|Looking back: Bruins get bounced||12.28.09 at 8:29 am ET|
(WEEI.com is counting down the “Top 10 Things We Couldn’t Shut Up About In 2009,” and No. 10 is the Bruins getting eliminated from the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes. Here is a written, visual and audio look at the surprising end to the B’s season.)
Sometimes things come together and bring success in ways nobody could have imagined. The 2008-09 Bruins were an unlikely candidate for such an achievement. An aging goaltender, a front office that ‘ like the one before ‘ was starting to look like it was getting taken advantage of, a 2006 free agent class that had yet to bring Eastern Conference dominance for the money invested, and an inability to beat the bad guys of Montreal were just some of the things that had the Hub down on hockey.
The infamous Joe Thornton trade having doomed the franchise, Harvard product Peter Chiarelli was named general manager in 2006 and, after spending the fifth overall selection on University of Minnesota winger Phil Kessel, signed top free agents Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. With Andrew Raycroft out of the picture, Tim Thomas assumed the job in net under a team to be coached by Dave Lewis. After finishing the 2006-07 season with just 76 points and finishing dead last in the Northeast Division, the B’s ushered Lewis out and brought in former Devils and Canadiens coach Claude Julien.
The team made strides in the 2007-08 campaign but doubt still lingered on Causeway Street. Despite Dennis Wideman, who a year earlier had been acquired for Brad Boyes, finishing the season a plus-11, naysayers pointed to the lack of a 30-goal-scorer and to the fact that Boyes wound up with 42 goals. The Bruins finished the season with 94 and secured the final playoff spot in the East before being eliminated in seven games by the Canadiens, who had also beaten them seven of eight regular-season contests. It was after their comeback from 3-1 in the series fell short, however, that the tide turned.
With offseason additions that included Blake Wheeler and former Hab Michael Ryder, the 2007-08 Bruins represented a departure from the hockey that had been seen post-lockout in Boston. Kessel emerged as the 30-goal-scorer that Boston had been calling for, with 32 goals, and Ryder wasn’t far behind with 27. Savard was the team’s third 25-goal-scorer and led the team with 88 points as Boston finished the season first in the East with 116 points, just one behind the Sharks for the Presidents’ Trophy.
Thomas and Manny Fernandez established themselves as the league’s best goaltending tandem early on, as Thomas, who in April turned 35, posted a 2.10 goals-against average en route to winning his first Vezina Trophy. Fernandez had a 2.07 GAA in 19 games in the season’s first half, though he followed it up with a 3.65 mark in nine games following. Eventual Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara ‘ who anchored the season’s only defense to allow less than 200 goals (196) ‘ added 50 points and a plus-23.
Everything had changed. Even the Canadiens, who for years had left Boston hopeless, were no match for the Bruins, whose success landed Julien the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach. Boston went 5-0-1 against Julien’s former team in the regular season and in an ironic turn of events faced its rival as the No. 1 seed after facing the top-seeded Canadiens as the No. 8 just a year before. Unlike 2008′s nail-biter, the first round was a breeze for the Bruins, who swept their rivals in four games. With a 4-1 victory at the Bell Centre in Game 4, the Bruins had finally given the Canadiens ‘ who were ESPN’s preseason Stanley Cup favorites ‘ and their fans a feeling that they themselves were all too familiar with.
If Boston fans were scared by the ghosts of Montreal, their next opponent should have been just as scary. The Hurricanes had experience on their side, as they raised the Cup in ‘06 behind goaltender Cam Ward. However, the team had fired coach Peter Laviolette in December and hired Paul Maurice en route to a 96-point season that landed them the sixth seed.
The Bruins improved to 5-0 in the playoffs with a Game 1 victory in Boston, but Ward stepped up in Game 2 by silencing the offense and the TD Banknorth Garden crowd with a 3-0 shutout. The Hurricanes used home victories in Game 3 and 4 to push the East’s top team to the brink of elimination, but Thomas allowed just two goals through the next two games to send the series to Game 7.
It seemed only fitting that a season as exciting as ‘08-09 would have to end in overtime of a Game 7, which is exactly what it did. After the teams sparred to a 2-2 tie (including a Hurricanes goal from old friend Sergei Samsonov) Scott Walker took a rebound from a Ray Whitney shot and beat Thomas to send the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference finals and end what had been a faith-renewing season in Boston. The run had ended, but the season had injected an Original Six town with Bruins fever all over again.
Peter Chiarelli: The Sporting News Executive of the Year said that maybe the Bruins underestimated the Hurricanes in their playoff series: http://audio.weei.com/m/22330315/peter-chiarelli-bruins-gm.htm
Jeremy Jacobs & Gary Bettman: Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs joined Dale & Holley for the second edition of the Owners Series. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined the conversation to discuss the overall state of the NHL and the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals: http://audio.weei.com/m/22483980/jeremy-jacobs-bruins-owner-gary-bettman-nhl-commissioner.htm
Claude Julien: The coach talked about last year ending on a disappointing note but looked ahead to this year and discussed the new players adjusting to the Bruins system and players returning from injuries, and helped preview the 2009-10 Bruins: http://audio.weei.com/m/26670179/claude-julien-bruins-head-coach.htm
|Video blog from Bruins loss||11.13.09 at 6:22 am ET|
Here is a video blog brought to you by Kristine Leahy:
|Bruins: Krejci diagnosed with H1N1||11.05.09 at 10:56 am ET|
BOSTON, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club’s medical staff has confirmed a diagnosis of H1N1 for David Krejci. Based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, Krejci will be isolated from the rest of the team until he is symptom and fever free for 24 hours.
