The season is over far too soon for the Boston Bruins. Through 82 games they proved they were nothing more than a fringe playoff team at best, and the first few games of the playoffs illustrated to this observer that the Black and Gold would have been road kill if they had somehow backed into the postseason. Then Peter Chiarelli was fired in the middle of this past week, and Cam Neely officially took complete control of the hockey operations on Causeway Street.
So you can imagine Bruins fans had a few things to say. Here is the final edition of the Hagg Bag for this season dwelling on the boring, flat-line effort Bruins of this past season with the hope that they put something much better on the ice next season. As always these are real tweets to my @HackswithHaggs account, emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook messages to my CSN Facebook fan page:
Haggs, If you told me in Oct that the Cs would be in the playoffs and the Bs out, I would have said step away from the crack pipe
JH: Welcome to the 2015 reality, my friend. Contrary to the ideas of some hot takes around these parts, the Boston Celtics are in the playoffs and I think that’s a very good thing for that team’s development. But stay away from the crack pipe in the long offseason. As I once learned from the great Bobby Brown, crack is whack.
--John Tobin (@John_Tobin2024)
JH: It’s a deep draft full of talent, and very top heavy with potentially elite players in the first few spots. Obviously the Bs won’t get Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid based on choosing at the 14th spot they had a 99 percent chance of getting all along, , but they’ll have a chance at a pretty good player that can help them down the road. The fact they were able to hit so big with David Pastrnak at the 25th overall spot should give fans plenty of confidence in the abilities of guys like Keith Gretzky and Scott Fitzgerald in the B’s scouting department.
Notables taken at the No. 14 spot in the last five or six drafts include Latvian All-Star Zemgus Girgensons and St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz, so that should give you an idea of the kind of player possible if the Bruins hit it right.
I am thrilled to see Chiarelli gone.
He is so overrated. He traded a young superstar-in-the-making for essentially third line players. He traded Johnny Boychuk, receiving less value. He allowed Iggy and Horton to leave. He mismanaged the salary cap until the time he left. He made mostly terrible trades and except for a couple of players, drafted badly. I cannot understand why so many Boston columnists adore this incompetent G.M. As I said, glad to see him gone!!!
The Bruins won the Cup, despite Claude. Claude hates young players. He buried Spooner for a long time. He allowed him to play with decent offensive players, only when David K. was injured. Koko should have been recalled from Providence. He could have helped the Bruins, especially in shootouts. Both Chiarelli and Claude did not develop young players.
The Bruins need to get younger, faster and more skilled. They can also be tougher.
Thanks for your attention.
J E Shays
JH: Thanks for your thoughts, JE. I would add a couple of things, like the fact that the Bruins were an absolute dumpster fire in 2006 when Chiarelli, and one year later Julien, took over. They’ve done a lot more good than bad for this franchise over the last eight years, and I think people are a little spoiled after getting used to the success.
The drafts from 2007-09 were completely barren for the Bruins, though they did produce NHL players in Joe Colborne and Michael Hutchinson. But 2007, in particular, was a disaster when the Bruins selected Zach Hamill (just in front of Logan Couture) in the first round and Tommy Cross (just in front of PK Subban) in the second round. Both were huge misses with the Bruins holding high first and second-round picks, and you can’t miss on those selections. The drafts have been better in recent years, and Keith Gretzky looks like a winner as the director of amateur scouting after taking David Pastrnak in the first round last summer.
As far for the trades, Chiarelli made countless good trades during his time running the Bruins. Do you remember that he stole Johnny Boychuk from the Avalanche in exchange for Matt Hendricks? How about the big bag of nothing he gave the Florida Panthers for Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski? The Phil Kessel deal with Toronto was a good one for the Black and Gold until they decided to ship out Tyler Seguin.
I could go on and on about some of the good deals that Chiarelli made in his time with the Bruins, but it’s also just as clear that the Bruins GM really struggled over the last couple of seasons in Boston. It seemed this franchise really started making some poor decisions after losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Blackhawks in 2013, and that includes the Seguin trade, the Jarome Iginla deal that put them in salary cap trouble this season, and the lackluster trade deadline pick-up of Andrej Meszaros in 2014 when the Bs were supposed to be “all in” to win another Cup.
That was compounded this season by the Johnny Boychuk trade that gutted the team’s dressing room along with the losses of Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla. My big gripe with all of this is that I thought Chiarelli had earned the right to have one more season to dig the franchise out of the trouble they were in. But Cam Neely had been waiting to install his own people since he took over as club president, and last season gave him the perfect opportunity to take complete control while oustering Chiarelli as the other real voice of power within the franchise.
Some are going way over the top trying to protect Chiarelli while painting Neely as impulsive, or emotional, about making this decision. I don’t think this was an impulsive move by Neely at all. This is something that could have happened in 2011 or 2013 had the first rounds of those playoff series gone a different way. It’s merely him wanting a much bigger voice in the teams that will define his legacy as club president, and he has every right to make that happen given his position within the organization. It just remains to be seen how that plays out in this day and age of the NHL.
