Ghoulies -- they are different

The dominant off-season story for the Bruins -- other than the fundamental issue of whether there will even be a season next season -- has to do with their whimsical goaltender who is threatening to pull a "Garbo."

Tim Thomas says he needs to escape the madding crowd and find a quiet place to contemplate the deeper meaning of things and "reconnect with friends and family," neither of which -- apparently -- includes his team and teammates. Nor does the fact that such a luxury might cost him roughly four million U.S. large seemingly deter him.

Given the nature of these sporting times it's reasonable to wonder what tricks Thomas might have up his heavily padded sleeves. Could this be a contract-renegotiation gambit? He's entering the last year of his rather team-friendly pact. Or is it a tactic aimed at manipulating a trade to some distant NHL outpost where his politics might be more compatible with the whims of the local populace? Scorning the White House and thumbing your nose at the President plays a lot better in the golden west.

But this is not your ordinary jock. Moreover, he's a goalie and there are no rarer birds in any game. When Tim Thomas declares it's simply a matter of his wanting to be alone, you probably need to believe him. Goalies are like that; especially the great ones. The tradition runs deep.

The Bruins have been down this road before. In the mid-fifties when holding your own in the Original Six was a delicate business they rolled the dice big-time and traded five worthy characters to Detroit for Terry Sawchuk, one of the greatest and strangest characters ever to play any game.

Though Sawchuk had backstopped them to three Cups in four years while compiling a goals-against average of under two per game five consecutive seasons the lordly Red Wings believed the incomparable but intensely temperamental Sawchuk was edging on burn-out and dumped him in 1955 on Boston, although he was only 26. The fact that they had a fabulous and much cheaper successor standing by in Glenn Hall made the decision easier.

With the Bruins, Sawchuk remained terrific. But lacking the gilded supporting cast the Wings had provided -- featuring such hockey divinities as Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Normie Ullman, and Red Kelly -- the Bruins remained also-rans. Arrogant, aloof, and a definitive prima donna, Sawchuk was performing with customary brilliance but becoming impossible to live with his second season in Boston. In January of '57 he simply quit cold-turkey, claiming some vague malaise; possibly mononucleosis, although that was never affirmed by medics. He sat out the rest of the season with the Bruins somehow managing to reach the Cup Finals (where they dutifully lost to Montreal) with Don Simmons subbing for Testy Terry.

In that era when the owners exercised an iron-grip and the players had no rights, this was totally unacceptable behavior and quite enough to get a fellow banished back to Baffin Bay. But Sawchuk was Sawchuk, widely regarded a genius. Amazingly, the Wings welcomed him back and gave the Bruins a promising prospect named Johnny Bucyk for the privilege. In the end, the Sawchuk fiasco became a blessing for Boston thanks to "the Chief," one of the half dozen finest left-wingers in the game's history.

It was an odd business. Glenn Hall had proven as gifted as expected but he'd also proven yet another eccentric customer who got himself in such a nervous lather before games that he invariably had to regurgitate just before taking to the ice, night after night. It was all rather frightful. That's what led Detroit to peddle him to Chicago and re-immerse themselves in the Sawchuk melodrama, with all of its near Freudian dark-side.

The fragile but so often flawless Hall rebounded nicely to become known with a decided reverence as, "the Ghoulie." Insiders still maintain no net-minder was ever more technically skilled. Nerves are the eternal foe of goalies. There was the legendary Bill Durnan, driven near-mad by the stresses of goal-tending in Montreal. Jacques Plante, another Canadiens' immortal, was another fabled basket-case. Then there were all those promising kids destroyed early-on, like Mike Moffat, once of the Bruins.

Hockey buffs love to debate the question, "who was the greatest goalie of all-time?" But that's an impossible argument. For openers how do you compare modern net-minders adorned in space-age helmets and heavily protective layers of pads and garb who enjoy tightly enforced deference from on-ice officials with the old-timers (1960-1985, approx) who were protected by nothing more than thin plastic masks. And how do you even begin to compare today's guys with those astounding ancient warriors (prior to 1960) who wore NO masks, NO extra protection and even used thinner pads to allow for greater mobility and were fair game to ferocious adversaries if they dared wander from their crease because the game was more open then and fewer were offended by its inherent violence.

You cannot make any such comparisons and it's pointless to even try.

Moreover, when we old-timers appear puzzled by the gravity of the contemporary injury crisis in this and other games you should understand that the main question we have is, "How come all this wasn't so great a problem back then?" And it wasn't. Nor should you dare suggest that's because the games then were softer, tamer, less intense, not as physical. Because that's not true. The players may be bigger and faster now but they are not tougher.

But we digress. The discussion is about the wonderful composition -- physical, spiritual, and psychological -- of goaltenders as a breed and it's a great subject. I've never met a goalie I didn't like and that's not because they are invariably charming, because most of them are not, and many of them -- like Sawchuk -- can be downright unpleasant. The one striking quality near all of them share is a certain ''moodiness,'' Goalies are moody characters, hostages of the relentlessly determined tides of their difficult game. But I never encountered a goalie who was boring or bored and many I found fascinating and I can't say that about many other chaps who play other games.

When the "Big Bad Bruins" of precious memory were riding high in the '60s and '70s their undisputed leader -- particularly in the locker room where it most counts -- was Gerry Cheevers. His teammates utterly craved the approval of ''Cheesie.'' Gerry and his back-up, the delightful Eddie Johnston, aka "EJ," were literally beloved in the ranks of those warriors. A deep affection for the goalie lifts a team, causes it to play harder. It happened, on those great Bruins teams. Nor was it unusual. The Canadiens played harder for Gump Worsley, the Rangers for Eddie Giacomin, the Hawks for Hall, the Leafs for Johnny Bower and before him, Turk Broda, etc., etc.

Is that the case with Tim Thomas? I don't know, for I don't know him any better than all of you out there in TV land, for I'm not the up-close observer of this team that I was in the past. But my sense from a distance is that Thomas is more a Sawchuk-type than a Cheevers-type. It is not deep affection that bonds the relationship of this team and this goalie but deep respect. I wouldn't compare Thomas, who has been a bit of a meteor, with Sawchuk who excelled for 20 years. But Thomas has proven that at given crucial moments he can rise to spectacular heights much like Sawchuk and Hall, Brimsek and Durnan, Plante, Dryden, Brodeur, Roy, and other greats.

People wonder if Thomas at 38 will be finished if he takes the sabbatical. That's nonsense. Goalies are different. He could return next year reborn and better than ever. Sawchuk, Hall, Bower, Worsley, and now Brodeur all starred into their forties. The mercurial Plante was 44 when Harry Sinden called on him to bail out the Bruins in 1973. Bower was 46 when he last manned the pipes for the Leafs.

Can Thomas join that club? I wouldn't bet against it, old Sport. Goalies are different.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...