‘Like most people, we are taking many precautions to try to prevent our players and staff from contracting the H1N1 virus,’ said Chiarelli. ‘Our medical staff is working with David to get him healthy as soon as possible, and our players and staff will continue to take precautions with hopes of preventing the spread of the virus to others in the organization.’
|Milan Lucic on D&H, 10/7||10.07.09 at 7:30 pm ET|
When did you start talking about contracts?
During the preseason, right around the start of camp. Peter [Chiarelli] came up to me and we had a little meeting. We talked about extending and staying here. It all started last year during our year-end meetings. I had a meeting with Peter and I talked to him and told him I wanted to be a Bruin for a long time and it was my goal to stick around in Boston. Because it’s such a great organization. I love playing at the TD Garden and playing in front of the Bruins fans because they’ve been so great. I’ve grown to love this city and I just love being here, everything about it.
Was it an easy negotiation?
It went pretty smoothly. I think both parties came to an agreement pretty well. In the end we’re both happy, we’re both thrilled, we’re both excited and that’s the main thing.
Were you worried about it being a distraction?
Maybe, a lot of guys tend to think about it a little too much, when it’s a contract year. It’s always sticking in the back of your head. You’re always thinking about it. But now that it’s over for me I don’t have to think about it anymore and I can just go out there and play and help the team win.
|Lucic Signs Three-Year Extension||10.06.09 at 5:35 pm ET|
The Bruins issued the following press release about the three-year extension to which they signed Milan Lucic, which will keep the bruising power forward under team control through the 2012-13 season. ESPN is reporting that the deal is worth $12.25 million.
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has signed forward Milan Lucic to a three-year contract extension through the 2012-13 NHL season. Per club policy, financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed.
The 21-year-old Lucic set career highs in all major statistical categories last year after recording 17 goals and 25 assists for 42 points, in addition to tallying 136 penalty minutes and a +17 rating. He netted his first career hat trick and a career-best four points on October 25, 2008, after a 3-1=4 performance against the Atlanta Thrashers.
During the 2008-09 postseason, the 6′3′’ 228-pound winger had three goals and six assists and a team best +12 plus/minus rating in 10 games. In his rookie year in 2007-08, Lucic registered 8-19=27 totals and 89 penalty minutes in 77 contests. Lucic earned the team’s ‘Seventh Player Award’ for his efforts, an award voted on by the fans and given to the Bruin who performs above and beyond expectations. He also contributed two goals in seven postseason games.
Lucic has skated in both games during the 2009-10 season and has notched one assist and five penalty minutes.
He was invited to – and participated in – Canada’s National Men’s Team Orientation Camp this past August, in advance of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2010 IIHF World Championship. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be played in Lucic’s hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Originally drafted by the Bruins in the second round (50th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Lucic helped the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League capture the 2007 Memorial Cup Championship.
|Chiarelli on Dale & Holley, 9/30||09.30.09 at 2:05 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli gave an interview on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday afternoon and discussed the prospects for the upcoming season as well as the Phil Kessel trade. Following is a transcript of the interview. (NOTE: Updated with complete transcript.)
How do you expect to replace the production Phil Kessel gave you last year?
His goals were a different style of goals, so as much as I say, hey, Marco Sturm is going to get his 20-25, maybe to 30, and we believe Bergeron is going to ‘ I really believe [Patrice] Bergeron will have a big year this year. He’s been tremendous in the preseason, so he’s going to score more. The younger players will continue to improve. Milan [Lucic] will score more and [David Krejci] will score more, and Morris on the back end will increase the offense. As much as Is say all that, we will miss the style of goals Phil scored, because the speed will back off the [defense]. So, we will miss that. Don’t get me wrong, we will miss that. I believe we will make up for the goals with those guys that I mentioned, we just won’t score them the same way.
Why were you so confident that this was a trade that would help the Boston Bruins?
I’m not one who is going to trade a player that has his talent, his ability. He’s got tremendous skill, tremendous speed, and he’s young. The fact of the matter is that he made it clear that he did not want to stay in Boston, that he wanted out. That makes it hard for me to sign him. In fact, that made it impossible for me to sign him, because it takes two to sign a contract. So, now you’re looking at, ‘OK, well do I just give him whatever he wants?’ I could not get a number from him. I did not get one number from him in the negotiation. Unfortunately, that the reality of the business now. Whether it’s another team, or whether it’s an agent and a player, they have tools that they can use against you, and you have to face reality. Having said all that, what we got in return I thought was very, very good. You may get a Phil Kessel out of that, you may get a player that may help us sooner rather than later. You have to balance that, but at the end of the day when there’s someone that doesn’t want to work this us and is unequivocal about it, I have to address it.
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