August 20, 2013

From NEHJ: Tyler, we hardly knew ye

By Jesse Connolly

In 245 career regular-season and postseason games with the Bruins, Tyler Seguin netted 62 goals. (Getty Images)

He was supposed to be the next great Bruin, a franchise cornerstone, a scintillating sniper who would keep you on the edge of your seat as he razzled and dazzled his way to superstardom. Tyler Seguin became a Star, all right — a Dallas Star, to be exact, as the once infinitely promising forward was essentially dishonorably discharged from the Hub of Hockey on July 4.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why.

One goal in 22 playoff games. Off-ice issues that might have affected his on-ice performance crawling out from the rug they’d been swept under. A six-year extension worth a cool $5.75 million annually about to kick in.

Despite all that, there were still a wealth of Bruins loyalists angered by the deal, from maniacal message board-goers to weeping fan girls mourning the loss of No. 19 and all his apparent handsomeness.

Collectively, they made every excuse in the book for the former No. 2 overall pick.

He partied so much that the team reportedly needed to keep him under lock and key at a local hotel during the playoffs? Relax! He’s 21!

He disappeared for stretches during a run to the Stanley Cup Final that would’ve ultimately been successful had he contributed, well, anything? Ease up. He’s still just a kid.

 In the grand scheme of things, Seguin still is a kid. He just turned 21 during this past season and, for those of us who have reached that life milestone, it’s easy to look back and realize the wealth of foolish decisions we probably made during that time in our lives.

But here lies the big difference between Seguin and us Joes from Burger King of the world: No one’s paying us 30 million bucks to play a freakin’ game. And when that game is your job, and you’re letting its perks severely hinder its responsibilities, there’s going to be criticism and there’s going to be consequences.

Just a week after reportedly being on the block during the weekend of the draft, Seguin suffered the ultimate consequence of his nightlife-fueled futility: a one-way ticket out of town. It wasn’t supposed to go down this way.

Seguin had future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi take him under his wing during his rookie campaign. He spent a majority of his time as a Bruin on a line with Patrice Bergeron, who’s perhaps the most upstanding professional you’ll find on the Boston sports scene. The end result of Seguin’s time in black and gold shows it might be time to retire the he’ll-learn-to-be-the-ultimate-pro-playing-alongside-so-and-so narrative. As it turns out, professionalism isn’t contagious.

It’s a shame things didn’t work out for Seguin, who came to Boston surrounded by more hype than any Bruins prospect since Joe Thornton arrived on the scene in 1997. In all likelihood, things will eventually click down in Dallas and the gifted forward will become a consistent offensive force for the Stars, prompting a lifetime’s supply of I-told-you-so’s from those who fear the Bruins gave up on Seguin too soon.

What the Bruins did in trading Seguin now was make sure he didn’t have another chance to lower his stock, whether via his off-ice issues or another disappointing season. The boy from Brampton had three years, 203 regular-season games and another 42 playoff tilts to figure it out, but even those blinded by his sky-high potential must come to grips with the fact that the Bruins boldly but wisely decided his time in Boston was up.

Ultimately, Tyler’s got no one to blame but himself for failing to live up to expectations. Maybe he’ll reach them in Texas, but he certainly wasn’t on that path at this juncture in Boston.

We thought he was bound to become a once-in-a-generation talent, a special player who would singlehandedly carry a team to greatness and become part of Boston’s hockey lore. Years from now, when someone seeks out Tyler Seguin’s section in the yet-to-be-written book of Bruins legends, we can give them the same answer Twitter does upon arriving at his so-full-of-controversial-stupidity-it-got-shut-down account: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