Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's been a Great Nine Years (And So Long)

The Bruins announced today that they have fired Peter Chiarelli. I think Charlie Jacobs and Cam Neely are complete idiots for doing so. And look out Cam, because you aren't likely going to be around much longer yourself.

It is extremely difficult to build a strong cup contender, much less win a cup. Just ask the fans in San Jose, Ottawa, Buffalo, etc. Peter Chiarelli did it, and he did it in a way that lived up to the traditions of Bruins hockey. I am very grateful that he was hired and that we got these last nine years--years that will be remembered as some of the best in Bruins history.

The most difficult thing to do in the modern cap era is to maintain a team once it reaches the highest levels. Just ask the fans in Detroit, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. Cup winning players become elite players and they demand high prices. Fans complain bitterly when their elite players are traded away or not re-signed. Just ask the fans of Tyler Seguin. Somehow a GM has to tear down his team, because he can't afford to keep it, while simultaneously building it back up again. You don't get to pick high in the draft when you win the President's trophy. Keeping a great team going used to be a simple matter of keeping the big money flowing from the owner. But today it is more easily said than done, and very few of the sports writers or bloggers seem to get it. It's a lot easier to sit on the sidelines and whine about how the GM paid too much for (insert any player name here) or let Tyler Seguin go or didn't draft well enough (despite Tory Krug and Dougie Hamilton). That's bad enough, but when the man in charge takes that approach the team is doomed.

As far as I'm concerned, I'd have rather seen them let go every player on the roster than fire Chiarelli. I think that much of him, and I think he was that indispensable.

The last nine years have been an extraordinary time for us Bruins fans. We have enjoyed things that we hadn't seen in decades: consistently great/good goaltending, consistently good coaching, and a culture where players were treated with respect by management. I believe that most of that will now pass into history. But it sure was great while it lasted!

My fellow Bruins fans, you may be looking forward to new faces, a new style, and new players--and you will surely get them. But I fear that the Bruins will now sink back to what they were in the late 90s--a team with it's best years behind it. Given how stupid I believe this decision to have been by Charlie Jacobs, I suspect we will now see a never-ending cycle of complaining in the media, new coaches, and new GMs. In short, my Bruins will likely become the Toronto Maple Leafs. How fun.

I am probably done here too. So long Peter, you deserved better, and thanks for the great times and Lord Stanley's Cup!

I'll see you in Timmy's bunker.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Either Way, It's Over

The Bruins lost their biggest game of the season to the Floria Panthers and they may not make it to the playoffs because of it. Even if they do, it is difficult to see how this team could win a playoff series they way they are currently playing. So I'm calling it. Turn off the defibrillator and call the time of death. This team is done.

This was the season of disappointments. That statement might seem obvious, but I'm not the sort who is easily disappointed in my team; I try to have realistic expectations. I certainly don't expect them to win the cup every year. At the end of the season my expectations are simple: I expect the Bruins to play big, play hard, and to maintain a certain excellence of play. If there are better teams out there, then so be it.

Watching the Bruins lose badly to the Florida Panthers in a must win scenario was hard. That goes without saying. But what really left me cold was the way they played. No team that is worthy of the name Bruins takes the second period off in a big game. I expect better than that. I expect the defense to stand up at the blue line rather than back off, giving the other team too much room as they enter the zone. I expect them to take the man first, rather than try to poke the puck away. I expect the Bruins to overpower the other team in the offensive zone corners, rather than try to skate little circles around them.

The worst part of the loss to the Panthers is that I hardly recognized my team. Like so many games this year, the Bruins looked like they were trying to out-skate the other team, and all they accomplished was to tire themselves out. I believe that so much emphasis has been put on getting the puck quickly up the ice, that the Bruins are no longer playing Bruins hockey. It's more like watching a quick-paced Junior game than the NHL. This has been going on all season. When they stopped trying to play the quick game, and went back to playing Bruins hockey, more often than not they won. But look out if they got a few days to prepare for a game. They'd come back with that quick style and start losing again.

The Bruins are at a major turning point as this season ends. Someone has decided that they need to change their game. I don't know if that's coming from management or the coaching staff, or both. It looks to me like the team isn't built for the type of game they are now trying to play. In the off season they must decided whether they will once again play like Bruins or make some major changes.