BOSTON (CBS) — Earlier today, I wrote a story which explained that the Bruins have been in a year-long trend of losing talented players without replacing them.
Then they went out and traded for Zac Rinaldo.
I feel that the earlier story needs an addendum, so here we go.
Zac Rinaldo, for the uninitiated, is not someone who’s made hockey teams for his ability to play hockey. He has eight goals in 223 games. Put any able-bodied human on the ice for 1,800 minutes, and he’ll probably be able to score eight goals.
Zac Rinaldo is a player who’s only on the ice to cause trouble. He’s racked up 572 penalty minutes in 223 career games — a number that jumps to 1,006 PIMs in 318 games if you count his AHL career. He’s been suspended three times by the NHL. And that’s not even including the time he landed a haymaker on a turtled Antoine Roussel — an act much worse than Shawn Thornton’s gloved bop of a downed Brooks Orpik but one that resulted in zero supplementary discipline from the NHL.
In short, he is not someone who’s really going to help the Boston Bruins win games in 2015-16.
And he cost the team a third-round pick. While that isn’t reason to protest through Boston in a fit of rage, it is nevertheless ridiculous.
So, OK. He’s not a skilled player. He’s an “energy guy,” a “tough guy,” an “enforcer,” whatever. So he must be loved in a city like Philly, a place where they value that type of player as much or even more than folks in Boston do, right?
Not quite. A quick Google News search of Rinaldo brings up the following headlines:
“Philadelphia Flyers Opinion: Fed Up With Zac Rinaldo” — Broad Street Buzz
“Zac Rinaldo is an embarrassment” — Broad Street Hockey
“Why is Zac Rinaldo still in the Flyers’ lineup?” — Philly.com
“Did Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo really brag about reckless hit that injured Penguins’ Kris Letang?” — NJ.com
“VOTE: Is Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo now NHL’s dirtiest player?” — NJ.com (he won the vote.)
Giving up a third-round draft pick to acquire that beloved player? Don Sweeney just couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
Earlier today, I wrote of the departures of Carl Soderberg, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton and the 130 combined points among them which have not been replaced. I left fourth liners Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille out of that discussion, because their roles never were strictly about scoring goals. There was more to their jobs.
Still, by the end of their tenures in Boston, fans were sick and tired of seeing Campbell get 12 minutes every night. Well, how about this: With six goals and six assists, Campbell last year doubled the production of Rinaldo. Over the past four seasons, Rinaldo has accumulated 24 points; Campbell registered 62.
Paille had 13 points last year, and 63 over the past four years. Hell, even an aging Shawn Thornton has 34 since 2011. Again, Rinaldo has 24. Admittedly, it’s hard to rack up too many points when you get suspended every few months, but you get the idea.
Paille tallied 17 points in 61 playoff games with Boston, and Campbell registered 13 points in 59 playoffs games. Rinaldo has played in 14 playoff games. He’s yet to record a point, but he does have 64 penalty minutes.
While Rinaldo has yet to contribute to a goal in the playoffs, he did once get himself kicked out, essentially for committing assault, when his team was trailing by a touchdown in the second period.
Obviously, the offseason is young. Free agency starts later this week. The roster on June 29 will not be the roster on Oct. 8. Players who can actually contribute to the score sheet and can fill in holes on the top six might not yet be available. Adding a fourth-liner — albeit at a high price tag — is not the end of the world. Everyone understands this.
But for anyone hoping that Sweeney and Cam Neely had some master plan to turn the Bruins around from a non-playoff team right back into a contender, the early indications are not looking positive in that regard. And prioritizing the acquisition of Zac Rinaldo after a draft weekend that could be described as embarrassing will only lead to more questions about the decision-makers in the front office.
Namely: What in the world are they doing?