Black Friday blowouts and strains of Mariah Carey’s infamous hit (if you say it three times, it will appear) mean it’s almost that special day where Tukka Time gives way to Turkey Time. And just because the NHL isn’t in full swing doesn’t mean there aren’t still things to be thankful for. For one, we’re off the hook (thus far) for Tim Thomas’ salary situation. Gary Bettman may also be authoring his final chapter as league commissioner. But with great thanks, also comes great regret. Sometimes you can only look back at your so-called learning experiences and mutter “what the cluck?”. So, as you stare longingly out the window this holiday at that pond across the street that’ll soon turn to ice, just be thankful that a few of those experiences are now behind us. They are, the biggest turkey’s in Bruins history.
10. Blaine Lacher: A case could really be made for just about any goalie the Bruins had between the Andy Moog/Reggie Lemelin and Tim Thomas/Tuukka Rask eras. Still, there was something special about Lacher. At just 24 years young, he put up impressive numbers in 1994-95′, even earning the fan vote for the prestigious 7th Player award. He also played up his surname with a cool (to an 8 year old in ’94) mask with a “Loch Ness monster” theme. Alas, 95-96′ would not be so kind, as “the monster’s” true form arose and he was quickly demoted to Providence following a slow start. He never regained form. He’s rumored to have dumped his 7th player award off at a collectibles store, hopped on his hog, and never looked back.
9. Hal Gill: The 6″7′ Red Oak of a man should have been a dominant force on the ice. Instead, he was more like a felled Birch. (H)alice was often over-matched and shaky at best on defense. Rarely physical, the B’s often got more out of the diminutive (5″10′!) Don Sweeney. Gill got a long leash because of the potential in his wing span and his Massachusetts roots. The Old Man could only shake his head upon hearing that Gill’s name was inscribed upon the Cup.
8. Dave Lewis: Lewis was the man brought in to help usher in a new era for the Bruins. Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, and Dave Lewis were Peter Chiarelli’s big additions to signal that Boston was back. Two out of three ain’t bad. Lewis and his clean-cut cookie duster never were quite the right fit in Boston. It was one and done as the B’s inconsistent play added up to a losing season and a 5th place Northeast finish. Not exactly what you’d expect from the guy hired to lead you to the promised land. Hey, at least we got Claude Julien out of it.
7. Eddie Shack: This is all you need to know about “The Entertainer”.
6. Martin Lapointe: Signed in the summer of 2001, Lapointe was thought to be a poor man’s Cam Neely. Only problem was, the B’s spent big bucks on him. Large contracts and small production don’t add up well in Boston and Lapointe drew allot of criticism right out of the gate. The silver lining to the 04′ lockout was the fact that the B’s were able to dump Lapointe’s remaining contract year.
5. Steve Kasper: The friendly coach. Kasper was the man who benched Kevin Stevens (rightfully so). He’s also the man who benched Cam Neely. It was arguably the darkest day in Boston Bruins history. The Bruins faltered under Kasper and missed the playoffs for the first time 30 years. Kasper didn’t have any conviction behind the bench and couldn’t motivate the team. The Bruins choice to replace him after just two seasons with ex-cop Pat Burns spoke volumes.
4. Kevin Stevens: 1995 should have been a homecoming for the lumbering Left Winger. Instead, he should have just stayed home. The B’s hoped to ring in their new building, the Fleet Center, in style. They acquired Stevens and fellow Pens’ mates Shawn McEachern and Joe Mullen in hopes of catching some of Pittsburgh’s former Cup glory. It wasn’t to be. Despite playing alongside sniper Cam Neely and setup whiz Adam Oates, all of Stevens talent actually belonged to Mario Lemieux. The former 50 goal scorer was infamously benched before finally being shipped out before the season was over. Oh yeah, and Boston lost Glen Murray in the deal.
3. Marty McSorely: The one-time goon and adopted Californian was all but washed up when the Bruins brought him aboard in December of 1999. Twenty seven games later he made it official by dropping the hammer on Donald Brashear’s skull during the closing minutes of a meaningless game. Just another page in one of the saddest chapters in Bruins history.
2. Mike O’Connell: As assistant GM and V.P. of hockey operations, you can bet O’Connell played a big part in bringing in Stevens and McSorely, and for the painful exit of Adam Oates. You can blame him squarely for Lapointe, Robbie Ftorek, and the mishandling of Bill Guerin. He’s also the guy who dumped the pillars of the 97′ draft, Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov, pretty much on a whim and for questionable returns (After O’Connell was canned, the B’s used a second rounder from the Samsonov deal to land Milan Lucic. Peter Chiarelli later dealt Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau for Andrew Ference). The final straw came when ownership got wind that he was working to lock Gill up longterm. With his firing, the sloppiest chapter in Bruins history drew to a close.
1. Jeremy Jacobs: The biggest Butterball of them all. Don’t let his recent warm-heartedness fool you. He’s the man that drove Bobby Orr out of town. He’s the one responsible for jacking up concession and ticket prices. He’s the absent-minded professor who allowed Harry Sinden to stay on well past his twilight… and then replaced him with O’Connell. It’s his penny-pinching ways that cost the B’s cups in 1988, 90′, and 92′(and arguably other years). He’s the asterisk next to Ray Bourque’s career that reads “Won Stanley Cup with Colorado Avalanche”. He’s the bouncer that Oates ripped on his way out of town. He’s the clairvoyant who decreed the Bruins not re-sign Michael Nylander, Brian Rolston, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Knuble, and Sean O’Donnell prior to the 2004 lockout, leaving the B’s roster high and dry one year later. And now he always seems to be in the room when the NHL can’t get anything done during this lockout. Get two cans of gravy for this gobbler.
Happy Turkey Day all! Here’s to hoping the NHL sees daylight in December, and that the Pats deal a crucial blow to the Jets while you’re busy riding the Tryptophan train to sleepy town.