Pats: We won't be scoreboard-watching on Sunday

627042.jpg

Pats: We won't be scoreboard-watching on Sunday

FOXBORO -- Take a stroll through the New England Patriots locker room and you'll find that nobody's very interested to the Houston Texans' 1 p.m. game against the Indianapolis Colts.

On one hand it makes sense. If Houston actually loses, the Patriots don't automatically receive a first-round bye. They still have to do their job at home against the Miami Dolphins. So there's no sense in wasting your time worrying about a game that's going on while you're preparing for an important game of your own.

And even if Houston wins, there's still the possibility -- though not a very realistic one -- of the Kansas City Chiefs catching the Denver Broncos off-guard in their final regular-season game before the playoffs. And that game, like the Patriots' is at 4 p.m. So the Pats will still have something to play for even if the Texans win.

On the other hand, it would be naive to think that the Patriots don't know -- or actually care -- about what's at stake in the game before theirs. So if they care, and they should, then it also makes sense to at least pay attention to the outcome of the Texans' visit to Indianapolis.

Still, when you take that stroll up and down their Gillette locker room, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone expressing the latter.

"Whatever happens in those games, happens, man," said cornerback Aqib Talib after Thursday's practice. "All we can do is control what we can control. So we're going to go out and handle our business, do our best to handle our business."

"I think the biggest thing is, we know we've got to go out and play well Sunday and we've got to win," said safety Devin McCourty. "No matter what happens in any situation, we've got to win. I think that's what we're focused on right now, going out there and playing well and trying to win."

The Patriots will need more than just a win over the Dolphins on Sunday to get a first-round bye. They'll also need either a Texans or Broncos loss.

But while they prepare for their 4:25 kickoff, one would think it would be easy for someone to get the urge to check out what's going on in the 1 p.m. game.

"Not at all," said Vince Wilfork. "Our goal is to win, plain and simple. We can't control anything else. We won't be watching other games because we have a game to play ourselves. So our main goal is to win, and everything will work itself out. However that may be, it's going to be. We're not going to dwell over it. At the same time, we can control what we can control. That's playing a good football game and winning. It's going to be tough. Division game. We're playing at home, but Miami is a team that knows us. This is a team that's going to come in here and play their tails off in their last regular-season game, so we have to be ready for anything."

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

seidenberg.jpg

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins placed veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on waivers on Thursday for the purposes of buying the veteran defenseman out of the final two years of his contract.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Seidenberg, who turns 35 July 18, still had two years remaining on a deal that would have paid him $4 million in each of the seasons. The move will save the Black and Gold roughly $4.6 million in cap space over the next two years.

The extra space should theoretically allow the Bruins to spend big money on Friday when free agency opens, but the Bruins really haven’t been the lead suitors for any of the major available players to this point.

With the way buyouts work, however, the spread over four years means that the Bruins will still be including $1.16 million cap hits from 2018-2020, and are now down another experienced D-man who was a stalwart warrior for them over the years. Seidenberg clearly lost a step after blowing out his knee in the 2013-14 season and was a minus player for the first time in Boston last season with one goal and 12 points in 61 games.

The skating speed was noticeably slower and Seidenberg had trouble keeping up with the pace even as he continued to block shots and throw opponents around in the defensive zone. Seidenberg finishes his seven seasons in Boston with 23 goals and 117 points in 401 games as a rugged top-four defenseman. He will always be cherished in Boston for his marvelous stretch en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Claude Julien pairing Seidenberg with Zdeno Chara midway through their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens changed the tide of that playoff matchup and was the combo used by the B’s for the playoffs when they again made it to the Cup Final in 2013 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The German-born defenseman was a respected and tough veteran leader in the B’s dressing room and will be missed for his toughness and accountability whether it was good times or bad in the room.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Seidenberg was being placed on waivers for the purpose of being bought out of his contract. 

 

 

Haggerty: Bruins on sidelines while top NHL GMs make big moves

Haggerty: Bruins on sidelines while top NHL GMs make big moves

The Bruins were all around the action on Wednesday as the massive hockey trades dropped fast and furiously, but once again they were on the outside with their anticipatory faces pressed up against the glass as the top GMs in the game did their thing.

Instead, the B’s were left to mull an offer sheet to Jacob Trouba that isn’t very likely to drop on Friday and wait for the secondary defenseman market in free agency as it appears the Oilers might have snapped up Jason Demers already.

Some of the bold moves clearly may be mistakes: the Canadiens got older, slower and much more explosive in swapping out P.K. Subban for Shea Weber one-for-one, but also will be tougher to play against in some ways with Weber and Andrew Shaw now added to the mix. Clearly, GM Dave Poile once again was the right manager in the right place at the right time to land the super-talented Subban, who will pack the hockey house in Nashville and help continue a tradition of stud defensemen for the Predators organization.

