I would like to preface this writing by stating I am by no means the best writer in the world. Having said that, here we go.
June 26, 2015. A day that will certainly be remarked as a memorable day for hockey history. The NHL got to see the selection of future franchise players who will undoubtedly change the face of their respective franchises. I would like to genuinely congratulate the Oilers and the Sabres on their selections (and trades), as they will certainly have fun teams to watch next season and for many years to come.
And how about a dose of the unexpected. In a move that seemingly shocked the hockey world, the Boston Bruins unload a franchise D man. Dougie Hamilton, a player viewed by many to be the future anchor on the Boston Blueline was traded to the Calgary Flames for a first rounder, and two second rounders. (or for those who look at it more literally, traded for ZACHARY SENYSHYN, JAKOB FORSBACKA KARLSSON and JEREMY LAUZON).
In case it wasn't completely obvious, Hamilton was my favorite player. #27 was someone I personally followed through junior hockey and was praying the Bruins would select in the 2011 entry draft. When they did, I was elated. And watching his personal development over the last three years has been not only exciting, but also gave a certain hope for the future. It isn't often that you get a player that can make a positive impact so quickly for your club. And sure, he still has a few holes in his game. He could be more defensively sound. He could hit more. He could play with more snarl. But when all is said and done, Hamilton is definitely a player that shows far more positive progression to his game than negative. Hamilton was a player that I named with Bergeron and Rask as "untouchable".
However I am not the GM, president or owner of the Boston Bruins. And as contract negotiations went sour, (and by sour I mean Neely and Sweeney being pissed at Hamilton for refusing their low-ball offer), #27 was shipped out of town like so many young talents before him. Future prospects in the Bruins system beware, if you don't accept the offer presented, you will likely be playing for a different club. That is exactly the message that Neely looks to be sending.
You may have noticed I use Neely in the same sentence as Sweeney quite a bit. That is partially because Neely has the final say on anything hockey related. So when Sweeney has a deal to trade a player, Neely has to nod in approval for the deal to go through. Im sure Jacobs has input too, but to be honest this is Neely's "vision" of the team, so I am sure that Jacobs defers to Neely's "good judgement". (insert troll face here)
My initial reaction, disbelief. I was glued to my computer last Friday with all of the action going on in the NHL. I was surprised at all of the activity ahead of the draft. It has been a while since I have seen so much activity on draft day. It was exciting. I was fully expecting the Bruins to make some sort of move, and was just waiting for it. I saw the tweet from Dreger earlier that morning and immediately disregarded it. Thinking to myself "ya right".
Then it happened.
Desperately searching for sources when the trade first went down, I had to know what we were getting, and why Hamilton was being traded. I saw the return and was less than impressed. I was angry, upset and wanting to punt the tiniest fuzzy animal I could find.
Like with any sports fan's favorite player, no return is ever good enough. It may well be that we look back on this trade several years from now and realize it wasn't so bad, but for right now I just can't and don't believe it. For what it is worth, congrats to the Calgary Flames. You got one hell of a young player and person. And no matter what reports say about his team not liking him, he is a genuinely nice guy with a great sense of humor. I believe the reports of his team not liking him to be nothing more than cheap words used to justify such a horrendous and miscalculated trade.
If you want proof of Hamilton's character not being what was reported, listen to this. One of my friends who lives in Boston got Hamilton to sign a Beaker stuffed animal. Upon signing it, he said it was awesome, laughed and while handing it back to my friend stated "im not even mad". Hilarious. But perhaps he is different with fans than with teammates. Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe we got rid of a locker room cancer......... sorry I had to stop myself, the Neely indoctrination must be getting to me.
I left work 3 hours early. There was no way in hell I was going to get anything done after that. Thankfully I have a boss that understands. I went home to prepare for a small draft party that I have every year. A few friends, good food on the grill, and the draft on a 60" flat screen TV. Sounds good right? Well, needless to say I needed to pregame a bit, because when I got home I realized Lucic was headed to LA. Boston retained some salary, and at the end of the day really didnt clear much cap space. (If a team was willing to take Kelly for air it would have amounted to the same cap relief). But yay, 3 picks in a row right, surely we will try to trade up to nab a top D man to replace the one we just sold at a pawn shop for pennies on the dollar.
Wrong again. I watched the top 10 picks with the two friends I had over. Nothing that seemed too out of the ordinary. Dallas had a surprising pick, but from my own research it seemed like they were getting a good player in Denis Gurianov. Now it was Boston's turn to do something that hasn't happened in modern day draft history. Three picks in a row in the middle of the first round. Lets see how they make up for the craptacular goodness that was comprised of their first few trades under new management.
Plenty of great players on the board. Lets do this. #13: Jacob Zboril. I twitched a little bit. I expected them to select at least one D man. I secretly thought to myself "this is who Neely and Sweeney seeing as their 'dougie replacement'????" F*** ME!
Ok, at least we have another D prospect that should play in the NHL in a couple of years. Key word, SHOULD, not WILL. Next pick #14: Jake Debrusk. WTF!!!! clearly they are not drafting the best player available. They are drafting players that fit a certain 'mold'. At this point I am screaming at my television, making my two friends uncomfortable. You leave Barzal, Connor, Merkely, Konecky, White and MANY others on the table to select DEBRUSK!?!?!
#15: Zachary Senyshyn. Who the F*** is this kid was the phrase the 3 people in the room said at the same time. Someone the Bruins MAY have been able to get in the second round. Was later discovered he might have been a sleeper pick for one of the teams at the end of the first round. BUT REALLY??? All the talent on the board at that point, and THAT IS WHO YOU PICK?
I honestly didn't think that when I left work that day I could be more angry than I was already. But I guess you should never underestimate the power incompetent management. rnrnNothing short of heartbreaking. The day ended with a massive dose of disappointment with a large side of worry for the future. And alcohol, lots and lots of alcohol.
Many other things happened on draft day that I did not cover, but this blog covered what was a punch in the gut and a kick to the balls of all Bruin's fans. My thought now is, how long until Pastrnak shows his skills, has his ELC expire, and gets shipped off?
It is clear that the new Bruins brass want to make their stamp on their team now that Neely has all the power and Chiarelli was fired. Its too bad that stamp was dipped in a large pile of smelly crap before they put it to paper. Neely wants the "Big Bad Bruins" back. They definitely wont be back next year, or probably for a long while.
At the end of the day all you can do as a fan is sit back, shake your head, and realize you have no control over the way the team is going to be built going forward.
For those that are curious. I will not be changing my Hockeybuzz name. Still love Dougie Hamilton, and I hope he wins 10 Norris trophies in Calgary and anchors them to the next NHL dynasty.
Thanks for reading my angry rant.