BOSTON – The Boston Bruins ownership clearly has no appetite to strip down and do a full rebuild and by all accounts they don’t feel like their ticket-purchasing fan base doesn’t want that anytime soon either.
While derisively referencing it as “theater” at the 2022 NHL Draft in a fairly clear nod to the Chicago Blackhawks dealing away core players in an obvious rebuild effort, Charlie Jacobs answered pretty strongly when asked if the Boston Bruins ownership would entertain notions of a rebuild when 36-year-old Patrice Bergeron eventually retires in the next few seasons.
“There’s been a lot of theatre around this National Hockey League this past week, in particular at the Draft. We saw some teams, what I would call it – sellers – and I think that would be awfully difficult to sell in this [Boston] market to our fanbase,” said Boston Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs. “I do foresee, I don’t have a crystal ball, but there are going to be days, let’s be candid, there are going to be days when we don’t have the opportunity to talk about Patrice Bergeron coming back to be our Captain and our number one center.
“Those are things that we need to address every summer, and whether it’s through the Draft, Cam and Donny have mentioned this already but we’re a cap team. [That means] that we’re going to spend to the max to deliver the best product we possibly can to our fans and that is not going to change. In that regard I would hope that people could put that in their back pocket and understand that we are committed to winning a Stanley Cup and we will do whatever it takes to get us to that threshold [of winning a Cup] again.”
The Jacobs tone at the Blackhawks situation, a fellow Original Six franchise that at appears on the outside like they are potentially tanking for next summer’s consensus No. 1 overall pick in Connor Bedard, told the tale about a Boston Bruins franchise that won’t be tearing it down as long as they have young core talents like Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak even if they have players like Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and others aging out on a regular basis these days.
It would be a more ideal situation for the Boston Bruins if they had young elite talent to replace aging players like Bergeron and David Krejci at the center position rather than going to them hat-in-hand for another run in Boston, but that’s where the Boston Bruins find themselves at this point in time coming off a season where they won 51 games as a wild card team last season.
“It’s a results-driven business – but we’ll own that, always own it. And that goes back to the investment the organization is charged with that we have to try to win. That we’re committed to winning. There are times and periods [of transition] and pivot points that may exist,” said Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “You’re not just going to replace Patrice Bergeron unless you draft somebody maybe one overall, it’s just the player that he is. But we’ve cycled out great players, and Chara and Rask and eventually it will be Patrice.
“David Krejci wasn’t a part of our hockey club last year. So, there are challenges, and we acknowledge every one of them, and drafting development is paramount to continuing to have success in the National Hockey League, whether that’s through trades or your own sustaining winning capabilities, and we want to do it better and the bottom line is we are going to continue to try.”
Boston Bruins Chairman Jeremy Jacobs also chimed with a bit of a less definitive answer but made it clear that Bruins President Cam Neely and GM Don Sweeney are calling the shots when it comes long term moves with the Original Six franchise.
“I think it’s an annual situation,” said the elder Jacobs. “I think you have to see where you are and where you’re going. I think that Don and Cam visualize this team very well and understand what they have and perhaps what they need.”
These questions are going to be more difficult to answer a year from now when Bergeron and Krejci may not be an option anymore as they are right now, and the Boston Bruins may be coming off a much more difficult season with injuries, rehabs and a new coach bringing a lot of adversity to the table for the Black and Gold. But the marching orders from Boston Bruins ownership seem to be the same now as they’ve been since Cam Neely took over the B’s presidency more than a decade ago, and it doesn’t feel like that’s going to change anytime soon.