Friday, September 4, 2009

Hibernation Is Over, We're Back!

Labor Day weekend in the States, there is a hint of Fall in the air, Captain's practices are underway....must be time to dust off the old blogger cap and get back into the swing of things. Yes folks, hockey season is pretty much upon us. Today I'm just going to do one of those annoying "random thoughts & observations"deals since I have so much to cover, and so little, um....ambition.

My season tickets are scheduled to arrive in about ten days. Honestly, is that not one of the great days on your sporting calendar? Nothing like opening that envelope, wondering what this years tickets will look like and finally getting your hands on those cherished possessions. I feel like a kid at Christmas. Except I paid for my own gift.....paid a LOT for my gift.

Speaking of paying a LOT.....what's with the Bruins blatantly gouging their fans this year? I understand, and greatly appreciate them holding the line on ticket prices for us Season Ticket Holders that renewed early. Trust me, paying last year's prices was a huge financial help for me. But why charge NEW STH's nearly 50% more than what existing STH's are paying? Example, a STH that renewed their $60 seat from last year, pays that same $60 this year. However, if you are a NEW STH, you'll be paying $87.50 for that same seat. $27.50 more than the guy next to you? Again, THANK YOU for rewarding your long time loyal fans. BUT I think a ten or fifteen dollar premium on top of our price would have been sufficient. They've gone fromw rewarding old STH's, to punishing new ones. I assume this is the culmination of the "Perfect Storm"; a good and hopefully improving team with expectations of making a strong Cup run. The Winter Classic coming to town (with guaranteed seats only for STH's, this is the main thrust behind the gouging, and the only reason IMO they're getting away with it)

Hopefully, there will be a downward correction next year.....then again, if they win the Cup, they can charge whatever they want and people will pay it. So I guess I hope to be paying more next year. Ugh.

Thrilled to see they extended Julien's contract today. He's only entering his third season in Boston, but already that feels like "stability" for a franchise that has had a revolving door on the coaches office in recent years. Claude has done a masterful job in his time here. Great to see the ownership step up and get him locked up prior to the start of the season.

On the other hand, not having the "Kessel situation" resolved yet is disconcerting. And I mean, extremely disconcerting. No matter which side of the "trade him/don't trade him" debate you're on, you have to be concerned that nothing has happened yet. Training camp opens this week, and I'd like to think they have some handle on their roster and salary cap situation as they enter camp. Personally, I'm of the mind set that they NEED Phil Kessel. Say what you will about him being "soft". But pure goal scorers like him don't grow on trees. And, since his playoff benching in '08, he has shown a penchant for scoring big goals in big games. The playoff atmosphere doesn't intimidate him. Would I like to see a touch more grit to his game? Sure. Maybe if he was as physical as a David Krejci, people would be satisfied. He doesn't need to run people over. The Bruins have plenty of those guys. What they don't have, beyond Kess, is a legit 40-50 goal threat with blazing, game-changing speed.

I've been swayed to an interesting and possibly controversial idea. If you really think about it, it would make a lot more sense for Boston to trade Marc Savard than Kessel. Savard is a brilliant play making center. And by no means do I "want" to lose him. His vision on the ice is second to none. I understand his value. But at the same time,he's considerably older than Kessel. He plays a position, where there is an obvious heir to his slot as #1 center (Krejci) and considerable depth (Bergeron as your #2 center isn't a bad thing). Plus, playmakers are generally easier to find than natural "finishers". Again, I love everything Savard brings to the table, I really do. And if I could think of another way to keep most of the team intact, AND sign Kessel long-term, I wouldn't even consider letting Savard go. But with the Cap situation being what it is, a deal for Savvy may be the best option (and, his value on the open market would be pretty high as well). Oh boy, I can see the flaming comments coming now.....

Is it just me, or is anyone else a little worried about the Bruins sudden lack of toughness on the blue line? Losing Hnidy, one of my favorites for his knack of picking the right time to hammer someone, hurts their toughness and depth. Losing Ward hurts considerably more. I understand he may be getting a little long in the tooth, but he is still a highly effective player. And brings a ton of physicality to a team. And a willingness and ability to block shots. Don't under estimate his role in the team's great goals against last year. Sure, Stuart and Chara are still around to provide most of the "thump" back there. And Ference (when healthy), will give as good as he gets most nights. But in general, a line up of Wideman, Ference, Morris, Hunwick/Boychuk isn't going to intimidate too many opposing forwards. I get the need for skilled guys back there to create offense, but I also know there is a need, especially in the playoffs, to be able to physically wear down the opposition. I just don't see that with the group they have. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I'm skeptical. Never been a huge Morris fan, but we'll see how it goes under the guidance and strict system of Julien. But honestly, Morris is 31 years old....and I keep hearing the word "potential" attached to his name. Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe this is as good as he's going to be? Never understood the infatuation with this guy.

