Bruins Leadership A Big “Plus”

Image result for bruins marchand bergeron chara(Photo Credit: Zimbio)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

When it comes to the B’s best plus players… well, there are certainly not many minuses in their game. Literally now as much as figuratively.

As the Boston Bruins official @NHLBruins Twitter account shared ahead of the B’s big shutout victory on the road over the Buffalo Sabres, a triumvirate of Black N’ Gold leaders and all-stars are wrapping up quite the DECADE of positive play.

Captain Zdeno Chara, Alternate Captain (but we all know it’s “Co-Captain”) Patrice Bergeron and often “A”-wearer Brad Marchand are the NHL’s top three performers in plus/minus since January 1st, 2010. Talk about bringing your “A-Game” every game and for the past ten years!

Image result for bruins marchand bergeron chara(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

Marchand is atop the list at a staggering +215. Chara is up next at +207. And Bergeron rounds out the heralded “top three” at +201.

However, after all three of them boosted their stats during teammate Jaroslav Halak’s impressive 3-0 shutout — the 50th of his career — those all-important plus/minus numbers have now jumped!

Marchy moved up to +217, Big Z jumped to +208 and Bergy added two more pluses (I mean, doesn’t he have an endless supply of pluses to his game already?) to get to +203. And with two more games to go before the decade ends — against the Sabres and Devils, respectively — you can bet those numbers will improve even more before the team rings in 2020.

As a reminder, here’s how the NHL defines plus/minus:

A player is awarded a “plus” each time he is on the ice when his Club scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal. He receives a “minus” if he is on the ice for an even-strength or shorthanded goal scored by the opposing Club. The difference in these numbers is considered the player’s “plus-minus” statistic.

And statistically speaking, you’d be hard-pressed to find another trio of modern-day hockey talent that have positively produced like Marchand, Chara and Bergeron.

Image result for bruins marchand bergeron chara(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

You know how to cap off such an impressive accomplishment in the New Year? Bring home one more Stanley Cup to Boston (and ideally in Boston this time…we’ve had enough of these other teams celebrating on TD Garden ice) while all three are still together!

Now, wouldn’t that be a plus?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, BRUINS FANS!

Former Bruins Player Bronco Horvath Passes At The Age Of 89

( Photo Credit: imageshack.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Bruins organization lost a member of its family today with the announcement of the passing of 89-year-old Bronco Horvath from the official Boston Bruins Alumni Twitter Account. Horvath a longtime journeyman of the North American professional ranks spent 664 games posting 263-484-747 numbers in the American Hockey League and 434 games in the higher National Hockey League contributing 141-185-326 totals. Bronco played for six franchises in his NHL career.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Born in Port Colbourne, Ontario Canada, Horvath spent four seasons with the Boston organization from 1957-58 to the 1960-60 campaign. In that short timeframe, he would appear in 227 games posting 103-112-215 numbers with his best season coming in the 1959-60 season where he went 39-41-80 in 68 games played tying Chicago Blackhawks great Bobby Hull for the NHL goal-scoring lead.

Per Wikipedia, Bronco spent the majority of his time playing in Boston alongside NHL Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk on the “Uke Line” accompanied by the third member of the fierce trio Vic Stasiuk. In 2015 Horvath was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame and joined fellow Bruins legendary defenseman, Eddie Shore (2006 Inductee) and former B’s Head Coach Don Cherry (2019 Inductee) as honorary members.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 158 that we recorded on 12-15-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content! 

The Bruins Most Prolific Scorer: Phil Esposito

phil-esposito

(Photo Credit: Tony Triolo Sports Illustrated)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

This week I have been working on an article about where David Pastrnak’s and Brad Marchand’s seasons project in regards to the greatest Bruins seasons of all time. The problem was that as I was researching and writing the article, it started to become more about B’s legend Phil Esposito than about the aforementioned players. At that point, I figured it would probably be a good idea to just dedicate an article to Esposito himself, and here we are.

Esposito was born on February 20, 1942, in the city of Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Province of Canada. His younger brother Tony was born in 1943 and legend has it that Phil forced his baby brother to play goal so that he could practice his shooting. Whatever they did back then, it appears to have worked out pretty well, as both are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The elder Esposito was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks and was told to join the Sarnia Legionnaires. He was a high-scoring player even as a teen, putting up 47 goals and 61 assists in only 32 games for his Junior B team. The following season he moved up to play for the St Catherines Teepees in the OHA-Jr league (sort of a precursor to the modern-day OHL). The jump in the competition didn’t seem to slow him down, and he recorded 32 goals and 39 assists (71 points) for the Teepees in 49 games.

