Editor’s note: NESN and the Bruins premiered Behind the B on Tuesday night, the first of 13 episodes taking fans behind the scenes with the team. This is a recap of that first episode. If you plan on watching Episode 1 at a later time (those times listed below), stop reading now. If you have it DVR’d, stop reading now. This is your official SPOILER ALERT.
The show opened with some behind-the-scenes footage of the Bruins coming back into the dressing room after losing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Perhaps the most striking thing is how quiet it really is. The only real sounds you hear are the sounds of sticks being put down and sweaters being pulled off.
Claude Julien then addressed the team following that heart-breaking loss. Perhaps the most interesting thing is to just look around the room at how many guys have their heads buried in their hands. David Krejci is in the far left corner of the room with a towel up around his face. After the game, he sat in that same spot looking like he’d just lost his best friend, all while still in full uniform, pads and skates.
Julien’s message to the team following the game: “We were pretty banged up, I think. We had a lot of guys play through a lot of adversity here, so you should proud of that. … It’s my job to come in here and tell you that you did a hell of a job. We had some ups and downs, but we played our best hockey when it counted and we gave ourselves an opportunity. Don’t hang your heads because there’s nothing to be ashamed about, OK? Don’t hang your heads.”
Julien’s words pretty much summed up the Bruins’ season about as well as anyone could. The part about injuries was especially prevalent in the playoffs when you look at what someone like Patrice Bergeron or even Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg did with nagging injuries. It’s not unlike other teams, of course, but it’s a worthwhile reminder no less.
The late start to the season and the Bruins playing deep into the summer meant the Bruins actually needed to start dealing with offseason decisions before the season even ended. Like, for example, when they met on June 4, which is shown in the episode. That led to arguably the best scene of the entire episode where Chiarelli and his staff discuss the futures of players like Andrew Ference and Tyler Seguin.
Chiarelli stressed how good of a player Ference was, but he also stressed the importance of the salary cap. That, along with the progression and potential of Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski made it possible for them to let Ference walk.
Assistant general manager Jim Benning on Ference: “I love Andrew Ference, but time … we have to move on. Like, he’s been a warrior for us, but … Krug might be that next warrior for us.”
Brenning on Seguin: “We’ll miss [Seguin's] speed,” then, after thinking about it for a second, “in the regular season, we’ll miss his speed. If we get guys that we think we can [win] with, then it is what it is. We’re winning every year, we’re not babysitting.”
Director of player personnel Scott Bradley also offered a good bit of insight when he said “Knowing a player and his value, and went to move him, we were good on [Andrew] Raycroft, we were good on Phil [Kessel].” Then, as someone else says “It’s time,” Bradley agrees that it is indeed time (presumably to move Seguin).
Another riveting scene came as the front office met once again, and this time they were discussing Nathan Horton.
Chiarelli said that the Bruins initially wanted to re-sign Horton. If they were able to do so — or someone similar to him in both talent level and skill — they were going to need to make a corresponding move to get under the lowered salary cap of $64.3 mililon. Chiarelli’s solution to that? “If we sign Horton or a comparable player for that salary, we have to move a player. And the player I’ve been shopping is Seguin.”
In late June just around the time of the draft, reports started surfacing on Twitter (and everywhere else) that Horton wasn’t coming back to Boston. Chiarelli had heard that news secondhand (“on the Twitterverse,” he said) and got Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka on the phone. It was then Chiarelli and the B’s were officially informed Horton would not be returning.
Some of that conversation, including Chiarelli’s F-bomb, can be seen below.
Also prior to the draft, the Bruins reconvened to discuss trading Seguin.
Bradley: “I just think there are too many red flags with him. He has a lot of talent, we know that. He should be scoring. I’m disappointed, he brings up [Patrick] Kane, if he gives us half of Kane, we win the Stanley Cup. … He hasn’t proven he’s tough enough or can play our style of game. I don’t know if a leopard can change his spots, but he’s going to have to or else we’ll be sitting here next year doing the same thing.”