I was however, pretty happy to see Mark Recchi coming back. A full year of his work ethic on display for all the B's youngsters could be invaluable. Not to mention, he showed last year that he still has plenty left in the tank and those great hands haven't left him yet.

So....all this brings me to my last, and possibly most controversial thought for the day. I don't know if it's just a case of trying to protect myself from yet another broken heart or what. But honestly, I don't think I'd pick the Bruins to make the Cup Finals this year, much less win it. I know, I know....they were the top team in the East last year. Which, truth be told, all seemed like a mirage to me all year. I knew they were good, but I always had a hard time believing they were THAT good. They got career years from a LOT of guys. Besides, they went from 8th to first in one year, right? Why is it crazy to think that some other team can't move up even a couple spots? Defending Cup Champs Pittsburgh could very well be improved this year. I fully expect Washington to be better (Knuble will be a big addition). Carolina showed what they are capable of. Philly should be decent.....the list goes on and on. Getting out of the Eastern Conference is going to be a death struggle. Now, I'm not saying the Bruins CAN'T win it all. But at the same time, I find all of this "we're winning the Cup this year" talk a bit premature. Last year they excelled as underdogs, flying under the radar. Let's see how they perform as the favorites. Trust me, nobody WANTS this team to win it all more than I do. But at the same time, I despise blind pom-pom waving optimism. See the team for what it is. And in my eyes, they're contenders for sure. A virtual lock to make the Finals? Um, no. I see the East as fairly wide open this year, with Boston, Pitt and Washington as the leading contenders (in no particular order). Lots can happen between now and the spring. Hopefully, it's all the good stuff that happens here in the Hub of Hockey.

So that's it for today folks. I've probably pissed a few people off for suggesting a Savard trade, and not predicting the Bruins will go 82-0 and waltz to a Cup win. Please don't take any of that for a lack of faith, hope and optimism. A little does of reality never hurt anyone. Go B's-Kynch

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back Kynch! Good post & I agree with most if not all of your points. A few counter thoughts;

    1) BIG JUMP in Ticket prices- ANY Season Tickets are expensive no matter what the sport or venue but a 30% increase?! for this years NEW B’s STH's that's insane and a in mind is a blatant misuse of the Winter Classic’s initial intent of creating an “Old Time” back to basics opportunity for the game of hockey… Ugh…

    2) Ol’ #81 - It's my opinion that this on going situation with Kess will NEED to be resolved no later than a week to 10 days before the B's break camp in my mind otherwise it will become a distraction regardless of the size & scope and needs to be taken care of via a deal (preferred) or trade (for a roster piece ir two for THIS SEASON)

    3) Blue Line toughness - The lack of grit on the B's blue line concerns me as well and I'm unsure of where and how they’ll be able to fix this on the fly now given their ongoing cap situation and assuming that either Savvy or Kess are wheeled, they'd then create need for front line scoring, which last time I checked costs $$ too! Keep in mind that The Krej is expected to be out until December so trading Savvy would create a 2-3 line deep shortage down the middle for them as well… Ugh…This will one will bear some big time watching (no pun intended) Btw - Steve Begin... Black & Gold jersey or not I still hate that F'r!

    4) Having the Spoked Target on their backs - The B’s aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year and the East especially will be a rough road this season no matter how you look at it given the depth and quality of the teams in the Conference. Which on paper has AT LEAST 6 teams (maybe even 7 or 8) with a pre-trade deadline shot at the Wales; B's, Caps, Pens, Canes (who really worry me...) Flyers, Devils (always in the mix) and maybe even the Rangers? And the Panthers? It will be a dog fight for sure.

    5) Lost/missing pieces – You said it; losing guys like Hnidy, Ward, Yelle & the ever flexible Axe might not show up on the score sheet every night but the loss of their leadership night in and night out and their ice time will be over the length of the season…

    Lastly - Can & should we expect Tim Thomas to stay healthy & play at that same 08'/09' level again? And is Tuuka ready and able to carry the B’s for a 2-3 weeks if he needs a blow or when he gets dinged?, which as we all know is the true key to this season...

    Boy that felt good working that all out! Here we go & let the Regina’s & The Tap be warned its "Year #2" Baby!