If you arent a black and gold bandwagon jumper, the Minnesota Wild signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to identical contracts should have had a pleasantly familiar feeling to it.
Six years ago the Boston Bruins made a similar splash bringing Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard to the Bruins. At the time, GM to be Peter Chiarelli was still under contract to the Ottawa Senators until July 15th and was strictly forbidden to have any contact with any Senators free agents. So it fell upon acting GM Jeff Gorton to sign the former Ottawa star Chara and Savard, which instantly righted a badly listing franchise.
It was a day that marked the end of the post lockout incompetence and post 1970s championship complacency that became the hallmark of the SindenOConnell regime.
Well a year after the 2011 cup run Peter Chiarelli has managed to keep the incompetence to a minimum, but apparently even a premature evacuation in the first round of the 2012 playoffs isnt enough to stave off another case of post-cup complacency.
It started last summer. The Stanley Cup victory tour hadnt even begun to deposit enormous bar tabs and shirtless rookies across the city, but fans and experts alike were touting this Bruins team as having the best chance to repeat as any in recent NHL history. Usually, this is champagne fueled hubris, but with minimal roster turnover, the Bruins were positioned very well going into the offseason.
Unfortunately, instead of reloading, as forwards Mark Recchi retired and Michael Ryder left via free agency, the Bs settled for talented career under achiever Benoit Pouliot. Instead of correcting the horrific mistake that was the Tomas Kaberle trade, they chose to simply repeat it at a Building 19 price with Joe Corvo. Instead of dealing for impact players, the trade deadline brought roster filler Brian Rolston, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau. Instead of using Marc Savards money to fuel another championship it was left untouched. None of Peter Chiarellis acquisitions were the kind of players that could provide the Bruins with significant production statistically, nor were they the locker room rallying points needed to rejuvenatemotivate a stagnating team.
As a result, the Bruins' first title defense since 1973 was an underachievement both on and off the ice. Luckily for Bruins fans, Chiarelli blaming the teams first round exit on league parity shows that their rationalizing defeat and excuse making skills are still of a championship caliber.
Since that parity-induced playoff exit, the Bruins front office has shown less activity than Han Solo between Empire and Return of the Jedi. How can a team that underperformed so badly have even less team-building urgency? Yet Chiarelli seems legitimately content to simply re-sign the same roster that was bounced last season, minus their Conn Smythe winning goalie. If what the Red Sox did at the end of the Theo Epstein era was Feeding the Monster, what Chiarellis done since the Bs Stanley Cup Championship is starving the Bear.
Now I will never claim to be the sharpest knife in the draw, but even green rubberized safety scissors can see that bringing back last years team and possibly adding a Top 9 forward isnt going to solve the Bruins parity problems, let alone loading up for a title run. If you havent noticed, this team is bursting at the seams with "Top 9" forwards. And none of those Top 9 forwards could do what this team needed last season: step in for the injured Nathan Horton. This isnt a new problem either. For two years running, this team has entered the offseason with first line players (Savard & Horton) recovering from major concussions. And for two straight years Chiarelli has failed to put an adequate back up plan on the roster during the offseason. Even though the initial reports about Horton are very positive, the fact that this was his second head injury in a year and the length of time he has missed from a moderate hit is still a massive cause for concern. And it is absolutely cause for this team to look above and beyond the usual roster filler.
Despite these facts, the only activity Bs fans have gotten this offseason is in the press. Good news! Tim Thomas waived his no trade clause! OH yeah he still hasnt been dealt. The Bruins made a significant offer to Zach Parise! It was so significant that the Bruins were never mentioned by any prominent hockey writers as they reported incessantly on the former Devil's free agent status. Im sure that after Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan are dealt it will be reported that the Bruins put together super-duper competitive packages to acquire both players.
What this team and its fans need isnt a front office thats content to manage a disappointing season with excuses and press releases. They need a front office that doesnt think simply keeping the band together is enough to contend. They need a GM that will see Jay Feaster losing his mind and take advantage of the situation before Feasters office is padded in rubber. The Parise and Suter signings should be the inspiration needed to return to the daring aggressiveness that laid the foundation for the Bruins revival.
Unfortunately, that probably means the Bruins need to rehire Jeff Gorton.