Bruins

Jacobs: 'I don't see, necessarily,' a 2020 NHL lockout

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Jacobs: 'I don't see, necessarily,' a 2020 NHL lockout

BRIGHTON -- Here's a blog post for your NHL time capsule, to be opened in 2020.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said during Tuesday's media day at Warrior Ice Arena that he doesn't see a lockout coming between the NHL and the NHLPA in the near future, and those words certainly count for something since he's also the powerful Chairman of the NHL's Board of Governors.

The NHLPA can opt out of the current collective-bargaining agreement ahead of the 2020-21 season, and many of the signing bonuses being paid out in current contracts indicate the players, given the current climate, may go that route.

There is constant speculation that the NHL player participation in the Olympics, the high escrow payments shouldered by players, and the skyrocketing costs of second contracts for young star players might be big factors that will lead to another work stoppage. But Jacobs stated when asked that it doesn't make sense for anybody to have another work stoppage just seven years removed from missing a half-season in 2013, and that's encouraging at the very least.

"I think the 2020 lockout, I don't know if that is going to happen," said Jacobs, 77, who is entering the Hockey Hall of Fame in the "Builder" category a couple of months from now. "I think it's way too much in the future right now. I don't see, necessarily, a lockout. It will not be constructive to the game, and it won't be constructive to the players, and definitely not constructive to us here at the Bruins."

All that being said, it's the NHLPA that holds the cards ahead of a possible 2020 work stoppage, and the players are as unified as they've ever been under NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. They have clear goals in mind during the next CBA go-around. Owners shouldn't underestimate the hard feelings the players have over the decision to skip the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and the unflinching way both sides now approach these work stoppages since they believe the NHL will eventually recover from them. 

Haggerty: Crank up the Hart Trophy talk again for Marchand

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Haggerty: Crank up the Hart Trophy talk again for Marchand

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday night:

1) Brad Marchand is putting together a Hart Trophy resume for the second consecutive season. 
Clearly, the numbers are impressive with 12 goals, 25 points and a plus-12 rating in just 20 games. He’s on pace for 44 goals and 93 points in an era when you just don’t see that kind of production much anymore. Still, it’s the time and the place where Marchand exerts his dominance that makes him an MVP-type force. That’s exactly what happened in the come-from-behind win. The Bruins hadn’t played well for the first 40 minutes and it looked like they were going to lose after Dylan Larkin struck for a shorthanded goal in the third period. That’s when Marchand got to work snapping a slick, cross-ice pass through three Detroit defenders to set up David Pastrnak’s tying goal with the goalie pulled. Then Marchand scored on a backhanded breakaway less than a minute into OT to steal two points for the B's. Of course, there were others to credit: Pastrnak was able to put a great finish on the one-timer, David Backes attracted attention in front of the net to create the passing seam and Torey Krug freed up Marchand for the breakaway winner. But it was No. 63 again at the center of everything who practically willed the Black and Gold to victory. That’s the kind of thing that MVP-type players do throughout the season when it’s badly needed.

2) Bruins found a way to get two points in a game where really they didn't deserve it. 
The Bruins didn’t play well at all, didn’t react very adeptly to Detroit's trapping them and had a difficult time generating anything consistently in the offensive zone until the third period. Tuukka Rask kept them in the game and the Bruins finally began paying the price to get closer to the net in the third and overtime. Good teams find a way to win, and that’s what the Bruins did against a Red Wings team that’s not going anywhere this season. So, with their ninth victory in the past 11 tries, the Bruins are now firmly in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and have a four-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens with a whopping four games in hand against the Habs right now. If the Bruins can avoid monumentally stubbing their toe here, they are in a very good position to keep it in cruise control after the holidays for a postseason spot.

3)  I didn’t think people from Detroit were afraid of anything.
Apparently, I’ve given them way too much credit. Apparently, they’re afraid of a little snow. The downtown Detroit area got six inches of snow on Wednesday and that was enough to keep Red Wings fans away from the new Little Caesars Arena. When you’re from New England, six inches of snow is considered a dusting and isn’t something that would keep any self-respecting hardcore hockey fan away. But anybody who watched the "Wednesday Night Rivalry Game" on NBCSN got an eyeful of empty red seats in the lower bowl at LCA that made Detroit look like anything but HockeyTown. Skipping the game would be understandable if the Motor City was truly in the thrall of a nasty blizzard, but instead Wings fans looked like a player turtling in a hockey fight with the sad attendance. Weak sauce, in my opinion. Next time just shut down the entire city and cancel everything when an inch or two is in the forecast. 

PLUS
*Marchand was the money player. He set up the tying goal in the third period with a slick cross-ice, threaded pass through three defenders, and then scoring the winner. In all, he had two points, a plus-1 and a couple of gigantic plays in his 22-plus minutes of ice time.

