Let’s get one thing – the obvious – out of the way right now. If it weren’t for Tim Thomas and his record-breaking performances in both the regular season and playoffs, while standing on his head in 2010-11, then the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup drought of 39-years would be alive and well and counting today.
Now that has been said, it’s time to dive back into the Jarome Iginla saga for one last time. Like thousands of other fans in the Boston area, I tune into several sports talk radio stations from time-to-time – particularly between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. I normally listen, have a few laughs, and cuss at the radio a bit, but eventually leave the radio hoopla alone. To respond or ‘fire back’ is normally a waste of time, but this particular topic needs addressing.
Radio personalities are there for entertainment. Sports takes, updates, news and interviews are of course a major factor, but at the end of the day, things heard on air need to be ingested with a grain of salt, or two. Case in point yesterday, while not only was a certain radio host blaming the Bruins for not sealing the deal with Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster for Iginla, but specifically pointing the finger at general manager Peter Chiarelli.
To make matters worse, the verbiage being spewed was quickly eaten up by many around The Hub, and callers and fans alike were beginning to agree with the notion that not only was it Chiarelli’s fault, but starting to question his track record and raise the topic and his current state.
Credit to the radio hosts: their jobs, again, are to entertain, question actions of Boston teams, players and personnel, give their opinions, and fire the listeners up. And it worked.
I need to quickly remind everyone of the really bad days of the Bruins when the franchise was essentially run into the ground by the Sinden-Jacobs duo. Their existence was not only irrelevant in Boston, but in the NHL as well. For those that remember and lived through those years like I did, good, then I have your attention. Now fast-forward to the good times. Today…. the past several years, in fact. Those good times were made largely in part due to the Chiarelli regime, when the former assistant general manager of the Ottawa Senators was named the seventh GM of the Bruins franchise. He not only helped bring a Cup to Boston, but he built very good teams that made the Bruins popular in the city – hockey was, and is, finally back.
Granted there were several great core players whom Chiarelli inherited – Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Thomas and the draft picks of Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic – but it was Chiarelli who added pivotal players to the team to build not only a Stanley Cup winner, but a team who is consistently in the hunt year after year.
Nathan Horton – whom Chiarelli acquired along with Gregory Campbell – and his memorable overtime heroics; Michael Ryder’s – free-agency acquisition by Chiarelli – memorable glove save and OT winner against his former Montreal club wouldn’t have been made possible without Chiarelli pulling the trigger. When the Bruins needed some muscle and intimidation in their lineup against the Vancouver Canucks, they inserted Shawn Thornton – an offseason move made by Chiarelli in 2007. The quick spark and offensive jolt that was brought the Tampa Bay Lightning series by Tyler Seguin – albeit a no-brainer trade and draft pick, a trade and pick made nonetheless by Chiarelli.
In fact, take a look at the Stanley Cup roster, and now juxtapose that to the players who came to Boston under the helm of Chiarelli: Mark Recchi, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Caron, Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, and the aforementioned Campbell, Horton, Ryder, Seguin and Thornton. The (hold your nose) Tomas Kaberle trade didn’t necessarily work out on the ice, but it did send a message to the players in the B’s locker room that the general manger was willing to do what it takes to win it all.
To quote one of the radio hosts, “the fact of the matter is”, when you have a future hall-of-fame player with a no-trade/movement clause, and is by far the biggest fish in a very small pool of available players in Iginla, he unfortunately calls all the shots. Whether he wants to go to Boston, Pittsburgh, or Phoenix, that’s all on the 35-year-old. And to quote the other radio host, I put “Zero. Point. Zero” blame on Chiarelli. The offer presented by the Bruins brass for Iginla was certainly more than fair and clearly better than what the Penguins parted with – whether the Bruins added a goaltending prospect such as Malcolm Subban or Niklas Svedberg wouldn’t have made a difference whatsoever. Iginla has his mind made up to play with the best player in the world in Sidney Crosby and the team who clearly has the best shot to win it all , and that was that.
There’s no doubting that this giveth-and-taketh-away move was a swift kick in the pants; a punch in the stomach that left the fans in Boston gasping for breath akin to a body punch from Mickey Ward. While the Bruins certainly have the prospects, picks, and chips to make things happen, any and all trades from now until Wednesday are going to be anti-climactic
The road to the Stanley Cup undoubtedly now goes through Pittsburgh, and that’s certainly not Chiarelli’s fault. Whether or not the Bruins can overcome adversity, or if there are enough pieces available and out there to be had for the Bruins, that’s now the questions, and time will only tell.