Notes: Recchi retires with a Stanley Cup win

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Notes: Recchi retires with a Stanley Cup win

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
VANCOUVER Mark Recchi said he would retire if the Bruins won the Stanley Cup this season, and the 43-year-old lived up to his word. He announced his retirement in the celebration following his third career Stanley Cup win.

What a feeling. What a great group of guys and what a feeling going out on top like this with such a great bunch of guys, said Recchi. This is it for me. Theyre all special and they all mean the same to me. Its just so meaningful when you win that last one so you can go out on top.

Recchi finished with an assist in the 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 and was part of a forward line along with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand that totally decimated the favored Canucks in the final 60 minutes of the season. The helper gave Recchi a point per game in his final seven Stanley Cup Final games (3 goals, 4 assists). He ends his future Hall of Fame career with three Cups: one with the Pittsburgh Penguins, one with the Carolina Hurricanes, and his last with the Bruins, one of the league's original six teams.

The Bs assistant captain was still providing expert leadership right up until the final decisive Game 7 when Patrice Bergeron consulted him about how to deal with his nerves prior to the biggest game of his career. The BergeronRecchi connection has been a special one throughout the last three seasons, and one couldnt help but notice Bergeron elevating to a different level in the last couple of games to get his beloved teammate one more Cup.

It meant a lot to me, said Bergeron when asked about making sure Recchi retired with one more Stanley Cup. I wanted to do it for him tonight. We told him that we wanted to get it for him tonight. I learned so much from Rex all year and all of the years I guess on and off the ice.

Nathan Horton revealed after Game 7 that the water bottle he used to douse the Rogers Arena ice around Bostons bench before the game was filled with TD Garden ice.

While making sure to not take credit for the plan, Horton wouldnt say who came up with the idea, but the Garden ice was placed in the bottle before the Bruins team charter left Boston for British Columbia. Horton also said it was supposed to be a secret gesture that nobody would notice, but cameras immediately picked up on the injured right wing spraying the water all over the ice."I was just trying to get some Garden ice here and make it our ice," Horton said. "I was trying to be sneaky about it."

Claude Julien was besieged with questions about his satisfaction level upon winning the Stanley Cup after battling criticism and questions about his job security all season. But he wasnt taking the bait after winning the ultimate NHL prize.

So many questions about Julien and his players were answered during their playoff run, and now theyll never be asked again with a Stanley Cup on their resume.

As a coach you're going to be subject to criticism, but the most important thing is what's going on inside that dressing room. There wasn't a guy that didn't believe in what we were doing, Julien said. So it's easy to stay the course, and you got to stay the course. Today you're rewarded for it. Had I worried about that other stuff, I probably wouldn't be standing here today.

The Bruins join the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1971 Montreal Canadiens and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins as the only clubs to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on the road (home teams are now 12-4). Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas capped off an amazing year by earning the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the most valuable player to his team in the playoffs. The winner is selected in a vote by a panel of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final, and there was little doubt it would be the Bs goalie in the end. He boasted a 1.15 goals against average and a .967 save percentage along with a pair of shutouts in the Finals against the high-powered Canucks, and was the single most important factor in Bostons path to the Cup.The 37-year-old goalie was the oldest player to ever capture the Conn Smythe, the first goalie to pitch a road shutout in the Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final and set the record for the most saves (798) in one amazingly dominant playoff run. He was also marveling at the goalies hes sharing the Cup Final hardware with for hockey eternity.The Conn Smythe? It's quite an honor. The Stanley Cup is the biggest one, said Thomas. That's the one that you're shooting for. Conn Smythe is completely an honor. I just sat down here and started to read some of the names on it and it's an honor to be mentioned in the same category as so many: Patrick Roy, Ron Hextall, Ken Dryden. Those are the three goalies that I can see on this side facing me, it's amazing. The Flint, Michigan native is also only the second U.S.-born player to take the Conn Smythe, joining New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch in 1994 before Leetch would become Thomas teammate in Boston at the tail end of his NHL career.Thomas was the Bruins' only goaltender during their Stanley Cup-winning run, finishing the playoffs with a 16-9 record, 1.98 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and four shutouts. Brad Marchand finished with 11 goals scored during the Cup playoff run by the Bruins in 25 games, and holds the Bruins rookie record for goals scored during a single postseason run. He also became only the fourth rookie to score at least 10 goals in their first postseason while joining Dino Ciccarelli (14 goals), Jeremy Roenick (11 goals) and Claude Lemieux (10 goals). Zdeno Chara is the second European born-and-trained captain to raise the Stanley Cup, joining Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom in a rare brotherhood of European defensemen. Bruins D Dennis Seidenberg had two assists and led all skaters with nearly 29 minutes of ice time in the 4-0 Cup-clinchingvictory for the Bruins. He is the second German to earn a spot on the Stanley Cup, joining Uwe Krupp.

