It was only three weeks ago that the Chicago Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup. In the short time since they have traded away Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Kris Versteeg. All of them played important roles in their cup win. If I were a Hawks fan I'd be just a bit heartbroken.
Player movement is inevitable, particularly with a salary cap in place. But is all this turnover really good for the game? Sure, if the Bruins win a Cup the "sports fans" in the region will suddenly rediscover hockey and jump on the band wagon, buying merchandise and maybe even going to a game or two next season. The front office will be thrilled. But those guys don't fill the season seats. They don't follow the team when it has a losing season. Once the team stumbles they will all go back to their whining and complaining. In the end they aren't true hockey fans. They just want to puff out their chests and join the celebration when the team that happens to play in their city wins it all.
I look back over the last 40 years of Bruins hockey and what stands out are the great players. Whether it be Borque, Neely, Cheevers, Espo, Chief, or Bobby. The cups were great, but it is the unbroken line of Bruins players going all the way back to 1924 that makes Bruins hockey what it is. It's not just the league-wide stars like Orr, but the role players as well.
The pre-lockout B's were a mess. I used to wonder which of those guys would have their jersey raised to the rafters. Thornton seemed a lock. But who else? Muzz? Samsonov? No way. To me, those teams were the low point for the Bruins going back to when I was a kid.
A cup would be terrific and great teams need to prove their greatness by winning a championship. But in the end it is only a vehicle for the next generation of Bruins greats. It is those greats that true hockey fans celebrate. Who are we going to celebrate tomorrow? What number is going to sent to the rafters next? I know the Boston "sports fans" will scoff at this. But that just proves that we don't have the same interest in the team.
If in the end we win the Cup only to see our "rentals" move on, then what will we have to remember? Who will we celebrate in a decade? I look over the current roster and see a few potential candidates for the rafters. I really do. Chara. Savard. Lucic. Thomas. Maybe Bergeron. Yet I read the paper and two of those names are reportedly on the trade block. Yeah, I know that Tim Thomas is in a tough spot with a young (read inexpensive) kid apparently playing just as well. But Savard?
In my opinion this is where it all starts to fall apart. When the dust from the lockout had settled and Peter Chiarelli established himself as the architect of the team the cornerstones were Chara and Savard. In my opinion if he has backed himself into a corner that requires that he trade one of those two then it all unravels. It's not just a matter of another expendable center or a shrewd disposal of a player who may have his best years behind him. Savard is a cup final away from the rafters. That may be difficult for some to see when caught up in the moment, I know. Worse yet, it would be a sign of failure. In hindsight the last two seasons could be remembered as the "glory years" as the team rebuilds again. I've been following this team's ups and downs for almost 40 years now, and that's what I think. This is a pivotal moment. Does Savvy stay or does he go?