Q&A with Jack Edwards

The excitable play-by-play voice of the Bruins had quite a run during last season’s playoffs: He screamed, “GET UP!” at a Montreal player who’d taken a dive. He cackled at Philadelphia fans. And he delivered a postgame essay somehow tying the B’s defeat of the hated Montreal Canadiens to the American Revolution. Now, with the Bruins’ title defense set to begin this month, not even Edwards knows what he’ll come up with next.

Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

I understand you lost a bet when the Bruins won the championship.
Last fall, my daughter asked, “If the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, can we get a dog?” And I’m thinking, Yeah, sure. Otherwise, my kids definitely weren’t going to get a dog, ’cause we homeschool them and we’ve already got such a ridiculous chaos level in our house. But his name is Stanley, and we’re picking him up today.

How else has the Stanley Cup changed things around here?
People that you never figured cared about hockey now not only recognize you, but want to talk about it. You can really tell that it mattered to them.

Sure, but I bet what they really want to know is about that night at Foxwoods with the shirtless Bruins and the $150,000 bar tab.
I heard that it was said to one of those players who had his shirt off, “Calm down, the women will come to you.”

What do you think of Montreal, just as a city?
The percentage of nasty fans there is the same as anywhere. It’s just that 99 percent of the people are avid hockey fans. I regularly lose my mind telecasting, so I love that people care that much.

I was there recently, and when I told the waiter where I was from, he immediately said, “F the Bruins.”
Some other patrons probably were like, “Good for you, buddy.”

My favorite moment of yours was cackling at Flyers fans.
I have to tell you, I got a little finger-wagging from various sources in the hierarchy for that. And I understand that, because I’m representing NESN and I’m representing the Bruins.

After a talking-to like that, do you ever think about dialing it down?
Like I said in my little commentary after Game 7 of the Montreal series, fighting the good fight is not only the right thing to do, it can be a heck of a lot of fun. Part of calling things the way you see them is knowing that people will disagree with you. And I sincerely respect the Bruins and NESN, but if I begin to filter what I say, it’s fundamentally going to change how I approach the game.

So you’re a little bit of a nut?
Exactly. And I wear that badge happily. Sometimes it just spills from one synapse to another and then tumbles out of my mouth before the edit button works. And there are times I know I have to throw cold water on it. But if I approach a game saying, “Make sure you don’t go over the top,” I may not get to the top floor.

I’d like to see you and Tommy Heinsohn do a game together.
Oh my God.

Maybe just once.
I don’t think you could find refs who’d agree to work that game.

During games, your voice almost never stops. Physically, how?
I drink tea throughout the game, but really I owe it all to Dr. Henry Wing, who’s a professor emeritus of voice at UNH. He taught me to breathe through the bottom of my diaphragm, to push out against the waistline, and to project from there. It’s a lot more powerful than just trying to squeeze it through your larynx. He gave me exercises that I still do every day of the season.

So are you retiring the Revolution theme, or is it going to come back?
I’ve read more books about the American Revolution and Colonial Boston than any other subject. I am fascinated and thrilled and honored by the fact that John Hancock stood up and gave the finger to King George III. It excites me every time I walk past the Granary Burying Ground to look in there and see these heroes of the Revolution. What they did was so outrageous, so incredible, and required so much faith in themselves — and just sheer balls.

I’m going to take that as a no.