|Former Lightning general manager lists Bruins among favorites to sign Steven Stamkos||06.27.16 at 3:28 pm ET|
Former Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said on Toronto’s TSN 1050 radio that he considers the Bruins a favorite to sign top unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. To watch/hear Lawton’s interview with Naylor & Landsberg, click here.
Stamkos, 26, could very well be made the highest-paid player in the NHL when he inks his next contract, presumably when free agency opens on Friday.
“Right now the top three for me — I still think there’s a very, very big chance that he could end up back in Tampa,” Lawton noted, “but I would say Toronto, Tampa, Boston would be the top three.”
Asked about pursuing Stamkos following the NHL draft on Sunday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney intimated that he would reach out Stamkos’ agent during the NHL’s current interview period for free agents.
“We will take the temperature of whoever will help our hockey club,” Sweeney said. “If it lines up, that’s what we’d like to do. We obviously have flexibility for any particular player that we would like to go after. There’s a lot of coveted ones in the market, so we’ll make all the calls. Absolutely all the calls.”
Potentially working in the Bruins’ favor could be his relationship with coach Claude Julien, whom the B’s retained after missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Stamkos and Julien think very highly of one another, with Julien notably visiting Stamkos in the hospital when the player suffered a broken tibia in a game against the Bruins in 2013.
“I had him at the Olympic Camp and I got to know Steve the person,” Julien said after visiting Stamkos. “When you look at what he is in the league and what he’s accomplished, to have that happen to him I thought it was just important to go by and see how he was doing. It was as simple as that.
“He’s one of those players that people from all the different cities come up to watch and play and he’s one of the reasons we fill buildings and you hate to see that, from anybody’s point of view, to see a guy like that get injured that way,” Julien added.
Lawton said that the Maple Leafs would present an attractive destination for the Markham, Ontario native and that Stamkos would be able to handle the attention that would come with playing in such a market.
Tampa’s reported offer for its captain carried a cap hit of $8.5 million, a far cry from the $10.5 million annually that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews make in Chicago.
“I don’t think that it’s just about money at all for Steven Stamkos,” Lawton said. “I think it’s important — I think that offering him, if it were in fact true, $8.5 million [per year] is — like I said, it’s not about money — but I think in some ways that’s probably a little insulting to Steven.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Stamkos has had three seasons of at least 90 points and has scored 40 goals three times in his NHL career. Since 2009-10 — his second season in the league — Stamkos’ 516 points rank fourth in the NHL behind Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Kane.
|A Dumb Takes preview of the Bruins’ offseason||06.13.16 at 12:56 pm ET|
Here is a vast overview of where the Bruins stand entering the offseason. It includes their cap situation, their trade chips and how they’re best-suited to fill areas of need.
This is a Dumb Takes edition of that.
As we did entering the Stanley Cup Final, this is an estimation of the less-than-intelligent points you will run into either on the internet, radio or television if you haven’t already.
To avoid any confusion, the Dumb Takes will be italicized. Any logic will be formatted normally.
TRADE TUUKKA RASK
When you don’t have as many good players as you used to and you have a lot of money, the move is to trade one of the best goalies in the league because he makes a lot of money. Did you know that Tuukka Rask wasn’t EITHER of the goalies in this year’s Stanley Cup Final? Did you know that Matt Murray and Martin Jones were the reasons their team reached the Final, but that Tuukka Rask wasn’t when the Bruins were there in 2013 and he put up significantly better numbers then than either Murray or Jones did this offseason? Did you know?
The Bruins shouldn’t have any untouchables because, despite a less-than-great Eastern Conference team just winning the Stanley Cup, the B’s have just as good a shot at being in no-man’s land in the coming seasons as they do of being contenders. So while they should be willing to move Rask if they can get an overwhelming return, the idea that trading one of their three best players should be a priority is really, really stupid. Rask had a bad year on a bad team, but his career suggests he’s one of the best five or so goalies in the league and he’s still just 29. Maybe put a team that’s good in front of him — the Bruins were 20th in the league in 5-on-5 high-danger scoring chances against — and he’ll manage.
FIRE CLAUDE JULIEN
It isn’t too late! Where would Sidney Crosby be right now if the Penguins hadn’t fired their coach mid-season? Dead, maybe? Well Mike Johnston, a first-time head coach who by all accounts wasn’t a good one, is EXACTLY THE SAME as Claude Julien! They fired him and look what happened!
Claude Julien is a good coach and some of the coaches that have been fired aren’t good coaches. The reason the Bruins weren’t very good this season was because their defensive personnel was very bad. Julien had to rely too much on Kevan Miller, but that was because Kevan Miller actually seemed like a viable option compared to Julien’s other options at times. That’s on management, not the coach.
But which good defensemen has he developed?
Johnny Oduya, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug. Guys who played elsewhere — Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, etc. — had the best years of their career when playing under Julien.
So they should just keep everything the same?
No, they should keep the good things the same. They have a good coach.
