March 8, 2011
“Defense is important, but you can’t win unless you score” -Red Auerbach
The Boston Bruins have always demanded that their players be solid in all three zones. This is likely a prime factor in them always being good – they made the playoffs a record 29 straight times from 1967 to 1996. However I believe it is also a primary reason why they have rarely been great – in that 29 years they only managed two Stanley Cups. Too many times I have seen the Bruins draft a player for his exceptional offensive talents, then trade him away because he was not good enough defensively, and watched him flourish in another uniform
Al Secord’s career started strong in Boston then fizzled and he was traded in the early stages of the 1980-81 season to Chicago. He would go on to score 96 goals over the next two seasons with Chicago and lead them to the 1982 Conference Finals. Brad Boyes had strong rookie year in Boston. But he struggled in his second year and was traded to the St. Louis Blues, a team he would score 76 goals for over the next two years. I worry that the same thing may happen to Tyler Seguin if the Bruins don’t allow him to flourish by letting him play his game.
Tyler Seguins is a rookie. And he is not a rookie in the way that teammate Brad Marchand, in his first year in the NHL, is a rookie. Tyler Seguins is in his first year playing professionally. He is in his first year living away from home. Essentially he is in his first year of being an adult. But despite all this it is obvious to anyone who watches the Bruins that he is already the Bruins most talented offensive player. Yet Bruins coach Claude Julien has him playing on the fourth line and has benched him multiple times this year. I don’t believe this is what is best for the kid.
Maybe Seguin isn’t great in his own zone yet. But honestly defense isn’t everything. Every great team in the history of the NHL has had a pure scorer. The Maple Leafs of the early 60s had Frank Mahovlich. The Canadiens of the late 60s had Jean Beliveau. The Bruins of the early 70s had Phil Esposito. The Canadiens of the late 70s had Guy Lafleur. The Islanders of the early 80s had Mike Bossy. The Oilers of the 80s had Wayne Gretzky. The Penguins of the early 90s had Mario Lemieux. The Red Wings of the late 90s had Brendan Shanahan. None of these players were exceptional defensive players but you need goals to win. These teams won because these players scored goals and Tyler Seguin can score goals. His talent is undeniable and I worry Claude Julien may end up holding him back the way the Bruins have done to many young snipers that came through their system.
Before anyone over reacts I am not saying the Claude is killing Seguin’s career. Again the kid is a rookie playing for a very good very deep team. He is not going to get the same minutes that fellow 2010 draftees Taylor Hall or Jeff Skinner are getting and subsequently he wont put up the same numbers. However overall his rookie year has been pretty good. In limited minutes he has shown great potential. He clearly has the ability to be a great player in this league and overall it is probably best for Claude to ease him into things in his first year as a pro. I just worry that Claude will keep treating Seguin like this in his second and third year which would not be beneficial to the kids development.
If the Bruins want to turn into a great team they are going to need Tyler Seguin to score goals. Yes it is important for the team to be strong in all three zones. But it is ok to have that one player who is just a pure sniper. Every team needs that one player that scares you when they have that puck. If the Bruins allow Tyler Seguin to blossom he should become that player. However if they bury him on bench and keep getting caught up on him perhaps not being a particularly strong defensive player, they will sabotage him and subsequently sabotage themselves.
Take the shackles off him Claude,