Sunday, October 5, 2014

Boychuck Trade Hard to Swallow

It seems I spoke too soon in my last post. It seemed reasonable to assume that the Bruins were done making major changes, given that they were under the salary cap (assuming Savard is once again placed on long-term injured reserve). My assumption was that the Bruins would shake out their best younger defensemen and either let the ones that didn't make the cut go, or find some clever way to keep them around.

Boychuck was not some last-minute pick-up who filled in on the third D pair. He was mostly a  product of the Bruins organization, he had come to fully understand the system, and he wanted to be a Bruin. Last season, with Siedenberg and McQuaid out, he was the second best defenseman on the team--a role he took on in the playoffs with enormous heart.

So not only are the Bruins a worse team without him, but they gave up one of our own. And for what? Why? That's the big question. I'm not going to presume to know the answer. Maybe Savard is planning to take a coaching job or something, and placing him on IR was iffy. Maybe capgeek simply has their numbers wrong and Chiarelli was still over the cap. We can only hope that there is some clever reason, rather than this being the result of Chiarelli putting himself into a corner.

I watched the press briefing one more time and Chiarelli did appear to explain why he made the trade; it was just in his usual understated style, which can easily be mistaken for being intentionally vague. It seems that Boychuck was traded because his contract was up at the end of the season and Chiarelli didn't want him to walk away to a big payday with the Bruins getting nothing in return. This, after all, something that Chiarelli has been criticized for in the past. There are a lot of players to sign at the end of this season, including Campbell, Paille, Soderberg, McQuiad and Bartkowski. I think his mention of making other moves will likely involve several of these players.

This is a new era with new and different challenges for Chiarelli. He showed that he could build a Stanley Cup team. Now he has to figure out the tricky balancing act between high-quality veterans, who are expensive, and the young inexperienced players who are coming up through the system.He has to do this, not only from the cold perspective of balance sheets, but with the understanding that the respect he shows players has an effect on how they play as a team.

Whatever the reason, it is difficult to swallow. I'm going to miss Boychuck and I can't help but feel that the Bruins chances for another cup just got longer.