By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of ineffectiveness from Dorchester’s own Jimmy Hayes, Bruins head coach Claude Julien actually sat the useless winger in the press box for Thursday night’s loss against the Anaheim Ducks. The amount of rope that has been given to a guy who has recorded exactly one point since last February – and was given regular power play minutes for some inexplicable reason – was inordinate, and it should now be used to tie down his gear to the top of his SUV, after general manager Don Sweeney sends him packing.
It is time the Bruins brass faces the facts; Hayes has been one of the biggest mistakes the current regime has made – unless, as you should, want to hang the Tyler Seguin for three pennies on a dollar deal to Dallas, around team president Cam Neely’s neck – and the franchise’s worst faux pax since they introduced those goofy Honey Dew bear third jerseys in the mid-1990’s.
This just in, you got hosed in the Reilly Smith to the Florida Panthers for Hayes deal a couple of years ago Don, and Smith is just a JAG. The only benefit that Hayes has brought to the Bruins is that he can help players new to the team navigate the twisted streets of Boston. Other than that, the hometown boy has been a bust, and has brought zip, zero, nada, bupkis to the Black and Gold.
Not even F. Lee Bailey – when he had his fastball decades ago – could concoct a case for keeping Hayes on the roster any longer. It is time for Sweeney to recognize that he made yet another mistake, and put the waste of a winger on waivers. If he is lucky, some general manager might be taking advantage of the fact that marijuana has now been legalized in many states, and takes a flier on his failure. If not, send him to Providence when he clears; heck, he could even commute back and forth from Dot down 95 if he wanted to.
As currently constituted, the Bruins are in the NHL’s no-man’s land. They are just good enough to separate themselves from the dregs of the league (Hello, Vancouver Canucks.), and not skilled enough to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks, who are perennial contenders for the Stanley Cup. They are stuck in the middle, with a rapidly aging nucleus, that is currently being asked to carry multiple passengers almost every single night.
And while the B’s have had some surprises when it comes to some young players who have played with the big club this season – David Pastrnak is a superstar in the making; Brandon Carlo is looking like he could be a legitimate top pairing defenseman, and Austin Czarnik has shown signs he can be a depth scorer – there are still major holes in the Bruins roster, both on the blue line and up front. It makes little to no sense to keep rolling out black holes like Hayes on a nightly basis, especially when Frank Vatrano makes it back from his foot injury.
It is time for Neely and Sweeney to go full-on Daddy daycare for the rest of the season, and see what the limited prospects the Bruins currently have available that are eligible to play at the NHL level, get the opportunity to do so. The roster of the next Cup contending team wearing Black and Gold will not consist of the likes of Hayes, Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Adam McQuaid, or the currently injured Kevan Miller, John-Michael Liles, or Matt Beleskey.
Unlike he did last year, when he inexplicably held on to the most valuable asset at the trading deadline in Loui Eriksson – who he got absolutely nothing in return for when he signed with the Canucks as a free agent this summer – Sweeney should be laying the groundwork for freeing roster spots and accumulating draft picks, so he can accelerate the rebuilding process that he retarded when he foolishly was a buyer, instead of a seller, at last year’s trade deadline.
While it may, in fact, be a while before Sweeney can deal away some veterans – he hasn’t actually shown the ability to facilitate deals with other GM’s in his tenuous tenure as the Bruins big boss – he can, and should, begin the process by giving Dorchester’s own his walking papers, immediately.
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