Bruins' Postseason Collapse Still 'Hard to Swallow' For Veteran M

When the Bruins held their exit meetings and annual “break-up day” on May 18, four days after they suffered their heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Flyers, veteran leader Mark Recchi surprisingly declined to address the media. Recchi , who routinely faced the music with the media through thick and thin during his last two seasons in Boston and throughout his career, met with Peter Chiarelli that day before heading out the door, beginning what has already been a long offseason of woulda’s, coulda’s and what if’s for the future Hall of Famer and the Bruins. Speaking by phone from his offseason home in Pittsburgh, the 42-year-old veteran told NESN.com that his emotions were simply too raw in the immediate aftermath of the devastating loss — one that he said was one of the toughest losses of his storied career. Despite leading the team with six goals in 13 playoff games, Recchi was having a tough time dealing with the reality of being part of just the fourth blown 3-0 series lead in the history of professional sports, and he simply wasn’t in the mood to rehash the season with the media.

“Extremely hard. It was really hard … a tough pill to swallow,” he said when asked why he didn’t speak to reporters on May 18. “We had a great opportunity to go far and I think win the Stanley Cup. I think we had the talent and for whatever reason, we just couldn’t get it together at the right time. I really think if we beat Philadelphia and move on to play Montreal — we’ve had success against them in the past and we know them well — we can beat them. Then, if you’re in the finals, anything can happen.

“So I guess it’s so frustrating because I know, at this point in your career, you don’t get that close often, and this team is good enough and we didn’t get it done,” he added. “If I didn’t believe that, then who cares? It’s a great playoff run and you’re happy with that. But we can’t be happy with this because we’re better than this, and unfortunately we just weren’t better when it counted most.”

Recchi acknowledged that every day he still tries to fathom how he and his teammates could be one overtime goal away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals just one game before simply laying a stinker in Game 5. As he pointed out, David Krejci’s broken wrist, suffered in Game 3, did turn out to be a major difference on the ice. Still, by Recchi’s estimation, there wasn’t always an urgent desire there to win, and that is a main reason the Bruins have been watching the Flyers move on to the Stanley Cup finals.

“You know, I think we felt great after Game 3,” Recchi said. “We’re in the driver’s seat and all we need to do is keep playing hard. I actually thought Game 4 was one of our best games, but obviously [the Flyers] were fighting for their playoff lives, and they pull it out in overtime in a game that can go either way.

“But then Game 5 happens and man, I don’t know what to say about that,” he said of the 4-0 loss in Boston. “It was just bad on so many levels. I definitely think we missed Krejci, and that hurt for sure, but we stopped playing and we just didn’t show up for whatever reason. Maybe it goes back to what I’m saying about playing hard every game, you know? I mean, you just can’t have a game like that in the playoffs and not respond. You saw Chicago have a game like that [in its Game 1 loss to Vancouver], and I guess they responded, obviously. But while we played better in Game 6, we reverted back to Game 5 in the final two periods of a Game 7, and that just can’t happen.”

If there is one thing that Recchi has learned in his career, it is that winning in the playoffs doesn’t happen simply because a team is more skilled. There needs to be a concerted and heartfelt effort every game. That’s why he believes Chiarelli was absolutely correct when he said “the variance between the ups and downs were too much.”

“You have to find that consistency night in and night out,” Recchi said. “Whether you’re a young guy or an older guy, some guys have it and some don’t, I guess. But the ones that do need to dig deeper and find it when it counts … I think we’re getting better at that but obviously not enough. So that’s probably why Peter said that and I agree with him 100 percent.”

Another frustrating aspect of the Bruins’ unceremonious playoff exit was that the team had fought so hard, overcome so much adversity and proved so many people wrong to get to where they were, within one game of the conference finals.

“Let’s face it,” Recchi said, “not many people back in February or even mid-March were giving us a chance to make the playoffs. But we battled hard to make it and I thought really hard in that Buffalo series. We can be proud of not giving up and throwing the towel in for the season. But like I said, when it comes down to it, it’s the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup that matters, and we can’t be complacent with anything else.”

One of the decisions Chiarelli faced this offseason was whether to bring back tough guy Shawn Thornton, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Recchi would have done the same thing if he were GM, because in his eyes, you can never have enough “sandpaper” guys like Thornton.

