Thank you … uh …
Tyler Seguin’s return to the Garden ice Tuesday night with the Dallas Stars isn’t going to prove anything about whether or not the Bruins were correct to cut bait with their young superstar, just as they’ve yet to see much production from the package they received in return last July. Even if Loui Ericksson returns Tuesday, after suffering a concussion at the hands of Buffalo brute John Scott on Oct. 23, and scores a hat trick against his former team, it’s not like chants of “Thank you, Seguin,” are going to wisp from the rafters of the Garden in line with the way Bruins fans taunted Phil Kessel whenever Seguin displayed a flash of brilliance against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite Seguin’s disappearance in the NHL playoffs this past spring, the trade that sent him and Rich Peverley to the Stars in exchange for Ericksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser on July 4 was still a jaw-dropper. Even if Seguin didn’t quite mesh with the Bruins’ two-way system, you just don’t give up on 21-year-old budding superstars, especially one that was the centerpiece of what was once thought general manager Peter Chiarelli’s fleecing of the Maple Leafs when they took on Kessel in exchange for two first-round picks. But as witnessed in the first round of last season’s playoffs, Kessel has clearly matured as a player, a status he’s taken into this season, when he’s fifth in the NHL in scoring with 18 points for the second-place Leafs.
Seguin, now playing center full-time, leads the Stars in scoring, netting six goals, as many as Bruins team leader Milan Lucic, and maybe his maturity on the ice is burgeoning before our eyes. But what an unmitigated disaster Seguin must have been off the ice, in the dressing room, and in team meetings for the Bruins to essentially package him to Dallas with Peverley for a package that many would probably consider grading a “B” at the end of the day.
To their credit, the Bruins didn’t treat Seguin’s exit like the Red Sox did Terry Francona’s in 2011, when cowardly allegations of pill-popping and other assorted behavior leaked, though there was probably plenty of material to do so. There are stories of a guard at his hotel room during the playoffs so he wouldn’t sneak out to Daisy Buchanan’s. There was the time he showed up for morning skate in the same clothes he had been wearing the previous day. There was his broken alarm clock, which may or may not have ever been fixed. There was reportedly a “Don’t text her, bro,” listing in his phone, and a litany of rumors of Seguin’s off-ice activities.
It took the Bruins three seasons to understand that he was a boy among men, far too immature to play the style Cam Neely and Claude Julien demand in Boston, or maybe it was simply that he was too young, not far removed from having his butt kissed for the better part of his lean years, and was simply unwilling to do as he was told, a characteristic that sort of leaked out when his Mommy tsked tsked the reporting of the guard at Seguin’s hotel upon last July’s trade.
“That’s crap. Oh, my God. That’s stupid stuff. That’s very unfair to say that. He’s a professional. That makes me very angry,” she told the Toronto Star. “You know what is happening? Boston is now trying to justify why they’re getting rid of Tyler. Obviously, they don’t want a fan backlash against Chiarelli.
“Now they’re making up stories.”
If that’s the case, the “stories” seemed to be pretty rampant from a lot more sources than Causeway Street.
For comparison sake, Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, one spot before Seguin, has eight points in nine games with the Edmonton Oilers, and will be out another week or more after suffering a knee injury last month. When it comes to Hall-Seguin, the latter has been more durable from a playing standpoint, while the former already seems leaps and bounds ahead in the mental capacity of what it takes to succeed in the NHL.
Whether or not Seguin will wake up to that fact is difficult to say for a guy who could only legally drink as recently as 10 months ago. But think of just how bad it must have actually been for the Bruins to bid sayonara after 203 games in a Boston sweater. Eriksson and Reilly Smith may mesh better with the Bruins’ distribution. This year. Down the road, Seguin’s blossoming may have Stars fans thanking Chiarelli vociferously at every meeting.
“I’m not going to sit here and say even when I’m not playing against Boston that I don’t want to go out and prove people wrong or prove some of you people standing here wrong,” Seguin said. “That’s what you do every day. That’s not going to change.”
Step one is Tuesday night, but frankly, it’s going to be some time before Seguin learns to walk that talk.