Morning Skate: Thursday, April 10

Morning Skate: Thursday, April 10
April 10, 2014, 12:30 pm
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It’s amazing to think how the fates of two hated, rival teams were completely and irrevocably sullied by Boston’s memorable run to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

When the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens faced each other in the first round, there was a lot on the line for both Original Six organizations. If Claude Julien and his Bruins had bowed out in the first round to the Habs, that would have been it for both the coach and the rest of his coaching staff after failing to get out of the first two rounds in four straight seasons.

Instead Julien went on to vanquish the Habs in Game 7, capture his first Cup with the Bruins and now ranks as the second winningest coach in Boston Bruins franchise history. The Bruins coach is also now the second-longest tenured coach in the Eastern Conference behind the Detroit Red Wings’ Mike Babcock.  

Former Montreal head coach Jacques Martin was on the other end for Montreal in that first round loss, and he was gone partway through the following season. He hasn’t been given a head coaching gig since leaving Montreal, and serves as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Similarly, the Vancouver Canucks never recovered from losing the Stanley Cup Final series to the Bruins, and falling to a bullying Boston team on their own home ice in a decisive Game 7. Vancouver won the President’s Trophy again a year later while running it up in the regular season, but they flopped in the playoffs while still licking their wounds from the previous postseason.

GM Mike Gillis tried to reinvent the team with more toughness and attitude, which is so not the Canucks. He traded skilled forward Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for Milan Lucic wannabee Zach Kassian, and brought in John Tortorella to be the tough, no-nonsense head coach that wouldn’t allow the Sedin Twins to be speed-bagged on a world hockey stage ever again. The team seemed to lose confidence in Roberto Luongo after his tire-pumping display and no-show performances in the Cup Final games at TD Garden

As it turns out, the Gillis plan to reinvent the skilled, dynamic Canucks -- into something where they were no longer the 98-pound weaklings of the NHL against teams like the Bruins -- was a complete disaster, and he’s out of a job after Vancouver failed to make the playoffs this season. Tortorella isn’t fretting about what his fate will be, but it’s 100 percent correct to say things truly started fraying for this Canucks core on the day of their Game 7 fall to the Bruins three years ago.

On to the rest of today's links:

* PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has a report that the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in Brendan Shanahan as the new GM of the Maple Leafs.

* Kris Letang returns to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup less than three months after suffering a stroke off the ice.

* Andy Brickley thinks Andrej Meszaros is the seventh Bruins defenseman to start the playoffs, and I’d have to agree with him.

* It’s wait until next year for the New Jersey Devils after they were eliminated from the playoffs.

* The Blue Jackets are back in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they’ve earned their way in the old fashioned way. It looks like it will be the Bruins for them in the first round of the playoffs barring some kind of unforeseen drop in play from the Detroit Red Wings.

* For something completely different: Jimmy Fallon steps in as Tom Petty for a duet with Stevie Nicks on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”