Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trade Wrap, Good Job Chia

Puckhead Christmas is over. And now, just like little kids everywhere on Christmas night, I'm exhausted from the day's excitement, stress and curiosity. But I can't help but look at all my shiny new toys and try to figure out which is my favorite. And, being a materialistic competitive kind of kid, I also want to see if I "made out better" than my friends.....or more importantly, better than the jerks up the street.
As I wade through the piles of shredded wrapping paper and other debris, I'm torn between my two new toys. Do I like the shiny new Energizer bunny powered rock 'em sock 'em robot more than the antique (or should I say "Classic"?) action figure, which I suspect is a just doesn't look "new" to me?
Truth is, I think I like them both equally.
Now I know everyone was all fired up about the prospect of landing a Chris Pronger type "impact player". And yes, a guy like Pronger could have clearly moved Boston to the head of the class in the East, and beyond. At least on paper. Luckily, championships aren't won or lost on paper. Would I have loved to have seen Pronger in a Bruins uniform tomorrow night? Absolutely. I can't even imagine a blue line corps with Chara and Pronger. Back that up with Ward & Wideman, and they'd have easily had the best top four in the league. And with Hnidy, Stuart or Hunwick as your five and six guys? Yikes. Scary stuff, and beatings would be handed out regularly. There would just be no rest for the opposition. Of course, Stuart or Hunwick would probably have been involved in the deal, but let's not split hairs. You get the idea. Which brings me to my next point....

......What would the price have been to get a Pronger type to Boston today? Apparently quite high, since he's still a Duck. Presumably the price escalated to the point that Stuart, a pick, a prospect and probably Kessel were being asked for. IF that is the case, I'm happy Chilly had the guts to pass on the deal. As big of an impact as Pronger can have, I don't see much logic in trading away your leading goal scorer. No defenseman short of Bobby Orr has ever more than offset the offensive production of a top winger. So what they gained on the back end, they probably would have just handed right back up front and then some. You know what they say, sometimes the best deal is the one you don't make. I'm starting to feel that way about this one.

But that isn't top say that Steve Montador and Mark Recchi are some kind of saviors. Neither player is capable of coming in and putting the team on their shoulders and carrying them to the promised land. But they don't have to. No, they'll be put in a position to be great additions to a team, not to BE the team.
Remember, the last three years, the team that has won the Cup has done it with "small" moves at the deadline, not the blockbuster deal. In 2006 Carolina picked up Mark Recchi (I think I know that name) and went on to win it all. In 2007, Anaheim picked up the, shall we say, less than "big name" Brad May. And last year, Detroit made a huge splash by getting.....Brad Stuart? Not huge name guys in the prime of their careers to say the least. But what they were, was good character guys that were given a specific role to fill on teams that were already rolling along pretty well. Am I the only one that thinks Julien will have no trouble giving these two clear direction on what is expected of them? And more importantly, what is NOT expected?

Let's take a look at each deal individually, shall we?
Since Montador was announced first, we'll start with him. He isn't the biggest defenseman in the league, by a long shot. At 6'0 and around 210lbs, he's actually a bit undersized by today's standards. Try telling that to anyone foolish enough to enter his zone with their head down. Or to anyone unwise enough to cheap shot, hack or otherwise wrong one of his teammates. He's an extremely physical guy, who brings a bit of nastiness to the rink every night. Yeah, that's right. I said it. EVERY night. Not a guy to take a night off at all. He's a high energy, immensely popular teammate. He may not win all of his fights, in fact he rarely does win them, but he never backs down. In fact, he challenged Lucic to a fight when the Ducks were in town last week. An impossible fight for him, but he saw that his team needed a spark. That is the kind of teammate the Bruins now have in their locker room. He isn't the only guy they have like that, but he may be the most consistent at it.
From what I've seen, the reaction of the Bruins players that know has been one of excitement. Apparently Andrew Ference, a good friend of "Monty's", couldn't wipe the grin off his face. And I guess Thornton appeared pretty fired up to have him on board too. Hey, Monty has eleven fights to his credit this year, so Thornton should at least be getting some help in that department.

