If you are one of the futurist Bruins fans looking for the Bruins to get younger after falling short during this spring’s Stanley Cup Final, then you may be disappointed by the words from B’s management this week. If you are a fan of familiar faces on the Bruins roster and the past glory of the Black and Gold, then it was a little more encouraging.
While admitting that things are “winding down” for the Bruins core group that won the Cup eight years ago in 2011, Bruins President Cam Neely said he still believes that Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask are capable of winning another Stanley Cup before riding off into the Boston sunset.
“When we hired Don [General Manager Don Sweeney] that was certainly a conversation about how to do we take this core that won in ‘11 and give them another opportunity to win while they’re still somewhat in their prime. We still look at it that way,” said Neely. “We know, you know, our players are now one year older, and we’re another year removed from winning in ’11.
“So we certainly have recognized what we have coming, what we need to have coming, and who – you know, we’re talking pretty big shoes to fill. We’re certainly aware of that, and we recognize that. We still think they’ve got some good hockey left in them, but we certainly know that it’s winding down, so to speak.”
The “sunset” day may be coming a little sooner for some than others with 42-year-old Chara showing some signs of age this season while also showing he’s the ultimate warrior while playing through a fractured jaw in the Stanley Cup Final. Both Bergeron and Krejci will be 34 years old at some point next season, and even Marchand and Rask are on the wrong side of 30 years old at this point in their NHL careers.
It’s at the point in some of their careers where the status quo is going to be unreasonable to assume where injuries and lowered production could be a fact of life. More will be expected out of the younger generation of Bruins players, and workload management becomes a real issue for guys like Bergeron, Krejci and Chara in the twilight of their NHL careers.
It’s also unlikely that the pathway to the Stanley Cup Final is ever going to open up as wide as it did for the Bruins last season when all four top divisional seeds lost in the first round of the playoffs, and Tampa Bay, Washington and Pittsburgh all were out early in the postseason.
Still, the Bruins are clearly a playoff team in the Eastern Conference and it’s a tough sell to bust up an aging, proven nucleus that made it all the way to Game 7 of the Cup Final before falling woefully short against a group of first-timers in the St. Louis Blues. It all amounts to a difficult decision for guys like Neely and Sweeney this summer, but it sounds like their minds are already made up that the Bruins are going to push forward with the remaining core members of the 2011 Cup team intact.
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