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12-03-2003, 12:33 PM
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Michael Karlstrom II
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The trade that cost the Bruins the Stanley Cup?

The trade that cost the Bruins the Stanley Cup?

I had some extra time over the last couple days and is my want, I started thinking about the Bruins and this year’s team and our chances for the cup. While I am pretty happy with our positioning in regards to how I think we are in a very possible position to make one or two doable moves to give us a solid enough team to enter the playoffs this year as one of the major favorites to win the cup, often my thinking on this subject does take me down memory lane and how I have felt several times in the past that we should be one of the major favorites to win cups back then too.

Anyhow where I have ended up here is looking at one trade and thinking that it put into series several subsequent moves that all conspired to keep us from going over the top on several occasions where we were close enough to almost make it through the late 80’s and into the early 90’s. There is no telling for sure we could have won the cup taking this trade back but let me spell out the argument and everyone can judge for themselves if this was the most costly deal in Bruin history or not.

The trade in question that I am offering up here was the March 8, 1988 trade of Bill Ranford, Geoff Courtnall and our 1989 second round draft pick for Edmonton Oiler holdout goaltender Andy Moog.

Now don’t get me wrong… I loved Moog and was very happy when he outplayed Patrick Roy to help us eliminate the Canadiens from the playoffs to break that horrible streak we had of losing to the hated habs. Moog was for my money the second best goaltender I saw in a Bruin uniform in my lifetime just behind Cheesy Cheevers. But Moog never won us the cup and I am going to argue here that his trade set in motion several factors that conspired to rob us of the full potential that could have been ours.

I will start with the obvious that taking the move back lets us keep Bill Ranford for our net. Now at the time of the deal O’Reilly was coach and he didn’t like Ranford or Neely for some reason. O’Reilly for my money is my alltime hero so I don’t want to say anything bad about him but given the problems he had with Neely it’s probably good that he wasn’t scheduled long as our coach. Since O’Reilly was about to head out the door anyhow keeping Ranford wouldn’t have been that bad of an option. Billy did win a cup with the Oilers so he was good enough to win. Perhaps Moog was the better goaltender or perhaps not. For my money they both had seasons where they were better than the other. I think keeping Ranford we could have expected him to be our number 1 goaltender from 1990 to 1994 anyhow. He was as good as anyone in the game for those 4 seasons.

Ranford was funny… as long as he was patted on the back he was pretty good, but hurt his feelings and he really sucked. He was the union rep in Edmonton and in the strike year the fans up here really got on his case. He was really never the same goaltender again after the strike. He was really only 28 years old when his career went into the toilet. Perhaps if he hadn’t gone through the union/strike thing he could still be holding onto this day as a 37 year old veteren backup on the team? Perhaps not… it doesn’t really matter for this argument. From 90-94 Ranford was a stud.. Moog was gone after the 93 season. Ranford could have did for us everything that Moog did.

We went and picked up Reggie Lemelin as a free agent in August of 1987. He pretty much was an equal to Moog for their first three seasons together. He could have held the fort for Ranford for those years until Ranford was ready to take over in 90.

Moog really delivered nothing to us that we couldn’t have gotten without him and he cost us more… we threw in Geoff Courtanll to the deal for starters.

Courtnall never really was a complete player in my opinion. He wasn’t overly gritty and seamed to be a bit weak defensively but the guy could score goals without a ton of power play time to pad his totals. He was a 5 time 30 goal scorer who ended up with 367 goals in 1048 career games. He had just become a 30 goal scorer with us when we moved him.

I don’t really think I would have wanted Courtnall with us for the long haul but I think we could have kept him for the second line until July 13th of 1990 where he was dealt for Peter Zezel and Mike Lalor. I am not sure how long we would have wanted Zezel since he was always one of my favorite players but for my case here I am going to suggest that maybe given our own history we would have wanted to deal him again on January 16th of 1991 in a package deal for Al Iafrate.

The actual deal was Bob Rouse and Peter Zezel for the Wild Thing. Of course I have a problem here in my argument because we didn’t have Rouse ourselves to make this trade exactly as it happened but perhaps I can take some poetic trade licence here. Rouse was a pretty decent defensive dman. I wonder if Zezel/Lalor/and some sort of pick would have been enough? I am going to assume it would have been and say that keeping Courtnall would have meant we got Iafrate in 1991 instead of 1994. This gives us three very useful seasons of him where he pushes Glen Wesley and Don Sweeney down the depth chart and combinds with Borque on the point of what would have been one of the most awesome Power Plays ever with his shot added to the playmaking of Oates, the power up front of Neely, and the point generalship of Mister Borque.

Of course the deal for Iafrate early would have meant that the later deal for Juneau doesn’t go through but I will get to that in a moment.

There of course is some logic arguments all through here… if one guy is around maybe another has a different history. Maybe a car pool gets in an accent? Maybe a player takes a different shift and avoids an injury?

