The Skate Podcast: How the Jacobs family bungled its response to Coronavirus crisis


It doesn’t take much in these tough times, with the world facing the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic, for those with the most means to do things that’ll not only benefit mankind but also garner positive press.

During the NHL shutdown many owners have taken measures to take care of their full-time and part-time employees. Of course, it took Bruins ownership a while to get around to announcing its plans. And then when those plans were revealed they were either insufficient or downright cruel (laying off or furloughing more than 100 employees).

This week on The Skate Podcast co-hosts Ken Laird and Matt Kalman welcomed longtime Boston Globe writer Kevin Paul Dupont to talk about the Jacobs family’s response to the crisis and Dupont’s recent column calling on the NHL and NBA to cancel their seasons.

When asked why the Jacobs family bungled its response and couldn’t even get positive feedback when it finally took action, Dupont, who has covered Jacobs for more than three decades, summed it up thusly:

“Well the guiding light that I’ve had for years is, always keep in mind every nickel counts on Causeway. So it is always about money.

“Now this is a very broad-based subject. It was my impression that … by that second weekend, so 10 days into it, I was of the belief and had been told and I think others were told too that there was a group plan. Now this is specific to the first issue, which is taking care of the concessions people … I mean all the event workers. I was told there was a plan in place, it was ready to announced, they were working on the release that it was going to be a joint effort between a number of parties, ownership of both teams, foundations of both teams, individual players of both teams putting up a pot of money and having that done. Which frankly I think would’ve been the best, quickest and smartest answer.

“I think even the most bitter, caustic, cynical sport writer would’ve say said, ‘you know, that’s a pretty good plan.’”

“Well it fell apart, and I don’t know why it fell apart. And then the Celtics did their little bit, and again the Celtics to their credit, they’re tenants …of the building, obviously and then it fell apart on the Bruins side. And then ultimately guys, look what happened. … Bruins ownership themselves ponied up $1.5 million, more than the Red Sox, and made that fix. And even when they did that they got no good publicity. … It wound up costing them 3x, and people are still pissed.

“Which speaks to my central point, which I haven’t made, that they don’t have anyone good on sight. This whole sham about Charlie being … The Guy, being the guy in place, you know we’re 20 years past that now. Twenty years he’s been here. Come on, not good enough. There should be a voice there from ownership’s side who speaks with sympathy and clarity and vision and promise and all the things you want from a team owner or leader. They got bupkus. And what did it cost them, it cost them at least 3x.

Kalman and Laird also debated a complete cancellation of the NHL season, considered whether the pandemic and related economic downturn could cause a reset in ticket prices and player salaries, and reacted to Tuukka Rask’s response to the reports he was considering retirement.


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