BRIGHTON -- Longtime Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs didn’t mince any words about expectations for his team after the B's the playoff cut in each of the last two seasons.
Jacobs, 76, said he expects the Bruins to be back in the playoffs this spring and that he wants them to go “on a deep run” in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They haven't gotten past the second round since their trip to the Cup Finals in 2013.
The B's have some promising young players but, clearly, they'll require patience; as a result, many feel they're still very much in a transition period. But Jacobs wasn’t having any of it.
“I share the expectations with everybody here that we’ll be in the playoffs,” said Jacobs when asked point blank Tuesday at Media Day what his expectations are for this group. “I expect that we’ll go deep into the playoffs. I think this is a very good mix of young and older, experienced players. I’m looking forward to their going into the playoff season.”
Should that be considered a mandate from ownership?
“[Yesterday] would be the timeline [for playoffs]. I think we’re so close to being a competitive playoff team, and a contender,” said a smiling, relaxed Jacobs. “Who saw San Jose [getting to the Cup Final] last year? I sure didn’t. So circumstances evolve, and we could well be a serious contender. Every day there’s a mandate [to win]. Whether or not they hear it is something else. No . . . our expectations are high and I talk to [team president Cam Neely] quite a bit. So I think we all share that [as our goal].”
Those are high expectations, stated in unfairly certain terms, and they also represent a gauntlet laid down to Neely and general manager Don Sweeney as they attempt to get the B’s back into their winning ways. If that doesn’t happen and the B’s once again waltz through an uneven, half-hearted season -- which could lower TV ratings, cost the team playoff gates, and increase fan displeasure -- then watch out below.
“I don’t want to talk about just making the playoffs because there’s a bigger goal for us here," said Neely. "Obviously to achieve that goal you have to get into the postseason, and that’s something we haven’t been happy with the last couple of years. We were close, but we didn’t make it and it’s a results-oriented business.
"The goal is to continue to build to a championship club, and the experience you build by just getting into the playoffs is huge, not only for the players that have played there but also the first-year players looking for an opportunity to experience playoff hockey.”
As everybody knows, close doesn’t cut it in the NHL, not when the expectation is to go deep into the postseason. The Bruins would be well off to heed the warnings of “postseason or else” after falling disastrously short in each of the last two frustration seasons.