*Torey Krug finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in a whopping 23:39 of ice time. It was No. 47 who threaded the needle on a pass that freed up Marchand for the winner. Krug and Marchand were the only two multi-point performers for the Black and Gold.

*Noel Acciari didn’t pile up the hits and he only played 10:50 of ice time, but he made a huge play in the third period when he disrupted the Detroit breakout on a Wings face-off win in the D-zone. He was rewarded with a loose puck goal in front of the net right after causing the turnover. That shift from the fourth line really started shifting the game in Boston’s direction.

MINUS
*The Bruins had two shots on net in the first period and had just one decent scoring chance in the first 40 minutes (a Pastrnak breakaway in the second period) while playing right into the hands of the trap-happy Wings. The Bruins deserved to lose this game based on the way they played early, but a few individuals ended up saving their bacon.

*One shot on net and a minus-3 rating for Henrik Zetterberg, who was mostly invisible aside from a PP assist to Tomas Tatar early in the game. Zetterberg was on the ice for every goal scored by the Bruins and was grossly negligent on at least one of them.

*The refs bungled a call on Patrice Bergeron that directly set up the Wings first goal. Bergeron was clearly tripped by Frans Nielsen in the second period and Nielsen then stumbled over Bergeron’s stick as No. 37 was trying to lift himself up off the ice after falling due to the original tripping infraction. Instead, the refs merely saw the end of the play, called Bergeron for a bogus tripping call and that turned into a PP score for Tomas Tatar that broke the game open. You’d really expect a player such as Bergeron to get the benefit of the doubt on plays like that, wouldn’t you? 
 

Bruins waive Matt Beleskey

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Bruins waive Matt Beleskey

BOSTON - The Bruins have been avoiding a permanent decision with their roster the past couple of weeks and were able to buy time after Ryan Spooner's continued groin issues sent him back on injured reserve. With Spooner back practicing this week, his return necessitated some hard choices.

The wheels are beginning to turn on those choices with the Bruins waiving left winger Matt Beleskey on Thursday. With no points this season and only three goals and a minus-18 rating in his past 64 games with the B's, it simply looks like the game has sped up on Beleskey while he's showed little of the occasional offense and momentum-shifting physicality he flashed with the Anaheim Ducks.  

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NHL insider Darren Dreger, on the NBCSN broadcast of the Bruins-Red Wings game on Wednesday night, first reported the likely Beleskey move for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL, if he clears waivers, “to build his confidence.” 

The Beleskey contract has turned into one of the biggest busts of the Don Sweeney Era. The left winger was signed as one of the top free-agent forwards three summers ago when he agreed to a five-year, $19 million deal and he hasn’t lived up it. Beleskey, 29, was pretty solid in his first season while putting up 15 goals and 37 points, but his hard-nosed, bruising style hasn’t been a good fit with Bruce Cassidy’s up-tempo, offensive style since he took over as coach.

Per league sources, the Bruins have been attempting to trade the underperforming Beleskey and/or Frank Vatrano, 23, the past few weeks with few takers for either one. Clearly, the contract is the issue with Beleskey. He’s still owed $3.8 million in each of the two seasons following this year and has been a healthy scratch for the past six consecutive games with zero points and a minus-8 in 14 games this season.

Quite simply, the Bruins have found forward lines they really like while winning nine of their past 11 games and Beleskey wasn't forcing his way into the Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes third line or the Noel Acciari-Sean Kuraly-Tim Schaller fourth line.

If he clears waivers, Beleskey could potentially get another shot with Boston simply based on Acciari’s history of accumulating injuries with his rugged, fearless style of play, but it would be a tough blow for the veteran NHL player to be sent to the minors. Given the wealth of young forward talent that the Bruins have in Providence, it would be tough to see Beleskey pushing his way past them.

It’s not a matter of effort or attitude. Those things haven’t been a problem with Beleskey at all, but it just feels like he’s no longer a good fit for the Bruins while it also being very apparent the B’s overpaid for him.  

The expectation is that Beleskey will clear waivers and that would give the Bruins only $1.025 million in salary cap relief based on the current CBA, which doesn’t allow teams to summarily bury bad contracts in the AHL without some penalty. Similarly, Vatrano has just two goals in 19 games played along with a minus-3 rating and hasn’t consistently shown the goal-scoring flashes this season that he’s had in previous years.

There have been a couple of standout games thrown into the mix, unlike Beleskey, and it would appear that a change of scenery might be beneficial for him after falling behind Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen on the top-nine depth chart. Vatrano has been frustrated with the lack of ice time and power-play time and it’s believed that a trade from his hometown team wouldn’t be considered a bad thing from the player’s end of things.

The problem is that Vatrano’s value is down given his lack of production and teams are also wary of a player who'll require waivers to go down to the AHL. NHL general managers are a smart bunch, so why would they give up an asset for a player they might be able to snatch up on waivers at some point at zero cost other than taking on his entry-level contract.

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