Boston, MA -- Just two days after the Boston Bruins played their final game of the 2007-2008 season, the locker room was being cleaned out, and things were wrapping up in the Hub of Hockey.
There may have been a bit of sadness in the air as the final press conferences and locker room interviews took place, but there were certainly no regrets on this "Breakup Day."
“When we started the season…one of the things I said to our players was one of the things I [wanted] to dominate the season [was] that we play hard every night,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “We did that through the course of the year and then throughout the playoffs.”
Both Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien, who sat beside the GM as they both addressed the media one last time, had a positive attitude as they looked back at the many months they’d spent in the TD Banknorth Garden and on the road.
“I think guys really responded through a couple of periods of adversity,” Chiarelli said, “[and] I think it’s critical, crucial, to the development of our team to have the [playoff] series that we had.”
Obviously both men – and Bruins fans everywhere – were wishing the team could have made it farther, but the accomplishments of this Black & Gold team, especially in light of all the injuries that occurred and rookie players who had to step up into larger roles, are nothing to scoff at.
“Everybody realizes that we went from a team that wasn’t good enough to a team that became good [and] allowed us to make the playoffs,” said Julien. “Now it’s about being a good team and becoming a better team.”
The “what-ifs” will always linger – what if Patrice Bergeron
hadn’t been injured?; what if the Bruins had been matched against a different team during playoffs?; and so on – but Coach Julien wants the focus to be on turning those questions and the negatives of the season into positives.
“Although [these things] were devastating…they allowed for us to let our young guys grow and develop quicker than we ever would have thought,” he said.
Just as it was the first year for many Bruins players, it was also Coach Julien’s first year as head coach of the team, and he believes it worked out well for everyone.
“I think it reflects a lot on the organization [and] the players, what they gave us, and then how they definitely bought into a lot of the stuff we threw at them this year,” he said. “I’m getting nothing but positive feedback from players as well, so it’s been an enjoyable year for them, and that’s important to hear.”
Of course, credit also goes to Chiarelli and his team, who allowed the team to remain unchanged at the trade deadline.
“We had a team that was allowed to grow because of the patience that Peter decided to have with us,” said Julien. “It paid off, [and] I thought it was a great move because we really liked our young players.”
As they climbed the ladder, exceeded expectations, earned a playoff spot – and then forced a game seven on the top team in the Eastern Conference – the Bruins earned something every team hopes to garner.
“We gained a lot of respect around the league,” said Julien, “to the point where teams are going to play us even tougher.”
Going into the summer break, before training camp starts up again, the Bruins organization is already looking forward to what’s to come.
“I think those things [we accomplished this year] really helped develop a team…and all things going forward,” said Chiarelli.
Stick around, because preseason games will be here before you know it – and it’s sure to get even better.