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December 13, 2013

The Blue Line Report: Grateful for hockey

Taking a start of the season musical journey with one of America's most beloved bands

For all of the books, blogs, magazine articles and other bits of information I’ve devoured about the man and his band over the years, I never once have come across an instance where the words “hockey skates” and “Jerry Garcia” were mentioned in the same story.

He didn’t hold a Bauer Nexus 600 or an Easton V9 composite in his hands; Garcia’s twig of choice was usually his famous ‘Wolf’ or ‘Tiger’ electric guitars. Like an on-ice playmaker or all-world goalie, the Grateful Dead centered around the zen-like Garcia; everything fed off of him.

It seems like an unlikely pairing. But if you combine the Good Ol’ Grateful Dead with hockey fanatics’ favorite sport, it actually works.

The last few years, we’ve combined two great passions — music and hockey — and come up with a season-opening column that combines the two. You know the drill: each of our 10 area teams gets their own song (and this year, a set of lyrics from said tune that best apply) to help tell their story and what we can expect from them this winter.

For the 2013-14 season, everyone gets a little dose of the Dead. So as Jerry and the boys would croon, might as well ...

BEVERLY PANTHERS

”Jack Straw”

Gotta settle one old score

One small point of pride.

Analysis: An easy song choice, and not just because the Panthers employ skilled senior wing Jake Straw. Head coach Bobby Gilligan says he still has a “pit in his stomach” when he thinks about how last season ended, when the 18-1-1 Panthers were upset by Danvers in the first round of the playoffs. With all but three players back from a year ago, Gilligan’s team will not only have a bull’s-eye on their backs again; they’ll be one of the favorites to win that ever-elusive Division 2 state title. Beverly can run four lines up front without much dropoff, has four skilled defensemen back for a third year together and have the two preseason favorites for NEC Player of the Year in senior center Connor Irving and junior goaltender Tim Biarelli. Forward Graham Doherty has also emerged into an elite talent. A beefed up non-league schedule should help the Orange-and-Black in the postseason — where they realize is where the true measure of their 2013-14 season will be judged.

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