In today’s NHL, a scorer like Esposito would have probably gotten a long look for the big club, but things worked differently back then. Despite his scoring prowess, when Esposito turned pro, he was assigned to the St. Louis Braves of the EPHL/CPHL. These leagues were started by the NHL and fully controlled by them in an attempt to have more control over the development of players. At the time, other professional leagues like the AHL existed but did not have strong relationships with NHL teams they do now. His first season with the Braves Esposito had 36g/54a in 71 games but was not called up. The following year (1962-63), he produced 24g/54a in only 43 games and got the call-up. In 27 NHL games that year, at the age of 20, Esposito had 3g/2a. While not the most auspicious start, he showed enough to the Chicago brass to earn a spot in the NHL for good.

Espo-CHI

(Photo Credit: The Hockey Writers)

He spent the next three seasons in Chicago, Espo put up some very good numbers. In 208 regular-season games in the Windy City, he had 71 goals and 98 assists, much of the time centering Bobby Hull. What a lot of fans today may not know is that despite these stats, Chicago did not see Esposito as a good “fit” for the team.  When the Blackhawks were eliminated in the 1966-67 semifinals by eventual Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs, Esposito had zero points in the six playoff games that postseason. He shouldered much of the blame from fans (and apparently staff) after the loss to the Leafs. The NHL was expanding from six to twelve teams in June of 1967, and the “Original 6” teams were going to lose a significant amount of players. Despite his statistics, the Blackhawks still considered Esposito an unproven talent and had no plans to protect him. So, on May 15th, 1967 (immediately before the rosters were frozen for the expansion draft), they dealt him and young forwards Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to the struggling Bruins franchise for veteran center Pit Martin (who they saw as Esposito’s replacement), 22 year-old defenseman Gilles Marotte, and minor league goalie Jack Norris.

The Blackhawks saw the three players they dealt to Boston as underachievers who would not be missed by the NHL club. The centerpiece to the trade in their mind was the promising young Marotte, who had been paired in Boston with defense partner Bobby Orr. They (and many others) thought at the time they had fleeced the Bruins and their new GM, Milt Schmidt. Of course, over the next eight-plus seasons, this would be proven to be the furthest thing from the truth, as the Bruins would establish themselves as one of the dominant NHL clubs of the early and mid-’70s.

The long term benefits notwithstanding, the trade also paid immediate dividends for both Boston and Esposito. In his first year with the Bruins, he was named Assistant Captain and had 35 goals and 49 assists in 74 games, good for second in the NHL. Former teammate Stan Makita was the only one who finished above him (with 87 points). More importantly to Boston fans, the Bruins made the playoffs for the first time since the 1958-59 season. While they were swept in the first round by the eventual Cup-champion Canadians, it would mark the start of a 29 year consecutive run of playoff seasons in Boston.

The following season would result in more milestones for both Esposito and the team. In 1968-69 Esposito would become the first NHL player to reach 100 points in a season in the league’s history. Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe would also reach the century mark that year, but Esposito would hit it first and lead the league with 126 points during the regular season (49g/77a). This season would also start to establish Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Wayne Cashman as one of the most feared lines of the early ’70s. Hodge finished 5th in the NHL in scoring with 90 points (45 goals) and Cashman added 31 points in just 51 games. These numbers were due in large part to Esposito’s skill and influence. The Bruins as a team also improved, sweeping a series against Toronto, including outscoring them 17-0 (10-0 and 7-0) in games one and two at home. The Bruins would lose to Montreal again, but this time in a hard-fought six-game series in the Semifinals. Montreal would go on to sweep the St. Louis Blues for yet another Cup. Not the ending the Bruins were hoping for, but things were certainly looking up.

espo 2

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins Alumni)

The next season, Esposito would take a bit of a step back from a personal standpoint. In 1969-70, he “only” produced 43 goals and 56 assists for 99 points in 76 regular-season games. That would be good enough for second in the NHL, behind teammate Bobby Orr, who finished with 120 points (33g/87a). Despite the slight fall off for Espo, the Bruins as a team improved to the highest level. After tying Chicago for first overall with 99 points, the B’s faced the NY Rangers in the first round and defeated them in six games. Next up was the Blackhawks, and Esposito would get a measure of revenge on his old team with a four-game sweep. The Finals pitted Boston against the St. Louis Blues, who were there for the third straight year representing the West. The Bruins made short work of the Blues, sweeping them 4-0 and bringing the Cup back to Boston for the first time since 1941. Esposito finished the playoffs with 27 points (13g/14a) in fourteen games.

Over the next five seasons, Espo would help the B’s win a second Cup and from 1970-71 through 1974-75, he would score an absolutely unbelievable 326 goals and add 361 assists. His point total over those five years (687) was only seven less than Hall of Famer Cam Neely accumulated over his entire career. Production like that will more than likely never be equaled.

