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How do the Bruins Rebuild a Team They Went all in on in 2022-23?

(Photo Credit: John Tlumacki | Globe Staff)

By: Michelle Mongeon | Follow me on Twitter @monge3328

The season has ended, most of the dust has settled, and now the Bruin’s brass is sitting down with the media for an exit press conference to answer questions on the quick exit out of the playoffs. But, of course, that is only one area of concern Don Sweeney, the General Manager of the Boston Bruins, will have to answer along with Cam Neely, the President, Charlie Jacobs, CEO, and, of course, coach Jim Montgomery of the Bruin’s having to keep answering questions on his goalie decisions in the playoffs against the Florida Panthers.

One of the first questions Sweeney was asked at the press conference was, “Will there be any coaching changes”? That came after Sweeney commented that roster changes would happen no matter what. However, Montgomery did step up and take the bullet on the critical decisions made in games five, six, and ultimately game seven that eliminated them from vying for the Stanley Cup.

The feel of Montgomery’s body language and the way he answered some of the questions about playing injured players such as Patrice Bergeron and Linus Ullmark, or the continual mixing of the defensive lines, it seemed he was fighting for his job at times. Montgomery’s decision-making went beyond playing injured players. Neely and Sweeney had their thoughts on what had happened.

The press conference seemed to be a two-way conversation between Sweeney and Montgomery, with occasional questions raised for Neely and Jacobs. However, Neely spoke about the season’s expectations being a wild card team at best. Cam and Sweeney signed a new coach in Montgomery but had no idea how the team would respond and react; plus, they were waiting for their two stars, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy return to the line-up after off-season surgery.

Sweeney came prepared with every miscue from the Bruins collapse, blaming the players. However, reading between the lines at his emphasis throughout the conference, it seemed Montgomery could be on the hot seat in the 2023/24 season. While Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins organization praised the players and Montgomery for a regular season, the negatives seemed so glaring in the playoffs.

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer | Globe Staff)

Poor execution. Structural breakdowns and goaltending were the top three topics that kept coming up. How did those strengths in the regular season become weaknesses? When asked about any coaching changes, Sweeney said he would talk to Jim and see how he feels about things and if he feels changes need to be made. That didn’t feel like Montgomery was safe, but when Jacobs was asked, he said outright that he is not looking to make any coaching changes. But, of course, we all know that when Presidents and General Managers give you those answers, it usually means nothing.

A few things you can believe that came out of this press conference were changes to the team are coming. But, first, there needs to be a meeting of minds to reconstruct some contracts and unrestricted and restricted free agents with the cap situation they put themselves in with what they thought was a Stanley Cup Team.

(Photo Credit: John Tlumacki | Globe Staff)

The top at the cap situation is a few new players, of which maybe they will keep Tyler Bertuzzi over Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway. Bertuzzi is more expensive, but compared to Taylor Hall, who has a no-trade clause, he is younger and more explosive than Hall. Sweeney seems to like Matt Grzelcyk, but moving him would relieve the Bruins’ cap, and they have plenty of blue-line players. Maybe the most significant decision is going to be the goalies. Will it come down to just the money or money and age?

The Bruins do not have draft picks or a lot of young talent from Providence at this point to include in any trades. To get quality players to fit into this group, they will need to be creative with trying to package players like Orlov, Nick Foligno, Derek Forbort, Hathaway, or Linus Ullmark to maximize their cap space. Players like Hathaway or even Forbort could be straight up trades. Of course, they will wait and see what Bergeron decides to do, but David Krejci should be a more accessible player to replace on the open market. When the press conference was over, the sense was that Sweeney would be back to work sooner rather than later.

1 Comment

  1. Jill Koldewey

    Wow, so much to consider. Still painfully sad that they went out in the first round. It seems if you’re the best team in the regular season that you’re automatically jinxed.

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