Bruins continue to mull over 'A' choices

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Bruins continue to mull over 'A' choices

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

The Bruins sit on the eve of opening night against the Philadelphia Flyers, and no decision has yet been made on an alternate captain replacement for Mark Recchi on a Bs team laden with veteran leadership.

Watching Recchi collect his championship ring with the rest of the team on Tuesday night was a stark reminder the Bs are still one A jersey short of a full set with Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron serving respectively as the captain and permanent alternate captain.

There have been plenty of names bandied about for the A, and theyre all extremely good options.

Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton are both veteran leaders and influential voices within the dressing room, and compelling arguments can be made for their letter worthiness. They would and should be the leaders in the clubhouse.

Adam McQuaid, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly and the departed veteran Chris Clark all wore the A during the training camp season, and are among younger players like Milan Lucic, Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell that all exhibited excellent leadership qualities over the last couple of years.

So the choice isnt easy for Claude Julien and the rest of the Bs coaching staff when it comes to a new alternate captain. There are also some different options the team could opt for as well. In fact its never a bad idea to emulate the Detroit Red Wings on any organizational level including picking captains and holding an expectation of excellence among those without letters.

With the experience that we went through last year that made those guys more confident, there is a feeling like they can lead a little bit more," Julien said. "There's that comfort in that dressing room right now with guys that have been together for a long time. So there are a lot of things that come into play, and you don't need a letter. You often use the example of Detroit because they seem to be a nice model for a lot of those things.

There are a lot of guys on that team that could also wear a letter and they don't. That doesn't stop them from being a great team, and doesn't stop those guys from leading by example whether it's on or off the ice.

The Bruins may go back to the Julien system of letter-carrying prior to Mark Recchi, and disperse the second A on a rotational schedule to multiple players over the course of the season based on numerous factors. Or there may be one clear choice for alternate captain among the list of battle-hardened players in Black and Gold.

Whichever way Julien and Co. were leaning, he wasnt tipping his hand 24 hours prior to puck drop.

It's not going to be an easy decision," Julien said. "That process is made between coaches, and obviously you always get a little input from players. But there's a lot of guys that could wear it. I know that it could be shared, it could be a monthly thing or it could be just a few guys. There are also guys that don't really need a letter to be leaders. As much importance as you guys put into it, we put as much too. But the meaning of it or what it's going to do to whoever has it or whoever doesn't have it -- is not as big of an issue as most people think.

While it may not be a huge deal, its clear by Juliens deliberation that hes not taking his letter choice lightly.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.