For the second time in as many years the Bruins have missed the playoffs in a depressing fashion.
Last year the Bruins limped to the finish of the season with a banged up Chara and Krejci and an incompetent lame duck GM, only to get overtaken and ousted by a unconscious Andrew Hammond and a Ottawa Senators team.
This year was a different story with a similarly disappointing result. This version of the Bruins subtracted Doug Hamilton and Milan Lucic. This left the Bruins with a defenseive unit that was either past their prime, raw or miscast. When multiple efforts to obtain defensive help only resulted in Matt Irwin and John Michael Liles the team’s fate was sealed. During the season and down the stretch their D was exposed over and over despite a defensive system that provides ample support from the Bruins forwards.
This was not a playoff team people. This was a team begging for a season or two of rebuilding and compiling assets.
But the mandate from ownership and management did not change. They wanted to make the playoffs.
What is the purpose of taking a team that was clearly ill suited for post season hockey and expending draft capital to try and become some contender’s 1st round playoff fluffer?
There is only one reason why this would be so important to ownership.
Money. J.J. and Charlie want their playoff revenue and Cam and Don do what J.J. and Charlie say.
So Cam and Don added at the deadline.
A 2nd and a 4th for winger Lee Stempniak, a player that was working out with the team this summer and they could have had if they only offered him a contract.
A 3rd and a 5th and Anthony Camara for defenseman John Michael Liles, who is a skilled puckmover, but offers almost no help in the Bruins own end and added to an already massive glut of 3rd pairing/specialist defensemen playing bigger roles than they should for the Bruins.
And when the dust settled the Bruins were on the outside looking in. This was despite their divisional boogeyman, the Montreal Canadiens completely imploding. If there was ever a season that the Bruins could sneak into the playoffs this should have been it. The Bruins failing to make the playoffs in spite of the ease of their path is testament to their true mediocrity.
The butchers bill for two season’s worth of near criminal mismanagement by the front office?
Three second round picks.
Two third round picks.
A fouth round pick.
A 5th round pick.
And that doesn’t include the picks and prospects the Bruins passed up by not trading Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson at the deadline.
That is not a minor setback. That is a huge weeping self inflicted organizational wound resulting from repeatedly and misguidedly going for the playoffs when any honest, objective personnel analysis screamed otherwise.
The haul of real and potential assets above could have been used in an attempt fix the Bruins woeful defense. But now their all gone and this team is in the same position as they were at the end of last season. With their core a year older and further away from their glory days of being a contender and smoldering holes on the blueline.
The emphasis on making the playoffs also forced the coaching staff to lean on veterans with no upside for the majority of the season, robbing young players like Colin Miller, Joe Morrow and Frank Vatrano of getting real, tangible NHL developmental time. This was a season that could have been used to not only stockpile picks and prospects but at the same time assess what these youthful Bruins offered and if they were really a part of this team’ future.
This should have been a year that the Bruins took a step back, embraced introspection and built for the future.
Instead, Cam Neely and Don Sweeney just repeated the mistakes of the past.