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Dupont's Bruins chat wrap -- August 3, 2005

drake:Q: Hi Kevin, Been reading you for a long time, great work. A couple of queiries: Who, besides the Bruins have a lot of " room" with their current roster salaries? Given the new rules, is a top flight goalie more or less important?
Kevin_Dupont:The Caps have tons of room, but thus far have done little with it. It looks to me as if GM George McPhee is looking more toward next summer for his UFA fix(es). As for the goaltenders, they are ALWAYS important--and that's not going to change. You know the old line, ``Do you want to be a millionaire?--well, first get a million dollars.'' It applies to building NHL teams. If you want to build a winner, first get a winning goalie. The club that wins the Cup in June will have a franchise goalie guarding the gate.
CDDiG_2:Q: What's the deal with Modano? Will he be a Bruin this year?
Kevin_Dupont:Various reports late last night had him signed and sealed with the Stars. But they were false, at least at the time. Right now, as we chat shortly after noon on Wed., he remains up for grabs. I suspect he'll decide his landing spot by end of biz today. He didn't like the fact that the Stars rolled out $4m a year to keep Zubov, and then hesitated when it came time to do his deal. But, if the Stars meet offers around the league, I'll bet he stays.
Gerry:Q: Kevin, are the Bruins going to sign ANY top level talent with their available money? I mean, come on - Isbister? Scatchard? McEachern?
Kevin_Dupont:Not what anyone would characterize as inspiring hires, are they? And a good number of the higher-end guys are going, going or gone. Personally, i find the Scatchard deal intriguing, but I will admit he lacks an "impact" name. hard for a third-liner to get Bruins Country very excited. But think about it: can they land bigger names than Thornton and Samsonov? Fans often undervalue the names in hand, and similarly overvalue guys on other clubs. The new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) created some crisis management here, in terms of the JT and SS futures. So, the hard answer to your question without knowing if Joe Thornton or Sergei Samsonov sign. Keep in mind too: it has been a struggling franchise since the early-'90s. To think they can turn it all around on a dime here in 2-3 weeks in August '05 is asking a little much. if they had that kind of acumen, the last 12-13 years would not have been as, well, challenged.
dino_bravo:Q: Any thoughts on defensemen who could potentially be added? All the names that are being thrown around are offensive defensemen (Leetch, Berard, etc...). With the leagues focus on creating offense, I'm not sure this makes sense- someone needs to defend!
Kevin_Dupont:Good point. I think most coaches--Mike Sullivan included--will keep preaching the team defense theory. They'll just have to preach it without teaching the trap. So, to think one guy will set the defensive tone is probably a reach. Guys like Leetch and Berard are attractive because of past performance, and their ability to spark the attack from the back end. I like them both, and I think either would do well in Boston. Reports this morning had Sergei Gonchar signing long term (5 years, $25 million) with the Pens. So, the market is closing down a bit, and the Bruins may have few options other than Leetch/Berard.
Jimmy_Bruin:Q: Did the Bruins make a mistake by not offering Gonchar more up front in hopes to sign him when they could have?
Kevin_Dupont:They may regret, very deeply, that they didn't tie up the likes of Samsonov, Thornton, and Gonchar long-term back in the old CBA days. Gonchar knew his UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent) day was imminent and that could have kept him from signing here, no matter what. but before the UFA roof got blown off the shack, the B's might--and I stress might--have been able to land JT and SS at prices that now would be reduced by 24% (per the new CBA deal). At 24% discounts, they would look like bargains now. But that is 20/20 hindsight. NO ONE saw this UFA thing getting ratcheted down like this.
jeff:Q: Is Mike Modano the best option? He's 35...and if they're willing to spend, why not get the best mixture of age and talent possible?
Kevin_Dupont:Well, I've liked Modano a lot through the years. Remember, when the Bruins chose Thornton No. 1 in '97, he was billed as a Modano-Eric Lindros hybrid. Now, that said, there is no denying Modano's game slipped considerably in his most recent NHL season. If his game has tryly slipped, and '03-04 was not an abberation, clearly he would not be the best option. The Boston front office is convinced he still has the goods. If he does, then he is a great pickup, among the top 3-5 centers in the game, on a skill basis.
OtisNixonFace:Q: I have two questions: 1. What's the status on Jonathan Girard? 2. If the Bruins were to sign Miroslav Satan to a good contract, do you think he'd give Jeremy Jacobs his soul back?
Kevin_Dupont:Girard, I am told, is feeling fine. The Bruins have him penciled in for one of the six jobs on D. We will find out quickly if feeling fine means playing fine. He was lucky to live through his car accident two summers ago, and I suspect passion alone will provide him with an edge, at least initially. Do you believe Satan has a soul? Seems to me to be a question for the Globe's religion editor/writer. I'll stick to the sins of the sports industry.