Unfortunately, things did not end smoothly for Esposito in Boston. During the 1975-76 season, coming off a 127 point campaign the year before, he reportedly became upset over the Bruins asking him to take a reduced role at the age of 33. After winning two Cups, two Hart Trophies, and five Art Ross trophies, Esposito left town the same way he arrived, via the trade. He was moved in November of 1975, along with defenseman Carol Vadnais for Jean Ratelle, Brad Park, and Joe Zanussi. He played in New York for five more seasons before retiring in 1981 at the age of 38. In New York, Esposito never attained the same level of success he had in Boston, but he still managed 404 points in 422 games while he played in the “Big Apple”.

espo ny

(Photo Credit: Denis Brodeur 1980 NHLI)

Three years later, in 1984, Esposito would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Three years after that, he would be involved in another remarkable ceremony, as the Bruins would retire Esposito’s famous number 7 jersey. The jersey was being worn at the time by a young player that would eventually become a B’s legend, Ray Bourque. Esposito had told Bourque he wanted him to keep wearing the number and assumed the proceedings would be strictly for “show”. Bourque surprised Espo and the team as well by removing the 7 jersey and revealing a number 77 jersey underneath that he would sport for the rest of his career in Boston, allowing Esposito’s jersey to be raised to the rafters.

After years of acrimony towards the Bruins because of the trade to New York, Bourque’s gesture went a long way towards healing the relationship between Esposito and the B’s. While the hard feelings may never completely go away, the jersey retirement was a fitting way for the Bruins organization to pay homage to it’s greatest goal scorer.

CHECK OUT OUR NEW BLACK N’ GOLD PROSPECT PODCAST EPISODE 6 THAT WE RECORDED ON NOVEMBER 26TH, 2019! OUR BNG PROSPECTS POD CAN BE FOUND ON THE SAME RSS FEED AS OUR ORIGINAL BLACK N’ GOLD HOCKEY PODCAST, WHICH CAN BE FOUND ON MANY WORLDWIDE PLATFORMS SUCH AS APPLE PODCASTS, GOOGLE PODCASTS, IHEART RADIO, SPOTIFY, SOUNDCLOUD, AND STITCHER.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Bruins Nearly A “Third” Of The Way Home!

 

Image(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Boston Bruins have been CARVING UP the competition this year. The team is tops in the Atlantic. Tops in the East. Tops in the league! As we recently shared here on the Black N’ Gold blog, they’re also tops in the community:

It’s a lot to be thankful for, indeed! Speaking of giving thanks, the Thanksgiving holiday is often looked at as a marker on the schedule. If a team is inside the playoff bubble come Turkey Day in the U.S., there’s a good chance they’ll make a realistic run for the NHL’s second season come the New Year.

And with the NHL Thanksgiving Showdown now putting national audience attention on how top teams are performing nearly a third of the way into the season, the B’s will fittingly be debuting their third jerseys to close out November at home at TD Garden against the Rangers.

The buzz “B”-hind this new alternate jersey was initially mixed, with social media calling up similar designs for the B’s 2019 Winter Classic jersey and the team’s 75th NHL Anniversary jersey worn back in 1992-93 (of which I have an Andy Moog home ice gem). However, as more and more posts, pics and clips showcased the historical reverence of the design combined with modern-day jersey mesh and tech, the overall look and feel of this sweet sweater got a boost in popularity — especially with “models” like this:

I, for one, find the simplicity of the logo to be its strong point — not to mention the eye-popping color and size of the big block “B” crest at its center. Truly, if anything should be front and center on a third jersey, it’s the letter/logo that best symbolizes the history and familiarity of the team.

Speaking of history, the new third jersey design is inspired by two of the franchise’s earliest logos and looks. Between 1930-1936, Boston featured the “block B” on every jersey — first in black and then in brown. I featured these in my Best Bruins Logos article right here on the BN’G blog last year. The first time it appeared in gold in big block lettering was in the late ’40s / early ’50s, as our friends at SportsLogos showcased in a retrospective picture collage below:

(Photo Credit: SportsLogos.Net)

Add in the fun fact that the B’s will debut this all black (n’ gold) jersey on Black Friday, and of course have it on sale for all the holiday shoppers, and what you have is the perfect recipe for a fulFILLing day of fanfare and fun.

The B’s are confidently on pace to make history this season. Now that they’ll be wearing a part of history as well, I’m liking the look of things to come… first, second, even THIRD time’s around!

Happy Black Friday, Black N’ Gold Supporters! Please subscribe to our new YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Boston Bruins – The Departed

( Photo Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Scott Delano | Follow me on Twitter @Scottdelano3

 

In the 2018 -19 NHL season the Boston Bruins took the St. Louis Blues to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, but ultimately came up short of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup as many already know. The Bruins returned the majority of their roster, but not everyone who started last season wearing the spoked B is still with the organization. Here’s a look at where former Boston Bruins players are and how they are doing a quarter of the way through the young season.

We can revisit this article deeper into the season to get a better understanding of how these former players are performing and if the Boston Bruins made the right choice by cutting ties with them.

