"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The "quintessential Boston Bruin," Terry O'Reilly, has his Number 24 raised to the rafters at the Vault on Causeway Street tonight. Fine tribute coverage at the Globe, at the Herald and at the Bruins site. Here's a tally of his greatest brawls. Writes the Globe's incomparable hockey writer Kevin Paul Dupont:
OK, we are not talking about a league posterboy here for manners and sportsmanship (witness his 2,430 career penalty minutes). But that's just the point. It is what everyone here in the Hub of Hockey loved about the guy. He was what he was: a challenged skater with very limited playing skills who mixed equal and bountiful parts work ethic and passion to become the sport's orneriest, most steel-willed, nail-spittin', upper-cuttin' winger of his time.
None of that got his name on the Stanley Cup or won him a Hart Trophy, a scoring championship or so much as an afternoon tea at the Ritz (O'Reilly and fine china?), but it endeared him to a generation of blue-collar hockey fans who saw a lot of themselves in him, and only dreamed that they saw a lot of him in themselves.
There are no statistics that truly reflect caring, will, determination, practice, hard work, loyalty, stubborness or, maybe the biggest one of all, pain inflicted from defeat.
O'Reilly wasn't about the numbers. He was about the trying, caring, making the moment, every moment, matter. To appreciate that, you had to see him play, game to game, shift to shift, the heart underneath that spoked-B as obvious as the number on his back. Tonight's salute is not to greatness, but rather a celebration of turning the ordinary into something great.