B's feel owner's sting

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Twenty-five years ago, having an owner's caustic comments overshadow a Boston Bruins-Maple Leafs divisional game was a common occurrence.

But the controversial Harold Ballard is long gone, leaving B's boss Jeremy Jacobs the front page. With the Leafs threatening to extend his last-place team's losing streak to seven games and put nine points between the Northeast clubs, Jacobs sounded off yesterday in Boston newspapers.

"It's very disappointing, with the team and the whole situation," Jacobs told the Boston Globe. "There doesn't seem to be the intensity or the desire or the hard work it takes to play the game.

"A Bruin stands for something on the ice, it always has. It's the win-loss column that's going to make a difference. We should be leading this division, we're not. That's a terrible letdown."

Jacobs had gone along with the idea of revamping the Bruins roster post-lockout, even though it meant losing some members of the team that edged Toronto and the Ottawa Senators for the Northeast title in 2003-04. But a quick exit in the first playoff round, then the work stoppage and now the loss of key divisional points early in the year has Jacobs vexed.

Jacobs would not answer questions about general manager Mike O'Connell's job security or that of coach Mike Sullivan, but said all the Bruins are in the same boat.

Goaltender Andrew Raycroft did not believe the GM and coach should be singled out.

"To criticize everyone who built this team is unfair," Raycroft told the Boston Herald. "We have the guys in here to do the job. We just haven't done it."

Jacobs has crossed swords with captain Joe Thornton before, but there is no arguing the latter's effort with 29 points in 19 games.

The Leafs are seeking to beat Boston for the third time in four meetings this year and for the second time during the Bruins' slump. But winger Jeff O'Neill was not buying into any theories about the Bruins being pushovers.

LOSING THEIR MINDS

"Whenever a team goes through a losing streak, people start losing their minds a bit," O'Neill said. "They just have such quality players that it's hard to understand why they haven't got out of it. But they will, they always do.

"But as (Leafs coach Pat Quinn) said, I just hope it's not against us," O'Neill said.

Since defeating the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, Toronto has enjoyed a day off, plus two quality practice days in search of five consecutive wins. Tonight kicks off one of the busiest stretches in its schedule, six games in nine days, though at present just one division leader, the Carolina Hurricanes, are on the menu.

"We're hoping to stay healthy," defenceman Bryan McCabe said of a very uncharacteristic run of injury-free games. "Hopefully, guys take care of themselves when they're off the ice. We get a little break at Christmas time; a few days off here and there is nice for once because the next couple of weeks are really going to take a toll.

"We're on the road a lot (for four of the six games) and it will be a good chance to get all the guys together and get this thing going."

It was two years ago yesterday that the Leafs came out of an early funk and began an incredible 16-game streak in which they gained at least a point.


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