The Boston Bruins have long been maligned for a certain lack. But that isn’t the case, Marc Savard, hardly the most athletic or imposing member of the Black and Gold has over the years stood up for Milan Lucic, and now Zdeno Chara when the big boys were outnumbered or blindsided.
Neither Chara nor Lucic have ever needed someone to stick up for them, it was done because someone needed a message sent. Patrice Bergeron will never threaten any NHL enforcers job, but when players take one too many liberties even he will drop the gloves and go, as Josh Georges found out to his dismay and indignity.
Mark Stuart has yet to meet the man who will make him pass on a chance to send them, once going three separate times with Jamal Mayers, two of their “discussions” in that game were listed as roughing minors by the officials, but everyone else in the building, and everyone watching at home knew the score.
Hell, even Grampa Recchi proved there was still some fire in the belly by dropping the gloves and going with Chris Campoli earlier this year.
So toughness, isn’t the answer. They have more than a handful of guys willing to drop the gloves, even the monster known as Blake Wheeler has been known to go for gladiatorial glory.
Statistically, this team is about where it needs to be to succeed. They have a stellar defense, and a rather enviable goalkeeping situation. (Mostly.) Their offense is nearer the top of the league than most people would have predicted in October. The failure to thrive has to be something different. I pointed out who shapes the personality of a team a few days ago. So let’s take a look at who drafted which of some of the better known members of the Bruins, and look at the two men.
Mike O’Connell was a mostly unremarkable NHL defenseman. He had a career goal goal high of 18 goals in 1984, smack dab in the middle of the NHL’s golden age of scoring, Wayne Gretzky scored 87 that year, teammate Ray Bourque had 31 that season. He never am-massed more than 75 penalty minutes in a season in an era when line brawls were still common and bench clearing brawls weren’t unheard of, most of his seasons were in the 40’s. As GM he was the man who traded Joe Thornton to San Jose. Never really came off as a great public speaker or someone who particularly enjoyed the spotlight, media attention or was highly emotional.
Some of the guys drafted by O’Connell:
- Patrice Bergeron, a cerebral playmaker who’s good in all three zones, tolerates the media but would clearly rather be in the gym or on the couch with a good book than in front of the cameras.
- David Krejci, a cerebral playmaker who’s good in all three zones, not spectacular but has very sharp passing skills and the ability to track his own teammates in an almost uncanny way. Clearly regards cameras as a form of torture that’d be outlawed if he were ever world dictator, but he’d probably rather be bowling than ruling.
- Mark Stuart, quiet stay at home defensemen who’s pops is a brain surgeon, and who while mostly a quiet guy who has trouble remembering to breathe when he gets interviewed.
Peter Chiarelli was a Boston University college player, who’s pro-resume is exactly four games long, all of those in the British Hockey League, on a team where he may have been the best player. Peter Chiarelli, probably has almost as much love for cameras as does David Krejci, and his interviews aren’t going to become something that earn him a post management color commentating job ala Mike Milbury and Don Cherry, they might however get him a job as a drug free sleep therapist.
A few of the players brought in by Peter Chiarelli.
- Jordan Caron. A kid who was criticized in some circles for taking to long to get to the podium when he was drafted because he stopped to quietly embrace the six or seven hundred supporters at the draft with him. Even during his interviews after his first NHL games and goals, he was very soft spoken.
- Tyler Seguin, a cerebral high end talent who actively seeks direction from everyone around him to the point where he has actually had a limit on the number of question he can ask placed on him. When a camera is aimed at him he looks a bit like Pinocchio before he goes from puppet to real boy.
- Blake Wheeler, took the route of passive resistance and preferring to risk not having a pro-career to demanding the Pheonix Coyotes trade him. Has had liberties taken with him right and left and only dropped the gloves once. Of the six players singled out, is probably the best pure interview, and yet I doubt he’ll end up holding the microphone when he hangs up the skates, not surprisingly he majored in economics.
While all of these guys are skilled at their positions, and at least two have leadership qualities, none of them, nor Zdeno Chara or any of the teams other top talents can really be counted as outgoing volatile personalities. On the ice when the provocation is three steps beyond intolerable and as plain as the nose on Lucic’s face, they will act.
What they need, what the lack, what the front office should desire far more than a puck moving defenseman is a catalyst. That dynamic player who makes things happen, drops the gloves at the drop of hat, who burns hot on the ice, and can be counted on to have two or three feuds running with other teams, or even individual players. they guy who plays on one of the first two lines, and can be counted on to infect the entire team with his outrage, passion, or grim determination. Think of Shane Doan or Jarome Iginla and the way both of their teams ride their wakes. When either creates large waves, the team swamps whoever is on the ice with them. Either of those players is a potential solution, and while it’s unlikely either could be had has Iginla has a not trade clause and a hefty salary, and Doan as a full no movement, either one could be the mix that takes the current Bruins roster from contender to champion.
Some people will say its the job of the coach to motivate players, and in someways that’s correct, but this is the type of motivation I’ve never seen come from a coach. It’s either a skater or no one, right now in the case of the Boston Bruins, it’s no one.