Some thoughts while I try to ignore all the negativity that comes from the Red Sox losing on Opening Day …

• The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl will not be played until July 23, but for the football players and cheerleaders taking part in the annual game, preparation starts today.

Participants and their families meet today at the Kora Temple in Lewiston. Other than game day, this is the most important day in the Lobster Bowl year. They meet their coaches and teammates and get information on fundraising and training camp.

At the top of today’s events, they learn what they’re playing for.

The Shriners always do a great job presenting how the Shrine Hospitals for Children benefit from the Lobster Bowl. A short film on the hospitals is shown, and a presentation is made by somebody who was treated at a Shriner’s hospital. Last year, it was Winthrop native Caitlin Bazinet, who was treated at Shriner’s hospitals after suffering horrific injuries in a car accident.

The presentation gives each athlete plenty to think about as he or she raises money and trains in the coming months. The work the Shriner’s Hospitals do, free of charge, is important and vital, and that alone makes the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl the best of all the state’s all-star games.

• When the University of Maine fired women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett on Tuesday, it started a ton of fan speculation on the Internet that generally went like this: When can we get rid of Tim Whitehead/Ted Woodward/Jack Cosgrove?

Sorry to disappoint the negative fans calling for blood, but it doesn’t appear that any more firings are coming soon in Orono.

Year in and year out, Cosgrove leads a Maine football team that is competitive in the Colonial Athletic Association, the toughest conference in the Football Championship Subdivision. Given the competition, seeing the Black Bears reach the FCS playoffs every few years is pretty good.

Woodward’s men’s basketball team came into the past season with high expectations, and there’s no doubt the brutal stretch run that saw the Black Bears fall out of first place in the America East Conference and end with another early exit from the conference tournament left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Still, the men’s basketball program isn’t close to the rock bottom the women’s team hit under Blodgett, but it remains to be seen if it hit its plateau. The next year or two are very important.

As for the men’s ice hockey program, 10 years later, it’s still not fair to compare Whitehead to Shawn Walsh, but people do it anyway. Like the men’s basketball team, a late-season swoon proved disastrous to the Black Bears’ playoff hopes. But during the last two seasons, the ice hockey team has shown improvement.

The Black Bears lost a lot of talent to graduation and the pro ranks, but that can’t be used as an excuse next season. The next step in improvement has to happen, and that’s a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Blodgett’s firing was a message from new athletic director Steve Abbott that coaches will be accountable for wins and losses. From her comments on Thursday, it’s apparent Blodgett still doesn’t hear that message. Perhaps her former colleagues will.

• The Boston Bruins clinched the division with Saturday’s 3-2 win against Atlanta, and with it at least third place in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.

That’s great, but this team has to get beyond the second round. If they don’t, at best you can call this season status quo. At worst, it’s a total failure.

This team was built for a Stanley Cup run. It’s time to do it.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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