By Kevin Flanagan
If you have been a Bruins fan for any length of time and you wake up this Saturday morning surprised by the fact that your team has done absolutely nothing to improve in what is often the most crucial week of any offseason, there are only three words I have to offer.
Shame on you.
The brain trust that runs the team that calls the ATM on Causeway Street home, which has filled the coffers of the cold-hearted tycoon from Buffalo for over three decades, has fooled you again.
Both team president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney are direct descendants of the Harry Sinden school of “build them good but never great.”
Their mandate is to keep the flock of sheep that are so eager to dye their wool black and gold at any opportunity presented to them in an unwarranted blissful state of benevolence while pilfering every penny they can in the process.
To set the record straight, the Hall of Fame winger that sits in the corner office in the generic concrete structure the Jeremy built may have a Stanley Cup ring, but he never earned one. He was a figurehead installed by the Jacobs family in June of 2010 to appease the peasants and nothing more.
The fact that the team he inherited ran into a championship for the first time in almost four decades a year later is the hockey equivalent of a weak-hitting shortstop hitting a pop fly home run in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park in 1978.
The only difference is Bucky Dent had to swing the bat. All Neely did was rub his fingers together at a parade in 2011, and suddenly he became an NHL executive of epic proportions.
And as for Sweeney, the former 50-goal scorers’ handpicked homeboy, he has proven to be a more than serviceable accountant but not much more.
The Harvard graduate seems to be hellbent on proving to the hockey world that he is the smartest guy in the room by consistently overreaching in the draft. Which, of course, is why the rapidly aging core that he inherited as the foundation of the franchise is supporting a future of mostly invaluable backfill.
After signing a 7-year deal worth $45.5 million with the St. Louis Blues, now former Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said he was never even close to a deal with the team he spent his entire professional career with.
“There was just no communication. Nothing happened,” added one of the best power-play quarterbacks in the NHL.
When questioned about whether the Bruins even made an offer, he replied, “Yeah, about a year ago.” And even that, according to the diminutive D-man, was pulled off the table before he became a free agent last Friday.
As sobering to some as this should be, the most significant move the beguiling Bruins brass has made is to sign a broken-down 32-year-old Kevan Miller – who is held together by more duct tape and super glue than Humpty Dumpty himself – to a one-year extension.
Nevertheless, there will be those who will fool themselves into thinking that Taylor Hall, Tyler Toffoli, Mike Hoffman, or the immortal Craig Smith will be the salve that soothes all that ails this aging – and incredibly thin – Sindenesque roster.
These are the same folks who think the Buffalo billionaire is laughing with them, not at them.