Yes, yes it can.
I swear, right now this team would get it's butt handed to it by last year's squad. They are playing that badly. Oh how I long for the days of old, when Bruins fans could look forward to a post season and hold their heads high. You know, like a month ago?
For me, the one thing worse than watching this team in free fall for the rest of the season would be if Chiarelli was forced into giving up one of my favorite Bruins. And in all likelihood it would be a quick fix that wouldn't work and a move that I and other fans will rue for years to come. So far Chiarelli has been pretty smart about his in-season moves. They have been crafty and sneaky, obtaining misfits like Bochenski for a little future, or exchanging players for a better fit like with the Stuart/Premeau deal. That one was particularly smart because Stuart wasn't going to stay on anyhow. Even the oft maligned Boyes for Wideman trade wasn't all that bad, assuming he can tie up Wideman long term, which should be one of his top priorities in the new year.
But I fear that Chiarelli is going to be pressured into giving up too much this time. When Kevin Paul Dupont speaks things tend to happen. In my opinion what he should be doing is shopping for a team that is looking to clear some cap space, perhaps in return for a prospect or draft picks. Maybe shopping players like Nokelainen, Sobotka or Reich. The problem with that is timing. If Chiarelli is going to do something about the current free fall (it's way past a mere slide now) then it's too soon to find a team looking to dump salary. I fear the result of a move now will spell disaster. If he trades Kessel, Axellson, Lucic, or Rask it will be giving up too much too soon. Axellson would be sorely missed on both ends of the ice and it is difficult to imagine a player(s) in return who could both fill that void and make such an impact that the the season could be saved. And Kessel, Lucic and Rask are the core of the team's future. Likewise I have great difficulty in imagining how the team would be better off next year without any of them--I don't care who you get today in return!
I say tie up Wideman and let the team suck if thats what is to be. Then use your cap space to make some free agent acquisitions over the summer to make the team better and hope that their experience will make them all the more hungry in the fall of 2008. And who knows--this team has surprised everyone with its character all year. They may dig their way out of this hole yet. Let's all hope Alberts and Ward get well soon!