Ideally, when you start a season in any sport the goal is to win a championship. That’s what you work for, what you put in so much for and what you hope to be rewarded for. The Boston Bruins are no stranger to knowing what it takes to win a championship and how much sacrifice it takes. Oftentimes in the NHL, one team’s overall success is often defined by the championships they win because of the nature of the postseason and the level of sacrifice it takes. In a city like Boston, championships are expected this day in age and when a team comes so close to winning a title and doesn’t get it done, words like failure get brought up. In this case it’s fair to label losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home to be a failure because the Bruins lost to an inferior team and got blown out. As Boston fans, especially recently we expect our teams to win in those situations but sometimes it doesn’t work out and as much as it is hard, it’s what makes sports so captivating. Ideally, the Bruins are out for redemption this season as they look to finish the job, but even without a championship they can still have a successful season.
I’ll reiterate that ideally, the Bruins do want to raise the cup after coming so close about two and a half months ago but a championship doesn’t need to define their success for the upcoming season. Oftentimes we as Boston sports fan focus too much on winning championships that we lose track of a team’s progression. For example, when Bruce Cassidy took over for Claude Julien, the B’s were a team stuck in neutral and looking for a new direction. The Bruins had missed the playoffs for two straight seasons and were dangerously close to becoming a mediocre hockey club. Hiring Cassidy was the perfect medicine as he’s led the team to three consecutive playoff appearances including a Stanley Cup Final appearance. It’s not just the team that’s progressed so well, the front office has had a successful few years including really solid free agent acquisitions such as Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, and Chris Wagner. Don Sweeney has done a fabulous job drafting players like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo who are now a big part of the B’s core.
There are certainly ways the B’s can have a successful season including the continued success of the young players and prospects and whether they’ll be a part of the team’s future. It’ll be exciting to keep track of players such as Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and Urho Vaakanainen just to name a few. It’s not crazy to think a few of these players play meaningful games for the B’s this season. Another player to be excited about is Charlie Coyle. The Weymouth native was acquired by the Bruins prior to the trade deadline and paid huge dividends with a great playoff performance. Coyle is playing for a new contract perhaps in Boston and could give the front office an option should they decide to move on from a player like David Krejci.
There’s a very good chance the B’s don’t return to the Final this season and personally I believe people need to be ready for that reality. The Bruins got some serious help in the playoffs last season with both Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh being swept in the first round. This isn’t to discredit the B’s at all because making it to the Final is a great accomplishment no matter how you get it done. However, it’s hard to believe the Bruins won’t have to go through at least one of those teams next spring, so the expectation to get back to the Final may need to be tempered a little bit. There’s a reason why teams often don’t repeat as Cup champions or don’t even return to the Final the following season. Only seven teams since 1990 have returned to the Final the following season. Not to say the Bruins can’t do it because looking at their roster there isn’t a ton of changeover from last season but it certainly isn’t easy and history is not necessarily in their favor. 2019-2020 will be an exciting year for the Boston Bruins but they shouldn’t be judged solely on whether they return to the Stanley Cup Final.