Countdown to camp: Zac Rinaldo
Countdown to camp: Zac Rinaldo
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Zac Rinaldo.
From the moment the Bruins traded for him, most questioned why a player like Zac Rinaldo was a) worth a third-round pick under any circumstances and b) a good fit for a Bruins team that was moving toward having a faster, more versatile fourth line capable of scoring as well as crashing and banging with opponents. So it perhaps isn’t a surprise that Rinaldo ended up in Providence for the last few months of last season (where he became one of the few pro hockey players to ever be suspended by both the AHL and NHL at the same time). Suffice it to say it isn’t working out between Rinaldo and the Bruins.
What Happened Last Year
Rinaldo tried to turn over a new leaf with the Bruins and play clean, hard hockey while bringing energy and toughness to the fourth line. He threw a few hard hits and managed to stay out of trouble for the first half of the season, but he also was pretty much a non-factor because he’s not a very good hockey player if he’s not dishing out borderline hits and skating over the edge. He finished with a goal and three assists along with 83 penalty minutes, and had a minus-5 rating in 52 games. He also watched as Adam McQuaid was drilled from behind into the boards in a hit that concussed the big D-man, and did nothing about it before skating back to the bench. What exactly was he doing there if he didn’t police that kind of stuff? Once he was suspended for a hit after going back to his old ways, Rinaldo was dispatched to Providence . . . and wound up being suspended there, as well. Rinaldo ended up playing just two games for the P-Bruins, and it will be interesting to see what Boston does with him this season.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
Will Rinaldo get another chance with the Bruins after he eventually serves the five-game suspension waiting for him at the NHL level? Will he ever play for the Black and Gold again? Will he play in Providence, where the AHL is also cracking down on the kind of player that Rinaldo is reputed to be given his actions in both the Philadelphia and Boston organizations? There are all kinds of questions surrounding the 26-year-old, and there isn’t much to indicate he’s very high on the Bruins' priority list right now. Perhaps Rinaldo will come into camp with a chip on his shoulder and play the kind of rugged, intimidating game that the Bruins could still use at the NHL level, but his past history with the league isn’t going to give him a lot of latitude to play that way moving forward. He’s in a tough spot for a Bruins team that really doesn’t need him right now.
In Their Words
"When the refs use their force after you just fought for 30 seconds, a minute, it’s the last thing you want to deal with: A ref using all his strength and all of his -- I don’t know what you want to call it -- just to stop you from doing anything.”
-- Zac Rinaldo complaining about NHL linesman David Brisebois handling him a bit too roughly after a fight with Oilers forward Matt Hendricks last season.
There really shouldn’t be a place on the Bruins roster for a player like Rinaldo; they need players who can actually help them win games, and that’s not something the former Flyers agitator is very good at. He can’t kill penalties -- as Don Sweeney thought he might be able to handle when trading for him last summer -- and he didn’t do a good job of routinely standing up for his teammates when other teams were taking liberties. Rinaldo is still under contract for one more season but the bottom line is that the Bruins can, and should be able to, do much better on their fourth line. Frankly it would be surprising if Rinaldo ever plays for the Bruins again, but we’ll see what management has in store once training camp gets started.