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  • Will this year be the Bruins’ last hurrah?

    Tim Rosenthal October 11, 2022

    Same story, different verse.

    The Boston Bruins enter another season facing a shrinking contention window.

    Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci re-signed for one year, hoping to lead their team to another deep playoff run. Bergeron showed no signs of declining at age 36. Krejci hasn’t lost a step as he reacclimated to the NHL lifestyle after spending last season in his native Czechia.

    Eventually, the Bergeon and Krejci era will come to an end. That day will come sooner rather than later. The last hurrah speculation continued with Bruins’ President Cam Neely acknowledging that sentiment at the team’s media day.

    “I think that’s very fair,” Neely said to reporters.

    The fact that the Bruins are even in a similar position from a year ago remains quite astonishing following their first-round exit to the Carolina Hurricanes.

    At that point, Bergeron began contemplating his unknown future. Krejci, meanwhile, skated with David Pastrnak at the world championships and provided similarly dazzling moments to their initial run in Boston.

    Before long, Krejci and Bergeron inked their contracts. And Bergeron, in particular, couldn’t resist another year of camaraderie and another chance to hoist Lord Stanley.

    “It’s always fun, even though it’s been, what, 19 years now for me?” Bergeron quipped during his media day scrum. “The fact that we can have a clean slate and create something and come together, to me, is something I’m looking forward to every year, and this year is obviously no different. I’m super excited to get going.”

    Ah, yes, the excitement of a new season. But the start of this year’s campaign brings some concerns.

    The Bruins head into opening night without their top-line left-winger (Brad Marchand) and top defenseman (Charlie McAvoy). Krejci’s return and Pavel Zacha’s arrival will help alleviate some offensive questions without their top-point producer over the last few years. But Boston’s D faces an uphill climb without McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk as they adjust to Jim Montgomery’s up-tempo defensive scheme.

    They didn’t have to be in this predicament, however. The years of Don Sweeney’s struggles with drafting and developing, highlighted by his 2015 first-round whiffs, put the Bruins in a tough spot. Even with some recent gems like Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei, the outlook of the post-Bergeron era remains bleak.

    Amid all the critiques, Neely came to Sweeney’s aid.

    “Well, the narrative, quite frankly, is a little frustrating to me,” Neely said during his Media Day press conference.

    “If you look at the players the Boston Bruins have drafted [from 2015-18] and how many NHL games they’ve played, I think it’s amongst some of the highest in the league. So, the narrative is a little old for me. Every GM in the league makes mistakes, and we’re going to continue to make mistakes. But hopefully, we learn from those mistakes and limit those mistakes. I think that Don has certainly evolved over the last few years, and our scouting staff has evolved. We certainly have high expectations and high standards. Mistakes are going to happen, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the narrative is out there.” 

    Perhaps Sweeney can redeem himself in future drafts. But he’ll need to recoup some draft capital down the road, and he’ll need to accomplish that as he aims to keep the contention window open for this year’s squad.

    Amid some concerning developments, the Bruins made reported progress with David Pastrnak’s camp in contract negotiations. Both sides remain optimistic about inking a new deal even as they start the season without an extension.

    The Bruins envision a smooth handoff from the Bergeron and Krejci era with Pastrnak, McAvoy and the next wave of Bruins’ leaders carrying the proverbial torch. But they’ll have their work cut out once the last call dons on battle-tested Bruins of this era.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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