Pop quiz, Bruins fans: where were you when the Joe Thornton trade went down Nov. 30, 2005?
And how did you feel when the ticker crawl on the nearest TV unveiled the return for your team’s franchise center?
BREAKING: Boston Bruins trade C Joe Thornton to San Jose Sharks for LW Marco Sturm…
…C Wayne Primeau…
…and D Brad Stuart.
“Wait. That’s ALL!?”
It was a doomed deal from the start, and Jumbo Joe went bananas upon arrival in the Silicon Valley, amassing 92 points in 58 games en route to his lone Hart Trophy and scoring crown. It also marked the darkest point in Bruins history since the team finished low enough to draft Thornton.
So why talk about it today? Because, if the Bruins miss the playoffs this season, they’ll reach easily their lowest point as a franchise since Nov. 30, 2005. They’ve made the big dance seven straight seasons since Claude Julien took over as coach, posting point totals of 94, 116, 91, 103, 102, 62 (in 48 games, pro-rated to 106), and 117. The run includes a 2011 Stanley Cup, another final appearance in 2013 and the Presidents’ Trophy for the league’s top record a season ago.
But 2014-15 hasn’t been overly kind to the Big, Bad Bruins. They’re 36-25-12, good for 84 points with nine games remaining. The surging Ottawa
Hamburglars Senators have nudged them out of a playoff position and have the dreaded game in hand. The Bruins spent a good chunk of the year without captain Zdeno Chara, they’ve been sans David Krejci for a month and, worst of all, Dougie Hamilton’s breakout season is paused indefinitely with a mysterious injury. The signs don’t exactly scream late-season comeback.
The Los Angeles Kings may miss the playoffs despite playing very much like themselves, taking it easy during the regular season and still posting strong puck-possession numbers. The Boston Bruins can’t say the same. They’re scoring less, possessing the puck less and allowing more goals. They look little like the perennial powerhouse of the past half-decade. It’s fair, then, to ponder an off-season of questions for this team. Which heads will roll? Who needs a change of scenery?