A message to Boston Sports fans who have been spoiled the past two decades:
Get used to a rebuilding process and a lot of mediocrity for the next several years as this halcyonic period comes to an end.
Save for the Boston Celtics, the other professional teams in our region have difficult decisions to make as they transition into trying to build their next contending team.
In the first of a three-part series, I look at the Bruins, who were bounced in the second round of the NHL playoffs by the more talented Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. General Manager Don Sweeney will spend the next few months deciding if it is time to rebuild or push for another run at the Cup with the old gang. The operative word being old.
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There are many questions facing the Bruins this offseason:
1. Does goaltender Tuukka Rask return, and if he does, how much confidence will his teammates have in Rask following him leaving the playoff bubble without a clear reason?
2. Will captain Zdeno Chara return for his 15th season in black and gold?
3. Will the organization open up the checkbook to retain unrestricted free agent defenseman, Torey Krug?
4. Will the team move on from its highest-paid player, David Krejci?
5. Is Jake DeBrusk a top-six forward or not?
The first question is nearly impossible to answer.
The second one, although an interesting talk radio topic is not as important as the first question. Chara is five months “older” than Tom Brady. A limited role, best described as player/coach, could work.
While the diminutive Krug is a marvelous power-play point man, he is a physical liability in his own end. Paying him $6-$7 million per year would be foolish.
Krejci is going into the final year of his contract. If you can move him, do so. But his age (35) impedes that possibility.
DeBrusk would be better served as a third-line winger as opposed to a top-six forward.
Let’s see what young forwards Anders Bjork (23), Ondrej Kase (24), Karson Kuhlman (24), and Jack Studnika (20) can do. Give more responsibility to young defensemen Charlie McAvoy (22) and Brandon Carlo (23). Fill in the gaps with solid veterans acquired via trade or free agency.
It may also be time to break up the “perfection” line, especially in the post-season. In the last two postseasons, the troika of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak has scored only 20 even-strength goals in 37 games. That’s not good.
Despite many accomplishments over the last 12 years, the Bruins have either underachieved in the postseason or have been vastly overrated by the local media and the Bruins fan base.
Since the 2008-09 season the Bruins have:
- Won A Stanley Cup
- Advanced To Three Stanley Cup Finals.
- Qualified For The Playoffs In 10-of-12 seasons.
While those accomplishments are commendable, the team has fallen short of a having a golden era because they:
- Blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in the second round of the 2010 playoffs.
- Lost five Game 7’s. All on TD Garden ice.
Sweeney and upper management will have a short period of time in the off-season to decide whether to blow up or tweak the team or less likely, bring back the old gang.
The key is having a plan. Be firm but flexible. That seems pretty easy. Right.
Next, I will look at the present and future of the New England Patriots.
John Sapochetti is co-host of The GET OFF MY LAWN PODCAST WITH KEEGAN & SAP – Heard On FullPressRadio
Follow Him On Twitter @JohnSap25