“You look at a guy like Shawn Thornton and how hard he tries — not only every night but every shift,” Recchi said. “Sure, he doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but so what? I mean, you find another guy like that, that had 21 fights, can play 10 solid minutes and be a huge leader in the dressing room. That’s the type of sandpaper guy maybe we need more of and probably every team but the Stanley Cup champion does, right? They’re hard to come by, but we have that in him and I think other guys could play with that grit, too.”

While there are flaws that need to be corrected, Recchi still sees a bright future for this current Bruins squad.

“There is a great core of young talent, and then you look at the second overall pick or really loads of picks we have in the draft, and the future is obviously bright,” he said. “I really like the direction of the organization, and if we have a good draft and offseason, I think we can get back to where we were and go further.”

But whether it’s Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin that the Bruins take with that second pick overall (or possibly the first, if they swap picks with Edmonton as rumored), the players, regardless of skill, need that commitment to win.

“We’ve got a great young nucleus of skill here, good kids too, but, like anything, it’s a process,” he explained. “But I guess this shows we’re not there yet with some of the young guys and even maybe some veterans. There needs to be that desire and heart every night in and night out. I mean, maybe some guys just don’t have it, but I know the majority do,
and again, that’s why it’s hard to swallow because I believe in this team. I believe in Claude and I believe in Peter. I know we can reach that next level and I really believe if we had everyone on board for each game against Philly, we’re still playing right now.”

As far as if Recchi, an impending unrestricted free agent, will be on the team next season, trying to guide the core of young, skilled players to the next level, he made it clear to Chiarelli and Julien that he wants to play a third straight season in Black and Gold and hopefully lead them to their first Stanley Cup in what is now 38 years and counting.

“‘Let’s get this done,’ is the way I put it, and Peter stressed to me that he wants to do that before July 1,” Recchi explained. “I’m here, I won’t be much money, I’m easy to reach and I’m ready to make this happen.”

Part of what has Recchi itching to stay in Boston is his genuine belief in the team.

“We had a very good exit meeting, Peter and I, and I’ve made it clear to him, Claude and the team that I’d love to come back,” Recchi said. “I love this city and I want to stay here and finish what we’ve started because I sincerely believe we can do it here. With a few more pieces and just a lot of dedication from everyone, this team has the goods.”

On another note, enforcer Shawn Thornton has just been inked to a 2yr/$1.625M deal, with a cap hit of $812.5K


11 Responses to Bruins' Postseason Collapse Still 'Hard to Swallow' For Veteran M

  1. HABSRULEFOREVER says:

    Trades to think about:

    SJ:
    2010 1st round pick

    BOS:
    Tim Thomas

    Sign Dan Humhuis with the money saved on Thomas trade probably 5yr./20mil.(4mil per year)

    Draft Seguin with 2nd overall as I'm sure Edmonton will take Hall

    BOS:
    Toronto's first round pick 2011(weak draft)
    David Krejci
    Michael Ryder

    TORONTO:
    Kaberle

    BOS:
    2010 1st round pick(SJ)

    CHIAGO:

    Kris Versteeg (salary dump)

    Sign G Dan Ellis to a 2yr. deal 4.5mil ( 2.25 per year)…..

  2. futurebruin says:

    That Toronto trade is terrible for the Bruins.  No way the Bruins give up their future second line center, give Toronto their pick back, and dump salary all to get Kaberle.

    To TOR: Blake Wheeler, 1st in 2011 (BOS)
    To BOS: Tomas Kaberle

  3. Boston_Bruins says:

    We have to get Rex signed for next year. Make him, Chara and Savard the A's and Bergeron the C. That is if Chara didn't have the C as part of his contract, which I'm still not sure about.

    I like the Thornton signing too. He's our only true heavy even if he isn't the prototipical size.

  4. Boston_Bruins says:

    I'd probably give Wheeler up for free, so if Toronto was up for that it'd be great, even though I still think our defense is set. And Krejci has more potential than any center on our team. I think Bergeron is the better all-around center but Krejci has so much more potential with how good he is at moving the puck, along with being great all-around as well.

    I'd also give Thomas away for anything based on the situation. If the Sharks offer the 26th pick you jump on it.

