Summer is a Brewin’: What’s Next for Boston?
It took all 82 games in the 2014-2015 NHL regular season for a struggling Boston Bruins team to learn that they would fail to reach the playoffs by two points in an extremely frustrating season. An early summer wake up call hit the Bruins Saturday as they not only lost in the scoreboard watching game (both teams that they needed to lose, won) but their actual game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout.
During the end of year media availability day, both Greg Campbell and Daniel Paille learned they would not be Boston Bruins next season. There is no doubt that this is step one of many in regards to a roster revamp. The Bruins and the Jacobs family clearly do not want this to happen again, and it’s clear they will use every resource they possibly have to make sure the Bruins are a cup contender next year, even if that means getting rid of their head coach and/or their GM.
Coach Claude Julien is one of the most decorated coaches in Boston Bruins history. He’s led his team to two different cup runs, one in which they defeated the Vancouver Canucks, and another in which they just felt short and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, as well as numerous playoff births and a Presidents Trophy last season. There is no doubt that Julien’s resume is impressive. However in a down year, Julien has made numerous controversial calls that have raised questions as to if he is still the right man for the Bruins. Those calls included his heavy use of a struggling fourth line, and benching surging rookies Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak for Greg Campbell (no longer a Bruin) late in games. Despite the controversy, Julien was still able to bring a young and depleted team within two points of a playoff spot. Yes, Julien’s made a few questionable calls throughout the year, but fans have to remember that this was also a down year for almost every veteran on the team, and that Julien knows the Bruins system better than anyone. Now is not the time to fire your Stanley Cup winning head coach, especially in a re-vamp mode like the one the Bruins are in now. If this inconsistency continues, then Julien will be gone eventually, but for now, he should be allowed a “get out of jail for free” card.
On the other hand, GM Peter Chiarelli may have run out of “get out of jail for free” cards. Over the earlier half of his tenure as the mastermind of the team, Chiarelli did an outstanding job in regards to building a cup winning roster. However, the latter half of his tenure has not been so kind. Trading away their most skilled forward (Tyler Seguin) has been one of his worst trades as the return has not shaped out to be as good as it was expected to be. Seguin has dominated in Dallas. He also traded away one of his best defenseman in Johnny Boychuk for draft picks as part of the solution to fix a cap disaster that he created himself. Meanwhile, Boychuk is having his best offensive year of his career, and has signed a seven year extension with a 100+ point Islanders team. Chiarelli has also made controversial non trades in regards to Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara before they began regressing (both have had a terrible year). Chiarelli has also failed his team at the trade deadline, pulling the trigger way too late, and only being able to pull a two goal scoring Jaromir Jagr (none in the playoffs) and a disappointment in Andrej Meszároš in pivotal years. It’s clear that part of the mess has a heavy hand on Peter Chiarelli. He has made a few good moves that have landed them an elite status and a Stanley Cup, but after a year like this, it’s hard for the Bruins front office to not take a serious look into their future, and if Peter should be in it.
No matter who the Bruins have behind their bench or calling the shots on what the roster looks like, the Bruins have needs to fill this offseason, and what will most likely be the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft. The Bruins absolutely need a pure goal scorer, character to develop and restructure the fourth line (Max Talbot is a piece of this already), a few players that can amp up the pace of the team, a top two defenseman, as well as the ability to dig themselves out of their cap mess. It’s a lot of work, that will without a doubt force the Bruins to subtract a few familiar faces from the roster. Calling up unprepared rookies from Providence like they did this year (expect for Pastrnak, Spooner and Trotman), will not do it for the Bruins. If they want to win (and they do), things will need to change, and this summer is going to be one bumpy ride. Once the Stanley Cup playoffs end, the Bruins have work to do.