The Hockey News: Boston’s ‘D’ party
Glen Murray has been around enough reclamation projects to know when to bite his tongue.
The veteran right winger is tickled by off-season additions to the
revamped Boston Bruins and feels they are significantly better than the
team that skated off the ice April 15 in Atlanta, out of the playoffs,
but he’s not about to start shouting it from the top of Beacon Hill.
Not this time. The Bruins have a new, more realistic motto: No Promises.
Sure, the Bruins are optimistic about the acquisition of 6-foot-9
defenseman Zdeno Chara. Why wouldn’t they be? Chara, formerly of the
Ottawa Senators, was considered by many to be the best available
unrestricted free agent. He joins the Bruins along with center Marc
Savard, who was ninth in league scoring last season, as well as
checking winger Shean Donovan and veteran defender Paul Mara. And there
is a feeling the team made a wise pick in choosing young executive
Peter Chiarelli as its new GM and Dave Lewis as the new coach.
Murray likes what he sees; yet he remains cautious.
“We learned one thing last season,” Murray says. “People talked about
us being a contender, but you’re never a contender until you make it
into the playoffs and get by the first two or three rounds. You can
have a great team on paper and I know this has happened to a lot of
teams, but until you start playing and you gel, you don’t have
anything. This year we’re going to take it one step at a time, we’ll
gel together and hopefully get into the playoffs.”
Last year was an unmitigated disaster. Even though the Bruins were
knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round the previous three
seasons, some optimists went as far as suggesting the Bruins had what
it takes to make it to the Stanley Cup final.
They were positioned nicely heading into the salary cap era, with only
a handful of players under contract and were poised to make a splash in
the free agent market. But optimism quickly gave way to reality and a
season of promise was soon one of bitter disappointment.
Among the newcomers who were supposed to lead Boston to glory were
defenseman Brian Leetch and forwards Brad Isbister, Tom Fitzgerald,
Shawn McEachern, Dave Scatchard and Alexei Zhamnov. With the exception
of Leetch, who is in the late innings of an excellent career, that is
not the most impressive cavalry ever assembled.
GM Mike O’Connell came under fire so he did what many GMs do under
pressure, he laid it at the feet of his team’s best player: Joe
Thornton. In one of the worst trades ever, the Bruins sent Thornton to
San Jose for defenseman Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau.
O’Connell decided he would trade Thornton out of the conference, and in
doing so eliminated 14 potential trading partners en route to being
fleeced. All Thornton did was lead the NHL in scoring and win the Hart
Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player. (By Mike Brophy)
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