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Boston Bruins On The Decline

from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,

Of course, Chiarelli’s dilemma runs deep. There isn’t a GM in hockey — and he’s one of the best, IMO — who would submit to this obvious trend and deal Chara now. Not with a playoff spot still a very real possibility.

But the decline has begun, and here’s why we are mighty sure that the Bruins are not Detroit, a team that has bucked the trend: Look at the Bruins drafting record since 2007, and you’ll find the answer to why their opponent tonight has fallen on such hard times. It’s why Calgary is rebuilding. It’s why the Canucks are no longer an elite contender. And it’s why the Maple Leafs are as bad as they are.

Boston, an organization that once drafted and developed extremely well, has hit the skids on that front since 2007. The year before, in 2006, Boston drafted Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, who have played a total of 1,215 NHL games. From 2007-2012 (we won’t count the past two seasons), the 37 players drafted by the Bruins have played a grand total of 960 games. Tyler Seguin, now in Dallas, accounts for more than one-third of those games.

There is a dearth on this roster between the age of 26 and 20. Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Dougie Hamilton are all good players, but not enough to fill the void. Then Johnny Boychuk was dealt for a pair of second round draft picks, and this summer Chiarelli will be in cap jail again — but now with an eighth place team that doesn’t scare anybody anymore.

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added 8:25am, from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

The Bruins are still big, and in the playoffs there is pounding, lots of it. But the NHL is changing; smaller, fast teams win. Montreal has Carey Price in net, who vacuums up whatever mistakes are in his field of vision, but they are small and quick and dangerous. The Rangers were not large last spring and won the East. Calgary, which just rallied from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in OT Monday night is a new-age team that relies on its defence (Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell) might be the best at getting the puck up the ice, in a hurry. They don’t spend much time in their end. The Bruins are still good, but how good?

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from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

Cam Neely, the Bruins president, sounded like Cam Neely, the former player, in many ways on Tuesday, his manner stern and his emotions strained as he talked in the wake of his club’s fourth straight loss Monday night in Calgary.

“For me, you go through all stages of emotions, right?’’ said Neely, speaking on the phone from Edmonton, where the Bruins will face the Oilers Wednesday night in the thick of a fast-failing five-game road trip. “You go through this whole range of feelings when things aren’t going well. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve had some anger tossed in there. And now, for the first time, I’ve landed on disappointed.’’

Which is also to say that Neely, 49, has learned a few things about restraint since first arriving on Causeway Street some 30 years ago as a rawboned, reactionary kid. While for the first time acknowledging his disappointment publicly, he fell short of saying how he’ll act now, or whether he will act, as the Bruins cling desperately to the final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

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Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 02/18/15 at 08:48 AM ET

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I think it’s a bit of a fallacy to say that their style of play cannot win. It’s just that many of the players they have running it are declining quicker than expected or on the backsides of their career. As the article clearly pointed out a team needs good drafting and development to continue to be at/near the top.

The challenge is recognizing the problem and acting on it before it is too late. Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver held on too long to dream of winning a Cup when there rosters were desperate for a full rebuild. I’m not saying Boston is yet in that situation but they do have to be very careful with their approach. Do NOT give away draft picks/prospects for a quick fix.

Posted by evileye on 02/18/15 at 10:08 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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