By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The only thing constant in this life of ours is change. That reality operates on an accelerated track at double or even triple the speed of regular life when it comes to the world of sports.READ MORE: I-Team: Kids In Crisis Spend Weeks In Emergency Room Waiting For Mental Health Services
Time keeps on ticking, we all keep getting older, and old friends depart our lives, sometimes with nary a goodbye.
OK, jeez, starting off a little darker than anticipated here. Anyways!
Boston sports fans were reminded of this unfortunate and inescapable reality on Wednesday night as they sat down to enjoy an ice hockey contest between the Bruins and Flyers. In the middle of that game, a full-screen graphic showed up, reminding Boston sports fans how much things can change in what feels like a short period of time.
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 4, 2021
As Boston Sports Journal’s Conor Ryan said while sharing the image … oof. That’s going to sting.
The genesis for such a graphic likely came from the Bruins playing against Zdeno Chara last week, and from Dustin Pedroia‘s official retirement announcement this week. Which makes sense. And it’s only a partial picture, really.READ MORE: Worcester Businesses Hope WooSox Help Them Bounce Back From COVID Pandemic
Tom Brady, who joined the Patriots in April of 2000, left the team within the past calendar year. That was a fairly big one. You might have caught it on the evening newscast when he bounced.
The current longest-tenured Patriots player is Matthew Slater, who was drafted in 2008. It’s unknown if he’ll return for a 14th season in 2021, and if he doesn’t, Julian Edelman (drafted in 2009) will claim that title. That is, of course, if he’s back in 2021. Up next would be Devin McCourty (drafted in 2010), or maybe it’s Patrick Chung, who was drafted in 2009 but had his brief Philadelphia sabbatical. The judges haven’t offered a complete ruling on that.
For the Red Sox, the retirement of David Ortiz (2016) and the trade of Mookie Betts a year ago left the team without a face of the franchise. The longest-tenured player remains Xander Bogaerts, who debuted in 2013.
The Bruins still have Patrice Bergeron, Boston’s longest-tenured athlete. He’s signed for at least one more season, and he’s still got some NHL years left on him, so no goodbyes are necessary to prepare just yet.
With the Celtics, the revolving door of players has led to Marcus Smart — drafted in 2014 — being the longest-tenured member for a while now.
Yet those of us who remember the ’90s fondly can recall the end of days for Boston athletes from that time period. Paul Pierce drained his final shot in Boston in February 2017. Adam Vinatieri booted his final boot in 2019. Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield both hung up their cleats after 2011. On the ice, somehow Joe Thornton is still banging around in the NHL, the last remnant of Boston sports in the ’90s.
And as is visible from the list of current longest-tenured Boston athletes, the number of players from the 2000s decade still playing for the local teams includes only Bergeron, Slater, and Edelman. For now. The ’90s athletes are long gone, and we’ll soon be out of 2000s athletes, too?
The long and short of all of this, I guess, is to say that all of us are getting old. With young stars like David Pastrnak, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Rafael Devers, the future generation appears to be fairly well-stocked with talent. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the painful reality that nothing gold can stay.MORE NEWS: TD Garden Capacity Increases As Bruins Head Into Playoffs