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

GAHS Podcast: Felger 'fearful' of where Bruins are headed

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GAHS Podcast: Felger 'fearful' of where Bruins are headed

In an all-CSN edition in the 15th episode of the Great American Hockey Show Podcast as co-hosts Joe Haggerty and Jimmy Murphy welcomed SportsNet Central anchor Mike Giardi to discuss the current B’s situation and conducted a wide-ranging interview with Sports Tonight host and Felger and Mazz co-host Michael Felger about his time covering the Bruins as a beat reporter, where he developed his love for hockey and his pathway toward becoming the most influential figure in the Boston sports media scene.

Perhaps most interesting from Giardi’s segment was his take that “nobody should be untouchable” on the Bruins roster, that includes franchise player and future captain Patrice Bergeron, if the return is good enough. Felger discussed who he’d move between Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask to change up the Bruins roster this summer and how gravely concerned he is about the health and well-being of the franchise coming off two seasons out of the playoffs.

“I’m fearful, of course. I think the passion of the Bruins fan base is still there. We could do four hours on the radio tomorrow talking about the Bruins, and totally bang it out with callers,” said Felger. “So the Bruins are so lucky that the fans are that passionate. But if it’s too long of a drought, we all lived through 2005 and 2006 coming out of the lockout. It was dark, and we have the capacity to go back there.”

For the full Great American Hockey Show podcast check it out below: 

No defense for blue-line shortcomings

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No defense for blue-line shortcomings

This is the fourth in a five-part series about the breakdowns that doomed the team this season, and what must change for the Black and Gold to once again get moving in the right direction. 

The Bruins had a master plan to upgrade the defense last summer. It quickly morphed into a dumpster fire.

After ultimately deciding they were unwilling to pay Dougie Hamilton an outlandish sum of money -- and coming to the conclusion that the young D-man simply didn’t want to play for Boston anymore -- they dealt him to the Calgary Flames for three draft picks. It was pennies-on-the-dollar value for a young, top-pairing defenseman, and a fear-based move given the threat of offer sheets that possibly loomed if Hamilton made it past July 1 without a new contract extension.

(They also torpedoed a better draft-pick package offer from their ex-general manager, Peter Chiarelli, by demanding Edmonton's young stud D-man Darnell Nurse, but that’s neither here nor there.)

The Bruins made the decision to move Hamilton after he and his camp ignored Boston’s multiple contract overtures. It was also apparent to those running the team that players like Hamilton and Reilly Smith weren’t meshing well with the rest of the Bruins core. 

(There's no second-guessing from this humble hockey writer about the jettisoning of Smith, despite his solid 25-goal season with the Florida Panthers: he was a soft player in that last year with Boston. The part of that move that should be regretted was immediately signing Jimmy Hayes to a three-year contract extension after closing the Smith-for-Hayes deal. But, again, that's neither here nor there.)

The problem for the Bruins after trading Hamilton was in the follow-through.

First they followed Chiarelli's troubling pattern of overpaying mid-level talent by handing Adam McQuaid a four-year, $11 million extension. Then they were unsuccessful in their attempts to move up in the first round of last summer’s draft and take either of the two collegians, Noah Hanifin or Zach Werenski, who projected as eventual No. 1 defensemen. They offered Hamilton and first-round draft choices; they also tried to use Martin Jones as a chip.

But whether new GM Don Sweeney thought he had a deal in place or not, things fell apart at the 11th hour. The Bruins did have three first-round picks, but they were in the middle of the round. In that position, they were unable to get an immediate difference-maker on defense.

The inability to land that young D-man (and potential heir apparent to Zdeno Chara) at last summer’s draft, or at the NHL trade deadline in February, ended up being a fatal blow. There was too much stress on a patchwork defense corps, and it was a major factor in the Bruins missing the playoffs. And even if they'd made it, the B's would have been nothing more than first-round cannon fodder.

The Band-Aid trade for 35-year-old John-Michael Liles was a nominal improvement at the deadline, but it spoke to just how badly they needed puck-moving reinforcements to assist a clearly overworked Torey Krug.

“I can tell you [Sweeney] worked extremely hard to try to move up (in the first round)," said Bruins president Cam Neely at his end-of-the-season press conference. "The scouting staff did a good job of identifying [players], and obviously, if you look back at the draft . . . you kind of had to be (in one of the top spots) to get one of those [defensemen] that were highly coveted. [Sweeney] just couldn’t do it last offseason. [He also] tried throughout the year to make something happen and he’s maybe laid some groundwork (for a future trade) . . . Hopefully [he'll] be able to get something done in the offseason.

"But like I said earlier, we know it’s an area that we need to improve upon . . . [We] know what our back end is all about. We need to . . . really improve that area of our team . . . [It's] something that I know [Sweeney's] going to be very focused on.”

Fast-forward to the present day. The Bruins finished the season with the aging, declining Chara, now 39, as their No. 1 defenseman, and the 5-foot-8 Krug as their No. 2 while posting a career-high 21:37 of ice time per game. The diminutive Krug perhaps paid the price for that wear and tear with right shoulder surgery last month that could sideline him until late October, which raises red flags about whether he should again play those kinds of heavy-duty minutes given his offensive value.