Part of this argument is just for fun but I think there is a certain logic here too that sort of can be argued.

We now have Ranford doing what Moog did… we have a couple seasons of Courtnall as a useful second line winger and then a couple seasons of Iafrate as a stud number 2 defenseman.

The remainder of the original trade was the second round pick

In 1988 the Bruins drafted Rob Cimetta, Steven Heinze and then Joe Juneau. I will argue that they were looking for scoring help on the wing. With this in mind lets extrapolate what might have happened with the extra pick.

The Bruins have shown they don’t mind making a reach for guys they believe in. If they had the second rounder it is very possible they take Heinze there to make sure they get their man… but then who is picked with the Heinze slot? The Bruins were after scoring wingers… might they have gone for Mass area kid Tony Amonte? I think it is very likely they would have.

On a side note if they had simply make the jump to Juneau instead, then with the Juneau pick they could have grabbed Len Esau. Esau had no real notable career to speak of but he was a kid I went to school with and was a bit of a rival of. It would have been personally neat to me to see Len as a Bruin.

For this argument I am going to say that Amonte would have been drafted as a Bruin if the Moog trade hadn’t been made.

This completes the fallout of the original trade but lets not forget that we reaquired Ranford in 1996 for Marius Czerkawski, Sean Brown, and our 1996 first round pick. If we had never traded him in the first place we wouldn’t have had to go get him back.

We all know Sean Brown has never been anything more than a seventh dman/13th forward. Czerkawski has been a soft moderate second line type scorer. Czerkawski was traded for both Dan Lacoture and Aron Asham so we could have got a fourth line grinder for him.

!996 was a very sucky draft year. Edmonton tood Mathiu Desateaux with our pick. We went with Henry Kuster and Eric Naud ourselves… I think we wanted a forward. Chances our we would have blown the pick just like Edmonton did as there were no logical forwards available that would have helped around where we were picking. Maybe we might have went for Marco Strum but he was a bit of a reach. Daniel Brier was drafted right around our pick and Marcus Nilson. Dan Lacoture might have been interesting to us or Josh Green? Perhaps the Bruins would have reached for Henry Kuster??? If so our 45th pick could have been spent differently… might we have liked Tom Poti? Colin White?? Zedeno Chara???

I wonder… It would have been nice to have grabbed Tom Poti. He is a Boston area product and the team has historically favored Mass area kids where all else is equal.

Having Tony Amonte and Tom Poti in the lineup over the last 5 years really could have made a difference for the team.

Anyhow… just taking away the two Ranford trades already makes a huge difference in our history but I think we can argue even more.

I mean if the team had Amonte in the system… if we hadn’t traded Juneau for Iafrate… then why would we have wanted Keven Stevens in 1995?

I personally cheered the Stevens deal and what it stood to mean for us… but history shows us that the trade didn’t work out. Keeping Smolinski and Murray would have kept the team younger and cheaper and ultimately better. Shawn McEachern was given up for nothing later and Stevens was moved for Tocheet who was then included in the Oates deal for the conditional draft pick that became Lee Goren.

Smolinski/Murray were ultimately more valuable to us.

Not only that… but keeping Murray would have given us a big young power winger wannabe and I think that we don’t make the deal in 1998 for Landon Wilson and Anders Myrovold.

We now have our 1998 1st rounder. Colorado grabbed Robyn Regher with the pick. We went with Girard. Would we have like Regher? Might we have reached for Girard? If we did move Girard and Bobby Allen up could we have then grabbed Eric Cole with the Allen selection???

Maybe… maybe not. I will pencil in Regher into our lineup here with the pick.

Brian Smolinski was dealt for Darius Kasperaitis and Andreas Johanson in 1996.

What would our defense look like today with Regher, Kasperaitis, Poti on it instead of McGillis, O’Donnell, Moran?

What would our forward group look like if Amonte was here with Jason Allison or Adam Oates on the second line with Samsonov?

I know other things could have happened… but I don’t think the 1997 meltdown happens if everything goes down here differently… one can then argue that we don’t get Joe Thornton but maybe we do? Maybe we deal up for him?

I don’t know… it’s hard to really say what happens. Maybe Neely doesn’t get hurt… a shift goes different and he isn’t on the ice for that fateful hit? Maybe Kluzak or Thelven stay healthier? Maybe McLaren doesn’t want to get moved? All of our draft positions probably change… are the guys we like still there or do we have new names added to the mix while old ones are subtracted?

I think just off the top keeping Courtnall, Czerkawski, the two picks and Brown is a major improvement to the team. I liked Moog but the trade really cost the Bruins and I think as close as we got to the cup a couple times, it can be argued that the deal cost us what it would have taken to get over the top.

Just my thoughts on the subject… hope it wasn’t too boring to read through.

As always I like to end my posts with a cheer for the current team. Maybe we didn’t win the cup the last 30 something years but it’s another season now… go Bruins go.