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.

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

JAMAICA PLAIN -- David Backes probably could have opted to have his introductory press conference inside the Bruins dressing room at TD Garden, or maybe even in some finished part of the team's new practice facility in Brighton, which is set to open a couple of months from now.

Instead, the new Bruins forward met face-to-face with the media for the first time while taking a tour of the MSPCA and, in the process, introducing Bruins fans to his “Athletes for Animals” charity, a foundation that promotes rescuing -- and protecting the welfare of -- homeless pets nationwide.

Backes took pictures with a pit bull named Greta that’s been at the MSPCA Adoption Center for the last seven months looking for a “forever home”.

And as he spoke, it became abundantly clear that this is what the 32-year-old former St. Louis Blues captain is all about.

“[Taking a tour of the facility] gives you a warm feeling inside, and makes you feel like you’re already a part of the city while helping give some attention to the great work that they’re doing,” said Backes, the owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty, Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly), who is house-hunting in Boston this week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter.

“Hopefully this will be just the beginning of our connecting with the community, and helping serve the people that are great fans of the Bruins and that will be watching us every night. [Hopefully] they’re watching us go on deep playoff runs year after year.”

Backes’ efforts with rescue animals gained national notoriety when he took time to help with the stray dog situation in Sochi, Russia during the last Winter Olympics. But the roots of his “Athletes for Animals” charity goes back to his college days at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," he said "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

For these reasons alone, Backes is a great fit in Boston. The Bruins donate heavily to the MSPCA and were one of the first NHL organizations to come up with the Pucks ‘N Pups calendar, which each year features Bruins players and their dogs, or strays from the MSPCA, to raise money for the animal welfare organization.

To learn more about Backes’ organization, “Athletes for Animals,” visit http://athletesforanimals.org .

Wednesday, July 27: Boychuk's historic home about to be razed

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Wednesday, July 27: Boychuk's historic home about to be razed

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while amazed that President Bill Clinton has still got “it” after all these years.

-- An odd story about Johnny Boychuk’s historic home on Long Island, which is now set to be razed.

-- The Buffalo Sabres are undoubtedly looking to trade Evander Kane at this point. Here are five possible destinations for a player who's got far too much baggage at his age.

-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman continues to make firm denials about the link between concussions and CTE in ex-football and ex-hockey players.

-- Some rumors from Spector that include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie, and whether either player is on the trade block.

-- The Red Wings have signed Danny DeKeyser to a long-term contract that might be viewed as a bit of an overpay at this point in his career.

-- The annual Hockey News story focusing on three teams that could make the playoffs in 2016-17 after missing last season, and three teams that might fall out of the playoff picture from last season. Once again the Bruins are not counted as one of the teams expected to get back in after missing last season, but the Canadiens are at the top of the list.

-- Former NHL tough guy Jay Rosehill has surfaced in the British Elite League, where he’ll play for the Braehead Clan.

-- Moving piece from Joel Ward about the passing of his father, and his own excellent career at the NHL level.

-- For something completely different: Smash Mouth has made an EDM song. I repeat, Smash Mouth has made an EDM song.