Recapping the Boston Bruins disappointing season
Last season was one that Boston Bruins fans would probably like to forget, the B’s missed the second wild card spot by only two points. It snapped a seven year playoff streak, where they went to two Stanley Cup finals and won one in 2011.
Fans called for the jobs of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien for failing to meet their expectations, and not making the necessary moves during the season to ensure that they would make the playoffs. It seemed like a struggle every single game, they never were able to get on a good roll and just disappointed fans with their struggles against what seemed to be easy teams. It seemed to be a transition year for the Bruins who were trying to move on from some of their big contracts, and players that they probably wouldn’t be able to re-sign in the off-season. While there was no rush at the beginning of the season GM at the time Peter Chiarelli decided to trade Johnny Boychuk, for three draft picks from the Islanders in a deal that confused all Bruins fans. This deal would prove pivotal for the Bruins season, and would be the beginning of the end for Peter Chiarelli’s time in Boston. Fans watched Boychuk and the Islanders thrive, becoming a legitimate playoff threat in the process. While in Boston the blue line was decimated by injuries to key players like Zdeno Chara, and Adam McQuid. Which left Dennis Seidenberg, Tory Krug, and half of the Providence Bruins defense core to Protect the net.
Moving on from key veterans seemed to be the plan for the Bruins front office, who didn’t re-sign a key part to their offense in Jerome Iginla because of long-term deals for mediocre players like Chris Kelly, Daniel Palle, and Gregory Campbell. But one of the most underrated people that left the Bruins was Shawn Thornton. He was their spirit and a leader in the locker room. Thornton seemed to have the attention and respect of the entire dressing room and when a game started to go in favor of the other team he was able to turn the momentum back toward the Bruins. A leader was something they needed last year, with Zdeno Chara out for some of the most important games of the season and a revolving door of young guys coming up they needed someone to bring them together. The first real bright spot for the Bruins came when their first round pick David Pasternak was called up. The first exposure of Pasternak to Bruins fans came off a highlight reel goal from the World Junior Tournament. Pasternak made an immediate impact to a team that had struggled all season to put the puck in the net. He had back to back two goal games against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Pasternak shined no matter who he played with and along with fellow rookie Ryan Spooner they were able to plug the hole left by David Krecji who was injured most of the season.
As they reached the trade deadline fans expected Chiarelli to make a big splash and get a player that would finally put the Bruins over the top. What they got was Brett Connolly and aging veteran Max Talbot; both moves perplexed a lot of fans remembering the offseason pledge to go younger and faster. The Bruins had been in and out of the playoff picture for most of the season, but as the season started to wind down it looked like they would be able to hang on to that final wild card spot. That’s when the Senators called rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond who caught fire as soon as he started his first game, known as the “hamburglar”, he took the up start senators on a ride straight to the top and into the playoffs. Once they were knocked out of the playoff picture, the Bruins were never the same team. They lost key games that would have helped them and let the wild card teams get to far out of reach to the point they couldn’t regain their former spot. It was a disappointing end too a very disappointing season, which left a lot of fans wondering what was next for the Bruins and who would be there next year. Fans stayed glued to the radio stations and news outlets waiting for the Bruins to make decisions on both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien. Once Chiarelli was fired it seemed like team president Cam Neely was ready to take over the team. It started with the hiring of former assistant general manager Don Sweeney who pledged to be moving to a younger and faster style of play. Many speculated that meant that Claude Julien was the next out of Boston, who struggled trusting the younger inexperienced players the season before. But it seems for now Julien is going to be the head coach and we will have to wait and see how he handles the younger talent.
As the Draft approached the Bruins seemed poised to move veteran Milan Lucic who had underperformed during the season and seemed lost when playing without David Krecji. The Bruins moved swiftly on draft day trading Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for the 13th overall pick, a prospect, and backup goalie Martin Jones. But Sweeny wasn’t done there. In a shocking move the Bruins sent potential franchise defensemen to the Calgary Flames for the 15th overall pick as well as two second round picks. Trading Hamilton seemed to go completely against the new Bruins philosophy of going younger and faster. Fans were on the edge of their seats waiting for the B’s to package all three picks to move up. But that never happened they stood on the stage and made three picks in a row, two of which were off the board and are really considered players who will be ready in 3-4 years and can’t help the Bruins in the near future. The Bruins faithful seemed disappointed and discouraged; they were still stuck against the cap and would’t be able to sign a huge name in free agency. With the expectations of all Bruins fans on his back Don Sweeney did the unthinkable, he signed Matt Beleskey who was widely regarded as the best free agent wing. Sweeney also moved Reilly Smith and the Marc Savard contract to florida for Jimmy Hayes, who brought some much needed size and skill to the wings of the Bruins. They also signed former Sharks defensemen Matt Irwin to a one year contract, each move tried to address holes that the Bruins have on their team. While the team hasn’t improved much on paper since the previous year, they should still be good enough to be a playoff team and get back to where they had been in years past. Look for the young kids to make a big impact and many of the veteran players to have much better seasons.