear across a kid’s bedroom.”
The top-dog Canadiens’ second swing-and-miss for a knockout punch in 2008 amounted to arguably the definitive signal that genuine interest in pro hockey had returned to Boston.
At the 5:49 mark of the video above, Edwards underlines that notion after the Bruins take their first of two leads en route to a 5-4 triumph in Game 6.
Because regional TV broadcasts don’t go into the deeper phases of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Edwards was unable to lend his creative description of some of the saves that gave Tim Thomas the 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy. Take this timely repellent paddle on Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie for example.
But 18 months earlier, this gape-inducing shootout stop was all NESN’s to relay to Bruins fans tuning into the home network.
Two nights prior to last Christmas, Edwards pounced on a season-appropriate opportunity to call a Dennis Seidenberg goal by throwing his name in with the German-sounding names of Santa’s reindeer.
As if the scoreboard did not suffice, Milan Lucic’s tussle with Mike Komisarek in this Nov. 13, 2008 contest put a more literal spin on the abrupt 180-degree turn in the Bruins-Habs rivalry.
Edwards’ post-fight sentence captured both the statistical and physical element of the eventual 6-1 Boston victory and the fight that was a microcosm of the game.
Even when this author was still a fan, watching this game from a dorm basement at Providence College, he initially wondered if this was a tad over the top.
Ultimately, though, one can trust Edwards’ purely humorous intent in the historical analogy. Furthermore, it’s hard to fault him for submitting to temptation as the Bruins finally won a Patriots’ Day game after losing to Montreal and seeing their previous two postseason runs end on that same New England holiday in both 2004 and 2008.
In the regular-season series finale of 2010-11 and in the homestretch of the Northeast Division pennant race, the Bruins brought the visiting Canadiens to a point where they were playing for pride.
They appeared to dangle it for a while when a two-man advantage spelled one of Montreal’s more obvious chances to break Tim Thomas’ goose-egg. Yet a turnover brought on a breakaway goal at the other end via Gregory Campbell and a classic reaction from Edwards, who happened to be celebrating his birthday that night (March 24).
Bruins fans have three viewing options for the clip above.
You can patiently wait out the first six minutes. You can enjoy the first six minutes as an appropriate buildup. Or you can simply skip ahead to the final 15 seconds or so as Edwards calls one of the landmark moments in the franchise’s resurgence.
This was from the aforementioned 6-1 win in mid-November 2008, Boston’s first regular-season win over the rival Canadiens in 10 total tries during the fledgling Julien era.
Between the 1:17 and 1:21 mark of the clip, Edwards captures the fanbase’s sensation of redemption as the Bruins make good on the ultimate do-over against the Flyers in the second round of the 2011 playoffs.
This call from Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals inspired two talk show co-hosts from the Bruins radio station to propose a Jack Edwards alarm clock.
When Nathan Horton slugged home his second overtime strike in as many home outings and gave the Bruins a seven-game triumph over the Habs, it was not quite all over but the shouting.
There was plenty of pandemonium, to be sure, but Edwards had a closing monologue after virtually everyone else had dispersed. Those of us who have studied our Shakespeare ought to see the unintended fittingness in this NESN broadcast sign-off, on top of that game, evoking thoughts of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Indeed, for the regional faithful, this was a unique narrator’s final word on a mid-spring night’s dream come true.