SPC:Q: What is it going to take to get Peter Forsberg? He is a winner through and through. We have the talent to trade for him (if he gets signed somewhere else) and the money to sign him right now?
Kevin_Dupont:Agreed, SPC, Forsberg is a great player--at least has been a great player. He has really paid a price for his physical, dynamic play during his NHL tenure, and at age 32, his history of injuries has to be taken into factor. I would never doubt his desire, but sometimes the mind can not outwill the body. If I were a GM, I would be cautious, and when offeirng $4 million or $5 million, where's the caution. He is a very high-mileage luxury car at this stage of his career. And it's not like a power pitcher in baseball, learning to throw offspeed stuff late in his career. Forsberg must play ``full out'' to be an impact player, and his ``full out'' days could be short.
wadman:Q: Do you think that there were other things the NHL could have done to improve the game?
lb34:Q: Do you think the front office owes season tickets holders more answers then we are getting (none) about tickets etc. for this year?
Kevin_Dupont:Can I get back to you on this around mid-season? Of course not. My immediate reaction is that they could have gone further with the rule changes and trimming back goalie equipment. It's a pity that the game go so bogged down the last 10 years. And an equal pity that the game's bosses allowed it to get so bad. They lost sight of quality control--simply because they were overwhelmed by the game's messed up economics. If the money is stable now, maybe they can spruce up the game. Let's give them a few months to see how it goes. My question: can they get the passion back on the ice?
Kevin_Dupont:Tell you what, write to me with your questions ( and I will take them to Bruins-Garden management, and ask for the answers. That help?
Fred_Lynnfield:Q: Will Don Sweeney be playing this year for Dallas?
Kevin_Dupont:I have not talked to Don in some time, so frankly, not sure where he stands with career wishes. To hazard a guess, I would say he plays in Dallas or returns to Boston (pending other Bruins acquisitions) He will turn 39 years old in a few days--so he is not fielding long-term offers. I wish at some point he had been named the Boston captain--great competitor, brave and accountable.
plissken:Q: I do not understand the management mentality of offering Modano a proposed 5yr $25mil contract yet Thornton is offered the same money and is 9yrs younger. Why can't we make a commitment to our star players. Maybe this is why we have trouble attracting free agents?
Kevin_Dupont:Remember, he is a UFA and JT is an RFA (Restricted Free Agent )--not free to bolt until next summer. That still makes a difference. But your point is a good one. I would say, keep in mind that the first offer to JT was just that--a first offer. I believe th real figure to get him done--if he will accept it--is about $6-$6.5 million a year. I understand Jarome Iginla will sign for three years, $21 million. My feeling: Joe is worth a little less. Not sure that would be Joe's feeling.
JoshinDC:Q: Hi Mr. Dupont. Thanks for all the years of great articles!!:) Do you think Raycroft will stand the test of time or become a "Blaine Lacher"?
Kevin_Dupont:I think his game is far sounder, and therefore durable, than anything we saw from Lacher. He might have to adapt a little to the new game and the new equipment, but he has the makings of a long-term goalie.
BillTortolini:Q: Does Cam Neely ever plan on coaching in the NHL? What about Ray Bourque?
Kevin_Dupont:In conversations I've had with both, they've led me to believe they would dabble in coaching, but never to the point of being a head coach or a full-time assistant coach. Something more like consultant. Ray has a littel more flexibility to travel, because his children are older. Cam's kids are young, and I don't think he has any burning desire to be out on the road, even if he did like the idea of coaching.
Boston_Rag:Q: Joe is not accountable, is he Kev? Do you still think the C should be stripped?
Kevin_Dupont:I don't think JT is great captain material. Some embrace, others shy away. Joe, from what I have witnessed is dead-center--and unless you embrace it... well, fill in the blank. I suggested they strip the C--and stand by it--because he bolted out the back door of the training room the morning before Game 7 of the Bruins-Habs series. I think the team captain MUST say something in that situation. He had two team employees telling him that, imploring him to represent the team, and he chose to bolt. I'm not taking about his game here.
BoSam:Q: Other than Thornton and Samsonov, who do you think would be the best player to sign?
Kevin_Dupont:Hmmmmm... man, this changes shift to shift, because of the signings. At this hour, if he isn't signed, I'd want Scott Niedermayer. To watch him trigger the attack could be something very special.
BostonDotCom:Thanks for chatting Kevin... and let's keep our fingers crossed for some good signings in the near future.
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