Mike from Attleboro: Jacobs still cheap

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Mike from Attleboro: Jacobs still cheap

When the National Hockey League owners voted unanimously Thursday to lock out the players, it made two things crystal clear:

1. Unless there's a Hail Mary -- a last-second delivery of common sense to the NHLPA and, especially, the owners -- we are not going to see NHL hockey anytime soon.

2. Despite everything that's happened in the last few years, including winning a trophy (and a big one it was), Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs hasnt changed a single bit. By calling for that vote and committing to lock the players out, J.J. confirmed that he is still concerned with one thing and one thing only: Money.

If you lived through the Jacobs years, or grew up through them like I did, you know what people thought of the old Jeremy Jacobs. He was a penny-pinching miser who entrusted his spendthrift caporegime, Harry Sinden, to spend enough to keep the Bruins competitive (and to make heaps of money), but not enough to actually build a champion. This led to 20 straight playoff appearances with nothing to show for it except the ignominy of taking Ray Bourque, arguably the second-greatest defenseman in NHL history, to arbitration.

When the Bruins had a chance to draft a potential superstar like Brian Bellows, Harry picked the already gimpy, but more affordable, Gord Kluzak. And J.J. counted his money.

When a player neared a new contract, Harry dealt him for parts. And J.J. counted his money.

When the Bruins needed to add a player to put them over the top, Harry would trade some food stamps for Brent Ashton. And J.J. counted his money.

The one time Harry did use J.J.s check book, it went straight into Kevin Stevens' crack pipe. But the turnstiles still spun and J.J. happily counted his money.

Fast forward to the last lockout, with J.J. again at the forefront. He got his salary cap; the good times -- and more importantly, the profits -- were supposed to roll. Unfortunately for J.J., reality took a hot steaming dump all over his portfolio. The lockout was not only a monumental disaster for the league, but also for Sinden and his coupon-cutting errand boy, Mike OConnell. Their let the entire team walk post-lockout strategy blew up faster than Dustin Byfuglien at a Steak & Shake. Before the ink was dry on Alexi Zhamnovs write off, the Bruins were among the dregs of the league.

Thats when the fans decided, "Enough!" They revolted. No more sellouts. No more concession stands bursting with cash. The Bruins' on-ice product was terrible and the single most loyal fan base in this town wasnt going to shell out cash for it any more.

With his team hemorrhaging season-ticket holders and ad revenue, Jeremy Jacobs was forced into a corner. He had to spend money; it was the only way he could improve the Bruins on the ice and rehabilitate his public image to return the Bs to being the cash cow they once were. Peter Chiarelli was hired as the new GM, and he immediately signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard for amounts that would previously have given J.J. hot flashes. They spent to the cap, and little by little the fans came back.

They came back because the owner had changed his ways. He was spending. He was eating money. (Is Dave Lewis still on the payroll?) He was empowering people like Cam Neely to build a winner at all costs, and Bruins fans were rubbing their eyes. Could this be the same guy? Had Ebenezer Jacobs been visited by the ghosts of Bruins owners past? Yup, it was the very same guy.

And the fever dream continued, as the improbable 2010-11 season ended with a championship. A man who many thought had arms too short to reach his wallet was now hoisting the Stanley Cup. This was it. With a title in hand, Jeremy Jacobs had finally changed his penny-pinching ways for good.

But as this week's vote showed, deep down inside, J.J. is still the same shriveled money grubber who, in the name of a better deal, is more than willing to lead the NHL into another potentially devastating lockout. For the love of cash, hes fine with throwing away all the goodwill he created with his fan base, and all the progress and momentum the league has generated. He was never reformed, just disguised. And dont let the recent contract signings fool you. Hes letting Chiarelli lock up Marchand and Seguin so he can chop their pay at the bargaining table.

