Haggerty: It's a tale of two GM's for Bruins and Flyers

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Haggerty: It's a tale of two GM's for Bruins and Flyers

Every NHL general manager has their own personality and style when it comes to building their individual team roster.

There isnt one blueprint for success.

Instead here are many different ways to piece together a group of 20 players capable of raising the Stanley Cup at the end of an arduous hockey journey, and no two NHL GMs are the same.

But this summer continues to illustrate that you might not find two more disparate managing styles then those employed by Philadelphias Paul Holmgren and Bostons Peter Chiarelli. Those styles have played out perfectly in the way things have gone for each franchise over the last few months.

Homer has shown the wild-eyed boldness hes known for in once again shaking up his roster, and seems to have an allergic aversion to sticking with the status quo. Some of those short, quick brush strokes are based on issues within the Flyers dressing room, of course, and some are strictly about addressing team weaknesses.

But Holmgren is all about the action, and making moves rather than standing still.

Last summer he shipped Flyers captain Mike Richard and Jeff Richards away from Philadelphia in a couple of stunning moves that left their fan base slack-jawed and stupefied.

He forked over a gigantic long term contract for an unproven playoff performer in Ilya Bryzgalov when the Flyers needed stability between their pipes. Holmgren shipped James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs when the Flyers got tired of waiting for the former UNH star to return from injuries in a more timely fashion.

This summer Holmgren has bucked GM etiquette and signed restricted free agent Shea Weber to a 14-year, 110 million deal with a front-loaded contract construction that makes it nearly impossible for the Nashville Predators to match it. Its a maneuver thats within the bounds of the current CBA, and therefore 100-percent adhering to the letter of the law.

But its clearly going to create some hard feelings with Nashville GM Dave Poile among others.

That didnt concern Holmgren when it came time to find a defenseman that could fill the void left by the concussed Chris Pronger. Instead he executed the big move without much long term worry about next years CBA climate or the long term planning strategies that can sometimes paralyze an otherwise aggressive general manager.

On the other end of the spectrum: Chiarelli and his quiet offseason with a Bruins team that was vanquished in the first round of the playoffs. Chiarelli occasionally makes the big move like nabbing Tomas Kaberle at the trade deadline whether it worked or not it was a big move at the time or locking down both Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard when he first took over the Bruins franchise.

But his method with the Bs is more about drafting and developing young players, cultivating underrated talent at the NHL level and finding the perfect fits for a Black and Gold membership thats already proven itself Stanley Cup worthy. Its not about splashy moves or change for the sake of mixing things up.

That kind of conservative team-building can challenge the short-term attention span needs of a rabid fan base thats come to expect greatness. But it also can be effective as its been in Boston.

The Bruins have packaged together a talented young nucleus of players that are largely just entering their prime years of production, but theyre also battle-hardened after five straight playoff appearances. They also still have more talented youngsters coming up the pipeline with first round picks Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron expected to be core performers for the 2012-13 season.

Chiarelli is happy to give his Bruins nucleus one more season to prove just how good they can be with no Stanley Cup hangover excuses or Tim Thomas drama hanging over their heads. If they falter again in the first round with such a talented cast then things might be a little different.

The bold, big thinking aspects of Chiarellis management style would materialize to make the necessary changes. Those same big move instincts should be in effect this season if there truly isnt enough offense for the Bruins, or if Nathan Horton cant stay healthy after multiple concussions over the last two seasons.

But the Bruins werent big players for Zach Parise despite their significant offer. Theyve done little more than exploratory trade discussions with Anaheim, Phoenix and Columbus for the respective services of Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle or Rich Nash. Chiarelli has explained all along that hes not looking to dismantle whats proven to be a championship core of players, and there are clear benefits to keeping the same group of players together year after year.

It speaks to pros and cons to each way of handling their business as general managers. The Flyers will constantly address their team needs and bring high end talent into the Philadelphia fold, but that leads to an alarming amount of turnover year after year.

The Bruins have stayed the course with a talented group that has grown up together in Boston.

But the same old problems plague the Bs cast of characters: a pitiful power play and a limited group of defensemen when it comes to the puck-moving department. It hasnt changed in the last two years, and there is slim hope that things will radically improve next year in Boston with the same personnel.

So in many areas across the board Holmgren and Chiarelli come to success from different avenues, but both longtime franchises have been undeniably successful over the last five seasons.

The one ultimate difference-maker when Holmgren and Chiarelli are placed side-by-side for evaluation?

Its the Stanley Cup raised by the Bruins and their conservative GM two seasons ago even if thats long gone and forgotten by a what have you done for me lately hockey fan base. Holmgren gets the Flyers Faithful excited with courageous roster moves and keeps the hockey franchise in the headlines by always chasing after household names via trades or free agency.

