With the regular season winding down for the 2015-16 campaign, there are concerns on the slate for the Boston Bruins that take precedent. For instance, how about making the playoffs?
Spoiler: This feature will contain a plethora of rhetorical questions, so a thousand pardons in advance.
Anyway, prior to puck drop of their 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, the B’s announced the winner of the NESN Seventh Player Award. This distinction is given to the player who “performed above and beyond expectations” as voted by the Bruins fans.
There are two very important components that are included in that description. The first one being the phrase, “Performed above and beyond expectations,” and the second VERY KEY detail is that this award was voted on by the fans.
This year, Brad Marchand was the recipient of the Seventh Player Award, which marked the second time in his young career that he took home this honor. After taking the ice for Saturday’s regular season finale, Marchand posted 37 goals and 24 assists in 77 games. If it were not for the five-game suspension that he served earlier in the year, he would have been on the ice for every game this season.
Now, with all due respect, was this right player to take home the award this year? The Bruins lost key offensive weapons during the offseason, including Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, and (believe it or not) Reilly Smith. The remaining core—whomever you’d like to include in that group—was expected to pick up the offensive slack. With a guy who is entering the final year of his contract, Marchand was expected to be one of the offensive juggernauts for this team. So, because he popped in a few more goals than expected, fans want to anoint Marchand as the player who performed above and beyond expectations?
Come on, Bruins fans. We cannot be so nearsighted.
In the true spirit of the award, this honor should have gone to Tyler Randell. Before you shake your head in disagreement, let’s take a closer look at this argument…
Randell, a 24-year-old forward hailing from Scarborough, ON, Canada, was not really considered to make the team. Once training camp opened up and started to progress, Randell stood out for his size, deceptive speed, and physical presence who packed a delicate scoring touch. He made the final roster prior to the regular season, something that was not expected.
Is anyone sensing a theme yet?
Randell skated in 27 games this year and recorded six goals. His 33.3 shooting percentage not only leads the entire B’s roster, but it ranks him 5th in the entire NHL. This is a guy who was brought in to bring stability to the fourth line and was dubbed as a “goon” to bring toughness back to the lineup, dropping the gloves whenever the situation presented itself. The fact that a fourth liner with very little upside put together a season like this should have been worthy enough to be considered for the Seventh Player Award.
Last season, David Pastrnak took home the award. He posted 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games in 2014-15. Even though he was a highly touted, 18-year-old rookie at the time, no one expected Pastrnak to perform at the level that he did. If Randell, cracked the lineup on a more consistent basis this season, he would have been on track to surpass the goal total that Pastrnak put up in his Seventh Player Award season. Using that logic, why not Randell? Just saying.
Marchand, you are a fantastic player and the team will be counting on you to carry the load if the Bruins make the playoffs. The fans of the team also know that will be the case. However, the fans got this one wrong.