ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Terry Francona has kept his distance from the Stanley Cup playoffs, not because he is indifferent to the success of the Bruins -- he wishes them well -- but because he just doesn't care for hockey.
The Red Sox manager likes to tell the story of when he played for the Montreal Expos in the early ‘80s, he went to the old Forum to watch the Canadiens play, and witnessed Guy Lafleur make one of his storied end-to-end rushes. His reaction? A shrug. It just didn't do anything for him.
It's different with basketball. He's friends with Celtics coach Doc Rivers, and is a huge college basketball fan. And with football, one of his good friends is Scott Pioli, the former Patriots VP who is now GM of the Kansas City Chiefs and a recent visitor to Fenway Park with his daughter.
But on Tuesday, Francona not only revealed he watched portions of the Bruins' thrilling (my word, not his) Game 6 win over the Vancouver Canucks, he placed a phone call to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
"Me and Claude are tight now,'' Francona said. "I called him.
"He dropped on me, 'Hey, appreciate your call. I'm glad you're interested in hockey.' I said, 'No. I don't understand it, I don't like it, but you seem like a really great guy. I just wanted to wish you luck.'''
Francona said he called after the Bruins lost the first two games of the finals in Vancouver. Obviously, someone suggested, he passed on some useful advice, seeing how the Bruins have won three of the next four.
"I told him about that second line ... whatever,'' Francona said, breaking into laughter. "I still can't figure out how they get out there and figoure out where they're going.''
Some of the Sox players gathered in a sports bar Monday night to watch Game 6.