What's the dumbest trade scenario a B's fan has sent you with regards to this year’s draft? I'm seeing a lot of dumb on here
--Shawn McCarthy (@ShawnieMac23)
JH: There are way too many to list, but I always think that stuff is fun. I used to love reading Peter Gammons’ Sunday Baseball Notes in the Globe because he would throw out all kinds of fantastical rumors and trade chatter that could spark the imagination. I was a 10-year-old with the Sunday paper spread all over the living room floor absorbing the whole thing, and loved every minute of it. So in the spirit of all that, I’m not going to come down and obliterate the fanciful trade proposals that constantly get thrown out to me on Twitter, or even more ridiculously get posted like Unabomber manifestos on the hockey message boards.
Instead let’s all have a good laugh over the next outlandish rumor we see, and hope it sparks the imagination for something that actually could happen.
No chance at all oilers trade number one, but... That has to make one of their young bucks available you'd imagine, right?
--Brian DeVenne (@The_B_DeV)
JH: The Oilers covet Connor McDavid, so there’s no shot they will trade the No. 1 overall pick. But I would expect you are going to hear the names of Jordan Eberle and/or Taylor Hall available this summer, and that the Bruins will be up front and center in those talks. Expect to hear the names of Milan Lucic and Malcolm Subban quite a bit in those discussions with the Oilers looking for three things: size and strength along the wing, young and talented goaltending and big time defensive help.
The trick will be convincing Lucic to agree to go to Edmonton, but that could be a place where he could put up some big numbers right before unrestricted free agency. Don’t forget that Lucic and Andrew Ference were also pretty tight during their time playing together in Boston.
I don’t think Dougie Hamilton will ever be in play for the Bruins during trade talks despite Edmonton’s big interest in him, but I would also keep an eye on the Oilers potentially dropping an offer sheet bomb for the 21-year-old. They are desperate for a young D-man they believe can end up being a No. 1 for them.
Elliotte Friedman is saying Mike Milbury is being discussed as the next coach of the Bruins. We need you on this and putting this rumour to rest. It may cause a panic on the causeway and also the ozone layer after millions of Bruins jerseys are burnt inprotest.
JH: Hi Bob. I very much respect Elliotte and his sources, and will also admit I have heard in hockey circles that Milbury is seriously being discussed/considered as a possible coaching candidate for the Bruins should they make a move with Claude Julien. But I’m still viewing my sources with skepticism when they tell me that Milbury is in the mix.
The only way I can see that as a possibility is if Cam Neely really wants to give this Bruins team a kick in the ass after getting very comfortable under Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien. It would also certainly be good for the TV ratings if Milbury was sitting behind the bench on a nightly basis, and left to wonder what he’d have to say after each and every game.
Personally I like and respect Milbury very much, and have gotten to know him a little bit doing TV stuff with him at CSNNE. I’m just not ready to say I think this is a serious possibility quite yet seeing as Milbury hasn’t coached in the NHL since 1999, and the league has changed significantly since then in just about every way possible.
Now that the regular season is disappointingly over, what changes do you see happening throughout the roster? Pails and Soup are already gone, what of the remaining crew? Go through all 12 forwards and 7 d-men, who stays, who goes? Any buyouts?
JH: Greetings, comrade.
Who’s staying: Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, Pastrnak, Kelly, Talbot, Connolly, Smith, Spooner, Chara, Seidenberg, Hamilton, Trotman, Krug, Miller and Rask. Brian Ferlin and Joe Morrow should both be part of Boston’s plans for next season as well.
Who’s potentially going: I think the Bruins will try to deal Loui Eriksson for either pure scoring or more size/strength along the wing, and I think UFA Adam McQuaid might have an outside chance of coming back if the price is right. Eriksson should have good value after this comeback season, and McQuaid was one of the few Bruins that showed some cojones this season when things were going bad. That should be worth something.
Who is gone: I think Milan Lucic will get traded as the Bruins can get a haul for him in trade value, that Carl Soderberg and Matt Bartkowski are gone as unrestricted free agents and that Niklas Svedberg won’t be the backup goaltender next season. Soderberg was a good third line center, but he’ll be far too expensive in free agency. He also didn’t play up to his 6-foot-3, 215-pound size often enough for my liking. If it were up to me, I’d move heaven and earth to convince Chara to agree to a trade somewhere else and get out from under that huge cap hit for an aging superstar.
I don’t see the Bruins buying anybody out if they make some of the big moves out there this summer, but I suppose Kelly is always a possibility to dealt or bought out in a pinch. It’s difficult to handicap some of this stuff when we don’t know what the exact infrastructure of the B’s management group is going to be moving forward.