    I'm looking for something like this for next year:

    Lucic-Savard-Seguin
    Sturm-Bergeron-Recchi
    Soderberg-Krejci-Caron
    Asham-Sobotka-Thornton

    Chara-Seidenberg
    Wideman-Boychuk
    Ference-Alexandrov
    Hunwick

    Rask
    UFA

  5. Tachmo says:

    I was blown away with Recchi's play in the 2010 Playoffs. Simply outstanding. I would love to see him back for another year, and who knows after that. These 1 year contracts for a million are terrific.
    On top of that I firmly believe they need to resign Satan. At least offer him a 1 year 1.5 million. If he requests a two year deal, you let him walk at that point. That is money well worth spent, he scored GIGANTIC goals in the playoffs and is a pure skill guy, which they need at times.

    If they are going to look at bringing in any new players via free agency or make a trade or two, they really need to focus on acquiring more sandpaper. For example, a player like Clarkson that can score the odd goal and is physical.

  6. leafmeister says:

    Kreji is actually probably your future 3rd line center. Unless you trade Bergeron.

  7. futurebruin says:

    I'm actually thinking the lineup could look like this (at least, if I was GM):

    Lucic – Savard – Neal (Chara for Neal and 2nd/3rd Rounder)
    Clarkson – Krejci – Seguin
    Sobotka – Bergeron – Recchi
    Paille – Caron – Thornton
    (when Sturm comes off IR you put him with Bergy and Rex, throw Vladdy at 4th line center, and scratch Caron)

    Seidenberg – Boychuk
    Stuart – Alexandrov
    Wideman – Ference
    Kampfer

    Rask
    Thomas

    I really think that Chiarelli will deal Hunwick this summer, in order to keep Boychuk and Stuart around.  They'd have the cap space with the Chara trade, but they'd have a logjam at D, so someone would have to be the odd man out, most likely Hunwick.

  8. pikerr says:

    As a Leaf fan I am smiling at what happened to the Bruins. Let's just say it is a lesson in "Karma". All season long the Bruins fans were very happy and very obnoxious about the Kessel trade and thanking us for Taylor Hall. That's all I heard and to be honest I had no idea there were so many Bruins fans. They didn't talk about how they were supposed to contenders this year and how much they really did miss Kessel's goal production. Us true Leaf fans, not the dumb-ass ones that pop up on here now and again, know about Karma and the need to keep our mouths shut when times are good, we try and enjoy it because it is a rare occasion. So let's just close this chapter and move on. Now the Bruins fans can join us as we always say"There's always next year".

  9. futurebruin says:

    Seidenberg signs 4 year extension.  $13M total, 3.25 cap hit.

  10. leafmeister says:

    You are WAY undveraluing Chara with that Neal trade. Kaberle could fetch that. Chara would fetch Neal, Eriksson and a 1st. As of right now, he and Pronger are the undisputed best shutdown defensemen.

  11. DannyLeafs says:

    Chara isn't worth nearly that much. He is worth more than Kaberle, but that package is arguably the same as Kaberle, Eriksson, and a 1st, and that first is from a non playoff team, even if you were talking about next year's first it is still too much of a gamble.

    Boston would probably have to consider the idea of swapping Chara for Eriksson straight up, except Dallas would never do it. Eriksson is a top line winger coming off two consecutive excellent seasons. Over the last two years he has 65 goals, and 134 points and is signed for the next five years at a very reasonable cap hit. Chara is a UFA after next season, as his cap hit is huge. He is worth it, but for a team like Dallas it would still be hard to accommodate considering they have a self imposed cap of 45 million and a player already signed to a 7.8 million cap hit.

    The fact is  that despite Chara being a better player than Kaberle, there is a good chance that if Chiarelli tried to trade him he wouldn't get as good a return as Burke can get for Kaberle. First off, his cap hit makes him harder to move. It's not because teams wouldn't want him, but there would be many fewer teams bidding for his services since most teams already have a high priced defensemen, and most teams can't easily accommodate a 7.5 million dollar contract, so the bidders would be a little scarcer. Also, his NTC means that he likely would make have a very short list of teams he would waive to go to, and it would likely mean that Chiarelli would be severely handcuffed. Basically, someone would have to be pretty unhappy in the case of Chara getting trades, and it would be hard to imagine that making for a bidding war. I think the Phaneuf trade would be a better prescedent for the trade value Chara would have rather than the Kaberle situation. Not because of Chara's ability, but simply because the events that would have to take place to trigger a Chara trade (either Chara asks to be traded, or Chiarelli asks Chara to waive his NTC). It's kind of a silly points, since Chara isn't going anywhere, nor should he. He is a great defensemen, and Boston wouldn't get enough to make it worth their while.

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