NEVER SPEAK TO J.P. BARRY AGAIN
Why are the Bruins talking to Loui Eriksson’s agent? Why would they consider signing Eriksson?
Because they only have one good right wing (David Pastrnak) and he’s never played more than 51 games in an NHL season.
But they shouldn’t re-sign Eriksson. He doesn’t do anything special.
There were only seven players in the league with 30 goals and a Corsi Relative of 9.0 or higher. Eriksson was one of them.
But he’s not going to score 30 goals every year!
There were only 12 players in the league with 25 goals and a Corsi Relative of 9.0 or higher. Eriksson was one of them.
Should the Bruins definitely sign Eriksson at all costs? Of course not. In fact, if Kyle Okposo doesn’t cost much more, they should sign him instead. But why would a team with a gaping hole on the right side — and no help on the way from the AHL with the exception of Seth Griffith — close the door on its best right wing? It must be because he doesn’t hit people.
It IS because he doesn’t hit people!
That’s because his team usually has the puck when he’s on the ice.
TRADE CHARA FOR A YOUNG TOP-4 DEFENSEMAN
Here’s one that actually is a good idea in theory, but it just might not be feasible. If the Bruins don’t do it, it’s because they can’t. Chara’s contract is good (pricey in 2016-17, but very cap-friendly in 2017-18) and he’d be a stud second-pair guy for a contending team, but the fact is that a team with a good young defenseman should hold on to that asset for dear life.
Not true! The Bruins were willing to trade Hamilton!
That was a bad move by them.
No, he was never that good in Boston.
Yes he was. This must be because he didn’t hit people.
It IS because he didn’t hit people!
|A dumb takes scorecard for the Stanley Cup Final||05.30.16 at 9:18 pm ET|
This probably should have been written before the series started, but I didn’t think of it until now. As such, I started writing it during the national anthem of Game 1 and here it is.
These days, advanced metrics, GIFs, line-matching data and more are available to help inform the opinions of sports fans, media and even coaches.
Yet because a lot of people grew up without these things, it’s still relatively common for them to go ignored out of either laziness or one’s desire to share a very forced opinion, or what the internet unflatteringly calls a “hot take.”
You hear takes every day, many of which are horrifyingly dumb: Shea Weber deserves a Norris because he’s never won one, one-time 20-goal-scorer Matt Beleskey is better than two-time 30-goal-scorer Loui Eriksson, the Blues lost because of Vladimir Tarasenko, John Farrell moving Jackie Bradley Jr. up in the lineup killed his hit streak, etc.
Many Bruins followers are torn as to whom they should root for in the Stanley Cup Final between the Sharks and Penguins. Either way, they’ll see a big-name former Bruin who receives a laughable lack of credit for their career end up winning. From there, it’s tougher to decide, so it’s worth it to consider which scenario will bring about the dumbest takes and pick against that one. Here are some of them:
IF THE SHARKS WIN
— Firing the coach is the way to go. Always fire the coach. Call it “parting ways” if need be, but get him out of there. And get the “C” off whoever the hell your captain is. These are proven ways of winning the Stanley Cup.
— Martin Jones is better than Tuukka Rask, the latter of whom hasn’t done anything since getting a big contract (except win the Vezina).
[By the way, as of the first period, Jones had allowed as many goals in one period as Rask did in 14 periods against the Penguins in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals. Jones obviously had a better year, albeit with a far better team and against far fewer high-danger chances.]
— It is technically true that Joe Thornton did not thrive under Claude Julien during his time in Boston, and now he’s off winning the Stanley Cup. Just another reason as to why Julien should be canned.
— Logan Couture (presumably) led the playoffs in scoring. Do the Bruins really have a guy who can do that? Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien: Starting with new team might have been ‘easier,’ but ‘that’s not what I want’||04.14.16 at 11:20 am ET|
Claude Julien returning to the Bruins wasn’t just about the organization deciding to keep their head coach for a 10th season. It was also about Julien’s willingness to return to the organization rather than seek a new gig.
Though it might have been difficult logistically given that he still has two more years left on his contract, Julien and the organization could have decided a parting was in both parties’ best interests. That would have freed Julien up to head to fill the head coaching vacancy in Ottawa, where Julien grew up.
Julien explained in Thursday’s press conference that his preference was to remain with Boston in an effort to get the team back to the playoffs after two consecutive ninth-place finishes.
“I did a self-evaluation,” Julien said. “[I considered], ‘Do I still have the ear of the dressing room? Are they still hearing?’ All that stuff that you go through. Even in my regard, being here nine years and everything else. Everything that came out of it, by the time I was done [with] my evaluation when I met with Don on Sunday morning was I want to be here, I want to bring this team back to where we once had it. I know that there’s some bumps along the way.
“There’s no doubt — I’m going to be honest with you — would it have been easier for me to go somewhere else and say that I’m going to go somewhere fresh and start? That’s not what I want. To me, this organization’s been good to me. They’ve been loyal to me. Like I said before: I love the city, I love our fans. I love just the environment here. You want to be somewhere where people are really passionate about the game. There’s a lot of people here, including players, that have helped me become the coach that I am.
