By Andrew Thompson Twitter: @godwentwhoops
A week ago, the 2017 Class of the Hockey Hall of Fame were announced. There was plenty of Black and Gold in this year’s class. Bruins fans were naturally excited about Marc Recchi being voted into the Hall of Fame. The 22-season veteran finished his career with the Black and Gold, earning his third Stanley Cup with Boston.
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Recchi had earned his place in the Hall. It’s a shame it took four years for him to get the call.
On the other side of the coin, fans were less enthused about Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Jacobs was ensconced in the Hall under the ‘builders’ category. Jacobs has owned the team for over four decades and was part of the team that helped bring the Cup to Boston in 2011.
While the fans weren’t entirely thrilled, the home office of the NHL was excited about his inclusion in the 2017 HOF Class.
(For those of you who care, Hockey Hall of Fame’s definition honors those in the builder category who excel in “coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”)
“While our league has changed and grown over the 42-plus years Jeremy has owned the Bruins, he always has focused on further growing our game and strengthening our league,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Jacobs’ elevation to the Hall of Fame. “As chairman of our board of governors for the past decade, his priority has been to serve our fans and to make sure our league and its teams are strong.”
For his part, Jacobs was understandably pleased with his inclusion to the Hall of Fame.
“I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs on his induction. “Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team’s leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game.”
Here are the Bruins accomplishments in the Jacobs Era:
The 2011 Stanley Cup
Two President’s Trophies
Four Conference Championships
Fifteen Division Championships
Thirty-Five Postseason Appearances
While these accomplishments are impressive, they are a more of a testament to club presidents and general managers. (The 2011 Cup was powered by the moves and trades of former GM Peter Chiarelli.) While Mr. Jacobs clearly had a say as owner, it was the day-to-day management of the people below him that led to many of the above accomplishments.
Jacobs has been the head of the NHL’s Board of Governors since 2007. Jacobs was the driving force behind the 2013 lockout. Before that, he had a hand in the infamous NHL lockout which led to the canceled 2004-05 season (and the start of the salary cap era).
Some may say the CBA disagreements have kept certain teams in the league. While it may have kept troubled teams afloat, it has been done at the expense of the fans. Just look at the TD Garden. Eight dollar beers and five dollar bottled waters (and the removal of the water fountains inside). Ticket prices which have increased steadily (which was particularly galling to see after the B’s recent failed attempts to get into the postseason). At times, it seemed that Mr. Jacobs was more interested in running the league than running his own team.
Unfortunately, there is more infamy behind the Jacobs name. He’s been the mastermind (with Bettman) behind ‘Hockey in the desert.’ A project which has led to the loss of over half a billion dollars in order to keep the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes afloat. A project that now has expanded to include Las Vegas. While the initial projections look promising for Vegas, it’s still a big unknown if the Golden Knights will have long-term success.
This was more of a lifetime achievement award for Jacobs. (With one Stanley Cup in over 40 years of trying, that achievement almost needs an asterisk next to it.)
Has Jacobs done some good for the league in general? Yes. Has Jacobs tenure been filled with controversy? Absolutely. Is he the least liked owner among the Boston-area owners of sports franchises? Undoubtedly.
It’s a shame that players like Recchi and Teemu Selanne will have to share the stage with Jacobs when they’re inducted this November.