By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Let’s be real: We’re bored. I’m bored, you’re bored, and we’re stuck self-quarantining for the rest of month. At least.
We’re also stuck doing this without the benefit of live sports. It seems every sport you do find gets taken away from you almost immediately. I actually watched some Australian football and next thing I knew that was gone, too.
(Now imagine me trying to justify my existence without the benefit of live sports?)
But it doesn’t have to be completely terrible.
So for as long as this COVID-19 pandemic ruins our days, I’ll be here writing stories and content you want to read or see me mindlessly rant about. It’s basically a reader’s request month (probably months if we’re being realistic), and I’m happy to help however possible. Got something you wanna read about? Send your ideas to me on Twitter (@_TyAnderson) or on our Facebook. Or if you prefer the comfort of privacy, email them to CoronaTyrus2020[at]gmail.com.
Today’s topic comes courtesy of an email from Jared D:
From the current bruins roster and any recent relevant rosters what numbers can you see being retired?
I don’t want the bruins to become the Celtics with this.
Bergeron duh. Chara yes. Does Rask make the cut? And anyone else?
First of all, yes on Zdeno Chara and yes on Patrice Bergeron. These are the no brainers of this era, as you noted. (I’d argue we could use a statue of each when the time comes, but that’s a separate discussion, I know.)
Let’s also acknowledge that the Bruins, even with 11 jerseys hanging from their rafters, aren’t exactly in love with retiring numbers. The decision to retire Rick Middleton’s number took years, and the Bruins let eight skaters wear Middleton’s No. 16 after he stopped skating for the B’s in 1988. (The last player to wear the number before they retired it was Kaspar Daugavins in 2013, mind you, so for a while there it didn’t really feel like that number meant a whole lot to the organization).
So if we’re looking outside of No. 33 and No. 37, you’re going to find a lot of Middleton-esque, borderline cases.
Beginning with David Krejci.
In a Boston sweater for all 911 of his career games to date, Krejci currently ranks eighth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, with 686 points for the Bruins. The only name ahead of him to not have his number retired by the Bruins is Wayne Cashman, who sits at No. 7 on their all-time scoring list with 793 points. And assuming health and that Krejci produces at a pace similar to the one he has over the last two seasons — and assuming the NHL remains committed to playing a full 82 games this season, as unlikely as that seems — Krejci will finish his current contract another 77 points on the board, putting him 30 behind Cashman for No. 7 on the Black and Gold’s scoring list. You’d think that Krejci, assuming he stays in Boston at the end of his current contract (which expires after the 2020-21 season), would not only pass him on another deal in Boston, but also become just the fifth Boston forward to record at least 800 points in a B’s sweater. So would moving into retired number category be enough to take No. 46 out of circulation and raise it to the rafters?
Again, it feels borderline.
One thing that could help Krejci’s case in a retirement debate, of course, is his postseason resume, which has included two postseason-best totals (in 2011 and 2013), and a total of 103 points in 132 career postseason games. Those 103 playoff points are tied with Bergeron for the second-most in franchise history, and Krejci trails only Ray Bourque for the most playoff assists in franchise history (Bourque has an otherworldly 125 helpers compared to Krejci’s 67). Expand beyond just Boston and Krejci’s 103 playoff points are actually the 89th most in league history. Pretty damn good.
Something worth noting here on Krejci chasing Cashman and others is that nobody’s really sure what Krejci plans on doing when his current deal expires. There’s always been talk of Krejci wanting to return home to the Czech Republic and finish his career in his backyard. But the truth is that he can do that whenever he wants. I mean, look at countrymen Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec, and even Czech NHLers like Martin Straka and Petr Sykora were playing in their home country over the age of 40. If he wants to play there, there will be a market in 2021 or 2025 or 2030. It really doesn’t matter when.
Does Brad Marchand make a push? It’s tough to say. Marchand has clearly been Boston’s best winger of this era of Bruins hockey, and is currently the seventh-best goal scorer in franchise history, with 290 in 751 games with the Bruins. And while he’s become more of a passing threat on a line with Bergeron and David Pastrnak, Marchand is likely to pass Cam Neely (his No. 8 hangs from the rafters) and his 344 goals with the Bruins sometime within the next two seasons. Marchand does already have the franchise record for shorthanded goals, and beat Middleton’s mark to get there. (There’s also that just seems fitting about Marchand’s number being next to Bergeron’s in the Garden rafters.)
And I’m actually glad you brought up Tuukka Rask in your email.
It’s worth mentioning that the Bruins haven’t retired a single goaltender’s number. In their entire history. And there’s been no shortage of great goalies walking through their doors. From Tiny Thompson to Frank Brimsek to Gerry Cheevers. Hell, you can even make the case that Tim Thomas has a strong argument to have his number retired. (I definitely think he does given his run, but Neely has already said that he doesn’t see the Bruins retiring Timmy’s No. 30.)
But Rask’s longevity may make for one interesting case. The 33-year-old is currently the franchise’s leaders in wins (291 and counting) and save percentage (.922), is second on the franchise’s all-time shutouts list (50), and seems likely to win his second Vezina Trophy by the season’s end. Let’s say he doesn’t retire in 2021, another three full years for a Cup-competing Boston squad (and with a managed workload) could see Rask push for 400 career victories with the Bruins. Just 13 goaltenders in league history have hit the 400-win mark, and eight of those 11 non-active members have already seen their numbers retired (Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph, and Chris Osgood are the only three without banners).
Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to say that all three — Krejci, Marchand, and Rask — need more to legitimize their case. And by that, I mean another Stanley Cup or some additional hardware. Bergeron and Chara have already punched their tickets with a mix of production, longevity, and personal accolades. The others? Their legacies are almost there, but they need… more. Rask needs a Stanley Cup in the worst way to solidify his case, while another Cup run with Krejci and Marchand producing at 2011 rates could be enough to legitimate push them into the conversation as ‘musts’ for the rafters.
One name to watch down the road, of course, is Pastrnak.
Assuming Pastrnak is indeed what he’s been for the last four seasons and remains upright (that’s the biggest issue for many and he’s no exception), Pastrnak might score almost 450 NHL goals by the time he turns 30. This is calculated by a rolling 0.53 goals per game average over the last four seasons, and with Pastrnak still just 23 years old. Let’s — just for the hell of it — say he hits that in Boston. That would put him third on the franchise’s all-time goals list, chasing after Phil Esposito’s second-best 459 goals in Boston and Johnny Bucyk’s franchise-record 545 goals.
In other words, keep Pastrnak upright and in Boston for his career and nobody’ else is gonna wear No. 88.