Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mike O'Connell is retarded

Since everyone else in the hockey blogworld is doing it, I figured I might as well chime in with my thoughts on last night's blockbuster deal that sent Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks, with Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm, and Wayne Primeau coming back to Beantown.

Basically, I think everyone involved in the Boston Bruins organization is off their rocker. They're nuts. All of them deserved to be fired.

Now, this isn't to say that moving Joe Thornton is the worst idea in the world. If I were GM, and let's be honest, a lot of the time we all pretend we are, I certainly would not trade him. He's still relatively young and when on his A-game is among the most dominant players in the league. But it's how they went about it that shows just how bush league the organization is.

Coming out of the deal, we have two relevations that expose the idiocy of the Bruins:
1) They didn't auction him off.
This was beyond moronic. If you're going to rid yourself of your franchise player, the face of the organization, the captain, your best player, do you not want to make sure you're making the absolute best deal available? Again, I'm no league executive, and only play one on the Internet, but I do know that if I were Mike O'Connell, which, this morning, is not something I'd want, I'd talk to every time I could (excluding teams within your division, of course) and see what they want to offer. I'd absolutely tell all parties involved that I was doing this, as it would case an arms race to inflame.

Now, I've seen some defend the move to keep it low key and only deal with San Jose by saying that they needed to keep it quiet and involving many teams would've made that nearly impossible. My response: who cares? If you're committed to moving your captain, you're basically turning over your team, so what does it matter if the other players or even Thornton finds out it's going on? It might be a bit of a black eye on the franchise if that got out, but this is after all the Boston Bruins and Harry Sinden we're talking about. They don't exactly have a startling reputation for dealing with their players.

By dealing exclusively with San Jose, O'Connell limited his return. Based on what they got back, I assume that Doug Wilson, today's greatest NHL GM in the universe, told him there were two untouchables: Patrick Marleau and Scott Hannan, because I would think O'Connell would've tried to get either one to Boston in the swap. He didn't.

Maybe Sturm, Stuart, and Primeau were the best group of players O'Connell could've gotten for "Jumbo Joe". I find that hard to believe, but the problem is, even Mike O'Connell doesn't know, because he didn't go out and see. This error cannot be understated.

2) Jeremy Jacobs gave Mike O'Connell a BIG vote of confidence
Yes, Mike O'Connell is batshit insane for the deal, but let's also not overlook the stupidity of the Boston owner, because make no mistake, for this deal to go down, O'Connell had to get the okay from uptop. Based on the fact it went down, he clearly did. I, for the life of me, cannot understand why.

There had been talk of a shakeup in Boston for a few weeks now, and most of it centered around O'Connell and/or head coach Mike Sullivan. Sullivan came on very inexperienced for the job so it's quite easy to question him. O'Connell's always been on the hotseat, but as of late, his ass has to have been burning up.

In the offseason, they let Brian Rolston, Mike Knuble, Sergei Gonchar, Michael Nyland, and Martin Lapointe all leave to free agency. They plugged those holes with Brian Leetch, Dave Scatchard, Shawn McEachern, and Alexei Zhamnov.

A lot of us, and I include myself, thought for the money he spent, O'Connell did alright for himself. There's no way he could've kept all of the above mentioned, signed Thornton to the long-term deal he wanted, and stay under the new salary cap. But all five? A month into the season was all it took to realize he had been bamboozled with his new recruits. Leetch, 37, has been out of the line-up more often than he has in it, and questions remain about his durability. They tried trading McEachern, who had been criticized by those who follow the team closely as their worst player, and after getting no takers put him on waivers, which he cleared. He'll be playing for their AHL affiliate in Providence making a cool $1 million. Scatchard was ineffective, and traded last week for defenceman David Tanabe, another perennial underachiever. But as bad as those busts had been, Zhamnov is easily the worst. They gave the 35-year-old Russian a four-year contract worth $16 million, yet having played nine games this season, he's without a goal. Of all their signings, the only one who hasn't been a disaster is Tom Fitzgerald, a 37-year-old who's done well in the checking forward role they've assigned to him.

By essentially riding himself of two of his offseason acquisitions, O'Connell was admitting defeat. That itself should've gotten a GM who's job should have already been in doubt due to the team's inability to win in the playoffs a pink slip. If you're going to shake things up, it seemed to me to be pretty clear whose head should be sitting on the chopping block.

Instead, Jacobs is riding with his man. I've seen some suggest that if the Bruins continue to struggle, O'Connell will in fact lose his job. I find this hard to believe. It makes no sense to trade your franchise player for what most consider to be inferior players as the way to turn your team around, and then trade the general manager as well. It's one or the other, especially in this case with the relationship between Thornton and O'Connell running hot and cold on it's best days. They've made their choice.

What has sort of gone undiscussed is that San Jose needed the shakeup every bit as badly as the Bruins did. They're four games under .500 and occupy the basement of the Pacific Division. For a team that many predicted would finish near the top of the Western Conference, that's not acceptable.

And I imagine Doug Wilson was under some pressure of his own. He took a unique approach to team building this offseason: he did nothing. He let Mike Ricci go to Phoenix during the summer before the lockout, and this past August, did little to stop Mike Rathje from fleeing to Philadelphia. However, because they're so rich with prospects, a lot of felt like this wouldn't cripple the team.

I'm not sure if you can point to those moves and the reason for why the Sharks have been struggling, as apparently their goaltending has been quite shaky, their poor performances likely made those above Wilson question if his method was correct.

Evaluating who won this trade the day after cannot be done. That's a test that should be given in June or July. On paper, most of us know who we think comes out the victor, but it's not uncommon for that method to be proven wrong months down the line. After all, who thought the Philadelphia Flyers had hodwinked the Montreal Canadiens back in 1995 when they traded Mark Recchifor Eric Desjardins and John LeClair? A year later, even with Recchi playing well in Montreal, it was plain to see who won that deal. Boston hockey fans should be crossing their fingers this is one of those cases.

So this isn't about who won or lost. It's about how it was done, and the message it sends. Boston was already having a difficult enough time getting fans back into their building. When watching highlights of Bruins games, it was not at all uncommon to see a sea of unoccupied gold seats. Something tells me, this won't solve that problem and instead, only compound it.

I apologize that this entry turned into something so long and drawn out. I really just wanted to express my utter disbelief for how this whole thing has been handled in a brief manner, but instead, turned out an encyclopedic-like rant. Bruins fans, you have my sympathy.


At 2:35 PM, Blogger Tom L said...


That title made me laugh out loud. Mostly because it's so true. The Northeast doesn't look quite as scary this morning.... I try not to think about Ottawa much to keep my hopes for the playoffs up. ;)



At 3:55 PM, Blogger steviep said...

Mike O connell and the whole bruins management is retarded. Coach Sullivan is retarted. I am One Pissed off Bruins fan right now.

My bruins blog

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Nikan said...

Best title evah.

Horrible thing to have to read when its true. :-(

At 9:05 PM, Blogger  said...

hah i dont know witch mike oconnell you guys are talking baout but i knowone who plays hockey he is really hott but from what i read you guys dont really like this one but heyy im sure you can work through your problems

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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