BOSTON (CBS) – Watching VH-1 the other night, I was reminded during a recap of the ‘90s about Al Gore’s version of the “Macarena.”
That’s the image I also had in my mind Sunday while “free-agent frenzy” was unfolding and the Boston Bruins were doing nothing more than just filing three contracts they’d already announced had been agreed to.
For those with long-term memory problems, or weren’t born in the 90’s, an Al Gore “Macarena” consisted of him standing completely still for several seconds. I doubt Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was doing an Al Gore “Macarena” or a real one in his office Sunday afternoon, but it doesn’t sound like he was doing much in the way or upgrading his team either.
Chiarelli admitted during a conference call Sunday that he and his staff tried to pursue a couple forwards but those negotiations went nowhere.
So now he’ll wait and see what unfolds once the big names and second-tier players have signed. Maybe he gets a top-nine forward. Maybe he lands a depth defenseman that he wants to ink a two-way deal. Maybe he makes a minor trade to upgrade his club’s truculence or speed, and at least adds one fresh voice or body to the dressing room.
There’s still the chance that Chiarelli does nothing.
With Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon and Benoit Pouliot now out of the picture, the door would be open for Jordan Caron, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Carter Camper and Jared Knight to grab whatever scraps of playing time are left once the minutes are doled out to the returning veterans. Expanded ice time for the likes of Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell could be part of the equation.
None of this inaction on the part of Chiarelli is surprising. As he’s moved to re-sign Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, the GM has been very open about his admiration for the roster he constructed well before this summer. Most of it won the ’11 Stanley Cup championship, and most of it lost to Washington in the first round in seven games.
Chiarelli’s of the mind that the Cup-winning result is more likely to repeat with this team built the way it is than the first-round flameout. There’s a bit of a gamble going on here. Chiarelli has to hope Nathan Horton can stay healthy, Tyler Seguin can take another leap forward, Tuukka Rask is ready to regularly pull of Tim Thomas-caliber saves and one of his young guys is ready to play a bigger role in moving pucks from the back end. This doesn’t mean there has to be a quantum leap to the NHL by Krug or Hamilton, just some improved play by Johnny Boychuk might suffice.
Everyone knows July 1 is a made-for-TV bit of nonsense that causes more regrets over deals down the road than it creates Stanley Cup champions. The New York Rangers would probably want to do over the day they opened the vaults for Chris Drury and Scott Gomez.
Series-clinching goal against the Bruins aside, Joel Ward practically stole a lot of money from the Capitals last season. This year there were some head-scratchers on July 1, and there’s bound to be a few more before everyone has his name on a new deal.
Chiarelli and his staff have built the Bruins with great care to vet the players and then keep the ones that truly fit in. Almost all of them pass muster. This allows the Bruins to not get swept up in a frenzy on July 1 or at the trade deadline.
The plan is all well and good if it leads to postseason frenzy that has the Bruins playing into June again sometime soon. Otherwise, Chiarelli might find himself with nothing to do on a future July 1 but clean out the garage or throw a Canada Day barbecue.
Or learn to “Macarena.”