“Do not mistake activity for achievement.” — John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach
BOSTON — There aren’t too many things John Wooden, the basketball Hall of Famer and icon, is wrong about. And in general, the above quote is dead-on. But in the case of the Boston Bruins and the deals they made leading up to today’s 3 p.m trade deadline, activity won them the day — and the achievement might come some time in June.
Winger Mark Recchi and defenseman Steve Montador are both solid complementary additions for their experience, versatility and skill. But when compared to additions the Bruins’ stiffest competition in the Eastern Conference made (or didn’t make), Recchi and Montador’s arrivals multiply in enormity.
Remember, the Bruins sit atop the East with 93 points — six points better than New Jersey. You know what the Devils did today at the deadline? Nada. Now they added Niclas Havelid as a third-pair defenseman Monday, and some would argue that the return of Martin Brodeur to protect their pipes after a lengthy injury absence was like a deadline trade. But the Devils, who have played the Bruins tough, didn’t do much to put themselves over the top.
The Washington Capitals also did nothing. And they didn’t even add a depth defenseman or get back a Hall of Fame goaltender from injury in the days before the deadline. That’s right, they seem content to go for the Stanley Cup with Jose Theodore — he off the super-soft game-tying goal allowed in Boston Saturday — in net. Good luck with that.
Sure Montreal added Mathieu Schneider not too long ago, and he’s bolstered their blue line and power play. But it’s unforgivable that they opted to not do whatever it took to add size and production to their front line. Maybe Robert Lang returns for the playoffs. Perhaps Alex Kovalev finds his form of a year ago. But a team that’s relying on Max Pacioretty and Matt D’Agostini to provide the secondary offense behind a bunch of under-achieving first-liners seems ticketed to no better than a first-round playoff exit.
Philadelphia added Daniel Carcillo, but gave up Scott Upshall, who has been a pretty big thorn in Boston’s side the last couple years. The New York Rangers were active, but they gave up a lot of grit up front to add a puck-mover (Derek Morris) on the back end — when they already spent a ton to bring in a supposed puck-mover in Wade Redden (he didn’t come as advertised) last summer. And does anyone expect the sloth-like Nik Antropov and the fire-tongued coach John Tortorella to get along on Broadway?
You’ve got to like Pittsburgh’s addition of Bill Guerin to go along with recent acquisition Chris Kunitz up front. But behind Marc-Andre Fleury, the goaltending is shaky, and the defense is iffy as well with Ryan Whitney shipped to Anaheim to land Kunitz.
Carolina and Buffalo are duking it out with the Penguins and Rangers for a playoff berth. The Hurricanes added Erik Cole and the Sabres brought in Dominic Moore. Both are fine additions for a team looking to add one final piece, but both those clubs are at least four or five more pieces away from being a threat.
Perhaps the team, other than Boston, that did the best today was Florida — but the Panthers earned that nod by not trading star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. They added back-end depth in Steve Eminger but, more importantly, kept together the team that’s been one of the hottest around since the start of ’09.
Last season, the Bruins did nothing at the deadline and it paid off with the first playoff berth the organization enjoyed in four years. While there’s no guarantee the Bruins will be riding the Duck Boats come June, they definitely got the better of their closest competition on deadline day.