"I don't feel a burning desire to write."
That's the last thing I scratched into my notebook when I sat down with Mike Boone at his home last fall. It's funny because it's coming from a newspaper columnist. I just did a search, and from 1985 (when the Gazette's electronic database starts) to his goodbye column on Sept. 1, 2012, it counts 5,182 articles with "MIKE BOONE" in the byline. That works out to 192 a year, or 3.7 a week, on average, over that 27-year span, most of which he spent as the paper's TV and radio columnist or city columnist.
In case you haven't heard by now, Boone was one of many Gazette employees who took a buyout last fall. Sports writer Randy Phillips was another. Hockey columnist Red Fisher had taken his a bit earlier. Most of the rest of those who left were editors, photo technicians and other behind-the-scenes staff. People unrecognized by readers, but whose work all contributed to make The Gazette a quality newspaper, and whose departure caused it to suffer, despite valiant attempts by those left to compensate.
Unlike Fisher, whose retirement prompted news stories in The Gazette and in other media, Boone's retirement (at a much busier time of the year for news) didn't get much notice. He wrote a goodbye column, and quietly departed, striding off into the sunset toward that cul-de-sac in Pointe Claire.
Except he wasn't entirely gone. He continues to blog Canadiens games for Hockey Inside/Out, and like he did when he was an employee, he'll be at the Bell Centre for home games and in his basement for away games, providing live commentary with his classic funny flair.
As the Canadiens begin their playoff run today, attention toward the team, and traffic on the website, should go up.