The MCI Center received an O.K. on the club-seat prices in July from the Senate ethics committee, which ruled, in essence, that senators could use the ducats but could not avail themselves of the perks. "Obviously," says Lisa Harrison, press secretary for Senator Robert Smith (R., N.H.), chair of the committee, "there's a personal-responsibility issue here."
Home Away from Home
Though he's played in just six exhibition games for the Boston Bruins, 18-year-old center Joe Thornton has gotten a sense of life in the NHL. The first player taken in June's entry draft, the 6'4", 200-pound Thornton attended an Aug. 17 road race in Falmouth, Mass., and was recognized by dozens of passing runners, who called out greetings. A few weeks later Thornton spent part of his $935,000 base salary on his first car—a black, Batmobilesque Lincoln Navigator. Then, in a Sept. 23 game, Pittsburgh Penguins center Stu Barnes delivered an on-ice initiation with an illegal two-handed stick thwack that broke Thornton's left wrist and will sideline him till late this month.
With all these goings-on, and with young Thornton 700 miles from his hometown of St. Thomas, Ont., the Bruins are relieved he isn't living alone in the big city. On the recommendation of the team and his parents, Thornton has snuggled in with a host family near Boston. At the home of Tom and Nicole Hynes he has his own bedroom and a place at the table.
"I'm going to the North End to pick up a mess of pasta to bring home for dinner," Tom Hynes, who runs a real-estate company, said last Friday before Joe's first meal at the Hynes house. The next day Joe went with the Hyneses to watch their son, Tod, play defensive end for Milton Academy, a nearby prep school. Tod, who is just four months younger than Joe and who most nights has homework to do, figures to be a good foil for the glitz of the NHL.
Staying with host families—billeting, as it's called in hockey circles—is common in junior hockey but much less so in the NHL. Yet Thornton has some impressive predecessors. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim superstar Paul Kariya stayed with a family as a 20-year-old rookie during the 1994—95 season and spent a lot of quality time playing video games with the family's teenage boy. Then there's Wayne Gretzky, who was 17 and with the Edmonton Oilers when he billeted with the Bodnar family. Gretzky was a fine guest, often popping out to the market, raking the lawn and even enlisting 13-year-old Kelli Bodnar to play goalie for him in the basement. Gretzky also forged a note excusing Kelli from school and entertained her with Elvis impersonations.
Thornton, though, has no such demands at the Hynes home. "We just want him to be able to veg out," says Tom. "He needs a place to get away."
N.Y. Jets' Defense
A typical jet airliner has a wingspan of close to 200 feet, weighs upward of 300 tons and is vulnerable to geese. Bird collisions damage scores of jets each year, especially at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, which abuts a Jamaica Bay wildlife refuge that is home to 300 ornithological species. Some 250 bird strikes occur annually at JFK, and in 1995 an engine on an Air France Concorde exploded during landing when a goose flew into it. Air France is suing the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, which operates JFK, for failing to keep birds away.
All of this explains why in July the Port Authority hired master falconer Thomas Cullen of Goshen, N.Y. Each day Cullen and his five-man crew patrol Kennedy's perimeter with a mews of 11 falcons and three hawks. The falcons, which fly as fast as 130 mph, are sent up to scare the bejesus out of other birds and so far have kept them largely at bay. One foolhardy herring gull did visit JFK in sight of the falcons recently and was swiftly snatched up.