Colby Cave

( Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images )

The first player the Bruins lost last year might have slipped your mind, but after being put on waivers with the hope of reassignment to Providence Colby Cave was claimed by the Edmonton Oilers. Cave got the call up to the Bruins because of injuries but played well enough to get picked up on the NHL’s waiver wire by the Edmonton Oilers before being sent down to Providence.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

20 Games Played
1 Goal
4 Assists

2018 – 19 Edmonton Oilers

33 Games Played
2 Goals
1 Assist

2019 – 20 Edmonton Oilers

5 Games Played
1 Goal

Gemel Smith

( Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Photo )

We lost one to waivers but claimed another. Gemel Smith was claimed off waivers from the Dallas Stars. He only played 3 games for the Black and Gold but made a connection with Patrice Bergeron that goes much further than hockey.

2018 – 19 Dallas Stars

32 Games Played
4 goals
1 assist

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins

3 Games Played
1 Goal

2019 – 20 Tampa Bay Lightning

3 Games Played
1 Goal

Ryan Donato

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The Boston Bruins made a deadline trade with the Minnesota Wild to get local product Charlie Coyle but had to give up Ryan Donato and a pick in exchange for him. This trade seemed pretty one-sided until Coyle put it all together in the playoffs. Donato is a solid hockey player but never caught stride in Boston.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

34 Games Played
6 Goals
3 Assists

2018 – 19 Minnesota Wild

22 Games Played
4 Goals
12 Assists

2019 – 20 Minnesota Wild

22 Games Played
2 Goals
2 Assists

Marcus Johansson

( Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Photo )

 Acquired at the deadline from New Jersey Devils in exchange for picks and found immediate chemistry with Charlie Coyle on the third line left wing. Unfortunately, he sustained a concussion that limited him to 10 games but came back healthy for the playoffs.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

10 Games Played
1 Goal
2 Assists

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins (Playoffs)

22 Games Played
4 Goals
7 Assists

2019 – 20 Buffalo Sabers

17 Games Played
4 Goals
6 Assists

Lee Stempniak

( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau / NHL / Getty Images )

A veteran presence that couldn’t crack the lineup. Brought over in a trade from the Devil’s a few years prior, Stempniak returned to Boston after two years in Carolina. He officially retired (Article by Max Mainville) from the game of hockey this year after 14 years in the NHL.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins

2 Games Played
0 Points

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson

( Photo Credit: Official Boston Bruins Twitter Account / @NHLBruins )

JFK played collegiate hockey with Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk at Boston University. The Boston Bruins drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. His style of play was compared to Patrice Bergeron, but he never lived up to those expectations. He is still a member of the organization, but he left to be closer to his family and play in his home country of Sweden. He could return to Boston; however, there is the chance he doesn’t.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

28 Games Played
3 Goals
6 Assists

Noel Acciari

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

The Johnston, Rhode Island native played 4 seasons with the Boston Bruins. He brought grit and determination to the fourth line. Even though he was a fan favorite, the business side of hockey led him to the sunshine state.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins

72 Games Played
6 Goals
8 Assists

2019 – 20 Florida Panthers

21 Games Played
5 Goals
1 Assist

All stats are courtesy of https://www.hockey-reference.com/

CHECK OUT OUR NEW BLACK N’ GOLD PROSPECT PODCAST EPISODE 6 THAT WE RECORDED ON NOVEMBER 26TH, 2019! OUR BNG PROSPECTS POD CAN BE FOUND ON THE SAME RSS FEED AS OUR ORIGINAL BLACK N’ GOLD HOCKEY PODCAST, WHICH CAN BE FOUND ON MANY WORLDWIDE PLATFORMS SUCH AS APPLE PODCASTS, GOOGLE PODCASTS, IHEART RADIO, SPOTIFY, SOUNDCLOUD, AND STITCHER.

 

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEW BLACK N’ GOLD HOCKEY YOUTUBE CHANNEL! WE’D REALLY APPRECIATE THE CONTINUED SUPPORT. CLICK HERE FOR EXCITING BLACK N’ GOLD ONLINE CONTENT!!

Leafs’ Firing of Mike Babcock Similar to Bruins’ 2017 Firing of Claude Julien

ezgif-4-32c55a600fda.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

When the news that Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock had been fired and that the Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies, Sheldon Keefe, had been hired as the new Head Coach of the NHL club, the opinions throughout the entire NHL universe – especially on Twitter, filled everyone’s feed.

The release of Babcock from the organization is a surprise, considering the expectations placed on him when he was hired by the team in 2015, but at the very same moment, it was expected. As of November 20th, the Maple Leafs are 10th in the Eastern Conference with a sub-par record of 9-10-4 and they have lost six consecutive games dating back to November 9th. Toronto has the team to win games on paper, but when those victories fail to come to fruition, it eventually falls on the Head Coach and that is the case here.

Mike Babcock started his NHL coaching career with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2002-03, leading them to a 40-27-9-6 record and the Western Conference Championship, losing an eventual Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals to the New Jersey Devils. In 2003-2004, the Mighty Ducks missed the playoffs altogether and Babcock was subsequently fired in June of 2004.

