Rule of thumb in today’s world of sports: it’s always better to get something rather than risk being left with nothing.
Unless you’re the Boston Bruins.
The Bs head into tonight with 74 points on the year; 4th in the Atlantic Division and 6th in the Eastern Conference. I have to ask, are Don Sweeney and Cam Neely trying to truly rebuild this team, or are they silently succumbing to pressure from ownership to embark on a fruitless endeavor to qualify for the postseason? Right now it seems like it’s both, and it can’t be both. You can’t have one foot in each door…you’re either in, or out.
Hanging onto Loui Erikkson, while also adding 35-year-old defenceman John-Michael Liles (isn’t the idea to get younger?) and winger Lee Stempniak before the deadline, would suggest that they’re trying to make the playoffs with a team that will get bounced in the first round. Whoopee! The last thing we needed was a return to the half-assed, frugal Harry Sinden Era. Please excuse me while I change the channel.
Erikkson is a very good (not great) player, and is on pace to score 30 goals this season- currently 23 goals and 25 assists for 48 points. However, he’ll be 31 in July and already has a history of concussions- not a good mix for a winger looking for a long-term deal. Sweeney said the Bruins are still interested in signing Erikkson long-term, but at what cost? I would be willing to do the four years at $5.5 million per as has been reported, but if Loui is looking for $6 million per year for five years, it’s time to move on. They still have until July 1st to get something done, so let’s give it time. But there’s little room for optimism.
Erikkson aside, I personally would have looked into trading Chara and maybe Seidenberg, too. The Bruins desperately need to get younger at defenceman. I find it hard to believe that just two years ago Tuukka Rask was in the top five in GAA and SV% in the league and has plummeted to the bottom five overnight. Vezina Trophy winners don’t fall off like that, especially when they’re under 30-years-old. Sure, Rask can give up soft goals. He’s not immune from criticism. But attackers are getting to the net too easily and too often, and Chara can’t get back into the defensive zone like he used to. Two major decisions- trading Johnny Boychuck and refusing to pay Dougie Hamilton- are looking more inexcusable by the day. And I didn’t even bring up the Tyler Seguin disaster.
Could it be possible that there is urgency to overpay for Erikkson because he’s all that’s left from the Seguin trade? Maybe. But the graffiti is already on the wall, they gave up on Seguin way, way too soon. There’s no reason to throw on the white wash and make a bad situation worse by over-extending for a player who doesn’t warrant that kind of money. Otherwise, you’re signing him for big dollars and then you’re crossing your fingers that he shows up for the next half decade.
The Bruins have won exactly one Stanley Cup in the last 44 years due to poor management, and this looks, feels and sounds like bad management. Just when Bruins fans thought it was safe to go back to the Garden…