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‘Behind The B’ Review: Did Bruins’ All-Access Show Live Up To Hype?

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — The much-anticipated debut episode of “Behind The B” aired on NESN on Monday night, giving many Bruins fans who are hungry for hockey their first look at the team since Boston’s Game 6 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in June.

While the show was a welcome sight as the season transitions from summer to autumn, the series premiere nevertheless left much to be desired in terms of behind-the-scenes footage of the players on the Bruins roster. The most captivating shots in the online trailer that got everyone excited about the show in the first place were the ones of the players in the locker room and on the ice during games, all of which was lacking in this debut episode.

The series premiere began with some very cool 3D-like black-and-white images of Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Patrice Bergeron and others, and some security cam-esque footage of the locker room following the Cup-losing game was then shown. Claude Julien addressed the players, telling them not to hang their heads and that they have nothing to be ashamed of, and that was the last real shot of never-before-seen footage of Bruins hockey for the entire show, just three minutes in.

The lack of locker room footage was no doubt a disappointment, but it’s not as if the show didn’t live up to some of its promise from the trailer. Getting a seat at the table as Peter Chiarelli gathered his staff to discuss the futures of Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin was the type of access many tuned in for, and it was exactly as advertised.

Beyond that, though, there really wasn’t much. Loui Eriksson went apartment-hunting, Milan Lucic played with his baby, Jarome Iginla lifted some weights, and a bunch of young prospects got yelled at by strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, who was the big breakout star of the show.

Some more thoughts about ‘Behind The B':

–John Whitesides really was the absolute best. Before he was even formally introduced to viewers, he said, “You’re the future of the Boston Bruins. I don’t want you to leave here and say, ‘I don’t understand what’s expected of me. I don’t understand what I should do.’ All of those questions should be answered right [expletive] now.”

He then told the kids at development camp, “If an equipment guy does something for you, say thank you. All right? They’re not your [expletive] maids.”

It was clearly no mistake that the Bruins throw Whitesides at the kids who attend development camp, because it’s clear his job is to introduce Bruins culture, even if it’s a bit shocking for the prospects to hear.

When he wasn’t busy forcing first-round pick Malcolm Subban to do up-downs for being late, Whitesides was letting the kids know that it doesn’t matter where they were drafted. All that matters is if they have the dedication to be a Bruin.

“It’s who wants to work,” Whitesides said, “who wants to put their balls on the line, who wants to be coachable, who listens to directions and who wants to compete. Any questions?”

If we’re making comparisons to other behind-the-scenes sports shows, John Whitesides was to the Bruins what Mike Westhoff was to the Jets during “Hard Knocks” in 2010.

–We saw one of the real effects that the lockout had on the front office, with Chiarelli holding an offseason planning meeting during the Eastern Conference finals. Already at that point, the front office accepted the reality that Andrew Ference was a goner once the season ended, with the meeting taking on the tenor of a funeral as Chiarelli, Cam Neely, Jim Benning, Scott Bradley and Co. talked about the impending loss of Ference.

–Then things really got interesting as they all discussed Tyler Seguin. It seemed as though everyone in the room with the exception of Chiarelli was ready to trade Seguin away. It makes sense that Chiarelli would be hesitant, because this was his top draft pick and a guy he had extended for six years at $5.75 million per season. Giving up before that contract even kicked in would be a tough pill to swallow for any GM.

Yet Chiarelli listened intently as his staff spoke freely with the cameras rolling.

“We’ll miss his speed,” Benning, the assistant GM, said, before taking a not-so-subtle dig. “In the regular season, we’ll miss his speed.”

With the general consensus agreeing that Seguin’s style was not the right fit for the Bruins, Bradley, the director of player personnel, chimed in: “We were good on [Andrew] Raycroft, we were good on Phil [Kessel]. It’s time.”

Seguin at the time of the meeting had just one goal and three assists through 14 playoff games, and it’s clear the frustration level was high in the front office. But it’s interesting to know that this was the collective mind-set of those in charge while Seguin was playing, trying to win a Stanley Cup for the Bruins.

–The Seguin story line advanced quite a bit at draft time, and we got to see what the Bruins brass really felt about Seguin, now with the postseason over.

