With training camp slated to commence on Sept. 16, roughly one more month remains in the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup summer holiday. And like any holiday celebration, there ought to be at least one moment for the triumphant to remember those less fortunate.
In this case, there are a multitude of players who helped to stoke the resurgence of this franchise that began with the hiring of Head Coach Claude Julien. But he could not stay long enough to enjoy the ultimate reward.
While not everyone can and while there is only so much room at a time for any team, some Cup-less ex-Bruins should still be acknowledged for putting this team back in contention to begin with. And so, here are the Top 10 players whose tenure with Julien’s Bruins stopped short of a title and who aren't spending any time with Lord Stanley this summer.
Hunwick’s graduation from the University of Michigan virtually coincided with Julien’s introduction to Boston. And after a year spent primarily in the minors, the young blueliner was a full-time NHLer.
Hunwick earned his stripes in 2008–2009, contributing 27 points in a mere 53 games played. And he most certainly would have stuck around for the playoffs if not for a spleen injury sustained in Game 1 versus Montreal.
The following spring, Hunwick made up for a tough regular season with six assists in 13 postseason games. But after two months in the 2010–2011 campaign, he was shipped out to Colorado for prospect Colby Cohen.
Satan was an out-of-work veteran of more than 1,000 career NHL games when the Bruins agreed to help him stoke his career back to life post-New Year’s 2010. The decision paid off to a noticeable extent, especially when “Miro the Hero” had his most productive postseason since 2001 with 10 points, including three game-winning goals.
Whether or not he could have duplicated that in 2010–2011 is uncertain and will never be known for sure. While his last NHL team was grinding its way to the Cup this past year, Satan could only garner six games played with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.
An ironman in his first two full NHL seasons, the stay-at-home bouncer saw action in every regular season and playoff game during Julien’s first two years behind the Bruins bench.
After being one of the many to be tripped up by injuries in 2009–2010, Stuart rebounded and was having a respectable year with five points and a plus-8 rating through 31 games played last year. But his tenure in Boston ended there as he was exported to Atlanta along with Blake Wheeler in February.
Morris’ time in Boston was short yet fruitful, especially when you consider his day job on defense and the fact that the 2009–2010 Bruins’ productivity was short-circuited by the injury bug. In 58 games played, the veteran Morris had one of his better post-lockout playmaking campaigns with 22 assists for a total of 25 points.
But he couldn’t stick around long. He finished the season with the Phoenix Coyotes, who still have his rights.
In two-plus years with the Bruins, Wheeler proved reliably durable, missing only one regular-season game. During the injury-plagued 2009–2010 season, only Wheeler and Michael Ryder saw action in every regular-season and playoff contest.
And while Wheeler’s scoring stats exponentially lessened by the year, it was never by much. He already had 11 goals and 27 points to his credit in 2010–2011 when he was dealt to Atlanta at the trading deadline.
Granted, that trade proved critical to the Bruins run to the Cup, but that’s more of a reflection on Rich Peverley than it is on Wheeler.
But for each of the next two seasons, Ward was a sound, if often intangible, contributor to the Bruins blue line. He brought with him a crucial veteran presence because he was the only defensive regular besides captain Zdeno Chara to be past his 30th birthday.
Ward would be dealt to one of his former teams in Carolina in summer 2009. In turn, at the following trade deadline, the Hurricanes swapped him to Anaheim, where he ended his career and turned to a second life as a TV commentator.
Axelsson’s worthiness is based more on longevity than sparkling statistics, but the grinder wasn’t too shabby in his final two years with the Bruins. He logged 29 points in 2007–2008 and 30 points, many of them assists, in 2008–2009.
Leading up to the 2009 postseason, Axelsson was the only player in the Bruins locker room who knew what it felt like to win a playoff series for the Spoked-Bs, having joined the likes of coach Pat Burns and captain Ray Bourque in a six-game triumph against Carolina in 1999.
He did his part to end the franchise’s 10-year playoff win drought in a sweep of Montreal but was never able to help build upon that. He returned to his native Sweden the following autumn.
Acquired from Calgary the year prior in one of Peter Chiarelli’s first noteworthy swaps, Kobasew was the team’s second-leading goal-scorer (22) and fourth-best point-getter during Julien’s first season in 2007–2008.
After missing the 2008 postseason with a fractured tibia, Kobasew returned to pitch in 21 goals and 21 assists during a surprise surge to first place in the Eastern Conference in 2008–2009. But he wouldn’t have much of a chance to follow up on that because he was dealt to Minnesota after seven games in the 2009–2010 season.
In 2007–2008, Wideman tied with two teammates for second on the team with a plus-11 rating while also pitching in 13 goals and 36 points. The following year, he led all Bruins defensemen with a plus-32 rating and tied Zdeno Chara for the blue line lead with 50 points.
During a comparatively turbulent 2009–2010 season, Wideman’s numbers crumbled, and he was a prime target for Boston boo birds. Considering what he had done in years prior and the fact that the team in general was struggling, much of that criticism was unfounded and appeared to stem solely from one press briefing in which Julien singled Wideman out.
After rebounding and leading the team with 12 playoff points (11 assists) Wideman was traded to Florida in summer 2010. The compensation, namely Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, proved critical to Boston’s championship campaign, but the exported playmaking blueliner deserved a better fate.
Of the three pieces of compensation to come from the Sharks in exchange for Joe Thornton, Sturm stayed in Boston the longest. Long enough to score two of the most significant goals in recent Bruins history―the go-ahead goal in a 5-4 thriller against Montreal in Game 6 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and the overtime strike in the 2010 Winter Classic.
When he was healthy, Sturm was conspicuously effective for the Bruins, cracking the 20-goal plateau in four out of five seasons with the team.
Regrettably, Sturm’s health was the reason his time in Boston ended in unlucky fashion. A freak injury sustained in Game 1 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals proved his final play in Black and Gold. Once he healed in January 2011, he was released and has since split time between Los Angeles and Washington.