Zdeno Chara

Jacobs rips Bruins for ‘unacceptable’ season

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Charlie Jacobs, the new CEO of the company that owns the Boston Bruins, is not happy with the current state of the hockey club.

And that’s an understatement.

“I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year,” Jacobs said today, per CSN New England. “It’s unacceptable the way that this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team. To see it delivered the way it has is unacceptable. I can tell you that at the moment it’s a very fluid situation that’s being monitored closely. I don’t have any answers for why we’re under-performing because if I did I would have tried them long ago.”

Safe to say, club president Cam Neely and GM Peter Chiarelli aren’t going to feel any less pressure to get the B’s back on track. Jacobs confirmed today that he “had several meetings in the last 24 hours” with the pair.

While adding a top-six winger would be a start for the Bruins, their problems won’t likely be solved that simply. This is a group that isn’t doing anything particularly well right now.

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Captain Zdeno Chara remains confident, however.

“We will make it happen,” said Chara. “We don’t just believe it will happen, we will make it happen. For this team the ultimate goal is to get our game back, and play with the system, structure and confidence.

“We are not discouraged. We’re obviously disappointed that we’re not where we feel like we should be. We’re going to be working really hard to get it back where it’s supposed to be.”

The Bruins are in Pittsburgh tomorrow to play the Penguins (on NBCSN).

P.S. — Jacobs is the son of longtime owner Jeremy Jacobs, who still, at the age of 74, plans on “being very active in the business.”

P.P.S. — Brad Marchand and Torey Krug had a bit of a scuffle at today’s practice, but they hugged it out.

The Bruins wouldn’t really trade Lucic… would they?

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Some interesting stuff from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this morning, courtesy Nichols on Hockey:

“The only thing I’ve heard about Lucic I think there’s at least one team, I believe, that’s asked about him and I don’t think there was a deal to be made there.

“Lucic, I mean if you trade him. Here’s the thing with Boston. I think the question with Lucic is he’s not a $6 million player right now, but he can be one. He is a guy who emotionally controls a team. When Boston was at its best, Lucic was very much their emotional core. He can play a major role. I think the question is – there’s two questions. No. 1, is something wrong with his body that it’s finally breaking down because of the role he’s played? No. 2, are they trying to get him to play whistle-to-whistle and he’s simply lost his effectiveness.

“I think one of the biggest questions being asked in Boston as an organization right now is, ‘What has happened here?’ and, ‘How long-term is this? What does it mean?’ I think the Bruins are being asked about him. I think there’s a lot of hard, internal questions being asked about, ‘Do we do it, or do we think that there’s still a lot left to give because if we do trade him, we change the makeup of our team in a major way.’ “

This, of course, coincides with one of the worst slumps of Lucic’s career — six goals in 39 games, one in his last 15 — and head coach Claude Julien recently calling out the burly power forward.

“His whole game, I think,” was Julien’s reply when asked what Lucic needs to improve, per the Boston Globe. “We’d like to see him do a lot more than what he’s done. He’s a heavy player and everybody talks about him hitting — yeah, that’s one part of his game — but he’s also a guy that with his size and strength he can go to the net hard.

“He can get his nose dirty in those areas and maybe that increases his goal production and stuff like that.”

You can tell B’s are choked about this season slipping away. They started the year 13-8-0 and have gone 6-7-6 since, and guys are venting. Tuukka Rask used the word “embarrassing” to describe Sunday’s loss to Carolina and, following Saturday’s OT loss to Ottawa, Julien said Lucic — who recorded just a single shot on goal — has “got to be capable, of, again, more than one measly shot.”

In terms of contractual mobility, Lucic’s an interesting case. He’s still only 26 and has just one year remaining on a deal that pays $6M annually. But he also has a modified no-movement clause and, with free agency looming at the end of 2015-16, could be in line for another payday… assuming this current slump is something he can break out of, and not the beginning of a downward slide.

Per the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, the extension Nick Foligno recently inked with Columbus — a six-year, $33 million deal — could factor into Lucic’s next contract. There’s still plenty that could happen to change that, but it’s definitely something teams thinking about acquiring Lucic would take into consideration.

The bigger issue, though, is what Friedman stated above — would Boston be willing to dramatically alter its persona during the course of the season? Outside of captain Zdeno Chara, there’s no player that embodies the Bruins quite like Lucic, and it’s tough to predict how profound an effect his departure would have on the club.

