Morning Skate 32: A deeper look at the B's

Morning Skate 32: A deeper look at the B's

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Happened upon an interesting Twitter conversation this morningwith uber-hockey columnist Justin Bourne, who pops up on Yahoo! Sports, The Hockey News, USA Today and many other fine publications with his bang-on and amusing hockey observations.I was throwing out the scenario that the Eastern Conference was wide open for the taking with the situations developingon many other contending teams around the Bruins. I say "wide open" in the sense that its anybodys playoffs, with each team harboring at least one major weakness and a playoffpath could be open for a long, bountiful run like the one undertaken by the surprising Montreal Canadiens last spring.I say wide open with the full-well notion that the Flyers have a monstrous positional player roster with some very suspect goaltending until proven otherwise. The Penguins have no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and no shot without both of them working together as a duo. The Capitals have been a mess all year, have choked in the playoffs multiple times and were looking at Bs castoffs like Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm as part of the solution. Color me not impressed after they needed 26 minutes out of Wideman in his first night suiting up for them.The Tampa Bay Lightning have a young team in playoff terms with little real experience beyond Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Dwayne Roloson.Beyond those five teams (including the Bruins), its a mess of mediocrity in the East.The one thing that Boston has over every single other team: the best goaltender in the NHL (who's also motivated to see how good he can be as the candle begins flickeringat 36 years old) and a great deal of impressive depth fortified by the deals for Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.The Bs are top five in goals for, top five in goals against, the best team in the NHL in the third period and boast a physical edge with good size and strength. The one thing they dont have: a game-breaking scorer. Its the point smartly brought up by Bourne in the conversation, and its altogether true.There is no CrosbyMalkin, ZetterbergDatsyuk, ToewsKane on the Bruins, and thats the hurdle Boston will have to clear in any manner of Stanley Cup run. It could certainly be done, but itll be in a different way of winning (Charlie Sheen trademarked)than weve seen out of the last handful of Stanley Cup champions, dating back to the Carolina Hurricanes.What the Bruins dohave is the right combination of depth, physical, hard-nosed players with the right amount of skill -- and emerging young players that could both surprise and wear down opponents in the playoffs. Just ask the Canucks or Flames if you're looking for testimonials.Either way its going to be fascinating to watch in the conference with a ton of parity among the top five seedsOn to the links: Heres FOH (Friend of Haggs) Justin Bourne on his eponymous blog dissecting the Bruins with 19 games to go in the season, and liking what he sees. Elliotte Friedmans always anticipated and always celebrated 30 thoughts for the week including some reasons for the dud of a trade deadline. Mike Milbury on NBCs Pro Hockey Talk choosing the winners and losers at the trade deadline, and certainly insulting someone in the process. A good look at the Bemidji State hockey program for all of my Minnesota readers out there. Do I have any Minnesota readers? Guess well find out. Michael Russo with an excellent piece on the Nystrom brothers, and their hockey legacy. On Frozen Blog gives us a peek at the Washington Capitals and some fresh now things hes seeing from the Caps in a largely stale hockey season. Dustin Penner likes what hes of the Los Angeles Kings, and in theory he should be a nice fit as a big-bodied forward to pair with Anze Kopitar. A double-dose of Elliotte Friedman this week as Ive also included a fascination sleep study that some NHL teams are enrolling in, and the results that could change plenty within the game of hockey.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.

 

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.