Boston Bruins: Thank You for Beating the Edmonton Oilers Last Night

I used to be a huge Oilers fan.  I had the posters, had the calendars and had the eye strain from watching too many games on TV.  I might even still have a shred of that Copper and Blue blood in my system.  However, today I find myself hoping my childhood team loses.  That continued last night, and I received great satisfaction after the defending Stanley Cup Champions beat the upstart Edmonton Oilers quite handily, 6-3.

Why has my fandom evaporated?  Why was I so delighted as the seconds wound down last night at the TD Banknorth Garden and Boston celebrated a victory that got them back to 0.500 for the first time since the beginning of the season?  For starters, are the Bruins coming off back-to-back last place finishes in the NHL?  Did they have to fail perfectly in order to achieve their success?  The Bruins represent an entirely different approach to franchise-building compared to the Edmonton Oilers, and one that I support completely.  One that many would agree is better than the approach of the Edmonton Oilers.

See, the Boston Bruins built a phenomenal team and farm system with the belief that they didn’t have to rebuild from the ground up.  After disappointing, but not last place, seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07 where they missed the playoffs, the team began building for the future while still remaining competitive in the present.  The Andrew Raycroft and Phil Kessel trades, smart free agent signings (Zdeno Chara, Mark Reechi) as well as shrewd drafting (Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic) executed by the Boston Bruins proves that rebuilding isn’t the only way to win in the NHL.  The fact that Steve Tambellini didn’t receive that memo may have turned me away from the Oilers for good.

The Edmonton Oilers drafted their franchise winger, Taylor Hall, with the #1 overall pick at the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles.  The Bruins may not have a franchise winger, but if they did, it would probably be Milan Lucic.  Lucic was chosen with the 50th overall pick out of the Vancouver Giants (WHL) in 2006.  The Bruins previous franchise winger, Phil Kessel, was drafted fifth overall in that same 2006 draft out of the University of Minnesota.

The Oilers drafted their franchise center, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, first overall at the 2011 NHL Draft.  The Bruins also have a franchise center in Tyler Seguin, and two franchise defencemen in Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton.  Does anyone remember how they acquired these players?  Bruins GM Pete Chiarelli, a master of the trade market, parlayed his franchise winger (coming off of his first 60 point season) into two first round draft picks courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Boston acquired Zdeno Chara through free agency, and now he is considered one of the best defencemen in the game.  The Oilers don’t have a franchise defenceman on their roster or within their farm system — the defending Stanley Cup Champions have two.


Zdeno Chara Bruins
(Icon SMI)


The Boston Bruins organization, on top of their franchise center and defencemen (along with Milan Lucic) also acquired a franchise goalie, back in 2006.  Again Chiarelli, a master of the trade market, traded Andrew Raycroft to the Maple Leafs for young Finnish goalie (and starter for last night’s game) Tuuka Rask.  Yet, on August 8, 2002 the Bruins dipped into the free agent market signing a man named Tim Thomas.  Thomas was an unknown at the time, and took a while to get established in the NHL.  Now though he is considered one of the best goalies in the NHL, as his two Vezina Trophies and Conn Smythe Trophy prove.  The Oilers don’t have a franchise goalie in their system.


Marchand, right, leads all rookies in playoff scoring and set a Bruins rookie record for playoff goals (Photo by Chassen Ikiri).


The Boston Bruins farm system is loaded full of players that will soon vie for full-time NHL jobs.  Dougie Hamilton, Jamie Arniel, Jared Knight, Zach Hamill and Jordan Caron are all considered legitimate prospects.  The Oilers, to their credit, do have a bevy of prospects in their system, however the Bruins are considered to be stronger in that respect.


Peter Chiarelli - Bruins
Peter Chiarelli, architect of the Boston Bruins(Icon SMI)


Overall, the Boston Bruins represent the right way of doing business in the NHL (along with the Detroit Red Wings and other organizations), and the Edmonton Oilers represent the lazy way of conducting business.  It is no fluke that the defending Stanley Cup Champions are stronger than the two-time defending last place team in almost every category: goaltending, defence, forwards, farm systems.  It is also no fluke that last night’s game the first star (and a big part of the Bruins playoff run last spring) was Brad Marchand, drafted 71st overall in 2006.  The Oilers best player was the player they had to fail for, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  That was no accident, and justifies the waning pulse of my loyalty towards everything Copper and Blue.


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4 thoughts on “Boston Bruins: Thank You for Beating the Edmonton Oilers Last Night”

  1. You do have to get some luck drafting and trading but there is a art to being a good GM today especially in the cap era of today.
    And Peter Chiarelli is one of the best.
    Smart moves trading for Dennis Seidenberg,Nathan Horton,Chris Kelly,Rich Peverley,Mark Recchi,Tuukka Rask etc wasn’t just luck.
    Plus obviously good drafting.
    And Boston still has decent cap room Peter Chiarelli knows what he is doing.

