Felger: They are who I thought they were

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Felger: They are who I thought they were

By Michael Felger

Five thoughts on the Bruins following an alarmingly bad performance Saturday in Toronto:

1. So now you want to fire the coach?

Where were you 11 months ago, after the Bruins became the first NHL team in 35 years to blow a 3-0 series lead in their second-round playoff loss to Philadelphia? Where were you after they peed down their leg in Game Seven at the Garden? Where were you after Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli explained away that defeat by saying, hey, we're one of only five teams to make the second round two straight years, so why is everyone so upset?

I mean, really. If no one lost their job after that, you think it's going to happen after two bad weeks in March?

2. I'd wouldn't call what the Bruins have right now a goalie "controversy." That would connote two guys making a case to be the starter through their solid play. That would be a good thing. I would classify the Bruins' current situation in net as a goalie "thing," because neither Tim Thomas nor Tuukka Rask look like they deserve the job. That, obviously, is a bad thing.

If you ask me, Rask is the sharper guy right now, but that's not to say he's been foolproof. Even his good games include a clunker or two. He's just looked better than Thomas, who seems to have lost whatever mojo he had from his terrific first half. He's won just once this month and was yanked in the second period in Toronto. Only, that wasn't the end of Thomas' night, as Rask blew another gasket, yelling at defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for an apparent screen, and Thomas was back in to start the third. Julien said Thomas returned for the final period because he lobbied for it during an intermission conversation.

Whatever. The B's have a thing on their hands. The solution? Even though I think Rask is the better (or least bad) goalie right now, Thomas still deserves to play his way out of this. He's been too good for too long this season for the B's to give up on him. Yes, just a few weeks ago we were talking about how important it was to get him his
rest, but that was before this thing came up. Now it's time to play him. If he shows no signs of snapping out of it, then go to Rask.

3. The power play looks better with Tomas Kaberle -- but who gives a crap how it looks? The puck still isn't going into the net. The B's have scored just one power play goal in their last 29 chances, and that was when they had a 5-on-3 advantage. Otherwise, all we've seen is a bunch of passes from Kaberle to Chara at the point and a lot of blocked shots.

Kaberle sure can pass the puck, but if he's the true "puck moving defenseman'' the B's so desperately needed, then it has yet to show itself. It better materialize in the playoffs, or this team has no shot. In the meantime, Kaberle is 0-3-3 with a plus-4 as a Bruin.

4. Why did the Bruins trade a second-round pick for forward Chris Kelly again? Didn't they already have a couple of guys like that (Greg Campbell, Danielle Paille)? Didn't they have a need on the top two lines, not the bottom two?

The last thing we needed was for Julien to get another defensive-minded plugger. He loves those guys. He wraps them in his bosom and rolls them over the boards every fourth shift like it was their birthright. Then he treats them to ice cream after the game. He can't get enough of them.

This month, Kelly has one assist and is a minus-4. Yet check his ice time; it's around 15 minutes a night. Rain or shine. A perfect Julien guy.

5. All that said, I think the Bruins will be okay. Note: I said "okay." Not champions. In fact, I don't feel dramatically different about the Bruins after this seven-game stretch (1-3-3) than I did after their previous one (7-0).

They'll bounce back from this. Maybe it will be Thursday against the Canadiens. And, come the postseason, if they get the right matchups, they could make the Conference Finals. If they have a tough draw, they could be out in the first round. I felt this way in October and I felt this way in February. I feel it now.

I think most of you got way too ahead of yourselves a few weeks back. Take off the footy pajamas. The B's don't have a Top Four roster. When they're playing hard and the goaltending is there, they can beat most everyone in a regular-season setting. But they aren't a great team.

Don't you understand where we are, folks? Unless or until Cam Neely makes a major change to the core (players andor coaches), or until Tyler Seguin develops into a top 10 player in the league, we'll remain where we've been for three years:

Purgatory.
E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursdays. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

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But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.

Bruins don't extend qualifying offer to Joe Morrow

Bruins don't extend qualifying offer to Joe Morrow

With free agency just around the corner, the Bruins have officially cut ties with former first-round pick and last bastion of the Tyler Seguin trade, Joe Morrow.

The 24-year-old Edmonton native arrived in Boston along with Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser in exchange for Seguin when he was shipped to Dallas, and now all of those players have moved on from Boston as well. Boston does still carry Jimmy Hayes on their roster, a player traded from Florida in exchange for Smith, as a last remnant of the Seguin deal, but it isn't expected to be too long before Hayes moves on from Boston as well.  

The B’s announced on Monday afternoon that they hadn’t extended a qualifying offer to Morrow, as well as P-Bruins power forward Colton Hargrove, as a restricted free agent, and that both B’s youngsters were now free to sign with any of the 30 NHL teams as free agents.

The Bruins extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents in Noel Acciari, Linus Arnesson, Austin Czarnik, Zane McIntyre, David Pastrnak, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner and Malcolm Subban, and will retain the associated team rights with all of those players. Negotiations are ongoing between the Bruins and Pastrnak continue over a long term deal that would put him in the same $6 million plus per season level as teammate Brad Marchand, but one source with knowledge of the negotiations indicated it’s “not close” to being a done deal.

Some RFA’s like Spooner and Subban might not necessarily fit into the long term plan for the Black and Gold, but they need to maintain their rights if they hope to trade them as valued assets down the line.

Morrow never put together the talent that made him a former first-round pick while he was in Boston, and totaled just one assist in 17 games for the B’s before playing well in five playoff games after getting pushed into duty due to injuries. In all Morrow finished with two goals and nine points along with a minus-8 rating in 65 games over three seasons in Boston, but could never string together an extended run of consistent play at the NHL level.

With the Bruins in the market to bring on another left-shot defenseman into the Boston fold this summer, it was pretty clear that the time had come to move on from Morrow while allowing him to potentially develop as an NHL D-man elsewhere.