A full season later, in July 2005, Mike Babcock was hired by the Detroit Red Wings who were coming off of a dominate 48-21-11-2 record but were eliminated in the second round. From 2005-06 to 2008-09, Babcock led the Red Wings to four-straight 50-plus-win seasons – culminating it all off with a Stanley Cup Championship in 2008 and a Western Conference Championship in 2009.

For the entire ten-year tenure that Mike Babcock spent in Detroit, the Red Wings made the playoffs – adding to their incredible streak of 25 playoff berths that began in the 1990-91 campaign, tied for the third-longest playoff appearance streak in NHL history, behind only the Boston Bruins (29 seasons from 1967-68 to 1995-96) and Chicago Blackhawks (28 seasons from 1969-70 to 1996-97) and equal to the St. Louis Blues (25 seasons from 1979-80 to 2003-04).

From July 15, 2005, to May 8th, 2015, Mike Babcock coached the Detroit Red Wings in 786 regular-season games with a combined record of 458-223-105 along with a 67-56 record in 123 postseason games with the franchise, solidifying himself as one of the best coaches in the NHL. Add that with his two Olympic Gold Medals (2010, 2014), IIHF World Championships Gold Medal (2004) and his World Cup of Hockey Championship win (2016), Babcock proved that he is one of the best bench bosses in the game.

However, after repeated first-round exits, the Red Wings organization relieved the Manitouwadge, Ontario native of his head coaching duties and only a few days later, the now 56-year-old agreed to an eight-year, $50 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in an intense bidding war. Babcock’s ’15/’16 campaign with Toronto was a dismal one, as the Maple Leafs finished last in the Atlantic Division with a 29-42-11 record. Immediately, however, Babcock coached Toronto to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season – losing to the Washington Capitals in six games.

In 2017-18, the Maple Leafs took even larger strides en route to a 49-win season but fell short in seven games to the Boston Bruins. Last season, the Leafs managed to win 46 games for another 3rd place finish in the Atlantic Division, setting them up for the rematch against Boston, but once again, they came up short losing in another Game Seven.

With a virtually similar roster, the Maple Leafs entered this season with even higher expectations and they have not met them whatsoever as mentioned at the beginning of the article. Toronto has struggled to score first in any game and they constantly find themselves chasing the game in almost all aspects. Their defensive game is extremely lacking and the goaltending after Frederik Andersen is almost non-existent. The Toronto Maple Leafs are not good right now and it all fell on Mike Babcock, resulting in his departure from the organization.

In response, the Toronto Maple Leafs also announced the hiring of Sheldon Keefe, the Head Coach of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies since the 2015-16 season, as the 31st Head Coach of the NHL franchise. Sounds oddly familiar to the Boston Bruins back in 2017.

Boston Bruins Déjà Vu?

Replace the names of “Mike Babcock” with “Claude Julien” and “Sheldon Keefe” with “Bruce Cassidy” and you essentially have near-identical stories, sort of. Rewinding to the 2016-17 regular-season, the Boston Bruins were in a similar situation to the Leafs of today. Prior to ’16/’17, the Bruins failed to clinch a berth in the playoffs for two straight seasons, even though they just narrowly missed by only a few points in both scenarios.

Boston started the new season off rough, failing to gain any momentum or put together any winning streak(s), accumulating a 26-23-3 record throughout the first 55 games of the year. The B’s were on a pace to miss the playoffs once again and for the Bruins ownership, that is not acceptable with the roster they have, so they fired the man who has control of the lineup – Claude Julien.

Rewinding the tape even further, Claude Julien had one of the most successful tenures of a Boston Bruins coach in the history of the franchise. In fact, Julien is the all-time most-winningest head coach in Bruins history, winning 419 games in 759 regular-season games played. In addition, Julien was the Head Coach for 98 playoff games – the most out of any other Bruins coach, winning 57 games – another franchise record. Wrap all of that in a pretty bow called the Stanley Cup because it was Claude Julien that ended the 39-year Stanley Cup drought in Boston.

However, the league was changing and Julien’s defensive-minded style was just not cutting it anymore so General Manager Don Sweeney made the decision to release CJ of his duties in February 2017. Instead of naming a new Head Coach immediately, the Bruins named Bruce Cassidy the Interim Head Coach as he was serving as Julien’s assistant coach for the first time after being the Head Coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins for the previous five seasons.

Cassidy brought in new ideas and upped the intensity during practices to get the guys to rally behind him. Cassidy came into the role as an almost exact opposite to Julien, coaching a more offensive game while staying defensively responsible. At the time, Cassidy also had experience and chemistry with a few of the younger players on the roster from his time with the P-Bruins, giving him additional advantages.

Backed by the veterans in the lineup, the Boston Bruins indeed rallied behind Bruce Cassidy, winning 18 of their final 27 games, earning a playoff spot against the Ottawa Senators. Even though the Bruins were eliminated in six games, it was a breath of fresh air to go 18-8-1 after Claude Julien was fired and to make an appearance in the postseason. On April 26th, 2017, Bruce Cassidy was officially promoted as the 28th Head Coach in franchise history.