But sometimes the best moves are the ones never made by a conservative, deliberate GM that shows true value in their players. After all it was Chiarelli and the Bruins that refrained from trading away Tim Thomas to Philly for Simon Gagne back in 2009 when Holmgren was once again looking to remake his team.

Chiarellis unwillingness to simply flip away a key asset is exactly what separates the two GMs at the end of day.

Its also why one has a Stanley Cup on his resume and the other has retreated back to the drawing board each and every season.

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

BOSTON – Having lost three games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy at time of year when you can’t drop into losing streaks, Bruins fans clearly want some sense of surety when it comes to the B’s making the playoffs.

Well, they got an ironclad guarantee from Torey Krug after he was the best B’s player on the ice in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Krug has been a part of the teams that collapsed in each of the past two seasons and the puck-moving defenseman said things are going to be different this time around with nine games to go.

“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. [A collapse] is not going to happen this year. I know we’ve got a lot of pride in this room,” said Krug, who elevated his game and scored on a nifty, Bobby Orr-esque one-man rush up the ice in the third period. He also had a team-high seven shots on net and led the B’s in ice time in the loss. “The guys that have been through it. There’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.

“You feel like you played pretty well and things didn’t go your way. You make a big mistake and it cost you. You got to realize what’s done is done, and we have an important task on Thursday [vs. the Lightning]. We’ve got to come to the rink with no other option except winning that game. That’s the mindset we’ve got to have.”

The Black and Gold are still in a pretty good position when it comes to the playoffs, even if their lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division is precarious right now. But it ultimately comes down to Boston summoning against Tampa Bay and the Islanders what they didn’t, or couldn’t, against Toronto and Ottawa, and making good on Krug’s defiant words following a bitter defeat. 


 

Bruins hope familiar lack of finish isn't cropping up again

Bruins hope familiar lack of finish isn't cropping up again

BOSTON – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Bruins outshot an opponent, lost and then lamented their lack of finish on a bevy of scoring plays while begrudgingly tipping their hats to a hot goaltender.

It was the scenario for many disappointing losses in the first 55 games of the season under Claude Julien, and it was a little too eerily reminiscent in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Tuesday night. 

Certainly it’s just one game and there has been far too much good as of late to believe the Bruins are cannon-balling into a pool of previous bad habits. But giving up a goal in the second period while watching Craig Anderson make 18 second-period saves at the other end of the ice was a stark reminder of the bad old days.

“We struggled up in Ottawa getting through [the neutral zone], tonight I thought we did a better job,” said Torey Krug. “A win against that system is just getting the puck behind them and going in on the fore-check. We’ll take that every time. We did well, but we’ve got to find a way to get more goals on the scoreboard.”

Certainly there some stellar saves: A flashy glove hand on a Noel Acciari backhander from the slot and a couple of stops on Frank Vatrano in tight around the net come to mind. But there were also some light, perimeter play kind of nights from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak where the turnovers (a combined eight giveaways between the two forwards) and loose play were coming fast and furious.

That’s the stuff that needs to improve after watching Ottawa score on three redirections with bodies camped in front of the net.

“There are some,” admitted Bruce Cassidy when asked about parallels to some darker days earlier in the season. “Some of it you have to give credit to the goaltender you’re playing. Look at his numbers, he’s been very good. I’m not going to look too far back. I think we had good looks off the rush – he [Craig Anderson] made saves. We did have our D come late, get a couple of good looks, and that’s something we’ve really worked on. We had a D join and score. That was actually a nice individual score. So, those parts of our game, I think, it just ebbs and flows over the course of the year where you run into hot goaltending and you have to stay with it.

“That’s when you have to keep the puck out of your net. [In Toronto], we were right there until two minutes to go where even though we weren’t scoring, we were in a position to get points. [Against the Senators] it was a breakdown right after we scored, so I think the focus has to be when you’re having tough luck around the net, you need to get points. And maybe these games end up 1-1, 2-2, they’re going into shootouts or overtime and you accumulate your points that way. I think that’s where the last two games have been disappointing. You know, we should have had points. It may not have been wins, but we should have been there at the end and playing 65 minutes, or whatever it took to finish it.”

The silver lining, of course, is that the Bruins didn't get bogged down in Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 trap and were able to dictate play a bit more while never actually leading in the game. But that does little good when won-loss results and points in the coffers are all that matters in the final weeks. 

Perhaps some of the offensive scale-back in the past few games has been by design after letting up seven goals to Edmonton in the Western Canada road finale, but it’s also about being tougher and more determined around the net.

Ottawa won that net-front battle on Tuesday night and subsequently won the hockey game, so it’s time for the Bruins to do that exact thing if they want better results vs. the Lightning and Islanders later this week.