It’s been a while since we cracked open some emails, tweets and Facebook posts with questions for yours truly, so welcome to the Hagg Bag mailbag. Obviously, we’ll answer questions mostly about the NHL and the Bruins, but anything is fair game within the world of pop culture, movies, television, books and music with a heavy emphasis on One Hit Wonders from the 1980’s.
Speaking of which, I just finished the “I Want My MTV” oral history of MTV, and it was pretty awesome. I’ll never look at Missing Persons or Billy Squier quite the same way again, or Van Halen’s “Pretty Woman” video for that matter. There was just as much debauchery going on at MTV in the 1980’s as you might have expected. Maybe more.
On to the questions…
What's going on with krug and Reilly? Have you heard anything??? - @bkazis “bobby k
JH: All is quiet with Torey Krug and Reilly Smith and their search for new contracts as limited “entry level restricted free agents.” I wrote about this last week, and there isn’t really any urgency from the Bruins. Both Krug and Smith burned a year off their original entry level deals when they left the NCAA’s to sign with NHL teams, and that leaves them unable to sign offer sheets from other NHL teams, request arbitration or do anything aside from hold out if they’re unhappy with their new deals in Boston. I expect both of them to be in the $1-2 million range per year for only a season or two with the understanding that the Bruins will give them solid bridge deals the next time around at the negotiating table.
The reduced rates will help the Bruins with their bottom line in their current salary crap crunch, and also might be one thing that helps the Bruins avoid dealing any big-salaried players prior to the start of the season. I haven’t confirmed this with the Bruins front office, but – given their current contract situation – the team might have some options with Krug and Smith that will allow them to get under the cap at the start of the NHL season. This will allow them to utilize the Marc Savard LTIR money without trading any significant roster players away, and at least keep together the current group of B’s players until they can evaluate their team during the regular season.
Bottom line, I wouldn’t stress too much about the contracts for Krug and Smith heading into this season.
The tricky part for Peter Chiarelli and the B’s front office is being fair to both young players despite the team holding the leverage hammer. It will be tricky to avoid giving them a bad taste in their mouths given that both players might have initially expected something in the three-year, $10 million range for their second contract.
If Krug continues his trend upward and becomes a top four defenseman, a Jake Gardiner-type of five-year, $20 million contract isn’t out of the realm of possibility at all a couple of years down the line.
One think to keep in mind: Since Chiarelli replaced Harry Sinden and Mike O’Connell, the B’s front office has a long track record of taking care of their core players, and eventually I’d expect them to do that for both promising young talents. My first season covering the team back in the olden days, the Bruins forced holdouts for both Andrew Raycroft and Nick Boynton, and neither player was ever the same in Boston again. That’s actually a good thing since the Bruins spun Raycroft into Tuukka Rask, but that’s a story for another day.
They don’t play hard ball with negotiations for their young players anymore.
You should be studying the Winnipeg Jets D pairings - @PapaDooks1 “Rick Maloof”
JH: I can literally think of 15,000 better things to do with my time. The Winnipeg Jets aren’t going anywhere until their GM works up some courage, and starts to make some changes to that team. I like Paul Maurice. I think he’s a nice guy, and a pretty good coach. Maybe the Jets think Maurice’s third team is the charm like it was with the Bruins and Claude Julien.
But Maurice can’t turn disinterested, half-committed players into playoff contenders in the Western Conference.
The situation with the Jets is starting to fester like a rotting piece of fruit, and decaying produce doesn’t ever improve once it starts to go bad. They still have frenzied fan support and should for a long time. I think blaming it on the cold, hearty city of Winnipeg is a lazy cop out, and that goes double for hockey writers that wrote about a city they’ve never actually been to before.
They don’t have good enough players to compete in the West. It’s that simple. Ondrej Pavelec is a below average goaltender, their top forward line would be a decent second line on most playoff teams. Their defense is led by a player (Dustin Byfuglien) that roves around the ice way too much.
Instead, here’s the plan: Blow it up, groom the young players and build a winner from within rather trying to sell players where a losing mentality has clearly already started to settle in on the roster.
If the season started today, do your best to name the lines for the Bs - @NickPointer “Nick Pointer”
JH: Okay, here goes with the caveat that the bottom six will be difficult to forecast until we see how the players fare in training camp.
13th forward: Campbell
I say best movie of all time is Godfather (first one). Millennials say Shawshank Redemption. WTF? No respect from youngsters. - @NapaliRick “Rick”
JH: Believe it or not, the only time I’ve seen the first time Godfather movies is when they were edited in chronological order rather than using the flashbacks to Robert DeNiro as Don Corleone. I skipped Godfather 3 and pretended it didn’t exist, just like everybody else. I enjoyed the first two movies, but I’m just not a big Godfather, Goodfellas, Sopranos enthusiast. I recognize how spectacularly powerful they are and enjoyed watching them, but they just don’t speak to me. Maybe it’s because I’m Irish. I don’t know.
I love Shawshank Redemption, and saw it multiple times in the movie theatres when it first came out. Same with Pulp Fiction, Dazed & Confused, Almost Famous, Good Will Hunting, Heat, Donnie Darko, The Wedding Singer, The Matrix and American Beauty among other movies when I had enough free time, and few enough responsibilities, to go to midnight screenings. Field of Dreams, The Natural, Slap Shot, and Bull Durham are all great sports movies that hold a special place for me.
