By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
Thank God for small favors.
Ok, that may be a little harsh, but so was Jimmy Hayes’ time in a Boston Bruins uniform. So poor was his play last season – he posted a Casper the way too friendly Ghost-like numbers of two goals and three assists in 58 games – that even the Dorchester Bears wouldn’t claim the Dot native off waivers for next season.
Whoever coined the phrase “you can’t come home again,” must have been clairvoyant when came to Hayes’ return to Boston via the Florida Panthers. Much like former B’s defenseman Hal Gill, Hayes is blessed with a big body that he doesn’t know how to use. In a league that is increasingly becoming dominated by water bug like skaters who focus on speed and quickness; the disaster from Dorchester lopes around the ice like an NHL version of a Sauropod, content to chew on the tops of trees on the periphery of the play, instead of using his size to score some steak.
The fact that Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney was willing to admit his mistake and cut ties with Hayes, is something that B’s fans should be happy about. The fact that he wanted him in the first place, should be a cause for concern as free agency looms just hours away.
Sweeney’s moves at the NHL level have been questionable, at best. The jettisoning of Hayes is just another reminder of that. However, his free-agent signings have been downright detrimental; at least when it comes to those – Matt Beleskey (five years, $19 million) and David Backes (five years, $30 million at the age of 32 when he was signed), in particular – who were greatly overpaid for their services.
The clearing of Hayes off the roster might not have been a necessity, but it was a step in the right direction for a Bruins team that will become even younger than it was last year, when four rookies began the season with a spot on the B’s bench.
It’s not that Hayes was a bad influence on the youngsters – only the coaching staff, and his former teammates could say that for sure – it is that any ice time he got, would have been better served in seasoning some of the players who are expected to be part of the future of the rebuilding Bruins.
It is doubtful that Hayes’ release is anything more than simply ridding the roster of obvious deadweight with the influx of youth who will be part of the B’s decision making come training camp in September. Given the fact that they will have the likes of Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Austin Czarnik, Zachary Senyshyn, and Jake DeBrusk competing for jobs up front with the big club this fall, it would seem kind of senseless for Sweeney to pursue a free agent forward; unless it was a transcendent guy, of which, there are none available.
As it has been mentioned in this spot before, Sweeney would be wise to keep his purse string taut this summer, and see what he has currently in the fold before messing too much with the team he has already. If Ryan Spooner and a fringe prospect, or lower round future pick, can land you a serviceable left shot defenseman; then pull the trigger. Otherwise, overspending for a reach (Hello, Kevin Shattenkirk.) would be unwise.
By buying out Jimmy Hayes, Don Sweeney has shown he is not afraid to admit when he has made a mistake. Let’s just hope 24 hours from now; he is not scheduling a press conference to announce another one.
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