SUN Hockey Pool

Boston's a down team

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Don't let their 3-0 win over Ottawa or their effort against the Edmonton Oilers last night fool you, the Boston Bruins are not over it. Not by a long shot.

Theirs is not a happy dressing room.

The players who said goodbye to Joe Thornton four days ago are still feeling a sense of resentment and betrayal after the popular, enormously talented captain was traded so suddenly it almost seemed like a whim.

AWKWARD AND UNCOMFORTABLE

The three former Sharks brought in to replace the local hero - Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau - are feeling awkward and uncomfortable, knowing full well they were disliked in Boston, through no fault of their own, before their plane even touched the tarmac.

And everybody in a spoked-B today knows, whether they care to admit it or not, that if they would have played a little better, Thornton would still be a Bruin and the three ex-Sharks would still be in San Jose.

Other than that, it's pretty upbeat on the Boston bandwagon.

"Any time a move is made of that significance, there are a lot of emotions,'' said B's head coach Mike Sullivan. "Joe was on our team for a long time, he's a good friend to a lot of these guys, he's a good teammate and it was an emotional day for everyone.

"It's never an easy thing when it happens to your team, but it's important for our team right now that we move forward with the group that we have.''

They've done reasonably well with that. Blanking the Senators is no small accomplishment, especially for a team with one win in its previous 10, but it'll take more than a win or two for this one to blow over.

"You have to move on, as tough as it is,'' said former Oiler Brad Isbister. "Joe had been here for a lot of years and there were a lot of emotions. I don't think by any means everybody is over it, they lost a friend. But when you get on the ice you have to be professional and go out and do your job.''

The trio softened their landing a bit by combining for three points in their Bruins debut, but will always wear scarlet letters because they were traded for The Franchise. No matter what they do, it's hard to imagine Bruins fans loving them as much as they loved Thornton.

"It's tough having to replace a guy like Joe,'' said Sturm, who knows how the Bruin faithful feel about this deal. "Everyone around Boston was a little bit pissed off and shocked. He's one of the best players in the league. That's why they dealt three of us.

"I just have to play my game. I'm not going to have the points like he put up. I'll just try my best. Same with the other guys.''

Stuart understands he and the other two newcomers will have to win over a team and a town.

"When a team loses its star player, someone who was a big part of the Bruins and a big part of the city, people are going to handle that in different ways,'' he said.

'IT IS WHAT IT IS'

"I'm sure there are people who are not too happy about it, in the city and in the media or whatever, but it's not our job to worry about that. It is what it is and we're here now.''

"You have to (move on),'' added Primeau. "It's just one of those things where both teams, the Bruins and the Sharks, were struggling. Both teams felt the need to make changes.''

That's the bottom line. All of this could have been avoiding if the Sharks and Bruins, both dripping with talent, hadn't spent the first 25 games of the season piddling it away.

"Almost a mirror image,'' said Stuart, comparing the two bomb squads. "Two teams that were greatly underachieving. We were both teams that didn't want to do something like this but they were kind of forced into it. On both teams there's kind of a sense that we let each other down and forced them to make a move.''

A whopper.

"We weren't getting the wins, so people were kind of expecting some changes,'' said Isbister. "But I don't think a lot of people saw Joe being traded. It was surprising, but this business is full of surprises.''


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