Thursday, August 21, 2008

NHL Guide: Boston Bruins

The Bruins were my favorite team back when I started watching hockey in the early 90's. It was their heyday, not because they were winning championships (obviously), but because they boasted a roster of champions. Raymond Bourque is the greatest defenseman to ever play the game, and the only one who can even make an argument is fellow Bruin Bobby Orr. Adam Oates is probably the best playmaker ever, and a classy guy. Cam Neely was the original and still the best power forward, and richly deserved his place in the Hall of Fame. Joe Juneau was a stellar player in his day, and a clutch performer who went on from Boston to score the goal to put the Caps in the Cup Finals for the first time. Andy Moog was a great goaltender who went on to become the Thrashers' first goalie scout, which unfortunately means he probably suggested signing He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

However, shameful, penny-pinching, disinterested management that is only rivaled by the Blackhawks prevented the Bruins from really competing in the playoffs after 1990. Oates left as part of a blockbuster deal that saw him go to the Caps along with Billy Ranford and Rick Tocchet (of Coyotes gambling infamy) in return for Jim Carey (not the actor), Anson Carter, and Jason Allison. Cam Neely was forced into early retirement due to knee problems and became a great post-career ambassador for the game. Joe Juneau was traded to the Caps shortly after his fellow RPI-alum Oates in exchange for Big Al Iafrate. And of course, Ray Bourque, fed up with the team's management, finally decided to head to Colorado to seek a Stanley Cup before retirement, which he achieved in the greatest moment in professional sports history.

Today, the Bruins just don't have enough in the tank to really muster much in the way of admiration or spite. In Atlanta, we all remember Marc Savard's assists fondly, but cringe in memory of his stupid, ill timed penalties. He's also a jerk.

I have a hard time not liking Zdeno Chara, at least a little bit. He is the biggest guy in the NHL and could barely skate when he first joined the league. It would have been easy for him to become a joke, collect his rookie contract money and fade off into obscurity. But Zdeno worked his ass off and became much more than just an intimidating force. He went from an awkward rookie to a legitimate Norris Trophy finalist.

TIMMAY!!! You have to feel bad for Tim Thomas. He's a solid goalie with a temper (Pasi, anyone?) on a team with practically no defense. And he's American. And I had a great time yelling TIMMAY!!! at the All Star Game.

Phil Kessel. The Bruins seem ready to give up on him already, as he's been rumored to be on the trading block since before the deadline this past season. I would love to have this future Team-USA Captain in Atlanta. He was scratched for the first few games of the playoffs, then came back and single-handedly almost got the Bruins to the second round.

So the Bruins have a few admirable players, but not much heart these days. That's why they're on my list of teams that are just kind of -there.

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

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