Since then, he has brought the Bruins to a 50-win season in his first full year as coach followed by a 49-win campaign last year that ended up bringing the Black and Gold to a Stanley Cup Finals berth for the first time since 2013. Cassidy has done an excellent job adjusting and adapting to challenges in the lineups during the season and even mid-games. He has done a terrific job battling against injuries, slumps, and tough teams to earn the respect of being a top coach in the National Hockey League.

Will the Toronto Maple Leafs become a contending team, make the playoffs, and find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals in a few seasons under the guidance of Sheldon Keefe – possibly, but this could very well end up doing nothing or even doing more harm to this struggling team. Boston had a talented roster behind them and had heart – some may debate if those exist for the Maple Leafs.

Boston and Toronto have a lot in common. The method of relieving old-school coaches for younger, new-school coaches is proving to be yet another similarity. Only time will tell to see if the Toronto Maple Leafs can turn their season around and be a contender for the Boston Bruins.

To close out, here are a few statements from current Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and former Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien on the firing of Mike Babcock:

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 154 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins’ Chara Honored With Hockey Legacy Award

EJ3Ea_8XkAERtl8.jpeg

(Photo: Boston Bruins via Twitter @NHLBruins)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was honored with the Hockey Legacy Award at the Sport Museum’s 18th annual The Tradition ceremony at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk presented Chara with the award.

Chara joined Manny Ramirez, Michelle Kwan, Paul Silas, Matt Light, and Ben Crenshaw as the other honorees at this year’s edition of the ceremony. Other sports icons that have been honored at The Tradition include: Bobby Orr, Ted Williams, Larry Bird, Ty Law, Nancy Kerrigan, and more.

The Slovak was drafted 56th-overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. After spending the first four seasons of his professional career in the Isles organization, Chara was dealt to the Senators as part of a package deal before the 2001-02 campaign.

The 42-year-old spent four seasons with the Sens before signing with Boston as a free agent in 2006, immediately being named captain and helping to lead the team to a Stanley Cup in 2011. With the Bruins, Chara won a Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2009 as well as the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2011.

On his career, Chara has six NHL All-Star Game selections, is a three-time NHL First Team All-Star, is a four-time NHL Second Team All-Star, and is a six-time Norris Trophy finalist. He is also the oldest defenseman to ever score a goal in the Stanley Cup Final at 42 years and 83 days of age as well as the oldest d-man to score a game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at 42 years and 30 days of age.

As the tallest player to ever play in the NHL at 6-foot-9, Chara also holds the record for the hardest shot ever recorded at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition (108.8 mph set in 2012). In 1,506 career NHL games, Chara has 650 points (204g, 446a), 475 of which have come with Boston. So far this season, “Big Zee” has 4-4-8 totals in 21 games.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 154 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Mark Your Bruins Calendar 2020 Update: Prague, Czech Republic

(Photo Credit: NHL)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Boston Bruins are going global. Again.

The NHL recently announced its 2020 Global Series and the B’s are international headliners for the third time in the last decade. The Black N’ Gold will open the ’20-’21 season on the road in Prague, Czech Republic facing off against the Nashville Predators at O2 Arena.

The B’s most recently opened abroad in 2018-’19 playing the Calgary Flames as part of the NHL China Games, an experience I wrote about for the Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog last Fall.

It was an experience highly regarded by both players and management, much the same way Bruins’ veterans Zdeno Chara and David Krejci remember opening the season in Prague for the first time back in 2010 for the NHL Premiere Series. Krejci shared his thoughts about this trip in a team press release touting its return to familiar territory:

“Opening the season in Prague and Northern Ireland back in 2010 was a very special experience to share with my family, friends and teammates,” said Krejci. “It was the start of a year I’ll always remember. Growing up in Czech, it was my dream to play in the NHL so to be able to play in more NHL games in Europe means a lot to me personally. I think it’s great the League continues to grow the game and bring hockey to different countries all over the world.”

Later in that same release, the B’s forward with the hottest release in the league right now (15G, 15A – 30PTS) shared what playing in Prague means to him since he wasn’t apart of the 2010 trip. Here’s what David Pastrnak had to say about the Global Series against the Preds:

“I was very excited to learn that the Boston Bruins would be heading back to my home country to play in the 2020 NHL Global Series in Prague,” said Pastrnak. “I remember driving to O2 Arena as a kid to go see the Bruins play the Coyotes back in 2010 for the NHL Premiere games. The passionate fans and atmosphere were something I’ll never forget – I can’t wait to feel that energy again from the ice in Prague and Mannheim.”

The presser also notes the Bruins and Predators will complete their training camps in Europe and will each play in an exhibition match as part of the Global Series Challenge. As Pastrnak mentioned, the B’s will report to Mannheim, Germany and play an exhibition game against Adler Mannheim at SAP Arena.

