Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

By all indications, Brad Marchand has loved non-playoff teams over the years. They’ve just been such easy targets.

Playing on them hasn’t been as fun. After years of shoving their 2011 Stanley Cup championship in their opponents’ faces (probably too many years), the Bruins officially have no scoreboard to point to, no recent track record with which to antagonize the other bench.

The Bruins certainly got their money’s worth with their Cup championship and general dominance over the Eastern Conference. They were better than their opponents and they let everyone in the NHL know to the point that they were admittedly obnoxious. Months before they won it all, Marchand skated by the Leafs’ bench in a game towards the end of the 2010-11 regular season and made a golf-swing gesture. He proved he could walk the walk by racking up 19 points during Boston’s Cup run.

“When we were winning and when we were going to the finals and when we won, we had such a dominant team,” Marchand said this week. “You can play with that arrogance and you can get away with it because you back it up. That’s tough to do when you’re not winning as frequently.”

The taunting was part of the Bruins’ charm during their recent heyday, but with two straight ninth-place finishes, that heyday is over. When the B’s kept it up long after winning, it became more of a bad look than anything else. The Bruins were not happy when Marchand made a Cup-raising gesture to the Vancouver crowd in a game the B’s were losing by three goals during the 2013-14 season. It was awkward when Milan Lucic raised the Cup to Canadiens fans in the 2014-15 seasons, which was not only four seasons after Boston won, but mere months after the Habs had eliminated them from the previous season’s playoffs.

Fortunately, Marchand has a few other ways of entertaining. His play with the puck on his stick made this the most impressive regular season of his career, as he scored a personal best 37 goals to finish sixth in the league.

Marchand hopes to continue putting on a show the way he did this season. Just don’t expect much of the taunting until the B’s are winning again.

“If you’re going to act arrogant, you have to be able to back it up,” Marchand said. “That’s something we were always able to do. It’s tough at times and it’s frustrating when you’re playing against teams and they’re acting like that towards you. Hopefully we can get back there and be able to play with that same kind of swagger.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Alexander Khokhlachev didn’t hold back when venting his frustrations with the Bruins back in September, so perhaps his agent’s recent comments shouldn’t come as a surprise.

With Khokhlachev at the end of his entry-level contract and coach Claude Julien’s status with the Bruins in limbo, Khokhlachev’s agent blamed his client’s lack of AHL success (zero points in nine NHL games) on Boston’s head coach.

Khokhlachev posted strong numbers in the AHL the last two seasons but was invisible during his callups to Boston, where he’s averaged under 10 minutes of ice time per game.

A second-round pick of the Bruins in 2011, the center’s issues with Julien will certainly feed into Julien’s perhaps overstated reputation for not being a good coach for developing young forwards. Julien has developed the likes of Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Ryan Spooner, among others. Khokhlachev’s chances of becoming a full-time Bruin dwindled have dwindled as Spooner and Noel Acciari have seized open center jobs behind Patrice Bergeron and Krejci.

Khokhlachev will be a restricted free agent this summer. If he is to stay in North America (his father is the general manager of Spartak Moscow of the KHL), it’s hard to believe he’d want to stay with the B’s.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Dale Arnold gave his plan for how he would return the Bruins to the playoffs on Tuesday’s “Dale & Holley.”

Arnold said an offseason priority should be to make Patrice Bergeron captain, regardless of whether Zdeno Chara — whom Arnold said should be traded — was back with the team.

Dale Arnold gave his plan for how he would return the Bruins to the playoffs on Tuesday’s “Dale & Holley.”

Arnold said an offseason priority should be to make Patrice Bergeron captain, regardless of whether Zdeno Chara — whom Arnold said should be traded — was back with the team.

“I think it’s time to change the captain,” Arnold said. “Assuming he’s on this team next year, Patrice Bergeron has to have the ’C’ on his sweater and not Zeno Chara. I’d start there because they had a huge leadership void on this team all season long.”

Arnold said he would buy out Jimmy Hayes, who was a disappointment in the first year of a three-year contract with the B’s. Hayes, whose cap hit is $2.3 million, scored 13 goals in his first year with his hometown team.

“I’d buy out Jimmy Hayes,” Arnold said. “Two point three million dollars for each of the next two seasons, bad signing by Don Sweeney. I would buy out Jimmy Hayes, take the financial hit, move on while you can.”

The Bruins have a number of restricted and unrestricted free agents. Of the Bruins’ free agents, Arnold said Colin Miller (RFA) is the only player he’d definitely retain. Arnold listed Brett Connolly, Max Talbot, Tyler Randell, Landon Ferraro, Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman, Kevan Miller, Loui Eriksson and Jonas Gustavsson as players he’d let walk.

“Wouldn’t re-sign any of them,” he said. “Let them all go. In some cases, because it’s going to cost you too much, in other cases because you can replace what they bring to the table.”

Arnold said he would consider re-signing trade deadline acquisitions John-Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak, but said he was “up in the air” on the players. He also said that he would only re-sign restricted free agent Torey Krug at the right price.

“If he is reasonable in his contract demands, if he is looking for four — I’ll say four [point] five — bring him back,” Arnold said of Krug. “If he’s looking to get north of five, like I think he is, he’s got to go, too.”

As for trades, Arnold said he would ship out Chara, David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg.

“I would try to trade those three guys,” he said. “Whether you could do it or not, I don’t know.”

Lastly, Arnold said he would keep Claude Julien as the head coach.

Said Arnold: “I’d like to see Don Sweeney and Cam Neely hold a press conference and say ’This is not on Claude. Our team wasn’t good enough. We didn’t give him good enough players. We’re going to be better. We’re going to have a better roster. Claude’s the coach of the team next year.’”

