|03.03.10 at 1:37 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A professional sports team is broken up into two parts: the front office who make the decisions and the players who actually do the competing. We have heard from the Bruins front office on Wednesday with the trade for Dennis Seidenberg and the departures of Derek Morris and Byron Bitz. For the players it is a different, more emotional type of day.
“There is still two-and-a-half hours left until the day is over,” Tim Thomas said. “But, it is meant to effect the team and hopefully it does so positively … I noticed [that there has been more nervousness in the locker room] a little bit. I noticed it yesterday, since yesterday was my first day back but I noticed it even a little bit before the break. I think there was some nervousness about it and you try your best not to think about it but that does not mean you do not think about it at all. It really does no good to think about it because no matter what way you think about it, it is not going to work out that way.”
Not many people would have suspected that the Bruins would ship out Morris and replace him with Seidenberg. Coupled with Bitz the Bruins have opened up some cap room to bring in a scoring forward later in the afternoon. There have been rumors of talks with the Blue Jackets about acquiring Raffi Torres but the cost might be a first round pick which would make it prohibitive for general manager Peter Chiarelli.
For the most part the Bruins players understand that the NHL is a business and that this team was probably looking at some type of shakeup at the deadline, but that does not mean they are numb to watching their teammates shipped out.
“Both the guys we lost were good teammates and good people,” Thomas said. “I had a lot in common with Derek and I had a lot in common with [Bitz]. They both played in the ECAC in hockey and are actually some of the only college graduates in here. It is sad to see them go but you just want to wish them the best wherever they end up being traded to.”
Defenseman Matt Hunwick learned a lot from Morris during his time in Boston.
“He was a big part, I think, in helping my game this year. I played with him in different stretches and he really added a calmness to my game. I think I really played my best hockey when I played with him and it is tough to lose a veteran defensemen that you look up to but things happen and you have to move on and remember the things that he told me and keep improving.”
As much as Morris has meant to Hunwick, the loss of Bitz touches a little closer considering that they were both first year professionals the same year with Providence and started their NHL careers with Boston last season.
“Well, it is tough,” Hunwick said. “Bitz is a great guy and someone who came up last year and helped this team and really earned his spot, that is for sure. It is always tough to see someone go especially us being first year pros together in Providence and being up last year. It is obviously tough to lose guys, especially guys who you have some history with.”
On the other end, the Bruins are acquiring a strong defenseman from the Panthers in Seidenberg who is comparable to Morris but plays a different game. Boston is familiar with Seidenberg as he was a top-four defensive pair with the Hurricanes during the playoffs last year.
“I thought he played excellent in the playoffs last year,” Thomas said. “Having said that I was focused on the puck most of the time. I was not focused so much on people … we brought him here, I am assuming, to make the team better so, I hope he can.”
Marco Sturm played with Seidenberg on the German Olympic team and knows him well.
“He is a good guy and a big strong guy, so, I think he will help us on the power play too,” Sturm said. “He has a pretty good shot, a heavy shot and blocks a lot of shots so I think he is a solid defenseman … I have known him a long time, we have played together on the national team.”
With the turnover today the Bruins have created some space under the cap. Chiarelli is still looking for a forward and for his part, Sturm does not think the Bruins are done dealing yet.
“I don’t think it was a surprise that [defensemen were traded], well, maybe a surprise that it was [Morris] but we still needed a defenseman,” Sturm said. “I still think we are not done yet.”
|03.03.10 at 12:20 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins and Panthers have worked out a deal that would send defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and the rights to Ohio State’s Matt Bartowski to Boston for forward Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and and a second round pick. the team confirmed the trade early Wednesday afternoon.
Seidenberg is likely a rental for the Bruins at this point and comes at a cheaper price and what the they were paying for Morris as he has a 2009-10 cap hit of $2.25 million, about one million less than Morris. He is known as a puck moving defenseman who is good at blocking shots. He will become and unrestricted free agent this summer and turns 29-years-old on July 18.
Seidenberg signed a one year contract with the Panthers last summer and has played in 60 games for them this season with two goals, 21 assist, a plus/minus of -3 and 33 penalty minutes. He is likely to slot right into Morris’s spot in the defensive pairings, spending some time with Zdeno Chara though more likely on the second pair with Mark Stuart.
