The Bruins held their annual breakup day at TD Garden on Tuesday morning as the players came by to grab their equipment and belongings before heading off into the offseason. They also addressed the media for one last time, and the general consensus in the dressing room was that complacency did creep in on the team at times, proving most costly during their epic collapse against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
That complacency led to too many drastic peaks and valleys throughout the season, and general manager Peter Chiarelli said the inconsistent season will lead to offseason changes.
"There were more ups and downs this year than I remember through the course of many years," a seemingly still-shocked Chiarelli said. "That happens in this business, and as a general manager you try to keep an even keel and take away some positive things and take a look at the negative things and move forward. But I did feel that the variance between the ups and downs were too much, so we will make some changes."
Now the job is on Chiarelli, his staff and head coach Claude Julien to figure out how to alter this team so that these inconsistencies don't linger. Twice this team had trouble keeping the throttle down and playing with the desperation and hunger that is needed to succeed in the playoffs, losing three straight to Carolina to fall behind 3-1 in that second round series last spring and then, of course, dropping four straight to the Flyers this season.
"The fact that we couldn't finish it off one game in four, obviously shows that — I don't know if you call it complacency — but there isn't that extra … whatever you want to call it. It wasn't there and it's happened only three times in history, so there was something missing," Chiarelli said. "I think we're going to learn from it. I think you saw that push at the end of the regular season with the up-and-down year we had. I think the guys came together, so I think you saw that and they will learn from last year and this season."
Chiarelli hinted that the character in the locker room can start with the players he signs.
"As far as going forward, there are player personnel moves I can make and we'll look at and there's instilling an attitude from me, through Claude and the rest of the group," Chiarelli said. "There is an issue there, but I don't know if there's one issue or [if] we can do this or do that, but we'll figure it out."
There is plenty of work to be done before the team can do that, but the Bruins have plenty of their own free agents they would like to sign, such as restricted free agent Mark Stuart and unrestricted free agents Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and veteran leader Mark Recchi, to name a few. The team brass will head west for the NHL draft on June 25 in Los Angeles, and with five picks in the first two rounds, some of those picks could be used as trade chips in an effort to strengthen the team.
Chiarelli stressed that the team wouldn't be too active in pursuing outside help on the free-agent market, so the draft could be a busy time for him and his staff.
"We're probably not going to be too heavy on entering the free-agent market, but there are other ways to facilitate a change, and we look to either the trade market or talent from within, whether that's prospects or a drafted player."