May 24, 2013

Maine man zooms in on Bruins, fans

Maxx Coombs, of Brunswick, is getting an up-close view of the Boston Bruins' run in the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Young Maxx Coombs is getting an up-close view of the Boston Bruins' run in the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs.

click image to enlarge

Maxx Coombs, with his camera, before a Bruins' game at TD Garden.

Photo by Tucker Friend

Coombs, who grew up in Brunswick, is a member of the in-house video crew at the TD Garden. He's one of the cameramen who provide shots for the Jumbotron and for the networks that televise the games.

His work might show fans celebrating, players getting ready for the game or in-your-face action on the ice. He's so close to the action that often he feels like a part of it.

Coombs' most memorable moments so far came on May 13, when the Bruins, after rallying with three goals in the third period of Game 7 in their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, pulled out a 5-4 overtime win. The noise in the Garden was deafening -- even for someone wearing a headset.

"That's definitely going to be one for the books," he said. "When you can't hear your boss over the headset because the fans are so loud and you can just feel the rumble in the arena from everybody stomping their feet and clapping, it just hits you."

He'll be in the stands Saturday when the Bruins play the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. Boston leads the series, three games to one.

He's not sure where he'll be stationed, only that he'll be closely involved.

"Our assignments switch from game to game," he said in a recent phone interview. "Sometimes, I might be filming the locker room and the hallway in the beginning (of a game), then going up to the balcony to shoot crowd shots during the game. Sometimes, I'm shooting down by the ice."

The gig at the Garden seems to be a natural progression for Coombs, who will turn 24 next week and wants to shoot sporting events for network television.

He began by shooting video for the Maine Red Claws basketball team while he was attending Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

After graduation, at the suggestion of one of his professors, Coombs moved to Boston, where he got a job at the TD Garden. He began working Bruins games in January.

Randy Visser, who taught communications at SMCC for more than 20 years, sees great potential in Coombs.

"As a teacher, you love to have a student like him because they're interested in engaging in the process of making TV, which you can only replicate so far within a classroom," said Visser. "He was focused and hungry enough that he would stay after class and ask 'What can I do next?'"

While he was a student at SMCC, Coombs got an internship with the Red Claws, the Boston Celtics' affiliate in the NBA Development League. That's when he began shooting video.

"I started by working in the control room, then I began filming for the coach so they could watch game tape," he said.

In his third year with the Red Claws, Coombs also was hired by the NBA to film on the court for Futurecast, which is streamed live online. "NBA teams can tune in and watch prospects, and kind of keep track of them," he said.

Coombs also spent a summer doing video work for the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team.

"He kind of impressed us with his drive," said Jana Spaulding, vice president of public and media relations for the Red Claws. "He definitely knows what he wants, and he understands the importance of getting experience, and he was willing to go anywhere and do anything. We could always count on him."

For his first job after college, Coombs moved to Massachusetts to do video work for the Celtics.

"For the Celtics, I started off doing replay, so I was in the control room operating a machine that set up the replays," he said. "Then, one of the camera operators quit and they asked me if I wanted to do that." Ever since then, Coombs has been running around the Garden with a camera perched on his shoulder.

Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

 

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