Boston Badgers coach Cam Prince put his foot in his mouth this week when speaking about his old team, the New York Night. Prince’s ill-advised comments provided the Night with some bulletin-board fodder and led to a rude reception when the Badgers went to the Big Apple.
On Sunday, Prince spoke to a Boston reporter about the ups and downs of life with the Badgers, who were an expansion team last season but are off to a competitive start this year. At one point, the reporter asked Prince about his time in New York, where he served as assistant coach to Preston Rivers for a couple seasons. Prince laughed and said, “Ah, New York… that was an educational experience.”
Pressed to elaborate, the coach said his time in New York “taught me how important it is for ownership and the front office to have a realistic view of your team… [Night management] expected us to win championships when we didn’t have the talent. I mean, come on, you’re going to win the Vandy with Rick Nelson? Chase Winchester? A top D pairing that can’t defend? You’re smoking crack if you think you can go all the way with that. But [owner Marvin] Kingman thought we could.”
Prince added that current Night bench boss Nick Foster “is a damn good coach, but he’ll get run out of there in a year or two. Why? Because you can’t win a title with that talent, but the guys at the top won’t accept less. Here [in Boston], ownership and the front office understand what a winning team looks like, and that it takes time to build one.”
The story ran the next day, and immediately generated a firestorm of criticism. After initially claiming he’d been misquoted, Prince then claimed he’d thought he was off the record when he made his remarks. The reporter countered that they’d never talked about going off the record.
The Night reacted with a mix of outrage and glee. Nelson represented the former: “Anyone who thinks we can’t win a championship with me is the one smoking crack. If anything, it should be impossible not to win with a star as great as me. I’m a gift to any team.”
Foster, on the other hand, seemed delighted by the dust-up. “Boy, Cam really kicked the hornet’s nest, didn’t he?” the coach said when informed of Prince’s controversial interview. “I’ll bet the wonderful folks here in New York will be happy to remind him about it. And we’re here in first place with Rick and Winch and all those players he called losers. But hey, he called me a ‘damn good coach.’ So him and me, we’re all right!”
As bad luck would have it, Prince’s Badgers were scheduled to play at Neon Sky Center on Tuesday. During the introductions, Night PA announcer Sonny Claussen rattled off Boston’s starting lineup, then paused before saying, “And now, let’s all give a big New York welcome to Badgers coach Cam Prince!” As the arena filled with boos and shouted curses, Claussen played the ‘90s hit “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” by the Spin Doctors. The first couplet of the song goes as follows: “Been a whole lot easier since the [expletive] left town/Been a whole lot happier without her face around.” The camera zeroed in on Prince, who gave a half-hearted wave while grimacing. The fans continued to harass Prince and the Badgers throughout the game.
After the 7-3 drubbing, in which New York scored six goals in the third period, Prince seemed to take the heckling in stride. “I guess I had that coming,” said the coach. “I shot my mouth off, and they responded in kind. But hey, if the Boston-New York rivalry needed a jump start, I guess I provided that. And don’t worry, I still love New York. Or at least the pizza!”