What the Hell Is Wrong with the Bruins?

Abandon all hope. This team is in free-fall.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

These are the darkest days this franchise has seen since Mike Milbury clubbed a fan with his own shoe.

It’s as if rookie general manager Don Sweeney opened Twitter, saw the frothing apoplexy, and said, “Yeah? Watch this.”

After trading away 22-year-old cornerstone defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for a first-round pick and two second-rounders, dealing Milan Lucic to Los Angeles for a first-rounder and two spare parts, failing to bundle and flip said picks to land Boston College sensation Noah Hanifin at No. 3, taking second-round talent with three consecutive first-round picks instead, and extending glass defenseman Adam McQuaid to a four-year, $11 million contract, Sweeney did the unthinkable—he made things worse.

The Bruins announced Monday that they sent a 2017 third-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for center Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo, 25, is by all accounts a miserable hockey player, who has found himself serving a suspension more times than he’s found the back of the net. If Sweeney were a clever man, this trade would’ve been announced Friday, during the single greatest window for a news dump in modern history, with fans fixated on marriage equality and captured fugitives. Instead, the turd with eight career goals is floating in a lukewarm punch bowl, and now we all must stare at it.

Sweeney’s moves are not part of some grand, Frank Underwoodian scheme that will unfold before our impatient eyes. He is not unloading cap space to sign a sexy get in free agency—the Bruins are now on the hook for $6.3 million in salary between Rinaldo, McQuaid, and Lucic, and the free agent market for forwards is quite barren. This is not a team that will contend for a Stanley Cup next season, or the next five seasons. This is a team poised to squander the primes of Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci, and whatever Zdeno Chara has left in the tank. This is bad, and it’s only getting worse.

Hamilton will join not only an immensely fun-to-watch Flames team replete with young talent, but a long list of young talent alienated by the Bruins front office in recent years. In 2009, four years after Joe Thornton was jettisoned from the team, Boston traded Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for three picks, two of which became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, both gone.

It has become increasingly clear what kind of players are valued by this organization, which stubbornly wears the identity of the Big Bad Bruins like a toddler wearing his father’s baggy coat. Uninspiring, uncreative tough guys receive hefty extensions bolstered with cumbersome no-trade clauses. Electrifying, offensive-minded youngsters, on the other hand, are unceremoniously shown the door and smeared in the Herald on their way out. Why then would any decent player come to Sweeney’s Bruins? What fan, of sound mind and body, would watch them?

And oh, did you buy Winter Classic tickets already? Did you want to watch the Bs take on the Montreal Canadiens alongside 80,000 fellow fans at Gillette Stadium this New Year’s Day? Funny, I just withdrew $500 from my bank account and hurled it from the Zakim Bridge, and I think I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more.