The Boston Bruins are blessed to have a franchise cornerstone and superstar player like David Pastrnak. At 27 years old, Pastrnak has just entered his prime and is electric on and off the ice with his skill and personality.
Apparently, though, a portion of Boston Bruins fans and some local talking heads (hi there, Felger and Mazz!) may never feel that way. Pastrnak’s 61 goals and 113 points last season weren’t and still aren’t enough to justify the eight-year, $90 million contract extension the Bruins signed the affable NHL superstar to last March.
This was 98.5 The Sports Hub host Michael Felger right after the Pastrnak extension was announced:
‘I don’t totally love the player. Players like that have to prove to me that they can win championships for me to fully embrace them. And I guess there’s not that many of them. But, you know, Patrick Kane is one of them. Patrick Kane is a guy that is loose with the puck, not good on his own, and blah, blah, blah, not physical, but the dude wins championships. Or Guy Lafleur or I don’t know, Wayne Gretzky, blah blah, blah, you know? You know what I’m talking about. So if you’re just a floater and this guy and you don’t win, and I’m sorry, I think he plays like a jackass half the time.’
Note: To Felger’s credit, he also said that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did a good job on the contract.
David Pastrnak has stormed out of the gate in his first season of that new contract that carries an $11.2 salary cap hit for this season and seven more. After scoring his second penalty shot goal of the season and adding an empty-net goal in a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, Pastrnak was tied for second in NHL goal-scoring with eight goals in eight games. He was also tied for third in points with 13.
David Pastrnak potted his second penalty-shot goal this season (also Oct. 14) to help the @NHLBruins extend their campaign-opening point streak to a franchise record-tying eight games.#NHLStats: https://t.co/J4ig8tZm0a pic.twitter.com/gZXZt63awH
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 29, 2023
The penalty shot goal history wasn’t the topic du jour of Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery’s presser, though, instead, it was Pastrnak’s apparent pool skills he used on that empty-netter with 2:19 left in regulation.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights & News (@HockeyDaily365) October 29, 2023
“Pasta, I betcha he doesn’t know geometry but he knows it probably in pool halls, and he definitely knows it on the ice,” Montgomery quipped.
Following the game, the affable Pastrnak was asked about the Vincent Lauria bank shot off the boards that he made on the empty net goal to seal the deal for the Bruins.
“Oh okay that’s why [Patrick] Brown asked me if I’m a good pool player, and I didn’t get it,” Pastrnak laughed and said. “I was like, ‘What do you mean? Are you trying to play some pool tonight?’ So I told him, ‘No, I’m terrible.’ Now I got it, thank you.”
Pastrnak then turned to the next question but quickly looked back and added: “No, I’m not good. I was just exhausted.”
Earlier on Saturday, former Boston Bruins center Joe Thornton officially retired from the NHL in classic, laid-back ‘Jumbo Joe’ fashion on Saturday:
🚨 Important Shirtless Jumbo Message 🚨 pic.twitter.com/ZQJxCSr8zm
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 28, 2023
Thornton was drafted by the Boston Bruins first overall at the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, but despite playing just over seven seasons with the Bruins and one each for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers, the 44-year-old Thornton will forever be remembered as a San Jose Shark. Thornton will proudly wear the teal blue when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
That’s because, on November 30, 2005, the Boston Bruins blindsided Thornton, his teammates, and the hockey world when they traded their then-captain to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau and defenseman Brad Stuart. Thornton had scored more than 20 goals in each of his previous five seasons, including two 30-goal campaigns. In 2003-04, he led the Bruins in points with 23 goals and 50 assists. The then-26-year-old Thornton had also just signed a three-year, $20 million contract just three months before the trade.
Thornton had nine goals and 24 assists in 23 games at the time of the trade. To rub salt in the wound of the Bruins, who went on to tie for the fifth-worst record in the NHL that season, Thornton almost single-handedly turned the Sharks’ (0-7-3 at the time of the trade) into a 99-point team. Thornton himself wound up leading the NHL in points (125) and assists (96), and was a major reason for linemate Jonathan Cheechoo leading the league in goals with 56 lamplighters. That was plenty enough to earn Thornton the 2006 Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP.
Thornton would go on to finish his career with 430 goals and seventh all-time in assists with 1109 in 1714 games.
I’m sorry. How many did Sturm, Primeau, and Stuart combined finish their career with?
Yes, he never won a Stanley Cup, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s one of the best playmakers of all time. No one will ever know what could’ve been either if the Bruins hadn’t given up on him after failing to put an actual winning roster around him coming out of the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Just as it did for Thornton, the color of money is already looking good on Pastrnak. He already has 309 goals and 321 assists in 600 games. To those who still aren’t convinced, be careful what you wish for. When that salary cap finally starts to go up, as it’s projected to in the coming seasons, Pastrnak’s contract will be a bargain, just as Thornton’s turned out to be. For whatever reason, though, a superstar with a great personality is once again rubbing some in Boston the wrong way.