Disfunction in Boston

There is no explaining this once proud franchise.  This team has iced hockey greats Johnny Bucyk (sharing the same nickname as me, The Chief), Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and of course Bobby Orr.  This team has retired 10 players numbers, and have only the number 1 & 6 left in single digits.

It’s an amazing history.  But that’s all it is, and they are now almost as pitiful as the Toronto Maple Leafs, with 2 Stanley cups in the early 70’s and nothing to show since.

Here’s whats so perplexing about the situation.  They continually destroy the ground the CBA is built on, then complain about the situation they are in.

In 1997, after only 1.5 years of hockey since the (first) lockout, Boston side steps the Rookie Salary Cap by signing Joe Thornton to the rookie max, but then added considerable dollars in a bonus structure with easy thresholds to meet.

That resulted in top picks earning in excess of $4m in each of the first 3 years in the league.  Then they were expected to take huge pay cuts as they were RFA with no arbitration rights.  It also resulted in some players not signing at all as not all teams were willing to fork out so much cash for questionable talent, albeit highly rated. 

Boston has also walked away from an arbitrators decision twice.  Two times isn’t a lot until you consider the fact it’s only ever been done 4 times.  Ever.

Boston also questioned their top player’s work ethic and dedication despite playing through the playoffs with broken ribs.  If you’ve ever broken your ribs, you know how much pain any pressure can cause you, and knowing this, there should be no question about Joe Thorton’s heart.  I guarantee you the brass in Boston has no idea the pain he played in.

Boston then signed their top player to a 3 year deal and subsequently traded him for a bag of pucks.  No disrepect to Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart or Wayne Primeau, but San Jose hosed Boston royally on this one.  Compare that trade to the Pronger deal where Edmonton ended up with at least 2 future top line players in Smid & Lupul.  Boston has to start from nothing which leads me to my next point.

Thornton has no heart, but Marc Savard is going to save the franchise?  5m per season for 5 years is more than they ever offered Thornton who has always outperformed Savard in every respect.  it’s why he’s a household name and Savard is the kid know one really knows with an attitude problem.

Then 7.5m per season to Chara.  A great defenseman, but does he have enough heart?  I don’t think he’s got the leadership required to raise the level of play on this team.

Boston got sticker shock in the first year post lockout and missed out on some players they wanted.  In the second summer, they gave all the other GM’s sticker shock by shelling out so much on 2 average players.

Now, they’ve done it again and handed Patrice Bergeron who has only one decent season under his belt, and only two in the NHL, a 4.75m per season deal.  This guy is not of the same caliber of a Crosby, Heatley, or Nash.  He’s good, but not the second coming of Gretzky. 

The new GM talks a good game, but it’s clear that Sinden has been running things too long and while he’s starting to slide into the background for good, until he’s gone for good Boston will continue to struggle.

Boston, enjoy your world series win, it could take that long for your NHL franchise to bring a championship back to your city.

The Chief Canuck

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