By Dan Rubin
So, as par the norm, I’m going to bring up the rear with my predictions and thoughts on a topic. But, as they say, we saved the best for last.
Most of you might not be aware that, yes, Boston did have a hockey team this decade before 2008, and, yes, they were actually pretty good. The Bruins, in fact, were one of the best regular season teams since the turn of 2000. That did not, obviously, translate to playoff success, winning only the Stanley Cup in 2011, as the most recent flag bearers for the state of Massachusetts. And while the Bruins are certainly the toast of the town, it wasn’t always like this, even though they were a good team.
Indeed, the Bruins can be broken down into two categories – pre-Lockout and post-Lockout. The pre-Lockout successes hinged on one formula backed by a player you’ll see on the list. The post-Lockout Bruins traded that player and rebuilt their organization on the fly, suffering a couple of bad years in there. But that’s what makes the turn of the century so fun to analyze and so fun to dissect.
Here are the nominees, a little bit more in-depth than Noonan and Lindberg, because you probably haven’t heard some of these names and some of them need explaining as to why they are where they are, OK?
Boston had a number of players who were great one-year wonders. They traded for guys to fill out a solid roster but never committed to them for the long haul. Guys like Sergei Gonchar, Bill Guerin and Mike Knuble. They all played for Boston and were solid additions, but they all fled town after their contracts expired, or they were traded when the Bruins front office realized they couldn’t resign them with a cheap owner nickel-and-dime-ing along the way. After the Lockout, this attitude changed with the salary floor and cap, forcing the Bruins to spend money and manage contracts better than before. Needless, to say it paid off.
That attention to tenure is why you won’t see guys like Dennis Seidenberg or Nathan Horton on this list. They are great players, but they didn’t do it over too much. It’s possible they make a revised list in a couple of years (Horton, especially), but I’m basing this on how big of an impact the players made on the organization for an extended period of time, and how good the team would’ve been without them. If you remove Horton, the Bruins are still a great team, but that discounts how much they belong on this list.
Also, it’s worth noting guys like Marco Sturm, who were brought here to replace big name guys, and, even though they weren’t as good, they were every bit the part they needed to play. They had a number of guys like that, and, once again, they left town.
And, finally, the one-year wonder goaltenders. These guys didn’t have the tenure to stick into our list because, let’s face it – the Bruins have never been big on goaltending. Andrew Raycroft put up solid numbers but didn’t play long enough in Boston to warrant a Top 10 rating. Also, Tuukka Rask might be the best goalie the Bruins ever had, but he’s neither done it, nor been consistent enough to be considered in this list.
So here are our Top 10 Bruins of the past decade. There are a ton of guys to choose from, all of which were good, some of which were great.