It didn’t take long for Cam Neely to assist in the process of moving the Boston Bruins forward. However, one question fans and reporters covering the Boston Bruins probably asked themselves more than anything else this year was have the Boston Bruins lost their identity? The frustration and disappointment felt by Bruins fans had already simmered to a boiling point with the majority of the angst directed towards now former General Manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien. Although cracks were forming in the foundation of this team prior to the 2014-2015 season; fiscal irresponsibility demonstrated by Chiarelli is superficial to what really led this organization astray over the last 11 months.
A Change In Boston Bruins Philosophy
Let’s go back to the beginning of the 2014 offseason and more specifically comments made by Peter Chiarelli regarding the direction of his team; specifically the 4th line. It was no secret Chiarelli aimed to make the Boston Bruins a faster and quicker team while moving away from the pugilistic side of what actually made the Bruins effective in a lot of instances. Fast forward to some of the personnel decisions this year and we saw holes opened up via trades and injuries that allowed some of the younger and faster talent to make an impact; namely Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak.
One of the knocks against David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner is the perception of their game as being a defensive liability. In case you didn’t recognize it this season; Claude Julien would be the first to touch upon their defensive deficiencies instead of their offensive prowess throughout the course of the season. One of the knocks against Julien is his stubbornness in not allowing offensive minded players to maximize their strengths in his system and this was never more apparent than during the last week of the season. Prior to playing the Washington Capitals on April 8th; Julien saw fit to break the Lucic and Kids line in an attempt to create more balance across all four lines and give fourth liners considerably more ice time time to end the season.
Bruins Core Failed Them All Season
The Boston Bruins were a streaky team in a season marred by inconsistency, injury, and failed expectations. Most concerning of all the comments made since last Saturday was the comments made my Milan Lucic regarding not being able to mentally get over some of the backlash and emotional hangover from the Montreal series last year. Amidst all the injuries this season; Lucic was the one constant free of injury and yet it resulted in him having his worst full season as a Bruin since the 2009-2010 season.
Dennis Seidenberg another key member of the Bruins core who was returning from a significant knee injury in December 2013 never seemed to get into a groove and also ended up having his worst season as a Bruin as well. The point I’m trying to make is when parts of their core were lost to injury; veterans on this team didn’t step up and make their presence felt and that’s ultimately on the player, not the coach or general manager.
Cam Neely Needs Collaboration and Vision First
The steps towards making the necessary changes to return this franchise back to it’s perennial contender status are already underway with the firing of Chiarelli as well as changes in the scouting department as well. Claude Julien’s status will be decided upon when the new general manager is selected. Before the general manager is selected by Cam Neely there is one thing that needs to happen to correct one of the mistakes from the last quarter of the season and that’s management and coaching being in alignment for what the vision and philosophy of this team will be.
It is no secret that Boston Bruins president Cam Neely has always preferred a more open style of play and his issues with Julien’s system have been well documented to the point of him having the desire to fire him earlier in the season. If the Boston Bruins are going to empower Cam Neely to leave a large imprint on the makeup of this team; then chances are Claude Julien’s days behind the bench are numbered. With Cam Neely potentially being given the green light with more say in decision making; it could restore the compatibility and philosophy that made the Boston Bruins one of the strongest teams in the conference over the last 8 years.