Special shout out to Berry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon”, which is a gem from the early 1980’s if you haven’t seen it with lines like “Kiss the Converse.”
But the best movie of all time was, is and always will be "The Empire Strikes Back". The best sequel ever produced, and I always loved the fact that it ended on such a down note leaving you pained waiting for the next installment. I was eight years old, and I can still remember the “WTF” moment when Han Solo was frozen, and then Darth Vader told Luke he was his father.
I’ve always sided more with the sci-fi, serial comic-type movies anyway, and I know plenty of people would agree with me on the choice of Empire. By the way, check out Snowpiercer if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s in theatres and also available on demand, and I saw somebody describe it as Mad Max meets Speed, and that’s a pretty good summation with a little Matrix thrown in as well.
Take the Bruins roster and compare each member to a character in The Walking Dead - provide rationale! - @MATmassahos “Mat Massahos”
JH: Wow. That’s a great challenge. Let’s see.
Rick = Milan Lucic. Has all the makings of a great leader, but loses control of his emotions every once in a while. His heart is always in the right place even if the rage takes over every once in a while. Sometimes the group needs Lucic/Rick to go berserk for the greater good, and one thing is pretty clear: he’s not to be messed with.
Michonne = David Krejci. Doesn’t talk a lot, but speaks frankly when opting to share thoughts. Was once more of an individual player worried about his own things, but has truly become a team player willing to ignore the lure of self-interest. Normally responds resoundingly when it matters most, and can make things look easy.
Glenn = Patrice Bergeron. Always seems to instinctively know the right thing to do, and is fearless. Has watched them grow up before our eyes into a courageous leader worthy of respect from modest beginnings.
Darryl = Johnny Boychuk. Country strong and willing to do whatever it takes for success. Even if it means taking a puck to the face, or eating a squirrel. Well, maybe not the squirrel part.
Carl = Brad Marchand. Is constantly learning how to survive in his world, and deal with the consequences of his actions. He’s paid steeply for mistakes in the past, and growing up in high pressure environment included some growing pains. But continues to surprise as one of the smallest members of the group.
Tyreese = Zdeno Chara. Big, strong and mean-looking with a long fuse, but can do serious damage when incensed. Can take out an entire group all by himself.
Hershel = Claude Julien. The wise, aged voice of experience and reason with the answers to the group’s big questions, and the biggest proponent of sacrifice for the greater good.
Beth = Jordan Caron. One of Hershel/Claude’s flock that has never really proven what they bring to the table. Doesn’t seem to be a lasting fit for their environment.
Lauren = Reilly Smith. Kept surprising with ability to thrive in a position of big responsibility, and appears to have a bright future.
Carol = Dennis Seidenberg. A quiet, tough leader that has gained in stature since arriving on the scene.
The Governor = Carl Soderberg. Still unsure of just how powerful he can be, but has shown talent, prodigious ability and a necessary mean streak. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Merle = Kevan Miller. One tough mamma jamma.
Andrea = Dougie Hamilton. Still has some maturing to do with, but has what it takes to survive and thrive. It all comes down to the decision-making and the willingness to keep pushing for more.
Abraham = Loui Eriksson. Still a lot of unknown after an uneventful first season, but has a strong ability to affect the overall success of the group after his addition.
Shane = Torey Krug. Could eventually be the leader of the group given his skills and background, but needs to continue learning from the established leadership group.
Bob = Daniel Paille. Isn’t the loudest personality on the team, but is tough and has some very useful skills in times of need.
Dale = Gregory Campbell. An underrated part of the group’s personality, an unending willingness to do the right thing and an important piece that sees the big picture.
Eugene = Adam McQuaid. The mullet says it all. Would also accept Tuukka Rask because of his ability to save their world.
Hope I’m not forgetting anybody.
Lucic - overrated overpaid or both? #haggbag - @bizmarkie20 “Mark Adams”
JH: I guess you’re a big fan of No. 17, eh?
While my partner Mike Giardi has gone on some rants with Lucic in his crosshairs in this summer of Bruins discontent, I don’t share the sentiment. You can bank on him for 25 goals and 50-plus points every season, he’s the toughest, most intimidating guy on the ice whenever he’s out there and he’s the embodiment of the Big Bad Bruins style.
There is nobody in the league that has his rare set of skills and attributes, and any other team would love to have him. Are there times when his skating looks a little labored? Certainly. Would it be great if his hands around the net were a little better to take advantage of his size, strength and courage? Most definitely. Does he need to consistently play at a higher level in the playoffs? There is no question about that.
But Lucic won’t be overpaid as the salary cap rises, and he will continue to mature into a leader as he gets older. He’s not in the area where the Bruins need be concerned about decline quite yet, and he’s been largely durable during his time with the Bruins.
Lucic is part of the answer on this Bruins team rather than part of the problem.
How many calls will be interrupted by your barking dog during @Toucherandrich @FredToucher this year? Vegas O/U 8 #Haggbag - @Cartman3132 “C Dev”
JH: First off, thanks for listening. I think eight is way too high. Besides, with an 11-month old baby there’s now a much better chance of a young child yelling and screaming for “dada” now. Between Finnegan, the dogs, and a wife with a “Honey Do” list, I do not live in a quiet house.