at deflecting controversy (12/18/95)
Billington expert at deflecting controversy: He's stayed steady
amid recent chaos
Nancy L. Marrapese, Globe Staff
Craig Billington said he has a perfect plan to avoid hearing all
the speculation and controversy surrounding the Bruins' goalie
"When I leave home, I wear earplugs and a blindfold,"
said Billington with a sly smile. "I have this guy who drives
me to the rink and escorts me to the dressing room. Then, after
the game, I put the earplugs back in and the blindfold on and
he drives me home."
He's kidding, of course, but his point is well taken. This hasn't
been a great season to be a Boston goaltender; every day they've
either been a sitting duck, ducking verbal jabs or considered
a lame duck.
President/general manager Harry Sinden praised Billington's play
in Saturday's 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames but in the next
breath was up front in saying he still is looking for a goaltender.
After so many trees have died in the debate over whether Curtis
Joseph will end up here, will he? Will the Bruins give current
hot Providence goalie Rob Tallas a shot? Will the brass stay with
Billington and Blaine Lacher? There have been more plot twists
and turns in this situation than a soap opera.
While all that swirls about him, the 29-year-old Billington sits
in the calmest spot -- the eye of the hurricane. In his last four
starts, he has a misleading 1-3-0 record, a 3.01 goals-against
average and an .882 save percentage. He has played better than
the numbers indicate.
"As a team, you look at three goals-against as a great goal
and a little under that would be wonderful," said Billington.
"Any time you get your goals-against in that vicinity, you
should be looking at getting something out of the game, maybe
it's a point or maybe it's a win. In the past few games, we've
been around that mark. Unfortunately [in two road games against
Tampa Bay and Florida], we didn't get anything out of that and
in New York [against the Rangers] we didn't get anything out of
that. It's nice to get some goals here. We need to get some on
the road and if we do that, we'll see even more wins."
As hellish and tense as the uncertainty has been while the Bruins
have struggled to find their way this season, Billington figures
he already has been to hell once, when he played in Ottawa, so
this isn't so bad in comparison. He has been in the league since
the 1985-86 season and has seen it all.
"I've been through a lot in my career," he said. "I
don't know if you can even follow its path unless you're my mom
or dad. So, I think you have to take a certain attitude and view
at it in order to survive it. I can only fall back on my past
experience and the learning I've taken from that and apply them
from now. The bottom line is believing in yourself."
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