It has been over a month since the Boston Bruins said their farewell to Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla and while most of the discussion regarding their departure has been focused on a loss of toughness(Thornton) and goal scoring(Iginla); I think there’s something missing from the list of areas to be concerned about.
Thronton was known on an annual basis to be a leader on and off the ice throughout the seven years he was a Boston Bruin while Iginla appeared to be a seamless fit upon joining the organization. Iginla brought years of experience and leadership along with incredible offensive firepower.
The point I’m trying to make is not only have we lost the tangible components of Iginla and Thornton’s game; we’ve also lost a certain level of leadership as well. Cam Neely and Claude Julien have been able to build a team predicated on balance and being cohesive. When the cards began to fall, there were plenty of voices in the locker room able and ready to stand up and speak.
Although it’s been widely reported the Bruins will have to make some type of move prior to the start of season due to the abundance of defensemen on their roster, there is no guarantee will be able to make any type of move that nets a player of significant value. Given the strapped cap situation; unless Chiarelli is able to pull off some magic, I envision the players coming back in the deal adding to our organizational depth and being pieces for the future.
As it stands right now, the Bruins plan on using that organizational depth to fill in the voids left behind by the departures this offseason. My question is who steps up in terms of leadership and holding other players accountable. With what could be an influx of talent on the way up from Providence, it’s going to be necessary for other voices besides the captain and assistant captains to step up and preserve one of the underrated strengths of this team.
The two players I believe could be capable to fill the leadership void left behind by Thornton and Iginla are Milan Lucic and Gregory Campbell. Lucic seemed to benefit from having a year of playing alongside Iginla and this could be seen by the consistent level of play he displayed during the regular season. Lucic even eluded to the importance of him becoming a leader before the start of last season in an interview with NESN.
“When you lose some veteran leadership, you expect some guys to step up,” Lucic said. “It seems like it’s that time for guys like myself and [David] Krejci and Tuukka [Rask] and guys like that to step up in the leadership role. Growing as a person and maturing as a person, that’s some of the things you have to take on as a teammate. It’s something to look forward to.”
For Campbell, he’s coming off a season where he was nominated for the Masterton trophy for appearing to demonstrate qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. With the possibility of Daniel Paille receiving an overdue promotion to the third line, Campbell will be the last remaining member of the Merlot line. It was reported throughout last season of Campbell setting an example to teammates by being one of the first to the rink and the last to leave.
The Bruins need to hope these two players can continue their evolution as leaders on this team as the roster goes through somewhat of a younger shift this upcoming season.