Haggerty: Bruins couldn’t wait on Seguin

Haggerty: Bruins couldn’t wait on Seguin
July 5, 2013, 12:15 am
Share This Post

BOSTON – At the end of the day, the Boston Bruins simply didn’t have enough time to wait for Tyler Seguin to reach NHL adulthood.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli shocked the hockey media world from their Fourth of July cookouts on Thursday when word leaked out that Boston was fixing to execute a major seven player deal with the Dallas Stars. The surprising swap included Seguin and Stars left winger Loui Eriksson as the two centerpiece players, and sent a raft of young, affordable players to the Bruins.

The Bruins sent Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to the Stars in exchange for Eriksson along with young prospects Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow, and essentially shipped Seguin to a destination in Dallas where he’ll either sink or swim at his natural top line center position.

“I think what’s important to remember about Tyler [Seguin] is that he came here with much pomp and circumstance, and he played very well for a young player. This year wasn’t his best year, but it was a trying year and a weird year to assess players,” said Peter Chiarelli. “Tyler is a real good kid. I know I see the Twitterverse, or whatever it’s called, and a lot of these reports about his extracurricular stuff.

“I’ve made comments about that due to his professionalism and acting more like a professional, but what has to be remembered in all this is that he’s twenty-one years old. He’s a good kid and he’s a terrific player. He’s probably better suited for center.”

That was actually a familiar refrain throughout Chiarelli’s call with reporters: “we need to remember that Seguin is 21 years old.”

It’s an important piece of the equation given that most 21-year-old people are perpetually in search of a good time, and don’t always respond perfectly when charged with real world responsibility.

That’s where the risk comes in sending a talented young forward to the Western Conference coming off an inconsistent regular season followed by a lackluster 22 game playoff run that produced one goal. Seguin has three goals in his last 40 playoff games, and just never seemed to fully embrace the kind of tenacious, unrelenting mindset hockey players need to taste success during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

He was confronted by members of the organization during the first round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs when it appeared he wasn’t ready to play in Games 3 and 4 in Toronto after having too much fun in his hometown.

It was pretty clear Seguin took a step backward in his third NHL season in terms of dedication to his craft, and developing a professional attitude in terms of focus and preparation. It may or may not have been a coincidence this all seemed to transpire after Seguin signed a six-year contract guaranteeing him $34 plus million starting next season.

It was details like this that prompted Peter Chiarelli to state that “Seguin needs to become a better professional” during last weekend’s NHL Draft.

That also clearly landed the 21-year-old placed on the trade block this summer, even if Chiarelli is correctly taking the high road and underselling the “off-ice” component of Boston’s desire to deal their young, talented asset.

“I don't want to really play [the maturation thing] up too much. He’s a 21-year-old that played as an 18-year-old, and I think he was just a 21-year-old kid. He was maturing and growing up. He liked to have fun like the rest of them,” said Chiarelli. “I don't really think it was such a big deal. But when I said earlier about focus, [it was] just about little things, about preparing to play. It was nothing about extracurricular activities.”

The Seguin trade was always done with somewhat mixed feelings, with the Bruins organization knowing he’s talented enough to figure it all out over the next six years and become one of the game’s elite. But the Bruins also know this deal saves them $4.5 million on the salary cap next season, and makes them a better team for the 2013-14 season.  

“We’re talking about a good player. Our job—my job as a manager, our coaches job -- we have to get the best out of our players, I have to supply them with players, he has to get the best out of them. No player is perfect, either as a player or an individual,” said Chiarelli. “All his stuff mushrooms into a proliferation of items on social media and I get overwhelmed by the number of stuff that comes out. Maybe some of it is true, but I know not all of it is true. This kid -- Tyler [Seguin] is a 21-year-old, he is a good kid, he’s got a good heart and he is going to continue to grow up.”

There is again: another reminder that Seguin “is a 21-year-old.”

Through all of the whispers about his late-night partying in Boston and driving his Maserati at breakneck speeds down Newbury Street during the wee hours of the morning, the Bruins know Seguin is still just 21 years old. He will grow and mature, and perhaps sending him to Dallas, where he’ll be reunited with a potential father figure-type in Special Assistant to the GM Mark Recchi, will be the best thing for him.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Seguin,” said Recchi in a text to CSNNE.com.

There’s every chance that Seguin bounces back from this important life lesson, and heeds the wakeup call while maturing into the franchise center and offensive sniper Boston thought they drafted second overall in 2010. It happened for Matt Duchene in Colorado after a rough third season with the Avalanche where he was fighting with his head coach and battling maturity issues.

Duchene bounced back strongly last season for the Avs with 17 goals and 43 points, and the Bruins are fully aware that same thing may take place for Seguin in Dallas.

But the Bruins also know that Seguin “is just 21 years old.”

Zdeno Chara will be 37 years old next season, and realistically has 2-3 years of prime NHL seasons left in his freakishly well-conditioned 6-foot-9 body. As elite a professional athlete as Chara continues to be, one could argue there were signs of fatigue and strain on Chara during this spring’s playoffs for the first time in his career.

That means the Bruins have a 2-3 year window for Stanley Cup championships before things start to get a lot more challenging for the Black and Gold.

The Bruins simply couldn’t sit around and wait for Seguin to mature both on and off the ice, and develop into the dynamic game-breaking player they could have used during the Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks.

It was eye-opening watching Pat Kane ripping the Bruins defense to shreds while leading the Blackhawks to the Cup while people were just hoping for good shifts out of Seguin, fresh of his demotion to third line duty. The Bruins expected big things out of their prodigy this season while building their power play around the young forward, and envisioned Seguin snapping off Stamkos-like one-timers from the left face-off dot all season-long.

The “Seguin as power play weapon” never materialized, though, and there are real questions how much better the 21-year-old will get with more raw skating/shooting talent than actual hockey IQ and playmaking ability. It will take plenty of work, and Seguin just didn’t show that Stamkos-level of dedication to perfect his one-timer, do the dirty work around the net and transform his body into a hockey-playing machine.

Instead the Bruins will move on to a known commodity in the 27-year-old Eriksson, who has averaged 29.5 goals and 69.5 points during the last four full seasons with the Stars.

In other words the responsible, two-way Swede has averaged the kind of season that Seguin brandished as his best over the course of his three years in Boston. He won’t break the game open with dazzling feats of hockey derring-do, but he also won’t leave the Bruins frustrated with his lack of attention to detail.

Eriksson is a mature player in his prime that will give the Bruins a consistent effort during the playoffs, and is under contract for the Chara window through the next three years.

He is “Mr. Present” instead of “Mr. Future”, and that’s clearly what the Bruins are looking for.  

The chances of Eriksson going through a 22-game playoff run with only one goal and little impact are slim, and the prospects of a speedy, smart and defensive adept forward line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Eriksson is an enticing prospect for the next few years.

As has been mentioned many times over the last week, Seguin is “just a 21-year-old” in need of time to grow up and mature into the player he will eventually become.

The Bruins just couldn’t wait any longer on the immature Seguin with a Stanley Cup-worthy team ready and waiting, and a very finite clock ticking for Boston that waits for no one in the end.