“I just think there’s too many red flags with him,” Bradley said in a meeting. “He has a lot of talent, we know that. He should be scoring. I’m disappointed. If he gives us half of [Patrick] Kane, we win the Stanley Cup. I don’t like the way his game’s going. He hasn’t proven that he’s tough enough or he plays our style of game. I don’t know if a leopard ever changes his spots, but he’s going to have to or else we’re going to be sitting right here doing the same thing.”

Cam Neely: “There’s a couple of issues from my perspective, there’s the on ice and off ice. On the ice, he certainly has all kinds of skill, but I don’t care what age you are. You’re three years into the league, you should have some improvement in the areas that I know the coaching staff has talked to him about. It’s a little slower developing than it should be, and that’s because it’s the areas that it’s difficult to get into in this game. For me, if we get the right deal for him, then it’s something we need to do.”

–It was interesting because you’ll recall at the time of the Seguin trade, the only story that seemed to make its way into headlines was that Seguin liked to party a little too much. That never once came up in these meetings.

Of course, this was a Bruins production, so anything the team didn’t want to be shown was edited out. Still, even if off-ice concerns beyond Neely’s brief mention were cut from the final show, it’s not as if the team didn’t have plenty of on-ice reasons for making the swap for Loui Eriksson.

–That being said, with all that buildup, you’d think we’d get to see the actual trade take place. If it wasn’t caught on film, the Bruins could have at least humored us with a “missing reel” clip.

–The Bruins promoted a clip over the past week with the title “Who is on the phone?” Deductive reasoning led us to believe it would be Nathan Horton’s agent, Paul Krepelka. That turned out to be the case, though Chiarelli’s reaction of “[Expletive] me” upon learning Horton had signed with Columbus was still just as funny.

–Seriously, the intro was fantastic.

–Loui Eriksson did a sit-down interview for the show that seemed more like a sales pitch for the 2013 season than anything else. The shortened version: He’s going to play hard.

–Eriksson also went apartment hunting, where he apparently got to check out every amazing view in the city of Boston. It turns out Boston has some nice living options for people who make more than $4 million every year.

–Denis Leary made sure to stretch his “Gahhhhden” pronunciation because Gahhhhhhhden.

–Milan Lucic has a baby. He handles this baby. It’s kind of unnerving, because he normally uses those hands to punch men’s faces.

–Jarome Iginla spoke about his decision to go to Pittsburgh instead of Boston last season. He seemed to be 100 percent honest, and he said it with a wide grin, so any fans who still hold that against him are nuts.

“I didn’t mean it as a slight or anything like that,” Iginla said, noting that the Penguins were riding an incredible winning streak while the Bruins were in a bit of a rut. “It wasn’t personal. If you had a choice at the time to run hot, I guess you try to do it. … I can understand why some fans were irritated or ticked off or whatever. But, no, I want to come in and play hard with the guys and I look forward to being a part of that. As far as winning them over, just trying to play hard on the ice and be a part of winning games.”

He also had a framed Paul Pierce jersey on his wall, and he spends his summer lifting weights in his house while hanging out with his German shepherd. If you don’t like Iginla, that’s on you.

–One major takeaway from the development camp footage is that Don Sweeney thinks Anthony Camara is “ready to be a pro” and is “in a good position to push some guys” for a roster spot. Camara was a third-round pick in 2011, and at 6-feet, 192 pounds, the 20-year-old left winger scored 36 goals with 24 assists in 50 OHL games last season. We’ll be keeping an eye on him.

–The show ended with David Krejci and Tuukka Rask golfing. The footage of Krejci talking (essentially to himself) while trying to hit a driver on the range was pure gold.

“All right let’s try the worst club in the bag, the driver,” Krejci the comedian said.

“One drive goes straight, one right, one left,” he said before launching a perfect drive. “Now I just have to figure out … how I do that, huh?”

And as Rask walked up, Krejci offered a friendly, “Sup, Tooks?”

Rask proved to be a pretty good golfer, shooting a 93 at the TPC Boston, which is no easy feat.

–The episode will be replayed on NESN several times this month, but the air date for the second episde remains “TBD.” If there isn’t more footage of the players during the season and postseason — it was a rather eventful few months, you’ll recall — then interest levels may remain “TBD” as well. Given the potential of the show though, fan interest should not be a problem.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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