Undecided Bruins still mulling lockout options

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Undecided Bruins still mulling lockout options

FRAMINGHAM Milan Lucic admitted he was surprised that so many of his Bruins teammates seven of them, including Tuukka Rask and Rich Peverley have already bolted for European hockey leagues. The Bs power forward hasnt made any plans for playing anywhere other than the NHL this season, and it doesnt sound like thats going to change in the near term.

You start thinking about it, admitted Lucic, who chatted with CSNNE.com after speaking to the Mary E. Stapleton Elementary School in Framingham Monday morning in an event sponsored by NMTW Community Credit Union. Im actually kind of surprised that guys are so urgent and anxious to leave so quickly given where the labor dispute is where its at. As more and more guys start to go over and more and more guys from our team start thinking about it, you start thinking about it more. Right now I dont have any plans to go, but its in the back of my mind.

Things are a little more complicated for the 24-year-old Lucic than they might be for a 20-year-old Tyler Seguin, who can literally drop everything and head over to Switzerland until the NHL lockout ends. Lucic and his new bride Brittany are expecting their first child during the upcoming season, and the Bs power forward understandably doesnt want to be across the world for that life milestone.

That all makes it more complicated especially when its your first child, said Lucic. You want to be around for all of the experiences of it. Thats basically where Im at right now. I want to be there for her more than anything.

The concern, of course, is becoming rusty as a hockey player if the NHL layoff turns into months rather than days or weeks. Lucic might be forced to leave for Europe at some point if the scrimmages and informal skates arent enough to keep in tip-top shape, but thats a long way down the road.

CSNNE.com contacted both Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk on Monday as well, and both players arent any closer to brokering a deal with a European club. Thornton is exploring potential opportunities in Europe, and is running into the same insurance challenges that many NHL players face while attempting to protect themselves from potential injuries.

A US underwriter estimated to CSNNE.com that NHL players will be footing a bill of roughly 10-25K per million of salary for each month that they play in Europe just in insurance costs.

The Belfast Giants team that the Bruins played two years ago in Northern Ireland would be a natural fit for a guy like Thornton thats only two generations removed from his Irish heritage. But thus far the Bs enforcer and the Belfast club havent come to an agreement on a deal suitable for both sides.

Boychuk hasnt explored the European option as of yet either. The Bruins defenseman is going to remain in Boston for the foreseeable future skating with some of his teammates. The question becomes how quickly the opportunities for NHL players dry up in the European Leagues as so many hockey players flock to Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland among other places.

Well see, I guess, said Boychuk. I am not leaving right now. I know that much. I dont know where Ill go if I do end up playing in Europe.

Zdeno Chara is one European player that hasnt made the move back to his native Slovakia quite yet. The insurance premium would be considerable for a 33-year-old player carrying a big salary price tag like Chara, but he is rumored to be headed to Bratislava ifwhen he does opt for Europe.

Chara would be reunited with good buddy and former Bruins forward Miro Satan if he hops over to Slovakia, but the Bs captains daughter is already enrolled in Boston schools for the semester so Chara will be taking his time before making any final decisions.

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.