One keen hockey source cautioned me when I said the Habs got worse on Wednesday: “I don’t think people understand how good Weber really is in the East. Montreal has become a lot harder to play against with him and Shaw.”

This certainly may be true, but the Bruins lost their cherished Habs villain with Subban moving to the Nashville Predators, where he will become a genuine U.S. hockey market superstar. Subban was charismatic and colorful, and played the role with the flops and the phantom embellishment that has become synonymous with Habs hockey over the years.

His personality and elite skill level won him a Norris Trophy a few years back and made him one of the biggest stars in the NHL and his absence now significantly reduces the wattage of the modern Bruins/Canadiens rivalry. That’s another blow to a storied rivalry that was flat as its been in years last season without Milan Lucic. It’s one that might have some rocky roads ahead with the Bruins very clearly in need of some roster help.

Peter Chiarelli became the first GM in NHL history to trade both the first and second overall picks in the same draft after shipping away Tyler Seguin in 2013 and then dealing Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday for young, developing D-man Adam Larsson.  Essentially he traded two top-of-the-draft lottery picks for two Swedish mid-first round talents in Loui Eriksson and Larsson. That’s going to leave many questioning his decision-making process until we see the final picture this October in Edmonton.

If things don’t go very right for the Oil this season, with Larsson developing into a prime time top-pairing D-man, the heat could turned up on Chiarelli in the never-ending rebuild in Edmonton.

Once again credit a veteran GM in Ray Shero with getting exactly what his team needed in a dynamic scoring force like Hall and doing it while giving up something that hadn’t been a significant piece over the past few seasons in New Jersey. This may just be the cost of doing business for Chiarelli if Lucic and Demers are indeed on their way to the Oilers as free agents, and if the whispers are true that Edmonton might move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for defensemen help as well.

None of this even begins to mention GM Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay, who calmly and patiently waited out the Steve Stamkos free agency sweepstakes until his star player came back to him for a massive hometown discount. Now, he has the superstar, the young and talented core group and the players from those two second-round picks the B's charitably sent along for right wing bust Brett Connolly. 

The one thing that defies explanation is the Bruins-friendly voices that say inking the 22-year-old Trouba to an offer sheet “makes no sense.” Guess what really makes no sense? That would be going into next season with close to the exact same back-end group that missed the playoff cut over the past two seasons and couldn’t break the puck out of their zone under pressure if their collective lives depended on it.

The Bruins don’t have the trade assets in their organization to match offers of players like Taylor Hall and Matt Duchene, and they were beaten to the punch for top free agent D-men like Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski and perhaps even Demers. That “makes no sense” for a Bruins team that finished 19th in the league in goals allowed and had a blue line group that couldn’t execute simple tape-to-tape passes up the ice.  

Signing Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million contract extension? Signing fringe free agent D-men like John-Michael Liles? Not getting anything done with anybody in the trade or free agency market around draft weekend and July 1? That’s what really “doesn’t make sense” to me if I’m trying to cough out the Black and Gold party line right about now.

Because the NHL management groups with the big stones, the matching respect factor and the real NHL assets are making big, bold moves all across the league right now, and the Bruins are still waiting idly for their numbers to get called at the NHL deli counter. 
 

Thursday, June 30: Another view of the Trouba offer sheet

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Thursday, June 30: Another view of the Trouba offer sheet

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while waiting for Matt Martin to be the Bruins’ big prize on July 1 as the rest of the NHL is making seismic changes to their roster with big, bold moves. Hint: the Black and Gold aren’t being very bold right now.

*Interesting piece by Marc Spector on the Jacob Trouba offer sheet issue, and whether it would be worth it to land him.

*Darren Dreger weighs in on the hour that stood the NHL on its head, and saw P.K. Subban and Taylor Hall get traded within minutes of each other.

*The Taylor Hall trade is based on hope, according to Edmonton sports radio host Jason Gregor. Interesting piece from him.

*Here’s more about the Hall/Larsson swap that has many around the league wondering what the Oilers were thinking.

*P.K. Subban checks in all the way from Paris, France with a message for his Canadiens fans, and for his new fan base in Nashville.

*Here’s a Tennessee perspective on the Shea Weber/P.K. Subban swap with the Preds getting younger, faster and more explosive with one of the NHL’s biggest superstars.

*Good look at the Montreal end of things from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Arpon Basu with the Habs convinced they got better on Wednesday. I am not so convinced after watching a soon-to-be 31-year-old Shea Weber run out of gas in the playoffs last year.

*For something completely different: Jason Pierre-Paul debuts a 4th of July fireworks safety PSA after unfortunately blowing his fingers off with firecrackers last July.