BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins know the evils of the “Stanley Cup hangover.”
Now they’re going to find out that the only thing worse than the short offseason that comes after winning the Cup is the offseason that follows losing in Game 6 of the Cup finals, especially at the end of a season that was delayed by a lockout and didn’t end until June 24.
So while there’s no doubt general manager Peter Chiarelli was sending a message, loud and clear, to forward Tyler Seguin with his comments during the draft Sunday, there was maybe even more method to Chiarelli’s madness.
He wanted to deliver a wakeup call to all of his best, highest-paid players. The message is: Take the offseason seriously and be ready to play come September, or there will be changes.
First, Chiarelli uncharacteristically revealed that he had been talking to other teams about possibly trading Seguin, who’s set to have a $5.75 million cap hit starting in 2013-14 after a one-goal playoff run. Then the GM said those talks died down once Nathan Horton let the world know he wasn’t going to return to the Bruins.
But Chiarelli wasn’t done talking about Seguin. In the midst of making his team’s picks in Newark, N.J., the man who drafted Seguin No. 2 overall in 2010 and then last summer gave him a contract extension through the 2018-19 season had this to say to The Boston Globe:
“He’s got to commit his mind and focus to the one task at hand. He’s got to become more of a professional. You know what? I can say that about a lot of 21-year-olds. I know he got criticized for playing on the periphery and all that stuff. He did. He’s got to commit to being a professional and focusing on the game. Simple as that. He does that, we don’t expect him to be crashing and banging. Just play your game.”
Chiarelli doesn’t want Seguin to be Milan Lucic or even be a “big, bad Bruin.” He just wants him to be his best, which isn’t too much to ask. And that starts with a summer of hard work and dedication. However, Chiarelli has to be hoping the rest of his team was listening to these comments as well. Seguin was far from the only player who failed to help the Bruins conquer the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chiarelli’s comments seem like a message also to Brad Marchand, who didn’t record a point in the Cup finals. They’re an edict to Lucic, who scored just seven goals in the regular season. They’re a declaration to the likes of Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski that they can’t rest on their successes of 2013 and have to make sure they mature and improve before playing in the NHL in 2013-14. Assuming they’re on the team next season, the Bruins have to get more from Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly. And Johnny Boychuk has to build on his impressive postseason performance, and Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg have to bounce back from their struggles in the finals.
Back in the summer of 2011, the Bruins tried to stress to their players that the short offseason could cost them the next season if they didn’t take it seriously. The summer of shirtless partying gave way to an inconsistent offseason and then a first-round exit in the playoffs. So this time Chiarelli’s using the media as a microphone to get into his best players’ ears. It was a successful season, but one that came up short. Anything less than reporting to duty in the fall ready to make the same run with a different ending will not be tolerated.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.