Tag: Zdeno Chara

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five

Sweeney vows to return ‘aggressiveness’ to Bruins


Cam Neely spoke last month about the big, bad “identity” of the Boston Bruins, and how getting away from that identity had made them not as “tough to play against as we’d like to be.”

And so it was no surprise when new general manager Don Sweeney, flanked by Neely, spoke today about getting back to that identity, in hopes of returning to the playoffs and competing for a Stanley Cup.

“We’re not as far away as people may think,” Sweeney said. “We have to get back, a little bit, the aggressiveness that was lost in our group.”

Sweeney suggested that the Bruins, having won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and gone to the finals in 2013, had grown “stagnant” or overly “comfortable” with their mix.

Not anymore, he promised.

“There will be some changes going forward,” he said. “There will be personnel changes. There will be staff member changes.”

On that note, Sweeney did not commit to keeping head coach Claude Julien.

“I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion, as to where I think things need to change, and what direction we need to change as a group,” said Sweeney.

“So it’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward.”

Sweeney, the longtime Bruins defenseman who’s been in the front office since 2006, was asked about the importance of returning to the “style” that people have come to expect from the organization.

“I think it’s incredibly important,” he said. “It’s one thing to throw the words ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ around, it’s another to live it, breathe it, and teach it.”

Of course, it’s still another thing to assemble the players to be successful with that style.

Or any style, really.

Because the Bruins did not win the Stanley Cup in 2011 by aggression alone. To suggest they did would be to ignore the actual hockey-playing performances they received from the likes of Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Nathan Horton, Mark Recchi, and the list goes on.

That team, big and bad as it was, had a lot more than toughness going for it. An elite goalie. An elite defenseman, still in his prime. An elite two-way center. A scoring center. Depth on defense. Four lines that all contributed. Energetic youngsters. Veteran leaders. And on top of all that, the Bruins stayed relatively healthy through 25 hard-fought playoff games.

The 2014-15 roster still had some of those things. But it did not have all of those things.

Conceded Sweeney: “I think it would’ve taken a lot of things to fall our way for us to be in a position to challenge this year.”

So…a lot of things on Sweeney’s plate.

That includes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at tonight’s Boston Red Sox game.

Welcome to the spotlight.

Related: Bruins fire Chiarelli after missing playoffs

Meanwhile, the Ducks are feeling great about their defensive depth


Enough has already been written on the Blackhawks’ defense. And with Kyle Cumiskey looking like he could step in for David Rundblad for tomorrow’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, more will be written still.

But this post is about Anaheim’s defense. Unlike Chicago’s, it’s looking pretty darn deep.

It’s so deep, in fact, that veteran James Wisniewski can’t get into the lineup.

“We thought we got all these guys and [Simon Despres] would be the seventh D,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said today. “Now it would be pretty hard arguably to take him out. [GM Bob Murray] did a tremendous job acquiring him.

“I think [assistant coach Trent Yawney has] done a tremendous job as far as handling all six defensemen. I think with their minutes, with their responsibilities, now there’s not a fear of putting any one of them into any situation that comes to the front.”

Deep and talented as the Ducks defense may be, it does not have a Norris Trophy candidate, like Chicago does with Duncan Keith. That’s notable if only because most (not all, but the large majority of) Stanley Cup champions do have that kind of defenseman. Los Angeles had Drew Doughty, Boston had Zdeno Chara, Detroit had Nicklas Lidstrom, etc.

To be sure, the Ducks may one day soon have a Norris Trophy candidate. Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler each have the potential. But both are still very young, at 21 and 23 years old, respectively.

Hence, the importance of veteran Francois Beauchemin.

“He’s the voice,” Boudreau said of the 34-year-old. “Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there. You can hear him talking all the time.

“The other one that’s helping, but not playing, is Wiz. He’s helping the defensemen out there. Obviously he wants to play, but he’s been so professional about all of this. He’ll take [Sami Vatanen] aside, he’ll take the young guys aside and say, ‘This is what Chicago is doing, this is this, this is that.’ Those two older guys are great teachers and the guys look up to them an awful lot.”

Related: Coach Q denies Chicago’s depth issues, but Kesler suggests otherwise

Chara doesn’t ‘understand why all of a sudden my age is an issue’


Zdeno Chara doesn’t get why his age is such a big deal. And the 38-year-old, younger than just 13 other NHLers this season, is getting tired of hearing about it.

“I don’t understand why all of a sudden my age is an issue just because I got hurt and I missed a lot of games, a big chunk of the season,” Chara told the Boston Globe. “I don’t like it. I don’t like when people start to judge you based on age or the amount of games you played.