  2. OK I have a few issues with your article. As a lifelong Oilers fan of 30+ years, I have witnessed the greatest dynasty arguably ever seen in the NHL with the Gretzky, Messier, etc. Oilers, a very proud and successful franchise which other teams have tried to pattern themselves off of. It is true that we have fallen on hard times lately, but for a 19 year old to not show respect for the greatness we had disappoints me. Many of your points for the Bruins are just trades that turned lucky, or taking advantage of general managers such as Brian Burke who was desperate to get Phil Kessel and overpaid handsomely, losing out on maybe a future hall of famer in Seguin and another first rounder for the streaky Kessel. The Oilers on the other hand have with Tambellini created much more depth in the organization and have a forward corps that few in the nhl wouldn’t drool over. Our back to back last place finishes aren’t the result of some grand scheme to suck to that level to get Hall and the Nuge, if you recall both of those years injuries hit us so bad that in each year our top scorer and our best defenceman, among many others, were out most of the year. Imagine Calgary without Iginla and Kiprusoff, and others, and see if they don’t finish last. It’s true we have had a lot of lean years, but I think we are on the right track again, and I don’t appreciate a fellow Edmonton citizen who apparently bandwagon jumps to whoever happens to win the cup that year to point out that teams strengths and his own city’s weaknesses. I think you know that in time the tables will be turned and your own city will be winning those games, what will you do then, go back on the bandwagon? Sorry, you’re not welcome on it anymore.

    • Thanks for the read, but I disagree with some of your points. I’m not a bandwagon jumper in the least bit. I’m not remotely a Bruins fan, but was happy when they beat the Oilers. I’m not buying a Lucic jersey any time soon. Am I an Oilers fan after their last place finishes? A part of me is, but a huge part of me is fed up by this organization that not only tolerates but embraces mediocrity. Injuries be damned, there are no excuses for a last place finish, let alone two. Even Tom Renney said that last year they “were playing with house money.” If Tambellini was as shrewd as other GM’s (Chiarelli, Ken Holland in Detroit) we would have found a way out of it. We were four wins away from the playoffs the season before Tamby got here. There were some building blocks. Ask Ken Holland, ask Peter Chiarelli, about the word rebuild. What if the late Steve Jobs decided that Apple would rebuild and sacrifice the present in the name of the future? Apples and oranges aside, both are businesses that run on the same objective: to reap profits and success. Ask the Green Bay Packers about injuries. It sure didn’t derail their Super Bowl Championship.

      Dan, I can honestly appreciate your passion, and maybe part of it is that I’ve never experienced a winning Oilers team unlike yourself who remembers the Glory Days, but winning organizations and businesses don’t need to finish in last place in order to become good. Am I a fan of this team? I think the second you get paid to be a part of the industry (which happened to me in August), your fandom is seriously compromised. But it makes me sick that this team, with the way it ran its fans through the mud the past two seasons, is winning.

      • Ok so there’s still hope for you. The biggest problem you have is the morality of what you see as seemingly finishing last on purpose(which I would argue with) to rebuild quicker instead of doing it the skilled way as per Boston. Well then you must also hate Pittsburgh, Washington, and Chicago, among many others, for being terrible for much longer than Edmonton and winning now. I mean you can debate it all you want but getting that first draft pick is a powerful way to get good, usually resulting in a competitive team sooner rather than later, although without skilled management that isn’t a given either. Look at NY Islanders. However you have to cut the Oilers some slack. Throughout the nineties and 00’s we were usually middle of the pack, either just out of the playoffs or just making it, getting draft picks which ensured our mediocrity, good players but not great players. I’m sorry maybe I’m spoiled by the ’80s dynasty, but I’d rather go further in the playoffs than just make it and then get beat by Dallas in the first round with no hope of getting better. You say with management skill you can keep a team competitive, but I say without top draft picks you are relying on luck in your moves, and you have to admit Boston got lucky moving a disgruntled Kessel for 2 first round draft picks which Toronto sucked enough to get them their franchise player in Seguin. Those things don’t happen everyday and you can say all you want about Peter Chiarelli’s skill as a manager, but I say he got lucky on that one, and getting Tim Thomas, he just tried a goalie that looked too old and it worked out, teams try many players and more often than not the players don’t work out. Again very lucky that at his age Thomas did. I mean you go down the roster of every team that tries to rebuild without sucking, and they have to get very lucky to be more than just an average competitive team. You wouldn’t even be talking about Boston had they lost to Montreal in the first round, which went 7 games and could have gone either way.

        So in closing, we are sometimes hardest on the teams we care most about, and I think that is the case with you. However, if things work out as I hope they do, I will think of you as we hoist the Cup, and hope you are celebrating as well. Winning makes you forget everything, and no matter how you got there it is worthwhile. We are a hungry city and ready for this. Please don’t rain on our parade. There are enough Calgary fans that will do that for you.

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