As I drove back from my friend’s house after the Bruins disappointing 3-1 loss to the Habs, my wife said, “You are not taking this loss that badly. You are talking about it.”
The reason I wasn’t pounding Maalox and pouting like someone took my favorite toy was that the cleansing of my black and gold soul has begun.
I have accepted it as Red Sox fans did prior to 2004. This team is not going to win a championship. The Bruins are going to continue to let you down and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. Their hockey fate is pre-destined.
They are always going to fizzle out in a playoff series they should win.
Let’s take a snap shot of the Claude “Mr. Potato Head” Julien era (a native of Blind River, Ontario. Insert joke here), shall we? In 2008, after a two-year hiatus from the playoffs, Boston was back in the big dance as a No. 8 seed against the hated Habs.
After going down 2-0 in the series, the Bruins clawed back for an overtime win. The Habs would bounce back with a 1-0 win to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Admirably, the Bruins didn’t wither up and die. They pushed the series to seven games before succumbing to their hated rival.
Progress? Hell yeah!
Hockey was back on the map in Boston after a 15-year absence.
With progress and success, comes high expectations. The following season, the script was flipped. The Bruins were the beasts of the East and the Habs snuck into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Boston dismantled the Canadiens and swept them out of the postseason for their first series win since the '90s.
Next up, the Carolina Hurricanes. On paper, the Bruins should have blown them off the ice. But remember, this is called Bruins hockey. Carolina would go up 3-1 in the series before Boston awoke from its postseason slumber. The Bruins would push the Canes to a seventh game but would lose in overtime at home.
This is where the regression of the team begins. Yeah, they won a playoff series, whoopty bleeping doo. The Bruins’ playoff effort was not there throughout. It seems they felt their elimination of Montreal was their cup.
Now in 2010, the expectations from the Hub of Hockey were at a fever pitch. The Bruins won a series finally, but they needed to show growth and go deeper in the playoffs. The season couldn’t have been any worse, a multitude of injuries (including the Cooke hit on Marc Savard) and a historic losing streak. Miraculously, the Bruins turned it on during the stretch run of the regular season and slid into the No. 6 seed.
Bring on Buffalo. This could have been a season where Bruins fans could have gave them a mulligan with all their injuries. However, the Bruins showed glimmers of hope and brilliance. The fan base got sucked in again, myself included.
The Bruins bounced the Sabres in six games. Could this be the year? The return of Lord Stanley? Bruins fans now had playoff fever something fierce.
The stars were aligning for Boston. The top seeds were falling like dominoes and before you know it they had home ice advantage against the Flyers. They stormed out to a commanding 3-0 series win.
I felt in my heart that this was the year for sure. I would be crying black and gold tears of joy as they hoisted the cup at City Hall Plaza.
But wait, this is called Bruins hockey. The unthinkable happened: the spoked B squandered the series lead and a 3-0 advantage in game seven at home. This was a historic choke of epic proportions.
I sat home in shock and I couldn’t breathe. It was unfathomable.
The Bruins under Julien were continuing to regress when it counted. They couldn’t conjure up the effort or intensity to close their opponents out.
What does someone have to do to get fired in this city?
Now here we are. It’s 2011 and nothing has changed.
The team was inconsistent throughout the year. The Bruins would have a seven-game winning streak followed by a four-game losing streak. They are consistently inconsistent, which is the trademark of Claude Julien (now you know why the Devils canned him late in the season).
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made trades to improve the team and they are blowing up in his face. Tomas Kaberle, the coveted puck-moving defenseman, is a defensive liability. Chris Kelly is an absolute flat-liner. And Nathan Horton only plays when he wants to.
Perhaps it’s talent or coaching or the GM—or all above.
Wholesale changes need to be made starting with the coach. It’s inexcusable to lose six playoffs games in a row (dating back to the playoffs last year versus Philly) with four of those games being on your home ice. The silver lining to the Bruins' lackluster effort versus Montreal, is that we are two games closer to the end of the Julien era (thank god).
I think the changes don’t stop there. GM Peter Chiarelli needs to be shown the door as well. His attitude on winning a championship is just absurd. He looks at minimal improvements instead of the big picture. It should be Stanley Cup or bust. Who cares about division titles or second round series victories, Peter?
He doesn’t have the same mindset and passion for winning as the front offices of the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics do. In Boston, it’s all about championships and if it’s not, the fans will see right through you.
And Peter Chiarelli is transparent as you can get.
It’s time for President Sea Bass (aka Cam Neely), to bring in his own coach and general manager. These individuals need to have the same winning attitude and passion for the game as Neely showed when he played. There is no doubt he is up in his luxury box banging his head against the wall right now.
I feel much better after I vented, put away the Maalox and have cleansed my black and gold soul.
Now let’s hope the NFL lockout ends soon!
Joe Gill is a write for Boston Sports Then And Now.