Image result for bruins prague(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder)

As you can see from the near-decade old photo above, the B’s are no strangers to Prague. Current players on the Bruins roster who grew up in the Czech Republic include forwards David Krejci and David Pastrnak, as the B’s press release notes.

Krejci was born in Sternberk and played junior hockey for HC Kladno. He has represented his home country in international play on several occasions, including the Winter Olympic Games in 2010 and 2014, and was awarded the Golden Hockey Stick as the top hockey player from the Czech Republic in 2013. Pastrnak was born in Havirov and played junior hockey with AZ Havirov. He has represented the Czech Republic in international play on several occasions and has been awarded the Golden Hockey Stick as the top hockey player from the Czech Republic each of the last three years in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

For more information on the upcoming B’s season, stay tuned to the BN’G Hockey Podcast & Prospect’s Podcast!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Boston Bruins: The Goal Is To Rebuild On The Fly

USATSI_13369895.jpg

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

The Boston Bruins have been one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference for over a decade. Notably, Boston won their sixth Stanley Cup in the 2010-2011 season followed by a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in both 2013 and 2019. During this stretch of success, the organization has seen the same core of players rule the competition.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and Tuukka Rask were apart of each one of those successful seasons, but the remainder of the Bruins team has been altered, changed, and re-vamped with the emergence of the young players across the National Hockey League.

Today, the Bruins have star players that are staples in their lineup. David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen are all on the starting roster night in and night out, wearing the Spoked-B proudly. Don’t get them wrong, though. These young players are not here because the Bruins are at the bottom of the standings, in fact, it is quite evidently the opposite. The Boston Bruins are defending Eastern Conference Champions.

USATSI_12568577.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (WEEI.com)

In the National Hockey League, there are multiple ways that a franchise can build their team for success. The Free Agency period always has serviceable players that can bring some talent to a roster and bring them to a more-successful season. The idea of trading is there, but it is sometimes difficult to convince another team to trade their top players without sacrificing one of your top assets in return. You could also be the Vegas Golden Knights who became a Stanley Cup-contending team from the expansion draft – but that is out of the question for everyone but Seattle now.

Without a doubt in my mind, the best option for teams to build a roster that contends for the Stanley Cup falls on the NHL Entry Draft. The best of the best young players around the world in a seven-round draft where all 31 NHL teams can select the players they feel will make their team better. The issue with this method is the waiting period for most rookies.

Looking at the Bruins, players like Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and Anders Bjork have been in the system for a couple years now – yet none of them are secured positions on the team due to their position already being filled by someone with either more experience or more success. In other drafts, the Bruins have had struggles with their selections, to the point where they fail to play a single regular season game with the franchise before being shipped off or let go when their contract expires.

In many cases around the league, the waiting period is not of concern for management. As long as one day, they can have a competitive roster once again, it’ll all be okay again. That idea is great and all – if you want to risk losing ticket sales, profits, and a fanbase in general. The Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, and others are prime examples of this fact alone.

Circling things back to Boston, the owners and fellow management personnel are not willing to sacrifice the years of money and profit that comes from a successful franchise to have a full-on “rebuild” when those veterans and core pieces begin to retire and move on from their hockey careers. Boston has shown over the past decade and continue to show into the 2019-2020 campaign that they are at the top of the NHL at performing a method of getting better on the fly commonly called – “retooling”.

bruins1_1280

PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

When retooling a franchise, there is one main factor that must stay consistent – competitiveness. Without the idea of competing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one could argue that it is more of a rebuild. In order to complete this retooling, you must have a group of veterans to lead another group of young, upcoming players who are taking their opportunities and thriving. Looking at the 2011 Stanley Cup win over the Vancouver Canucks, not much has changed regarding the landscape of the roster.

In 2010-2011, the Bruins had an average age of 28.3 and had ten players above the age of 30, (Michael Ryder, Chris Kelly, Andrew Ference, Tomas Kaberle, Shawn Thornton, Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, Shane Hindy, Tim Thomas, and Mark Recchi). In 2019-2020, the Bruins have an average age of 28.9 and have eight players above the age of 30, (Brad Marchand, Steven Kampfer, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Jaroslav Halak, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, and Zdeno Chara).

In 2010-11, the Bruins had younger players producing on their roster such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, and so on. Today, those once-young players are now entering the later stages of their prime or have moved on from the franchise altogether in the event of trade or free-agency, but with the emergence of David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Karson Kuhlman, Danton Heinen, Connor Clifton, and so on, the youth is still vibrant as ever – keeping the cycle fresh.

It does not stop there, either. This season, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, the Providence Bruins, have one of their best rosters of the last few seasons. As of October 15th, the Baby Bruins have a record of 3-1-0 – tied for second in the AHL league standings. Forward Anders Bjork has been the top player so far for the P-Bruins, scoring three goals and two assists for five points in the opening four games, showcasing his skills that could be in the NHL sooner rather than later.

