Boston hockey fans can be hard on big players who don’t play with an edge, according to former Bruins defenseman Hal Gill.
“I had my share of fights, but it was never good enough,” Gill, now retired, told WEEI.com. “[It was,] ‘You should have beaten up Tie Domi.’ It was unrealistic, but that’s what the Bruins fans want. That’s the Big Bad Bruins mantra. It can be tough at times.”
Gill made that remark while speaking about new Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes, the towering 25-year-old who had 147 hits, but just 20 PIM, in 72 games last season with Florida.
Hayes has only fought twice in 168 career NHL games.
While Gill believes Hayes will be fine if he stays “true to his game” and “doesn’t get caught up trying to please everyone,” he insists there’s a big difference between playing for Boston, which Gill did for over 600 games, and Montreal, which he did for almost 200 games.
“In Montreal, I was amazed,” he said. “When I was there, they would cheer because I made a nice poke check. They would say, ‘Wow, that was a great poke check.’ With the Bruins, you could play a great game defensively, but if you didn’t kill someone or you didn’t get a big goal, they can pile on you.”
Related: Sweeney vows to return ‘aggressiveness’ to Bruins
A trio of young forwards have signed with the Boston Bruins.
The B’s announced today that Jimmy Hayes has inked a three-year deal with a cap hit of $2.3 million, while Brett Connolly has agreed to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.025 million and Brandon DeFazio has signed a one-year, two-way deal with a cap hit of $575,000 at the NHL level.
Hayes, 25, was acquired last week in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He had 19 goals and 16 assists in 72 games last season.
Connolly, 23, was acquired in March in a trade with Tampa Bay, soon after which he suffered a fractured finger and missed most of the remainder of the season.
Hayes will be an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires, while Connolly will remain an RFA. The latter’s $1.025 million cap hit could be a good bargain for the Bruins next season.
DeFazio was an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old spent the last two seasons in the Canucks organization, mostly with AHL Utica.
Related: Chiarelli believes Connolly can ‘help us right away’
The Boston Bruins want to get back to playing Bruins hockey.
They also want to score more goals.
For those two reasons, the signing of Matt Beleskey makes sense. The 27-year-old winger was among Anaheim’s leaders in hits last season, plus he chipped in 22 goals, then eight more in the playoffs.
But here’s why the Bruins are taking a risk in reportedly giving the unrestricted free agent a five-year commitment, with a cap hit of $3.8 million:
Beleskey scored on 15.2 percent of his shots in 2014-15. Which was a good thing. But his career rate is 9.9, suggesting he may have picked a really profitable season to have some shooting luck.
It’s also possible that skating mostly with Ryan Kesler, plus a fair bit with Ryan Getzlaf, helped Beleskey’s numbers. In 329 career NHL games, Beleskey only has 57 goals.
Look, let’s just say people were saying similar things about UFA David Clarkson, right before Clarkson signed that disastrous contract with the Leafs.
Maybe the Beleskey signing works out a lot better for the Bruins. At the very least, the cap hit and term are considerably less onerous than Clarkson’s. Plus, the Bruins aren’t the Leafs. And if Beleskey gets time with Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci, he’ll be in a position to succeed.
As always on July 1, only time will tell.
Related: Beleskey rejects Ducks’ offer, headed to free agency