Bitz was a bit of surprise call-up for the Bruins last season and played well enough down the stretch to earn and NHL roster spot in training camp. But the former Cornell Big Red forward has not played well this year, posting a plus/minus of -9 with four goals and five assists in 45 games. If Chiarelli does not make another move that would effect the fourth line later today look for Vladimir Sobotka to get regular playing time while Steve Begin moves to his regular forward spot and Shawn Thornton stays on the ice.
Weller, a fifth round choice in 2000 (167th overall) was acquired by the Bruins from the Wild in the Chuck Kobasew trade and is switching teams once again to join the Panthers organization.
No word yet on exactly which second round picks have been traded in the Morris and Seidenberg trades and will update when we have the information.
|03.03.10 at 11:54 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Derek Morris has confirmed that he has indeed been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes this morning by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. Morris said that he had a no-trade clause in his contract that he would only waive to rejoin the Coyotes where he played last season and owns a house. The Bruins acquired a conditional draft pick from Phoenix and freed up the remainder of Morris’s $3.3 million dollar contract he signed with the team last season.
“It has been a process over the last few days and I came here this morning and I got a call this morning from the office, from [Chiarelli] that is was going to be done and it is all done now,” Morris said.
Morris was contacted over the weekend about waiving his no-trade clause that would send him to Phoenix but the discussions were a back and forth to the point where Morris was told as early as yesterday that he would be staying in Boston.
“Yeah, I was. I was told that I wasn’t going to be traded,” Morris said. “But, you will have to ask [Chiarelli] those questions. I am obviously disappointed to leave Boston, you know? My kids are playing hockey in Charlestown and there are good people there. Once you get to Boston you realize why people stick around Boston. The people in this place are down rooted, good, wholesome people so I am disappointed to leave this place.”
At the same time, Morris does not mind going back to the American Southwest for the rest of the season.
“Yeah, the weather is nice. I am really excited to go back to Phoenix. They’ve got an amazing coach there,” Morris said. “Once this all is all done with I will be excited too.”
Morris said that he hopes the Bruins make the playoffs and would love to see a Boston/Phoenix Stanley Cup. Forgoing that unlikely scenario, Morris said he hopes Boston can win. He said the Bruins group of players is a special mix and he will miss his teammates.
“You just take to these guys,” Morris said. “These are a really good group of guys in here that really get along and really enjoy each other and like each other a lot. It was a fun locker room to come into and a tough one to leave … Obviously it is shock a little bit. You never expect to be traded and you don’t expect. Obviously disappointed more than anything.”
Morris said that he would love to be with the Coyotes tomorrow in Colorado but does not know what his immediate plans are.
|03.03.10 at 11:54 am ET|
The wheeling and dealing continued for the Bruins hours before the 3 p.m. trading deadline as they have reportedly acquired veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and the rights to Ohio State defenseman Matt Bartkowski in exchange for right wing Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick, according to TSN in Canada.
|03.03.10 at 10:53 am ET|
The Bruins confirmed late Wednesday morning they have traded defenseman Derek Morris to the Phoenix Coyotes for a conditional pick [reportedly fourth round] in 2011. The NHL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET.
The Bruins signed the 31-year-old Morris as a free agent before this season. He played in 58 games for the Bruins, scoring three goals and recording 22 assists with 26 penalty minutes.
He would be returning to Phoenix, where he played from 2003-09. He actually played 83 games in an 82-game season in 03-04 when he played the first 69 games with Colorado before a trade landed him in Phoenix for the final 14 games of the Coyotes’ season.
He would be heading to a team destined for the playoffs as Phoenix is fourth in the Western Conference with 79 points. Morris has appeared in the postseason just twice in his 12 NHL seasons, with Colorado in 2009 and last year with the New York Rangers.
|03.03.10 at 10:14 am ET|
The big day has finally arrived.
Wednesday is the NHL trade deadline with all moves to be completed by 3 p.m. this afternoon. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. at TD Garden to discuss the moves the Bruins did, or did not, make to improve the team down the stretch looking for a third consecutive playoff birth.
