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McVie has advice, support for Billington (12/24/95)

McVie dishes out advice for goalie
Nancy L. Marrapese, Globe Staff

Former Bruins assistant Tom McVie has been paying close attention to Boston despite being thousands of miles away in Vancouver, Wash. With the help of a satellite dish given to him by Craig Billington, McVie is able to watch five games a night.

The games he's most enjoyed have been those that Billington, whom he coached for many years, has been playing. Last night, Billington earned the 7-5 victory in net against the Tampa Bay Lightning, marking his sixth start in seven games and third straight victory.

"I saw him on the Florida trip and he was very solid," said McVie, who was fired at the end of last season. "I saw him against the Rangers and he played really well. I saw him beat Calgary and I saw him against Buffalo. I really believe in him but I've always believed in him."

"Tommy McVie has been like a father to me," said Billington.

McVie said he has always felt Billington was No. 1 goaltender material. He just needed a chance. Now he's got one and McVie has seen a marked difference since first meeting Billington at age 18.

"He was an emotional time bomb then," said McVie. "In the last five years he's matured so much. He knows now that he's not going to stop every shot. He used to get upset about shots in practice but I have to say, of all the guys I've coached, he's got his life on the ice and off the ice figured out as well as anyone. He's really a positive thinker."

McVie said Billington used to take everything hard, especially being demoted. When McVie was coaching in the minors, he knew trouble was brewing when he'd see Billington's car at the practice rink.

"He'd be in my office," said McVie, "and he'd be trembling he was so upset. It would take him a month to get over it. But he's really got it all together now."

As for McVie, he's still looking for a job and hopes to get back to coaching soon, although he doesn't have any prospects at the moment.

"If I were to land a job, I could start today," he said.

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