Beyond those two, the Bruins’ defensive prospects aren’t bright. The body of 35-year-old Dennis Seidenberg is breaking down, and the B's would love to be out from under the final two years (at $4 million per) of his contract. Both McQuaid and Kevan Miller are limited, stay-at-home defensemen better cast as bottom-pair guys. Youngsters Colin Miller, Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow weren’t able to lock down roles last season for a multitude of reasons. Miller is the only one who appears to have potential to develop into a top-four NHL defenseman; Trotman and Morrow seem poised to be passed by other young D-men (Brandon Carlo, Robbie O’Gara, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon) in the organizational ranks sooner rather than later.

Botton line: It simply doesn’t feel like the Bruins have the answer to their defense woes, at least in the short term, within their system.

They need a No. 1 defenseman in the prime of his career, or being groomed into that prime, who can ideally allow the Bruins coaching staff to start easing up on Chara's ice time. Chara is a No. 1 in name only these days, and would be much better served as a middle-pairing D-man playing closer to 20 minutes a night and removed from the power play, where he no longer features his booming slap shot very much.

It’s an fact that nearly every team that’s won the Stanley Cup since the 2004-05 lockout has had a prime No. 1 defenseman in the 25-33 age range, with the exceptions of the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins. Names like Chara, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Nik Lidstrom, Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty figured prominently in those championships, playing 30 minutes a night during the brutal two-month run to the Cup.

The Bruins don’t have that type of guy right now, and they aren’t anywhere close to competing for a Cup until they get one.

So how do you get one?

Sweeney and his management team are already deeply involved in that process, and that’s where names like Jacob Trouba, Sami Vatanen and Matthew Dumba will figure prominently in trade discussions this summer. But those types of players are costly, both in terms what will be needed to be surrendered to acquire them -- trade partners will undoubtedly ask for such talent as David Pastrnak, Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner -- and in what they'll be seeking in new contracts, since those demands are what's pushing them into the trade market to begin with.

Ultimately, there’s no guarantee that Sweeney and Co. will close the deal for any of these defensemen, given how hard it is to acquire young talent in trades in the NHL. There's also no guarantee the Bruins will target the right guy in a blockbuster trade, seeing how their scouting staff has whiffed on players like Hayes, Zac Rinaldo and Brett Connolly in recent years.  

The Bruins can hope their amateur scouting and development group can unearth a gem. After all, the Blackhawks probably didn’t know they had a future Conn Smythe winner in Keith when they selected him 54th overall in the 2002 draft. The Penguins got a diamond in Kris Letang with the 62nd overall pick in 2005 NHL. The Bruins, too, struck gold when they acquired Johnny Boychuk from the Colorado Avalanche in a deal for energy forward Matt Hendricks. Within a few years, Boychuk developed into a top-pairing stud on a Stanley Cup championship team. 

So perhaps one of the young prospects currently in the Bruins system is the ultimate answer as an eventual replacement for Chara.

But that’s something tough to count on, especially since -- even if it happens -- it's unlikely to happen in time to provide help next season. Sweeney and Neely need to pull off something in the epic-acquisition category this summer, whether it’s a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk and/or something worked out with a team like Winnipeg for a stud like Trouba.

Both their jobs, and the immediate health and well-being of a Bruins organization currently in distress, may very well depend on it. 

Thursday, May 5: Slash and burn over Ovechkin and Crosby

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Thursday, May 5: Slash and burn over Ovechkin and Crosby

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while lamenting what it appears the choices will be for US President in the fall.

*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean have at it with the Alex Ovechkin slash to the wrist of Sidney Crosby and Crosby’s theatrics that ensued afterward.  

*Matt Murray is proving to be a difference-maker for the Pittsburgh Penguins between the pipes, and could be a nightmare for the Washington Capitals.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rob Rossi says that all of the little things that Sidney Crosby is doing are adding up for the Penguins in all of the best ways possible.

*In the shameless plug department, here’s episode No. 15 of the Great American Hockey Show podcast. Jimmy Murphy and yours truly break down the plight of the Bruins with Mike Giardi, and then talk Bruins, sports talk radio and his tumultuous couple of years covering the B’s with the one and only Mike Felger.

*Ken Hitchcock might be one of the oldest coaches in the NHL, but he still hasn’t reached a level of satisfaction with a Blues team in the thick of things right now.

*Here are 10 big reasons to tune into this year’s World Championships, with Auston Matthews registering as the biggest reason for most hockey fans.

*NHL writer Jon Lane has Bob Hartley hoping to seek some new opportunities after getting fired by the Calgary Flames.

*Tampa Bay Lightning VP Dave Andreychuk sits in on Sirius XM Satellite Radio to talk about the Lightning/New York Islanders playoff series.

*Plenty of turns on the coaching and GM carousel that the My NHL Trade Rumors blog has you covered for today.

*Former B’s netminder Chad Johnson is coming off his NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres, and he has a few secrets for his success.  

*For something completely different: some harrowing video from the Fort Mac forest fires up in Alberta that is truly a scary situation. Those looking to help out can send money to the Canadian Red Cross, who are supporting all of the people that have lost so much in one of the most beautiful parts of Western Canada.