President Cam Neely on Seguin: “On the ice, he as all sorts of skill. Off the ice, I don’t care how old you are, but after three years you should have some improvement in the areas the coaching staff have talked to him about. It’s a little slower developing than it should be and that’s because it’s the areas it’s difficult to get into for this game. For me, if we get the right deal for him, then it’s something we need to do.”
There was some really good insight as to how trades actually happen and are discussed when Chiarelli was on the phone with an unidentified general manager.
One of the major bummers about the first episode? We weren’t taken into the office as the actual trade with Dallas was discussed and went down. Instead, we get an introduction to Loui Eriksson after he was acquired in the Seguin deal.
We get a look at Neely’s first interaction with Eriksson as well. If talking to one of the game’s all-time greats about the prospects of playing for a Stanley Cup doesn’t get you going, nothing will.
Neely: “That’s why you play the game, that’s why you lace ‘em up [to play for the Stanley Cup]. … It’s no disrespect to where you came from, but this is an Original 6 team, the fanbase is deep-rooted, they’re smart, they know their hockey. One thing I can tell you is they expect you to work hard every game. That’s the expectations that we have, our fan base has.”
One of the funnier scenes came when Eriksson walked out of the tunnel to see the arena. Looking up at the TD Garden banners, all he could muster was a “Nice.” Eriksson then noticed the color of the seats, commenting on all the “black and yellow.” He was quickly corrected by Bruins vice president of communications Matt Chmura, who made sure Eriksson knew it was black and gold, not yellow. Eriksson probably won’t make that mistake again.
We were also taken house-hunting with Eriksson. It was kind of funny to see him stop for lunch in the North End at Trattoria Di Monica where there’s a Bruins logo on the building outside and on the sleeves of employees. This isn’t Dallas anymore, Loui.
We also checked in with Milan Lucic out in the Vancouver area. It’s been pretty remarkable to see him mature over time, and he’s proof that having a child really does change you. It’s insane to think that the guy playing with the little baby girl is also the same person who tries to rip players from limb to limb on the ice.
We also got a look at Jarome Iginla‘s offseason work. He once again explained that it was “nothing personal” that he chose Pittsburgh over Boston, adding he just chose the hot team at the time.
Iginla has a pretty cool home gym. Right near the squat rack is a poster of the Stanley Cup that reads “The Ultimate Goal.” He’s also got a framed picture of Paul Pierce among his many photos in the room.
From there, we went back to Wilmington, Mass., for Bruins development camp. First, it’s a talk from Chiarelli, and then it’s … bowling? As part of team-bonding exercises, the team hit the lanes.
Malcolm Subban: pretty good goalie, not a great bowler at all.
Included in development camp was an introduction to strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides. He’s a lunatic in the best possible way. Whitesides stole the show, thanks in large part to his colorful language.
Like, for example: Equipment guys do something nice for you? Say thank you. They’re not you’re [expletive] maids. If you weren’t drafted, that doesn’t make a [expletive] difference. Look at Torey Krug. Steps in, plays for us in the playoffs. Undrafted. It’s who wants to work, It’s who wants to put their balls on the line, it’s who wants to compete. If you’re a guy who doesn’t want to put the work in off the ice, if you’re a guy who wants to party and [expletive] around, that’s going to start adding up.
We also got to hit the golf course with Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Rask’s brother, Jonas Rask.
Krejci nails it with his line about drivers, which just about every hack golfer can relate to. ”You know how it is with the driver, not even going to say it. One drive goes straight, one drive goes left.” Truer words were never spoken.
Rask, meanwhile, proved that he could hold his own at TPC Boston with a rather impressive showing on the links, despite showing up with perhaps the deepest V-necks in the history of clothing.
All in all, the first episode was pretty entertaining, particularly the behind-the-scenes look at player personnel decisions. One thing is sure, though. If you’re a Dallas Stars fan, you hope that Seguin was able to watch this show. It’s clear that the B’s thought Seguin had worn out his welcome, and this only proved that even more. Either way, it certainly shows you how much work and thought goes into making some very difficult decisions.
If you missed the premiere, you can see it on NESN on the following dates.