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Senators fired head coach Dave Cameron and his staff on Tuesday, a move that could eventually lead to a familiar face heading to Ottawa.

Should Claude Julien be fired by the Bruins, he would figure to be an ideal candidate for the Senators. Julien, regarded as one of the league’s top coaches, grew up in nearby Orleans, Ontario.

The Senators fired head coach Dave Cameron and his staff on Tuesday, a move that could eventually lead to a familiar face heading to Ottawa.

Should Claude Julien be fired by the Bruins, he would figure to be an ideal candidate for the Senators. Julien, regarded as one of the league’s top coaches, grew up in nearby Orleans, Ontario.

The Bruins have yet to make an announcement on Julien or make him available to the media. Julien last spoke publicly after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators, which proved to be the team’s final game of the season when they were eliminated from playoff contention hours later.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

After the trade deadline, Bruins management said in various public forums that they did not receive an offer of either a first-round pick or two second-round picks for Loui Eriksson.

That could very well be true, but it’s hard to believe.

Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

After the trade deadline, Bruins management said in various public forums that they did not receive an offer of either a first-round pick or two second-round picks for Loui Eriksson.

That could very well be true, but it’s hard to believe.

Consider that Andrew Ladd (17 goals at the time he was traded) went for a first and a prospect. Lee Stempniak (16 goals at the time) went for a second and a fourth. Eriksson had 23 goals at the deadline and went on to score 30 goals this season.

Regardless of what was offered, the Bruins elected to keep Eriksson because they wanted to make the playoffs. Now his contract has essentially expired and he’ll be able to sign wherever he wants on July 1.

For a player who is trying to score his last big contract, it probably wasn’t too flattering for Eriksson to hear the Bruins telling everyone who would listen that teams didn’t want to pay a high price for him. Maybe it was a negotiating tactic so the Bruins, who were trying to sign him up until the trade deadline, could still sign the player for cheap. Whatever it was, Eriksson wasn’t sure he believed it.

“It’s hard to tell,” Eriksson told WEEI.com, carefully choosing his next words. “I don’t know. There was a lot of things going on at around that time.

“I think the type of player that I am, I think a lot of teams want that type of player. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Asked whether he could see himself signing with a team that tried trading him, Eriksson responded, “I mean… we have a long summer to sit down and think about decisions and what’s going to happen. We’ll see.”

Eriksson scored 30 goals for the second time in his career this season. He’s scored 20 in six of last eight seasons. Though his performance took a dip in his first season with Boston due to concussion issues (10 goals in 61 games), Eriksson feels that his career has followed a steady enough path that teams will know what they’re getting with him should they sign him. Eriksson is seeking a deal of at least five years with an average annual value in the high $5 million range.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Claude Julien was at TD Garden Monday, but did not conduct exit interviews. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Claude Julien was at TD Garden Monday, but did not conduct exit interviews. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In some ways, breakup day in hockey is like the players’ last day of work. In 2011, Bruins players had to work more than expected.

Brad Marchand had been overserved. Walking through the hall at TD Garden on the way to meet with the press, a Mike Cameron-jersey-wearing Marchand was babbling about how much he loved baseball after the Stanley Cup champs had just been to Fenway Park. Once everyone, media included, had gone into the Bruins’ dressing room for the commencement of the year-end availability, various Bruins players kept watch of Marchand in the players’ lounge to make sure Marchand didn’t venture over to the media and field questions.

From every time the door to the players’ lounge would crack open, it looked like hard work. Marchand kept getting up. He really wanted to talk about baseball.

Only one team a year gets to come out of breakup day with such stories. For the rest, it’s roughly the same routine everywhere: tie up odds and ends, have exit meetings with the coaches and executives, take physicals and give final comments to the media.

The Bruins did not follow that routine Monday. Not only did the coach and general manager not give their annual season-ending press conference, they didn’t even conduct the exit interviews with the players.

Claude Julien, Cam Neely and Don Sweeney were all at the Garden on Monday, so the fact that the annual meetings were not held when all parties were present came off as very suspect. The meetings will still be held at some point, so one has to wonder if the Bruins are waiting until after they fire Julien to conduct them.

Julien’s status is up in the air after being behind the bench for two consecutive ninth-place finishes. Yet Julien didn’t coach the Bruins out of the playoffs. It’s fair to question Julien leaving off Brad Marchand in a shootout when he was 0-for-3 shootouts on the season, but if that’s Julien’s biggest sin then fans should look across the league and recognize that Julien is more competent than the vast majority of his peers. Those other coaches also have better rosters than Julien had this season.

“It’s never just one person’s fault,” Zdeno Chara said. “I think that Claude is a great coach. He puts a system into place and he does whatever he can to make us ready, and it really comes down to us.”

The concern with the Bruins if they are to move on from Julien is the higher up the chain of command it gets, the worse it gets. Julien is better at his job than Don Sweeney or Cam Neely are that theirs. Sweeney is more qualified for his job than Neely is for his.

If the Bruins have someone else behind the bench next season — Nate Leaman and Bruce Cassidy would figure to be the favorites — they’ll miss the playoffs once again unless Sweeney fixes the defense. If next season ends up like this one, where player development at the NHL isn’t executed effectively enough while Boston’s core players simply get another year older, the Bruins could officially end up on slide towards the bottom of the league. As the Hurricanes (seven years without reaching the playoffs) can tell you, that’s not an easy place to exit.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins signed prospect Danton Heinen to a three-year entry level contract Monday, a contract that will get the highly touted wing to leave Denver University after his sophomore season.