Morning Skate: Happy 12th birthday, Jumbo Joe trade


Morning Skate: Happy 12th birthday, Jumbo Joe trade

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while welcoming the month of December into the books.
*Twelve years ago this week, the Bruins traded Jumbo Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. It feels like a lifetime ago, and truly it was for the best for a Bruins franchise that was able to rebuild their team around Patrice Bergeron, sign a key, big-money free agent in Zdeno Chara with the cap room and then start building toward their eventual Stanley Cup championship in 2011.

Much like the Tyler Seguin trade of four years ago, the return for Jumbo Joe was pitiful and a huge mistake that ultimately led to the ushering out of Mike O’Connell. The Bruins should have shopped Jumbo to additional suitors and should have stocked up on first round picks and young players rather than pieces that would be gone within a couple of years. The Bruins did turn Stuart into Andrew Ference, and eventually Daniel Paille, and Sturm had his great moments (Game 6 in 2008 vs. the Habs and the OT game-winner in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park), but one thing the Bruins need to get better at is nailing their returns when/if they deal off a Big Fish like Jumbo or Seguin.

That seems to be something Don Sweeney was paying attention to when he essentially got a couple of first-round picks in exchange for Milan Lucic a few years ago. Anyway, the Bruins don’t win a Cup without deciding to ship off Jumbo 12 years ago, and San Jose has never won a Cup despite a Hall of Fame-level career from the Bearded One. Sometimes it’s that simple when evaluating a trade 12 years down the road.

*A stick salute to the “Spoked B podcast” covering all range of Bruins topics, and giving credit to yours truly for first recognizing that the Bruins were playing a different brand of hockey behind Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask earlier this season. You could see this goalie issue coming even in the very first few games of the season?

*Erik Condra has battled injuries and roster disappointments the past few season but isn’t let it take away from his big-picture view of his hockey world.

*Nobody thought much of the New Jersey Devils at the beginning of the season, but Ray Shero has made all the right moves to push them into a contending position.

*A couple of players with Bruins ties, Max Talbot and Teddy Purcell, will be pulled from the KHL to play for Team Canada in the coming weeks.

*The embattled Edmonton Oilers have now lost Cam Talbot to injury, and really, really seem like they’re in trouble and in a desperation situation to make a deal that can keep them afloat this season. Pro Hockey Talk has the details.

*The amount of complaining about Auston Matthews vs. Connor McDavid not being a nationally televised game in the U.S. is astounding. Should it be? Maybe if the two of them were actually playing 1-on-1 against each other. But methinks this is much more about the remote controls that would go “click” when casual hockey viewers saw that two Canadian NHL teams were playing each other on national TV in the United States. The interest just isn’t there in the US markets to make it appointment viewing, in my humble opinion.

*For something completely different: Is the world really clamoring for a reboot of a “Masters of the Universe” movie, especially now that Dolph Lundgren has aged out of the He-Man role?



Same B's lineup as they brace for glut of games leading into holiday


Same B's lineup as they brace for glut of games leading into holiday

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have enjoyed a lot of down time over the first two months of the NHL regular season, but that’s beginning to change now as they enter the holiday season. Sure they will get the three-day break around the Christmas holiday just like everybody else around the NHL, but they’re heading into that three-day respite with a schedule of seven games in 11 days, including back-to-back games Columbus and Buffalo kicking off tonight at TD Garden. 

It’s good that this kind of busy sequence didn’t come down when the B’s were injury ravaged over the first few months of the season, but there’s never an easy time to play four 60-minute effort games in a span of six days, including a short rest matinee on Saturday vs. the Red Wings.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will undoubtedly roll lines a little more liberally and probably rotate some players into his lineup, but he’s going with the same forwards and D-men in front of Tuukka Rask on Monday night vs. the Blue Jackets. The Bruins are doing what they can during a dense portion of the schedule, and making certain they’re ready to give their best after dropping back-to-back games against the Capitals and Rangers last week. 

“You just need to make it easy on ourselves by not playing a hard game, and not doing damage to ourselves to make things more difficult,” said Brad Marchand. “You take care of the puck and keep it simple, and then whenever you get a day off you need to rest up and recover. That’s all you can really do.”

So Rask will get the nod with Anton Khudobin likely to start against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, and the lineup will be exactly the same as vs. the Rangers with Anders Bjork sitting for the second game in a row: 












DeBrusk looking to put Rangers benching behind him


DeBrusk looking to put Rangers benching behind him

BRIGHTON, Mass – An NHL rookie season is full of ups and downs, and 21-year-old Jake DeBrusk is looking to put a quick end to any down period after a subpar effort over the weekend. DeBrusk had a career-low 7:43 of ice time in Saturday’s loss to the New York Rangers, and had three giveaways while the player himself admitted he wasn’t strong enough in the board battles and 1-on-1 competition for pucks.

The Bruins need DeBrusk to be a strong, rugged player along the boards, and in front of the net to go along with the skating and scoring that he's flashed in his first season.

“I didn’t think he was hard enough on pucks. He lost some battles along the wall. By my count there were two backhanded turnovers, and those are tough ones that we’re emphasizing with the young guys. You always want to make those plays on your forehand because you’re stronger,” said Bruce Cassidy. “With those backhand plays in the middle of the ice, every game is close so you need to manage the puck better in those situations. I think all of the guys have gone through it, and even [Matt Grzelcyk] had one of those ‘hope plays’ as we describe it. You’ve got to get those out of your game, and live to fight another day. Manage the puck, eat the puck and put it to a safe area. Teams are too good. That’s one of those things where there’s a learning curve, and so a few guys got the ice time in front of [DeBrusk].”


His fellow rookie forward Anders Bjork was in a similar spot after the previous loss to the Washington Capitals, and was relegated to the press box for the New York loss to get his game back in order.

DeBrusk still has a goal, two points and 11 shots on net in his last four games and was one of the best players on the ice in Boston’s win over the Islanders, so it wouldn’t appear that a healthy scratch is on the horizon for the Bruins winger. 

Still, he is fully in receipt of the message from his ice time getting cut and doesn’t want to be in that same position again.

“I think it was the message that’s been coming across the last couple of days. It’s not my first time being benched, but hopefully it’s my last. It’s one of those things you never want to have happen, but you understand why. I think it’s just about being hard on pucks,” said DeBrusk, who is on a pace for 18 goals and 42 points in this first go-round through the NHL. “It’s the classic message that all players need to play how he wants them to play, and obviously I felt it on the bench there. So I’m looking to do anything I can to find my energy and get back to my game from a week ago.”

DeBrusk is a smart player and a tough competitor, and he clearly wants to stick in a top-6 role with David Krejci that’s been pretty good to him thus far this season. One would expect to see a stronger DeBrusk on the puck when the B’s drop the puck against Columbus on Monday night, and probably see one of his better games of the season after seeing some bench time over the weekend.