“I still feel very motivated, very confident that I’m going to be healthy and strong next season. I don’t know. Obviously I am planning to play beyond what maybe people are guessing or expecting.

“Age is obviously a number, but some players or some people are meant to play for way beyond that.”

The counterpoint is that Chara’s advancing age was a topic well before he got hurt this season. The big defenseman’s fitness is legendary, but he’s still human. Next season, there will be even fewer NHLers older than he is. (Kimmo Timonen, 40, will retire, to name just one.)

Really, it’s the ultimate compliment when Bruins fans fret and skeptics wonder how Chara’s age will affect his team’s chances at competing for a Stanley Cup. Without him, would the B’s have won it all in 2011? Almost certainly not. It was the same thing in Detroit when Nicklas Lidstrom was approaching retirement. Lidstrom called it quits soon after he turned 42. The Wings last won the Cup when he was 38.

To be sure, Chara still has a couple of seasons left where he can play at a high level (even if it’s not as high as it used to be). If the Bruins are going to compete for a title while he’s still around, it’ll be up to youngsters like Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug to keep improving, and for whoever the next GM may be to improve the depth on the back end, not to mention any issues up front.

On the difference between ‘good’ and ‘big-time’ players

2012 NHL Winter Classic Announcement

Let’s forget for just one second that Mike Babcock has a big decision to make about his future. This post isn’t an attempt to handicap where he’ll end up. We’ve already done plenty of that this season.

This post is applicable to fans of all 30 teams, not just those of the Detroit Red Wings. Because, for me, the one thing that Babcock said last night that really stood out was, per Yahoo Sports, the following:

“In the end, you’ve got to have big-time players up the middle and on the back to be successful. So those are questions in our organization that we work towards, drafting good and developing good, but we’ve been winning too much (in the regular season to get high draft picks). That’s the facts.”

When the Wings last won the Cup, they had two “big-time” centers in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and one “big-time” defenseman in Nicklas Lidstrom.

Not just “good,” but “big-time.” As in, future Hall of Famers. Elite. Best of the best.

Since Lidstrom retired, the Wings have not been past the second round of the playoffs.

In a related story, the Philadelphia Flyers never recovered from losing Chris Pronger and the future of the Boston Bruins is in question with an aging Zdeno Chara.

The last five Stanley Cup winners have featured one of Chara, Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty. All three are future Hall of Famers.

As for “up the middle,” Babcock asked last night, “Who’s going to replace Pav?” That’s a good question, because Datsyuk will turn 37 in July. A winner of three Selke Trophies, he’s one of the best two-way forwards in the history of the game.

Another related story: the last five Stanley Cup winners have featured one of Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, or Anze Kopitar. Again, all three are future Hall of Famers.

Meanwhile, there’s a reason there’s so much excitement in Edmonton about Connor McDavid, a center. Yet equally important will be the development of d-man Darnell Nurse.

Ditto for Buffalo, where there’s plenty of excitement for Jack Eichel; just don’t overlook the development of Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.

And for all the strife we’ve seen in Toronto, Leafs fans can at least be hopeful about Morgan Rielly and William Nylander. Toronto hasn’t had a “big-time” center since Mats Sundin. And did you know the Leafs, an Original Six franchise, have never had a Norris Trophy winner? The closest any Toronto blue-liner has come in the modern era is Borje Salming. The Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup in the modern era.

Look, nobody’s saying a team absolutely has to have a Norris Trophy winner on defense and a Selke Trophy/Hart Trophy winner at center. There are always going to be exceptions. The 2006 Hurricanes didn’t have an elite d-man, though people sometimes forget they had Rod Brind’Amour, a two-time Selke winner.

The thing is, you don’t build a team based on the exceptions. Otherwise, every NFL team would be looking for the next Trent Dilfer.

“We’ve got lots of good young players, no question about it, and ideally we’ve got some good ones coming,” Babcock said.

But are any going to be “big-time” centers or defensemen?

Not just good.


Report: Bruins have reached out to Jeff Gorton for GM role

2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Media Availability

According to the Boston Herald, the Bruins have contacted the New York Rangers for permission to speak with Jeff Gorton regarding the club’s vacant GM position.

Gorton was the Bruins’ assistant GM when the club drafted Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand.

He served as the Bruins’ interim GM for three months in 2006 signing free agents Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. Gorton was also responsible for the Bruins’ acquisition of goaltender Tuukka Rask from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Andrew Raycroft prior to being replaced by Peter Chiarelli.

On Saturday Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Bruins would interview Ray Shero and Paul Fenton over the next week.

Shero was the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2006-14. Fenton is currently the assistant GM of the Nashville Predators.

Related: (Report) Toronto approached Chiarelli before he took Oilers job