Two thousand eleven was the most exciting, enthralling and simply satisfying year to be a Boston Bruins game in almost four decades. Some of the stories that made the year special are due a little more talking about.
Honorable Mention: Zach to Zenith
In 2007 the Bruins picked a small, skilled center from the Everett Silvertips as their first round pick. This was a draft that saw Patrick Kane go first, and follow his top selection up with a cup clinching goal before Hamill would ever make back to back NHL games. Injuries and ill luck in Providence saw Hamill’s stock drop dramatically in the eyes of observers and the team. Then a funny thing happened. He came into camp and outplayed not just his fellow AHL players but more than one of the NHL players. Since then he’s gotten two call ups, played all three forward positions and earned his stay. From the man many would consider the most conservative, veteran reliant coach in the league he’s earned the ultimate trinity of accolades: trust, regular shifts and special teams play.
Number 10: Drafting Dougie
When the Toronto Maple Leafs put on a late season surge that yanked them out of the lottery and had them threatening to reach the playoffs. The Bruins had a huge need for a top defensive prospect. With the top of their blueline aging, and the pipeline containing middle pairing or lower potential players the hope of a top defensive prospect being drafted waned with every Leafs win. The June draft saw a few odd things happen, an out of zone pick by the Jets.
Several teams in need of defense opted for forwards, and as number eight was called, and the Flyers opted for Couterier, Bruins fans went mad. Four of the defensemen expected to go in the top ten were still on the board. The excitement was not limited to fans. The normally straight laced and reserved Peter Chiarelli walked to the podium. He didn’t have just his elusive smile, but a full bodied laugh as he stood up to perform one of the most important duties of a general manager. He picked Dougie Hamilton. When he was asked later he said what every GM says when they select a player “I never expected him to be there.” I believe him.
Number 9: Kaberle Trade
Possibly the most speculated trade in Boston Bruins history came to pass. In order to make room for Kaberle the Bruins had to jettison Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to Atlanta-now-Winnipeg to have cap space. The trade was designed to fix the Bruins ailing powerplay. It did not. With the quote-unquote assistance of the former Maple Leafs powerplay quarterback the Bruins went on to have the worst powerplay in memory. With a salary of over four million dollars he became the fifth defensemen in icetime sharing even strength shifts with rookie Adam Mcquaid.
During his tenure, Julien defended him, players defended him. Peter Chiarelli even defended the former Toronto Maple Leaf. Fans were not so impressed. The media was not so impressed. In the end the divide between lip service and throwing good money after bad was demonstrated as Kaberle would sign with Carolina Hurricanes.
Number 8: Lucic Hits 30
When you walk into training camp the fall after you are drafted and the comparisons to a guy who’s number is in the rafters, living up to the hype can take a little work. When you skate poorly and have a slew of nagging injuries in your third year, your fourth year, the first of a new contract is crucial. Boston is no stranger to either great or disappointing players. The former are lauded for decades past their last game, the latter are often run out of town (see above).
With a big contract to justify Lucic had a lot to live up to. With a wretched team playoff performance directly in the rear view mirror, he and the team had a lot to live down. With the aid of the newly arrived large bodied Nathan Horton and the slick passing David Krejci, Lucic finally started to live up the hype by potting thirty regular season goals. He finished the season leading the Bruins in goals, and ahead of John Tavares, Alex Semin, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane.