On Tuesday Charlie Jacobs took over as the new CEO of the Boston Bruins organization, stepping into the job that his father Jeremy had held. In his first move in the position, Charlie held a state-of-the-Bruins address at TD Gardens and the message seemed pretty clear to the organization, play better or moves will be made.
Jacobs did not hold back telling reporters that he had been in talks with management and many others around the organization about what is needed to change to get the team winning again. He spared no sympathy towards anyone stating that losing and the play that the Bruins had displayed on the ice this season will not be tolerated.
This harsh crashing down of the hammer has, like it does in every instance, sparked another version of the blame game.
Rumours had started to swirl about whether head coach Claude Julien’s days with the team could be numbered or if changes would come to the core of the lineup.
Julien is in his eight season with the Bruins and can largely be credited with helping the team achieve the successes they have shared over the years. He lead the team to the playoffs every year with the team so far including four division titles, an Eastern Conference championship in 2012-13, and the Stanley Cup back in 2011. He won the Jack Adams Trophy during the 2008-09 season and only
twice has he failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs with the team.
This is not the first time the coach has had his job security threatened with the Bruins. Many speculated that during the 2011 season that the bench boss may have been let go, but winning the Cup saved his job. What is also interesting is that Julien signed a contract extension with the team back in November, keeping him in Boston for the next three seasons.
The contract would seem like a sign that he isn’t going anywhere, but as we saw with Randy Carlyle in Toronto Tuesday, commitments to contracts do not stop the sword from falling. Carlyle was fired after signing a two-year contract with the team over the summer. If the Stanley Cup win saved Julien from termination in 2011 maybe the fact that with their win over Pittsburgh Wednesday the team jumped back into a playoff spot, might give him a fighting chance for now.
Simply opening the stats page of the Bruins will very quickly tell you that almost everyone on the team is under-performing this season to some degree. Patrice Bergeron leads the team with 30 points in 40 games this season and he and Brad Marchand are the only two B’s who have double digit goals this season. The Bruins currently sit 21st in the NHL in goals per game and re averaging 2.58 goals against, slightly higher than their 2.56 goals for per game, not a winning formula.
The team has also been hurt by key injuries this season. Captain Zdeno Chara has played just 22 games this season and scored his first goal since October Wednesday night. Meanwhile the team’s leading scorer from last season, David Krejci, has also been out of the lineup and played in just his 21st game of the year Wednesday.
Missing From Last Season
The team had a couple big names also pack their bags prior to this season. Due to cap restrictions the team was forced to let future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla walk, ultimately signing with the Colorado Avalanche. The 37-year-old scored 30 goals for the team last season and added 31 assists in 78 games. Meanwhile the team was unable to bring in anyone of Iginla’s stature to help fill that 30-goal hole left by the winger.
The team also said goodbye to defenceman Johnny Boychuck in another move to try and clear some cap space before the season started, sending the blueliner to the New York Islanders. Though he was never a big offensive threat in Boston, recording just five goals and 23 points last season, he was very durable with an impressive plus-31 rating in 75 games.
Tuukka Rask has not been the reason for the team’s failure, but the former Vezina Trophy winner also has seen his numbers dip from his .930 save percentage and 2.04 goals against average last season to .911 and 2.54 respectively.
Everyone is Fair Game
The team might look to move some pieces of the core, but since the team has largely remained the same since last season, with Iginla and Boychuck being the only big differences, that could mean anyone. It is safe to say that the three untouchables on the team would be Bergeron, Chara, and Rask, and if the team is serious about making change especially if they struggle to hold down that last playoff spot, nearly the entire roster could be made available for the right price.
For now nothing concrete seems imminent, but if Jacobs is serious about his comments he made Tuesday, and he seems to have been, then there could be some big changes coming in Boston if things don’t improve.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.