The lineup in Providence is filled with players that have caught the eye of management and fans alike, keeping people hopeful that the Boston Bruins can continue this success that they are seeing this season into future seasons for years to come – and they have every right to feel that way. In fact, they should. Only a few seasons ago, David Pastrnak was in Providence and on the fourth-line in Boston, now he is scoring four goals in a game and leading the team in goals.

Call it what you want – retooling, rebuilding on the fly, staying competitive – it’s all the same. The Boston Bruins are professionals at this by now. The idea puts pressure and expectations on young players, but with the guidance of the veterans that have been there before, it works. With a record of 5-1-0 to begin the 2019-2020 regular-season, the Bruins are proving that.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 149 that we recorded on 10-11-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Boston Bruins: A Stanley Cup “Runner Up” History

Image result for bruins blues handshake line(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

When you look up and see the half-dozen Stanley Cup banners hanging high above the TD Garden ice, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride, admiration and accomplishment for the Boston Bruins. “An Original Six got six,” as my late grandfather belovedly bellowed after watching Zdeno Chara celebrate like a champion in 2011.

Image result for td garden banners bruins(Photo Credit: TD Garden)

But, there are some other banners that, if you pay them close attention, aren’t really as celebratory, or dare I say champion, as they seem. That’s because they reflect all the times the B’s have fallen short of hockey’s ultimate quest.

Some are marked by the Prince of Wales Trophy designation (for winning the Eastern Conference)… others the old Adams Division… even a few for the woefully unreliable Presidents’ Trophy acknowledgement.

What they all share in common is a familiar heartbreak for hockey fans in the Hub. One that began in 1927 at the hands of the original Ottawa Senators and was most recently relived courtesy of the cutthroat St. Louis Blues this past June of 2019.

In the 92 years in between, there were twelve other occasions where the B’s — from Brown N’ Gold to Black N’ Gold (with some honey and/or yellow mustards thrown in for forgettable measure) — played runners-up to the Cup.

That’s a lackluster record of six and fourteen. Or, typed out in a style that’s hard to miss, 6 – 14. That’s right, only 6 Ws compared to 14 Ls, all when competing for Lord Stanley’s coveted silver chalice.

And for some oddly annoying and historically humdrum reason, they seam to happen in spurts of two, all within a few short years of each other (or in modern-day terminology — during the same winning window). “Two” wit:

BOSTON BRUINS – STANLEY CUP LOSER STREAKS:

1927 & 1930 / Ottawa & Montreal

1943 & 1946 / Detroit & Montreal

*1957 & 1958 / Montreal & Montreal

*1977 & 1978 / Montreal & Montreal

1988 & 1990 / Edmonton & Edmonton

2013 & 2019 / Chicago & St. Louis

*Also lost in 1953 (Montreal) and 1974 (Philadelphia)

As you can see from above, even the outlier losing years were awfully close to the runners-up sequencing. Even hockey insiders like “Joey Mac” from The Athletic Boston have a hard time not noticing these unfortunate oh-so-close-to-glory trends.

Speaking of things not to glorify (a certain similar-sounding serendipitous song from St. Louis being one of them), McDonald’s article also points out the uphill battle the B’s now face in order to bounce back from a Stanley Cup-losing season.

As he mentions, no team in the modern-day NHL — a term we all keep going back to for six original reasons — has ever won the year after they’ve lost in a Game 7 final. Not even powerhouse teams of their respective eras like the Blackhawks, Devils & Red Wings.

Call it a hangover… call it depression… call it flat out not being as good (or as lucky) the following season, but history sure doesn’t seem to line up on the side of the B’s lineup in 2019-2020. But, maybe that’s exactly what the doctor ordered for Boston.

Maybe that’s exactly the kind of motivation this very talented team needs to get over the Cup hump one more time in the Chara/Bergeron Era. I know the aforementioned Mr. McDonald thinks so, and he isn’t even old and on the farm yet.

And considering the Bruins have one of the best farm systems in all of hockey, to steal a term made popular by their crosstown cohorts the Boston Red Sox, there’s a lot to be excited about both now and for future Cup runs in Boston.

Yet, if the Bruins really want their “Cup to runneth over”, especially during an upcoming season filled with plenty of historical harbingers and unsatisfactory stats as outlined above, then what they’ll need more than ever is the ability to forget — something history has made hard to do.

Thankfully (and regrettably at the same time) it’s history everyone wearing the spoked-B, or any “B” for that matter since 1927, has grown accustomed to — from Eddie Shore to Bobby Orr. From Cameron Neely to Donny Sweeney. From Uncle Milt to Tuukka’s guilt. The B’s know losing, especially in heartbreaking ways, whether we want to admit it or not.

So, how’s this for a banner statement: maybe NOT looking up to the TD Garden rafters this year will be what’s best for the B’s. Then, they can truly “look forward” to what every runner-up has ever wanted: an immediate next shot at the Cup!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-30-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!