It was a week of success on the ice for the Boston Bruins, but it was a bad look off the ice for management. In this edition of Bruins Weekly, we look back at a conversational signing, a milestone for one of their top players, a reunion between former teammates and coach, and much more.
Bruins Front Office Makes Embarrassing Signing
The start to the 2022-23 NHL season for the Bruins has been a very good one on the ice with their 11-2-0 record. The same can’t be said about the front office.
General manager (GM) Don Sweeney and Bruins President Cam Neely have been together for eight years in charge of the club after being teammates back in their playing days. They have been tied at the hip since day one, but they embarrassed the organization as a whole last week.
On Nov. 4, the Bruins announced that they signed Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract. When he was 14 years old, Miller tricked Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, who is Black and developmentally delayed, to lick a push lolly pop that had been dipped in a urinal. In 2016, Miller was convicted in Ohio juvenile court. He was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but his rights were renounced after the bullying incident came to light.
Two days after the signing, the Bruins went into damage control mode by announcing late on Nov. 6 that they were releasing Miller. Why they would even consider making this move is head-scratching. Sweeney admitted that the move was mentioned to veteran players in the locker room who had some pushback about it and still went ahead with the signing.
The signing and everything that ensued is a major embarrassment for the organization as a whole. There is no other way to put it. Neely said on Nov. 7 that “We dropped the ball and I’m here to apologize for that.” (from ‘Neely: Miller signing ‘by far’ biggest regret,’ Boston Herald, Nov. 8, 2022). They can’t just cut ties with him and have it be done with as there is a lot to do to settle the contract situation. This is something that the current management group may never get over.
Reilly & Zboril Return to Lineup
Every time it looks like the Bruins are getting healthy on defense, another injury occurs. After Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo returned to the lineup, Jakub Zboril and Mike Reilly were healthy scratches as both have struggled to begin the season. On Nov. 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Derek Forbort was the latest member of the blueline to go down with an injury when he left in the first period with a hand injury. He returned to Boston following the game and had surgery on his middle finger, requiring a four-to-six-week recovery.
Related: 3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 3-1 Win Over Blues
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Losing Forbort is a big blow to the defense and with Anton Stralman still working his way into game shape, the Bruins put Reilly in the lineup against the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs in the final two games of their four-game road trip. Zboril made a return to his first game action since Oct. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings against Toronto. On Nov. 7, the duo was bad in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. They were on the ice for the only goal given up and then allowed back-to-back breakaways on the same shift. It’s a problem.
Going forward and when the Bruins are healthy, there are going to be moves that have to be made to clear a roster spot and cap space. Reilly is the most logical player to be traded as he offers the most to what a team would be looking for in an offensive defenseman. The return would not be great as Boston already put him on waivers before the season started and nobody claimed him.
Marchand & Bergeron Record Milestone Points
Brad Marchand returned a month earlier than expected to the Bruins lineup and he has made an immediate impact. Against the Maple Leafs, he reached a milestone in the second period with career point No. 800 when he scored on a penalty shot.
Boston was on a power play when Marchand used his speed and got behind the Toronto defense as he entered the zone. As he closed in on Maple Leafs’ goalie Ilya Samsonov, he was pulled down from behind and awarded the penalty shot. He tied the game with a goal when he got Samsonov moving back into his net and flipped a backhander under the crossbar.
Against St. Louis, Patrice Bergeron’s third-period power play goal was his 311th career man advantage point, which moved him to fourth on the franchise list, ahead of Bobby Orr, who had 74 goals and 236 assists. Bergeron now has 124 goals and 187 assists on the power play.
Torey Krug Makes Only TD Garden Appearance
Former Bruins defenseman Torey Krug returned to the TD Garden on Nov. 7 and the St. Louis power play general was not the only person in the building facing a reunion in Boston’s win. Bruins coach Jim Montgomery coached against his former team where he was an assistant coach for the last two seasons under Craig Berube, which was a second opportunity after his first stop with the Dallas Stars ended abruptly. Before the game, Montgomery spoke about his time in St. Louis and said there was no personal motivation to get a win.
“I don’t think it’s personal motivation. It’s a little bit of excited to see those guys. For my own self, they had big part in myself developing as a professional. I have a lot of gratitude toward the St. Louis Blues and everybody in that locker room and the coaches and the management.”Jim Montgomery
Boston got their coach a win against the struggling Blues, but it was not winning for Montgomery, it was about bouncing back from their loss to the Maple Leafs. Krug picked up an assist on Brayden Schenn’s second-period goal and finished with two shots on the net in just over 20 minutes. He did get into a scrap with former teammate Charlie Coyle after the whistle in the first period in front of the Blues net. Another former Bruin, Noel Acciari is also with St. Louis and in 10 games this season, he has a goal and an assist.
Bruins Quotes of the Week
- Bruins forward Trent Frederic after scoring the game-winning goal in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Nov. 3: “It was a timely goal. It was a great play by Nick – and Charlie to screen. Felt really good to contribute.”
- Nick Foligno after setting up two goals in the Bruins’ win over the Rangers: “I had to go out and do it. I felt confident that I could. Last year is last year. I put that behind me. I know what I can do in this league when I’m feeling good and confident, especially the role that I’ve been given, the conversations we’ve had here. And this group – you find a group that comes together the way this group does, and it gives you an extra boost as a player especially the way I play.”
- Montgomery on the Bruins’ 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs: “We weren’t very sharp. You’ve got to give some of the credit to the Maple Leafs; they checked extremely well, they protected middle ice well. But you’re on the third game of a five-day road trip and we go in the third period and it’s 2-1 and we gave ourselves a chance. We had enough opportunities to tie the game up. I just like our ability to manage games and give ourselves opportunities to have outcomes.
- Jake DeBrusk on the Bruins killing three St. Louis power plays in the first 12 minutes: “I think it did [give us momentum]. Any time we get kills like that, especially in order – it seemed like we were in the box there for the first little bit – there’s no rhythm or timing for multiple guys in the game, so it’s one of those things you just try to do the job and kill the penalty. And to be able to get one on the power play right after was a good way to set the tone for our game.”
Bruins Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. Calgary Flames, 7 p.m.
- Saturday: at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
- Sunday: vs. Vancouver Canucks, 6 p.m.