How I Stopped Worrying, and Learned To Criticize.


Jun 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Peter Chiarelli is interviewed during media day in preparation for game one of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had some substantial downtime from sports writing. Due to some events in my life I was feeling like I was losing my drive and my passion to want to speak my mind on the Bruins when my mind was elsewhere. But that time has past, and there has been a lot that has been on my ind when it comes to this team.

I have been a fan of this team since 2000. I’ve seen some pretty horrendous signings, trades, and seasons as a Bruins fan. The Martin Lapointe contract, losing Jason Allison, losing Bill Guerin, letting Byron Dafoe fizzle out, seeing Samsonov’s career derailed from a wrist injury, over-pressuring Joe Thornton, Losing a prime aged Gonchar, Nylander, Rolston, Knuble, and watching our Calder Winner goalie of the future completely fall out of the sky. By the time 2011 came around, the breath of fresh air I felt from this team was indescribable after the horror I witnessed as a young fan.

But it’s been almost 4 years since we won the Stanley Cup and to another team’s fan, it  would seem that the window on the “core” has begun to close. But nobody seems to have told that to Peter Chiarelli. Time and time again on multiple internet forums, I criticized Chiarelli early in the summer for the horrendous contracts, the terrible cap management, and the lack of focus on what the team needed. I was branded as some sort of Anti-Chiarelli zealot for what I had to say (along with several other people who shared the same views as me) and in the wake of the Boychuk trade, it seems people are finally starting to wake up and see that something is very wrong.

Chiarelli is not a bad GM. He has made some great signings and trades that have benefited this team and will continue for years to come. The Kessel trade, The Seguin trade, Bergeron’s extension, Rask’s extension, Krejci’s extension and the list goes on. But at the same time he had made his far share of mistakes. Everyone is human, I get that. We all make mistakes at some point in our life that have repercussions on our future endeavors. Chiarelli has made those mistakes, and it’s taken months for people to be able to admit that. The most glaring of those mistakes come in the forms of the unnecessary amount of No-Trade-Clauses that have been handed out to members of the Bruins roster and a few incredibly bad contracts that are anchoring the team and got us into this position in the first place.

Chris Kelly and Milan Lucic are the big two offenders in this contract issue. Chris Kelly was given a 3 million AAV contract at the start of the 2012-13 season (3 years, 12 m) and Lucic was given a 6 million AAV contract at the start of the 2013-14 season (3 years, 18 million). 2011-12 saw Chris Kelly (along with the rest of the team) post career years and Lucic had one 30 goal season in 2010-11 on route to the cup victory in Vancouver. Here’s the thing; neither of these players have proven sense those signings that they are worth that money. Lucic’s one 30 goal season does not make him a 6 million dollar player, especially when he vanishes come April or he turns into Mr. Pouty Face when the Habs show up and let’s his focus get clouded and don’t even get me started on Kelly’s injury history. Now, I have heard the argument (with Kelly’s contract especially) that the only  reason it looks like such a bad contract was because the lockout ended up lowering the cap. That’s not a good excuse. It’s a bad contract, no matter what way you look at it.

There is this unsettling trend among Bruins fans that you cannot criticize guys like Milan Lucic, or even criticize the team. It’s time to take off the Bruins colored glasses and take a step back at fans and analyze with an open mind the product we are putting on the ice. Pez from DaysOfYorr said it the best on a post at the Boston Bruins subreddit when he brought up that there is a mentality in the fanbase that “just because won the Cup in 2011, means everything is fine”. That mentality is there and it’s incredibly harmful. It creates a void of complacency, the same void that the team was stuck in for first 4 years I watched them. Everyone is so quick to try and strike down the people who actually have the sense of mind to point out something is wrong and it’s annoying. Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, and in the future Dougie Hamilton will the be the corner stones of this team. Bergeron and Rask have proven that they are true “core” players to this team, and Hamilton is beginning to show signs of a true core guy. Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and even to a lesser extent Siedenberg and Adam McQuaid are not core players. They might be considered fan favorites for their dedication, but all of these guys in some form or another carry some kind of anchor to them. Whether it be serious injury history or not truly making their presence felt when it counts. These same guys all have contracts that keep them here, and we  continue to shuffle along with a closed window while younger, more skilled, and faster talent is being smothered in Providence. Ryan Spooner, Seth Griffith, Justin Florek, Alexender Khokhlachev, and Craig Cunningham all deserve a chance to truly prove what they can do at the NHL level, and to add to that; Ryan Spooner already has proven what he can do at the NHL level with 11 points in 20 non-consecutive games this past season and a multi-point game against the Nashville Predators. They were all cut from the team in favor of once again, keeping the core together.

I know that I am going to get people saying “Well, the core got us to the Cup Finals in 2013 and we won a President’s Trophy!”. We got to the Cup Finals in 2013 by the skin of our teeth. We were pretty much done in Game 7 against the Leafs, and some how the team managed to pull it together at the last minute and win the game. Torey Krug was pretty much the game breaker against the Rangers and he was a call up on a whim after Wade Redden went down with injury, and the sweep against Pittsburgh? I have no idea how that managed to happen seeing as we almost fell apart against the Maple Leafs who have not even sniffed the playoffs since then and were nowhere close to being able to compete in the playoffs before that. As for the “President’s Trophy”? If Jarome Iginla was not on that first line and never pushed Krejci and Lucic, I don’t think for one second we would have that President’s Trophy. Not to mention, the President’s Trophy means absolutely nothing if you go from being the “best team in the league” to threatening people in the handshake line after you lose because a team bested you with skill that you didn’t have.

All of this has swelled into a giant mess that sits in our lap right now. The entire bottom 6 is up in the air on who will be where and there is a possibility that AHL plug Bobby Robbins and Simon Gagne will get roster spots over more deserving players who are going to have to spent another year stuck in Providence instead of playing against steady competition.  There is nothing okay with that, and for people to have an attitude that the team is above criticism when boneheaded moves like this are being made is incredibly worrying to me. And lest we forget the Draft?

I can count on 1 hand the amount of good players (who are still on the team) that Chiarelli drafted. Ryan Spooner, Craig Cunningham, Dougie Hamilton and Alexander Khokhlachev. The jury is still out on Pastarank, but with the track record PC has in the first round it doesn’t look good and the expectations are going to be even higher for him. Seguin was a no brainer pick, but picking Joe Colborne over Jordan Eberle in 2008, picking Zach Hamill over Logan Couture, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Max Pacioretty and Jamie Benn in 2007, and picking Jordan Caron over Ryan O’Reilly, Jakob Silfverberg, Alex Chiasson, and Richard Panik. So if anyone brings up the argument that “Well we can wait until the draft to see if the picks for Boychuk are worth it”, tell them they need to stop holding their breath and they are turning blue.

The Bruins are not in serious danger with losing Boychuk (at least as far as the naked eye can tell), but it could have been avoided. If Chiarelli had used his compliance buyouts on Adam McQuaid and Chris Kelly when they were healthy and not put so many NTC’s on certain players, the cap space could have been freed up a long time ago and there would be far more players on the team with the skill sets we need. That however is not the case, and it is going to be a reoccurring problem that we will see manifest again during this season. So it’s time to stop living in this “We won the Cup, It’s all okay” mindset and start pointing the finger and calling people out when we need to.