All the blood that has been squeezed from the Chiarelli stone this past week has been “we are looking for a top-nine forward with a scoring bent” with the caveat that market prices are prohibitive at this point. Outside of the upper echelon teams (Chicago, Washington, San Jose) the rest of the league is tightly packed making this year a sellers market as there are a plethora of buyers. The six through 12 seeds in each conference are separated by nine points heading after Tuesday’s games.
With 65 points, the Bruins currently have a tenuous hold on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference (tied in points with the Rangers, one behind the Canadiens, four behind the Flyers). Injuries and inconsistency have been the name of the game in Boston. Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien have been holding onto the fact that several Bruins have not performed to expectations this year and that a turnaround by them (David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Dennis Wideman to name the primary candidates) will do a lot to turn the team around.
Yet, here we are, 61 games in with 65 points to show for it. To expect a sudden turnaround by all these players would be foolish at best, damning to the front office’s reputation at worst. Some of them may go on a hot streak down the stretch but of those five names, two, maybe three can realistically rise to their expectations. The question then becomes; what tact do the Bruins take at the deadline and is the price really worth it?
The smart money at this point says that Chiarelli will not make a major move. By major, a top-nine forward along the lines of Raffi Torres, Teemu Selanne, Ray Whitney, Keith Tkachuk or Paul Kariya (to name a few on the rumor mill). Do not expect to see Marian Hossa or Ilya Kovalchuk or their ilk walk through the door. If those type of players were on the market, which they are not, it is doubtful that Chiarelli would spend what it would take to bring them in anyway. So far he has been guarding his horde of draft picks, either waiting for the best deal to come along or to really restock the Providence Bruins and Reading Royals for years to come. Protecting the first round picks is understandable, laudable even, considering the Bruins have two each in the next two drafts. Yet, with five second round picks between 2010 and 2011, it is hard to argue that Chiarelli could not flip one of them relatively painlessly for Whitney or Torres. That would be a high price but the sellers control the market.
At the same time, the Bruins have to worry about money. So far, Chiarelli has been penny wise and pound foolish. The pennies have been spent in the last couple of days reorganizing the minor league system with the Steve Kampfer and Cody Wild trades. Do not expect to see either of them in Boston soon, if ever. The pounds that Chiarelli spent were mostly last summer, giving Tim Thomas his four-year $20 million contract looks like a big mistake and the extensions to Krejci and Lucic may have been premature. It all adds up to next to nothing for the Bruins to spend under the cap so a contract from the NHL roster would have to go the other way or players like Vladimir Sobotka, Johnny Boychuk would have to be stowed in Providence to free up their nominal salaries.
In the realm of sanity (a small bubble at any trade deadline), Chiarelli probably knows that no matter what he does at the deadline, the Bruins are probably not going to jump any higher than the sixth seed in the conference. Thus, why rush to make a transaction now when the market is so prohibitive to making a value deal? Chiarelli could happily sit on his picks, wait for the season to end and the draft to come and make a splash in the summer. The ways the Bruins are currently constructed, he is going to have to rock the boat eventually.
Whether he decides to do that before 3 p.m. today remains to be seen. Chiarelli is set to hold a press conference at TD Garden at 4 p.m. to discuss the decisions he made and the moves he did or did not make.
|03.02.10 at 10:45 pm ET|
For 40 minutes, it looked like Zdeno Chara and the Bruins had the Canadiens right where they wanted them.
They were playing solid defense, Tuukka Rask had turned away all 18 shots and run his shutout streak to 127 minutes, 15 seconds and they even converted a chance in front of the opposing goalie on the power play for a 1-0 lead.
All the Bruins had to do was keep it up for 20 more minutes and not only would they finally win at home, they would run their winning streak to five games and put some distance between themselves and the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
But as was the case before the break, the Bruins – especially on defense – picked a bad time to start skating backwards. And as a result – four unanswered Canadiens goals in the third – the Bruins had endured their 10th straight home loss.
“We know we have to be better, especially at home, especially at this time of year going into the end of the season and pushing to play in the playoffs. We know we need to be better. We have to take advantage of being at home, for sure,” Chara said.
Counting Thursday’s home match against Toronto before a seven-game road trip, the Bruins have just nine home games remaining.
“Those games we have left, we have to find a way. We have to make sure we win most of them,” Chara added.