The flip side, of course, is that many a NHL team’s been burned by focusing on what a player’s done in the past — rather than what he’ll do in the future.

Video: Kessel lights up the Bruins

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Phil Kessel had gone six games without a goal. Then he faced the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. Skid snapped.

Kessel, earlier denied on a breakaway and then a penalty shot, gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a two-goal lead in the second period, snapping home a wicked wrist shot on the power play for career point No. 500.

What. A. Shot.

Prior to that, he danced around the towering Zdeno Chara at the Toronto blue line, flew down the wing and set up James van Riemsdyk with a perfect pass for a goal on a two-on-one rush, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead just 31 seconds after Boston had evened the score.

Here’s the video of the van Riemsdyk goal.

The news is not all good for the Leafs. Joffrey Lupul suffered a lower-body injury and will not return, according to Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.

Hawks almost completely monopolizing all-star vote

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With the NHL all-star vote set to close on New Year’s Day, it looks like the fans will select almost exclusively Chicago Blackhawks players.

Corey Crawford is all-but a lock to be the goaltender chosen by the fans as he has a commanding 955,385 to 566,149 vote lead over Montreal’s Carey Price. Jaroslav Halak is the only other netminder to breach the 500,000 or even 400,000-vote mark (526,096).

The two defensemen that will likely end up being voted in are the Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith (1,044,124) and Brent Seabrook (875,686). Once again it’s a Montreal player that leads those shy of the cutoff. In this case it’s P.K. Subban (667,427). The only other blueliner with at least a half million votes is Boston’s Zdeno Chara (528,106).

Fans can also vote in three forwards and it looks like two of them will be Chicago’s Patrick Kane (1,075,304) and Jonathan Toews (1,061,691). Sidney Crosby (704,792) is in fourth place, narrowly beating yet another Blackhawks player in Patrick Sharp (644,313).

So unless something changes in the next couple of days, the only non-Chicago player that the fans select will be Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons, who leads the league with 1,466,077 votes. If you haven’t been following the all-star voting until now, then the fact that Girgensons, who has 20 points in 37 contests, is leading the pack might surprise you. However, he’s been cruising towards victory for a while now thanks to support from his native Latvia.

You can see the full vote count through six weeks at NHL.com.

Dougie Hamilton, a.k.a. ‘the future’ of the Bruins, earns praise from Julien

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Sunday morning, a testy Claude Julien met with reporters prior to the Bruins’ home game with the Sabres. Among other things, Julien called defenseman Dougie Hamilton the “future of our team.”

Later on that day, Hamilton scored two goals, including the late tying marker, and added an assist in a 4-3 overtime win for the B’s.

Not surprisingly, this brought more encouraging words from the coach.

“Tonight, he was aggressive at the right time and he played a real solid game tonight,” said Julien, per Boston.com. “There’s times where he’s aggressive and the decisions aren’t the right one, so it’s learning as you go along here for a young player. He’s 21 years old. I think we’re getting a lot out of a 21 year-old defenseman right now. Even if he has bad games, he’s been pretty good overall.”

We’ve written extensively about Hamilton’s importance to the Bruins. Zdeno Chara is 37 years old now, the seventh-oldest defenseman in the NHL. On paper, Hamilton is the franchise’s next cornerstone blue-liner, which has certainly enjoyed its fair share of great blue-liners throughout the years.

But how great the 21-year-old can be, if he can be great at all, remains to be seen. Does he have the right mentality? From Tyler Myers to Luke Schenn to Michael Del Zotto, we’ve seen how fragile confidence can be for promising young defensemen.

At the very least, Hamilton is lucky to have a pretty good role model.

“It is hard to be facing every night the best lines,” Chara said in November. “A player has to be always willing to do whatever you need, and sacrifice maybe some of his personal agenda. Your No. 1 job is to shut down the top line, and if you can contribute offensively, then good. … But to do it for 70-80 games, facing the best players in the world, that is challenging; you have to be mentally ready to do that. Dougie hasn’t been that long with us, but he has shown the potential for having a great future with his improvement so far.”

Hamilton’s 20 points currently rank him in a tie for 15th among NHL d-men. In what’s been a frustrating season for the Bruins, he’s been a bright spot, to be sure.

Related: The Atlantic Division race is going to be fascinating