Haggerty: It's a tale of two GM's for Bruins and Flyers

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Haggerty: It's a tale of two GM's for Bruins and Flyers

Every NHL general manager has their own personality and style when it comes to building their individual team roster.

There isnt one blueprint for success.

Instead here are many different ways to piece together a group of 20 players capable of raising the Stanley Cup at the end of an arduous hockey journey, and no two NHL GMs are the same.

But this summer continues to illustrate that you might not find two more disparate managing styles then those employed by Philadelphias Paul Holmgren and Bostons Peter Chiarelli. Those styles have played out perfectly in the way things have gone for each franchise over the last few months.

Homer has shown the wild-eyed boldness hes known for in once again shaking up his roster, and seems to have an allergic aversion to sticking with the status quo. Some of those short, quick brush strokes are based on issues within the Flyers dressing room, of course, and some are strictly about addressing team weaknesses.

But Holmgren is all about the action, and making moves rather than standing still.

Last summer he shipped Flyers captain Mike Richard and Jeff Richards away from Philadelphia in a couple of stunning moves that left their fan base slack-jawed and stupefied.

He forked over a gigantic long term contract for an unproven playoff performer in Ilya Bryzgalov when the Flyers needed stability between their pipes. Holmgren shipped James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs when the Flyers got tired of waiting for the former UNH star to return from injuries in a more timely fashion.

This summer Holmgren has bucked GM etiquette and signed restricted free agent Shea Weber to a 14-year, 110 million deal with a front-loaded contract construction that makes it nearly impossible for the Nashville Predators to match it. Its a maneuver thats within the bounds of the current CBA, and therefore 100-percent adhering to the letter of the law.

But its clearly going to create some hard feelings with Nashville GM Dave Poile among others.

That didnt concern Holmgren when it came time to find a defenseman that could fill the void left by the concussed Chris Pronger. Instead he executed the big move without much long term worry about next years CBA climate or the long term planning strategies that can sometimes paralyze an otherwise aggressive general manager.

On the other end of the spectrum: Chiarelli and his quiet offseason with a Bruins team that was vanquished in the first round of the playoffs. Chiarelli occasionally makes the big move like nabbing Tomas Kaberle at the trade deadline whether it worked or not it was a big move at the time or locking down both Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard when he first took over the Bruins franchise.

But his method with the Bs is more about drafting and developing young players, cultivating underrated talent at the NHL level and finding the perfect fits for a Black and Gold membership thats already proven itself Stanley Cup worthy. Its not about splashy moves or change for the sake of mixing things up.

That kind of conservative team-building can challenge the short-term attention span needs of a rabid fan base thats come to expect greatness. But it also can be effective as its been in Boston.

The Bruins have packaged together a talented young nucleus of players that are largely just entering their prime years of production, but theyre also battle-hardened after five straight playoff appearances. They also still have more talented youngsters coming up the pipeline with first round picks Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron expected to be core performers for the 2012-13 season.

Chiarelli is happy to give his Bruins nucleus one more season to prove just how good they can be with no Stanley Cup hangover excuses or Tim Thomas drama hanging over their heads. If they falter again in the first round with such a talented cast then things might be a little different.

The bold, big thinking aspects of Chiarellis management style would materialize to make the necessary changes. Those same big move instincts should be in effect this season if there truly isnt enough offense for the Bruins, or if Nathan Horton cant stay healthy after multiple concussions over the last two seasons.

But the Bruins werent big players for Zach Parise despite their significant offer. Theyve done little more than exploratory trade discussions with Anaheim, Phoenix and Columbus for the respective services of Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle or Rich Nash. Chiarelli has explained all along that hes not looking to dismantle whats proven to be a championship core of players, and there are clear benefits to keeping the same group of players together year after year.

It speaks to pros and cons to each way of handling their business as general managers. The Flyers will constantly address their team needs and bring high end talent into the Philadelphia fold, but that leads to an alarming amount of turnover year after year.

The Bruins have stayed the course with a talented group that has grown up together in Boston.

But the same old problems plague the Bs cast of characters: a pitiful power play and a limited group of defensemen when it comes to the puck-moving department. It hasnt changed in the last two years, and there is slim hope that things will radically improve next year in Boston with the same personnel.

So in many areas across the board Holmgren and Chiarelli come to success from different avenues, but both longtime franchises have been undeniably successful over the last five seasons.

The one ultimate difference-maker when Holmgren and Chiarelli are placed side-by-side for evaluation?

Its the Stanley Cup raised by the Bruins and their conservative GM two seasons ago even if thats long gone and forgotten by a what have you done for me lately hockey fan base. Holmgren gets the Flyers Faithful excited with courageous roster moves and keeps the hockey franchise in the headlines by always chasing after household names via trades or free agency.

But sometimes the best moves are the ones never made by a conservative, deliberate GM that shows true value in their players. After all it was Chiarelli and the Bruins that refrained from trading away Tim Thomas to Philly for Simon Gagne back in 2009 when Holmgren was once again looking to remake his team.

Chiarellis unwillingness to simply flip away a key asset is exactly what separates the two GMs at the end of day.

Its also why one has a Stanley Cup on his resume and the other has retreated back to the drawing board each and every season.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.