The Boston Bruins have missed the playoffs for the 1st time since 2007, and I couldn’t be less pissed off about it, given what a huge fan I am.
This team looked dead these past few games, just like they had for about 75% of the season’s first 79 games. Too much complacency, too much calmness with mediocrity. The Bruins were trying to pull what the 2010 Celtics did or what the Spurs do every single year – coast until the end of the regular season, turn it on heading into the playoffs, and then hum like a well-oiled machine in the playoffs because they have before. The difference between those 2 teams and this year’s Bruins is simple: the Bruins never turned it back on.
And that’s a fundamental problem. That’s not the kind of issue that will just go away. Peter Chiarelli needs to go, despite that the Boston sports media and too many of the city’s fans massively underrate what he’s done during his 9 years as GM. Building a consistent winner that (most importantly) won a Stanley Cup and was 2 games from another, only once getting beat in a series in fewer than 7 games (and the other instance was the 6 game loss to the juggernaut Blackhawks), and finished 5 of 6 seasons with home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs.
But just like Terry Francona in 2011, it’s time to go. Chiarelli’s ways are stale now, and and you can’t be stale or complacent in professional sports. I’m more torn on Claude Julien, who clearly has built a specific defensive system that wins games and maximizes their goalies’ performance. But it’s almost impossible to hire a gm and not let him pick his coach, which would probably be the end of Claude. Ultimately, though, I’m fine with that, because Claude is also too tied to his own guys who have done it before, with Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ference, and maybe a few others that I’m forgetting all playing too big of roles for the team once their primes have passed them by.
And in the end, if the team is really this complacent and happy to be mediocre, then there needs to be a huge shake up the dressing room itself, and the coach is a big part of that. Chiarelli needs to go, and then let the GM choose his new coach, like what the Penguins did when they let Ray Shero go before making a move on Dan Bylsma. But the new GM will probably let Claude go, and I’d support that. And maybe missing the playoffs is the right thing for the team in the long run, because it may make the organization realize that it’s the end of the line for Chiarelli and Claude. And if there’s anything Bill Belichick taught us, it’s better to give up a year too early rather than a year too late.