“I don’t want to be that guy that bails just because all of a sudden you hit a bump in the road. I want to be that guy that perserveres. Things that went through my mind are, it’s OK to be remembered right now [as] the winningest coach in Bruins history, but I’d rather be remembered for a guy who had enough character to go back into the trenches and dig his heels in and help turn this organization around vs. the other way that could have been.
“I was pretty clear with Donnie on that front and now it was up to Don to tell me what his thoughts were. Obviously we have very similar thoughts and it was great to hear earlier that I still had his support and that he still believed that I was the guy. That’s why I’m still here today.”
Here is the letter sent to Bruins season ticket-holders Thursday announcing the return of Claude Julien for a 10th season:
Dear Valued Ticket Holders,
Like all of you, I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of this season. We set high expectations for ourselves, and we certainly realize that you as fans share the same set of high expectations. It is our responsibility to ice a Team that you are proud to support and one that contends for the Stanley Cup year in and year out. I fully understand that we did not meet these expectations this year and let you all down in the process.
There are a number of important matters to address this offseason, and I wanted to communicate our strategy surrounding a few of these matters directly to you. All of the respective decisions will be made with a singular objective in mind: to improve our club in both the short term and the long term.
The first involves our head coach. Claude Julien is our head coach and will be our head coach when we return to action in the fall. Claude’s record as the winningest coach in Bruins’ history speaks for itself, and he is fully committed to leading the Team back to being a Stanley Cup contender. We recognize there are areas of our game and our roster that need to be improved, and we firmly believe that Claude gives us the best chance at on-ice success in both the near and long term. We are confident in Claude’s ability to continue to make the necessary game adjustments while we work to develop players and re-shape our roster. Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien ‘absolutely’ will be back next season, changes to coaching staff coming||at 10:14 am ET|
Claude Julien will be back as coach of the Bruins next season.
General manager Don Sweeney announced at the start of Thursday’s end of season press conference that Claude Julien “absolutely” will return.
The Bruins did not make the postseason each of the last two seasons.
Sweeney also announced assistant coach Doug Houda won’t return and other assistants’ deals are up with the exception of goalie coach Bob Essensa. He’s been the goalie coach since 2003.
Houda’s time with the Bruins predates that of Julien, as Houda served as an assistant coach under former B’s head coach Dave Lewis and was kept on after Lewis’ firing. As a player, Houda served as a teammate of Zdeno Chara when the two played for the Islanders.
Other coaches who won’t return are Doug Jarvis and Joe Sacco.
Jarvis was hired prior to the 2010-11 season as a replacement for Craig Ramsay. As a player, Jarvis holds the record for most consecutive games played with 964. Sacco, who formerly served as head coach of the Avalanche and was also an assistant coach for the Sabres, replaced former B’s assistant coach Geoff Ward in the summer of 2014 when Ward left the team to take a head-coaching job in Germany. Ward is currently an assistant coach for the Devils.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins blame pie: Patrice Bergeron says it’s ‘definitely not on’ Claude Julien||04.09.16 at 7:13 pm ET|
The “Should Claude Julien be fired” talk had already begun even before Saturday, but with the Bruins missing the playoffs for a second straight year and getting absolutely embarrassed on home ice in their season finale, it’s only going to pick up.
Most Bruins players weren’t willing to make any sort of comment on the possibility of Julien being fired after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators given that, at the time, the B’s still had an outside shot of making the playoffs (the Flyers’ win over the Penguins later Saturday officially sealed their fate). But the team’s best and most important player came to the defense of Julien.
“I’ve said a million times that Claude has been the best coach I’ve had,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s definitely not on him. It should be on us. His system is there, the game plan is there. It’s about us executing, and we didn’t do that. So it should fall back on the players.”
In the case of Saturday and other games down the stretch that saw the Bruins lose to non-playoff teams, Bergeron is right that the players deserve a good chunk of the blame. There’s no excuse for making the kinds of defensive mistakes that led to Ottawa’s goals on Saturday. There’s no excuse for a top-five offense struggling to score against three non-playoff teams over the last two weeks of the season. Regardless of who the coach is or whether his message is getting through, those are things for which the players need to take responsibility.
But there is plenty of blame to go around, and yes, Julien deserves some of it. A coach should be able to do more to ensure that his team isn’t making as many mistakes as the Bruins made Saturday, whether it was getting beat wide, leaving guys uncovered in front or making bad breakout passes that were easily intercepted. Those things are coachable, and the fact that they happened this late in the season doesn’t reflect well on the coach.
The group that deserves the most blame, however, is the front office. Don Sweeney and company are the ones who built a team that had one legitimate top-four defenseman — and that one, Zdeno Chara, is 39 years old. It’s fitting that defense was the Bruins’ biggest issue on their disastrous last day, because it was their biggest issue all season, and it will remain their biggest issue going forward unless they bring in multiple defensemen who are significant upgrades over what they have now.