BOSTON -- With the Boston Bruins in the midst of their fourth three-game losing streak of the season, seemingly everyone is looking for a way to spark the team.
The Bruins on Tuesday named principal Charlie Jacobs as chief executive officer for Delaware North's Boston Holdings, including the Bruins, TD Garden and NESN. Jacobs, the son of Bruins chairman Jeremy Jacobs, took the occasion of his promotion to publicly let everyone associated with the Bruins know their plight won't be tolerated.
"Incredible failure," Jacobs said in response to a question about the possibility the Bruins could miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "When you think about what has been put in this team in terms of the … let's discount all of the scouting, all of the drafting, all of the money spent on the player personnel, for us to be a team that's out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable. And everybody in the executive offices is fully aware of how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us this evaluation process. And it's fluid right now. I can't say at any moment we have a final decision other than to say it'd be an utter disappointment and a complete failure."
Specifically asked about his confidence in the Bruins front office, led by president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli, Jacobs said, "As I mentioned earlier, we're in a constant state of evaluation right now. This is a fluid process."
The Bruins are 0-0-3 in their past three games and 1-1-3 in their past five heading into their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN).
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and forward Brad Marchand lost their tempers during one drill at practice Tuesday. They were locked in a bear hug that required teammates to break them up. A few minutes later, Krug and Marchand led the post-practice stretch while facing one another.
Whether the tussle was staged or truly a heat-of-the moment occurrence, it could light a fire under the struggling Bruins.
"I think it's no secret in here that guys are not happy with where we're at," Krug said. "You know it's got to start somewhere, so why not in practice. And I thought after that you noticed the guys were a little more intense and having some fun. So, you know, who knows, maybe it could be good for our team. I guess we'll see, and maybe we could use that [Wednesday]."
This should be a great time for the Bruins because they recently became injury-free with the return of defenseman Zdeno Chara, then center David Krejci and finally defenseman Adam McQuaid to the lineup. Instead the Bruins have been a team without an identity, and more disturbing than the losses has been the way the Bruins have failed to earn two points.
They squandered a late lead and lost in overtime to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. They lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout Sunday after landing a season-low two shots on goal in the third period.
Despite their lackluster performances, Bruins players say they're not discouraged. Most of the core of the roster won the Presidents' Trophy one season ago. Ten regulars were contributors to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team. The Bruins have faith they can thrive again as long as they all get back on the same page.
"Just trusting in one another. I think that relying on our system, trusting our system and going out and doing your job," alternate captain Chris Kelly said. "I think, you know, it's not a lack of work ethic. When you go out and see guys, guys are working. Sometimes there's duplication on jobs and that's just … you've got to also be working smart. And I think sometimes we put ourselves in some trouble when we're duplicating jobs because we want to go out there and be the difference-maker instead of just relaxing and playing the game."
Smiles have been in abundance in the Bruins dressing room and on the practice ice the past two days. That's a result of coach Claude Julien's efforts to lighten his players moods. Julien said he compares the Bruins to the Detroit Red Wings of last season. The Red Wings dealt with a similar amount of injuries and needed until the final week of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
"But there was no panic there," Julien said. "They understood the situation and I think right here, I don't know how [front-office people] evaluate the situation, but I know that for a fact our guys, our group, our coaching staff, we're going to try our best, we're trying our best. Not good enough right now. But we're going to continue to work to turn this thing around. Once it's turned around, I think everybody will have smiles on their faces and we'll be happy again.
"… My job in the last couple of days has to really try to get the guys to just relax a little bit, not be so tense. And hopefully these comments [by Jacobs] don't make it any worse. But you know, this is what we have to deal with and we'll get through it. I've got enough experience in this League, I've been through enough, to go out there and take that group of players and make them feel comfortable and understand that they're capable of turning this around. And I believe in this group, I really do. And so that's why the question was asked yesterday, 'Do you believe in this group?' Absolutely. And it's up to us to make it work. Their job is to evaluate. Our job is to bring the results and that's what we're going to try to do."
The rivalry between Boston and Pittsburgh has been heated the past several seasons. They have been among the elite of the League and met in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final. So maybe the Bruins have the right opponent to help them find the spark they need.
"You know we've talked about it throughout different parts of the season. Going on the road is a benefit for our team because it really simplifies the game," Krug said. "I think what's important for us right now is to get back to the basics of our system and to trust our system a little bit more. You know a road game can do that, especially against a high-powered offense like Pittsburgh has. And you know they're right near the top of the Eastern Conference and it's a good test for us."