Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chiarelli Throws the Dice

Michael Ryder. To tell the truth this free agency acquisition worries me. Last year at this time I wrote that I didn't understand why the Bruin's GM had obtained Manny Fernandez and this year I have a similar feeling. But at least last year I figured that it couldn't hurt to have two good goaltenders. I'm really trying to see the bright side this time around, but I'm left trying to figure out how we are better off with two Glen Murrays.

There are things here that just don't add up. Why are we told by the Bruins that Ryder is a good two-way player when he's a career -24? Why are we told that he's big going into the boards when that doesn't gel with his reputation? He's a lot faster than Muzz (Murray), I'll grant them that. And I'll add that he doesn't appear to be injured as often. Like Muzz, Ryder had a very bad year last year. But unlike Muzz he wasn't fighting injury and it was a big year prior to his free agency and his big chance to cash in. We are told that the coach didn't give him playing time, but come on. No coach is going to bench a good player just because he doesn't like the way he looks. There are no signs that Ryder was unhappy or having personal differences with the coaching staff. So why did he spend his big year on the bench?

No, there only seems to be one clear reason why Ryder is coming to Boston: coach Julien wants him. And to tell the truth, if I were Chiarelli I'd probably listen to Julien too. I just hope Julien knows what he's doing with this guy. A change of scenery and a new coach that believes in a player has the potential to bring him around. But it's a big gamble. Not only is Chiarelli gambling that Ryder helps the team by scoring, but he's gambling that Ryder will respond to Julien's defense-first system and become a better two-way player. But what worries me most are the consequences for the GM if this gamble makes him look foolish. How many bad moves will Chiarelli be allowed before someone with less hockey acumen starts looking over his shoulder and telling him what to do?