The Bruins skated to a 6-2 defeat last night. Opening Night was a disaster for Boston, whose salary cap situation has left a thin roster and a downright laughable D corps. The 2015-16 team, brutal as it will likely be, is no accident: the Bruins have a history of free agent acquisitions akin to the New York Jets’ draft history:
Two signings of the past fifteen years stand out, perfectly exemplifying the knee-jerk, ill-conceived, panic-button-pushing manner with which this roster has been historically replenished: forward Martin Lapointe, whom they signed during the 2001 offseason, and centerman Alexi Zhamnov, who came to Boston after the 2004-05 lockout.
The case for Lapointe:
- The official story, which came out in the aftermath of the deal, was that Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs found himself in a lengthy shouting match with Red Wings owner Mike Illitch at the league’s annual Board of Governors meeting.
- Illich repeatedly called Jacobs a cheapskate, and in a Jerk-Store-esque comeback, Jacobs responded by giving Lapointe, at that time a free agent from Detroit, a 4-year, $20 million deal, just as Lapointe was coming off his most productive season. In his only 20-goal season, Lapointe scored 27 and chipped in 30 assists for the high-powered Red Wings offense.
- As with so many high-priced free agents, Lapointe reverted to the mean in Boston. His first year, 2001-02, was his best for the Bruins. He pitched in just 17 goals, and tallied 40 points. He pitched in 18 points the following year, and 25 in ’03-’04.
- The only silver lining for Boston, insofar as the Lapointe deal was concerned, was that they never had to pay the final year of the contract, because of the 2004-05 lockout. Lapointe made $15 million for the Bruins, and tallied 83 points, working out, by my calculations, to $395,000 per point. All because someone picked the wrong day to call Jeremy Jacobs a cheapskate.
Stay tuned later for Part 2: The Case for Zhamnov.