The Bruins have made some changes during this off season. The more popular moves with fans have been trading defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Florida Panthers in return for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, re-signing defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Mark Stuart, and drafting Tyler Seguin. There have been the countless rumors of Marc Savard and Tim Thomas being dealt on almost a daily basis. Bruins fans are not looking forward to seeing Savard leave. They appreciate his playmaking abilities. He may be the best passer in the NHL and plays with a passion and spirit that young players need to see and emulate. A Thomas trade would be welcomed by most although moving the veteran goaltender would leave a giant hole should starter Tuukka Rask go down for an extended period of time with an injury. It would be better to have a former Vezina Trophy winner as a backup than have a rookie being baptized under fire. Rask spent a full season with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and took them deep into the playoffs the year before coming to Boston. The B’s do not have that luxury with another goaltender heading into the 210-2011 season as of this writing. The goalies who are in the pipeline are very good puck stoppers but need more time in the minors before seeing time in the NHL. Management seems to be reconsidering that move and of course, as we know, some of the best deals are the ones that are not made.
One move that does need to be made is an internal one. Most fans, when asked, agree that it is time to remove the “C” from Zdeno Chara’s jersey and put it on Mark Recchi’s. According to numerous reports, Recchi took over in the dressing room last season during the late season losing streak that jeopardized the team’s chance of making the playoffs. Recchi publically spoke up and warned his teammates that they needed to play better and with passion. The team responded and was the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Clearly, Recchi’s twenty-two year career in the NHL speaks volumes in itself. He has won two Stanley Cups (1991 with Pittsburgh, 2006 with Carolina), played with some of the greatest who have played the game (does the name Mario Lemeiux ring a bell?) and wants to go out a winner. He is the quintessential leader on and off the ice. Young players, such as Seguin, will learn how to be a pro in every sense of the word. Statistically, He has played in 1571 games, scored 563 goals, assisted on 922, for a total of 1485 points. Those numbers alone make Recchi a sure hockey hall of famer after he hangs up the blades.
Chara is a good player but he has not exhibited the skill or ability that made him the 2009 Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman since winning the award. He is a quiet person by nature and seems to try to lead by example. His play has lacked the physical nature that all defensemen need to have, relying on his reach more than his body. Chara has been prone to costly turnovers in all three zones of the ice and it was very telling that when the Bruins needed someone to speak up and lead the team during its failed playoff run, it was Recchi who took the lead while Chara was not heard from.
Big Z is known to be one of the best conditioned athletes in all of sports. His work ethic is unquestioned but his career has not brought the experience necessary to lead a team to the Stanley Cup while Recchi has been to the top of the mountain and can put a club on his shoulders and climb that mountain again. Mark Recchi should do it with that all important letter on his jersey.