But don't make the mistake of thinking Monty (yes, that's all I'll be calling him....Montador is a pain to type and I'm lazy. thanks) is just a one dimensional tough guy type. He's actually a very good skater and puck handler. He may not be that elite level "puck moving defenseman" everyone is searching for, but he gets the job done. As Ducks broadcaster Brian Hayward said of him, and I paraphrase,'he's a good enough skater to out-skate the fore-check and get to pucks first, then turn it up ice. He isn't one to get to a puck then just fire it off the boards.'. Sounds like a good addition in pure hockey terms as well as toughness. I like this deal a lot. Possibly more than I should, but I liked him when he was in Calgary too.
Bottom line on Monty is he's not going to be your top pairing guy. But he also is probably better than a bottom pairing player too. In fact, he could fit in on any pairing if need be. Oh, and just for kicks....he has a fair amount of experience playing a wing too (guess that skating ability is real).
Trading Nokelainen, who I can't see cracking the lineup any time soon, for him was a no brainer. I think Nokie has a decent career ahead of him, but as nothing more than a good third liner.

How about Mark Recchi? The more I think about this one, the more I like it actually. My first reaction was "o....k...., so who else are you bringing in Chia?" But upon further review, I think he's a great fit. The first and biggest contribution he'll make is getting Axe off the power play, at least the first unit. That in itself should make Bruins fans everywhere happy. I like PJ a lot, but he has been miscast all year because there haven't been many viable options for the PP. Now there is, and it's a very good one. One of Boston's stated goals was to get a little bigger up front. Recchi does nothing to help that. At roughly 5'10 185lbs, he's far from an imposing winger. But watch some tape of this guy. He makes his living by going to the "dirty areas". He battles for position in front of the net and is fantastic at tipping shots. It may take a few games for him to learn the system and whatnot, but I think he will be a huge boost to the sagging Boston power play.
And something tells me that his style of play will mesh seamlessly with Bergeron's. Patrice is a puck control, cycling type of center. He's best suited when he has guys that know how to get open in scoring areas, but can also cycle the puck and skate fairly well. Bergeron doesn't need a burner on his wing, he needs a guy with a "high hockey IQ". A savvy veteran like Recchi could be just what Bergy needs to jump start his game. This acquisition may just get the B's back to a three line scoring team. And it will certainly help create some matchup problems down the road. I think I really like the sound of a Recchi/Bergeron/Kobasew line. A good mix of skill, grit and just enough speed to keep teams honest. They may not look pretty doing it, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them pile up points, especially in the playoffs.

Speaking of playoffs....both Monty and Recchi have been through the playoff wars. Monty not nearly as much, but he was a key part of Calgary's Cup Final team a couple years ago.
Recchi on the other hand has played more playoff games than the whole Boston roster combined....probably a couple times over (ok, that's a guess, but I bet I'm not far off if I am at all). He's played in a total of 140 playoff games. That's nearly two full regular seasons worth of playoff games. Do you really think anything rattles him in those pressure packed games anymore? Me neither. In those 140 games, he's managed to put up a 47G, 70A, 117Pts line (along with 77 PIMS). He's a two time Cup winner as well. Not bad at all.
The calming veteran presence he will bring to Boston's young forwards could be invaluable. Prior to his arrival, most of Boston's Cup experience was on the blue line, in the person of Aaron Ward (3 Cups). Shawn Thornton has a Cup to his credit, but having a scoring type forward with experience is a big boost for guys like Wheeler especially (doesn't hurt that they're both left wings, so Recchi can coach him up in-game etc).

All in all I'm pretty happy with the job Chiarelli did. He managed to land a couple of potential contributors without losing a roster player. Nokie, Lashoff and Karsums all were going to have a hard time cracking the lineup anyway. Karsums could end p being the best of the three, but I doubt he'll be a top flight guy. Lashoff, well, I have never been sold on him as an NHL player, so no great loss there in my opinion. Chilly didn't have to give up prospects like Joe Colborn either, so the pipeline still seems to be intact.

After listening to both players phone interviews on NESN, it's clear they're both very excited to be coming to Boston. When was the last time you heard a player say that, and you actually believed it. Boston is now a desirable destination for both free agents and players being traded.

If they think THEY'RE excited to be here, just wait until they see how excited the fans are to see them on ice tomorrow at the Garden.

Go B's-Kynch


  1. Kynch; This could be your best and most articulate KBK posting yet! Nice job. This is not to imply that your others haven't been but this one has great depth, info & humor and did a nice job level setting these two acquistions within the B's current roster and needs nicely. Outstanding job... Go Broounze! -KKrej

  2. to the point of this being your most articulate post, I actually enjoy the ones you've done in all pig latin a lot more.

    keep up the good work and I look forward to handing over Lord Stanley's chalice to Chara this fall.

    Gary Bettman