Nope, when it comes to the fans and the good of the game, a T-Rex has a better chance of reaching his pocket than Jacobs. If Thursdays labor meetings told us anything, its that Ebenezer Jacobs is back and ready to steal Tiny Tims cane and sell it for kindling.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Bruins may be getting cold feet on Trouba offer sheet

Bruins may be getting cold feet on Trouba offer sheet

The Bruins are still mulling the idea of a massive offer sheet for Winnipeg Jets restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba, but they’re having second, and third thoughts about the bold move according to a league source.

While a seven year, $49 million offer sheet could net them the 22-year-old Trouba with a high ceiling as a possible No. 1 defenseman, there would also be massive costs in assets, and in the kind of major stink it would cause around the league. The Bruins would have a manageable $7 million cap hit for Trouba if they did indeed fire off seven year, $49 million offer sheet to the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder on Friday morning, and they would potentially fill in a big piece of their blue line puzzle for years to come.

But the Black and Gold would also surrender four first round picks given that they don’t have the draft picks to offer anything less than a contract with an AAV (Average Annual Value) of $9.3 million after shortsighted trades sent their 2017 second round pick (for Lee Stempniak) and 2017 third round pick (for Zac Rinaldo) to other teams. Wrinkles within the offer sheet language in the CBA would turn a seven year, $49 million contract into a $9.8 AAV for draft pick compensation purposes, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the Black and Gold.

Perhaps the one thing Bruins GM Don Sweeney didn’t anticipate, however, is the bad blood that poaching an RFA would create across a league where all 30 GMs apparently play by the unwritten NHL Commandment that “thou dost not offer sheet to anybody.”

If the Bruins indeed followed through with the massive offer sheet for a player that finished with six goals and 21 points last season, then the Bruins would live in fear that it could be open season on their own restricted free agents for the foreseeable future. There’s little doubt Winnipeg, and perhaps others, would come sniffing around 20-year-old right wing David Pastrnak when his contract is up next summer, and so on down the line with Boston’s next wave of talented young players coming through the pipeline.

There’s also the simple fact that opinions are very mixed on the ultimate NHL ceiling for Trouba given the possible investment involved. One Western Conference scout thought he was on track to become a No. 1 defenseman, and could be worth all of the assets involved in preparing an offer for a player like Trouba.

“He has elite skating, and has the shot to go with it. He’s built for the new age of mobile defenders that dominate through the neutral zone,” said the scout. “[The physicality] is there, but guys don’t punish anymore because you can push and pin. They defend with their sticks and feet. Upon zone entry is when they lay the body, and he checks all those boxes.”

One other NHL executive wasn’t so sure, and harbored some doubts about whether Trouba could be “The Man” for a blueline crew that had Stanley Cup aspirations.

“The physical tools alone allow him to be big minute guy, but his overall hockey sense could prevent him from being a top D-man,” said the exec.

That seems to be the knock on Trouba: he turns the puck over under pressure, and his decision-making while moving the puck hasn’t really improved from a rookie year as a 19-year-old where he posted 10 goals and 29 points. But the tools, the impressive body of work since entering the NHL as a teenager and the cachet of being a lottery pick keep all NHL observers ever-optimistic that a young player like Trouba will eventually figure it out.

There’s also the very real scenario that the Bruins don’t have the trade assets to get a young defenseman like Trouba given that the Edmonton Oilers had to surrender Taylor Hall in a one-for-one deal to get Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils. They have to hope they can build up some kind of trade package that could net them Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler, or hope that Jason Demers somehow picks Boston as his free agent destination.

That’s barring the offer sheet from the Bruins for Trouba, which is still being discussed by the Bruins even as it becomes less of a possibility for Don Sweeney heading into the July 1 opening of the free agent market. That’s because throwing an offer sheet at Trouba might be the only way the Bruins can land a young, potential No. 1 defenseman this summer that can give them the building block to compete for the next decade, and that’s something for Sweeney, Neely and everybody else on Causeway Street to seriously debate over the next two days.