The Boston Bruins are getting older. Zdeno Chara is no longer the young buck that he used to be, and Jarome Iginla may have half a season left in him if he is lucky. 82 games is a long time, especially when you’re logging 25 to 30 minutes a night. The one thing that European Soccer does substantially better than the NHL is resting a player. Each club overseas has plethora of players that they are able to interchange throughout the season.
The Bruins and the NHL have feeder programs in the AHL the same way that English Premier clubs have a reserve team that they are able to pull from. The biggest difference is the English Premier clubs will rest healthy players against subpar teams to make sure they are ready for bigger competitions and more important games. The NHL only rests players if they are hurt.
The hockey mentality is to play through anything and to be tough, but can you imagine if Chara played in 65 games instead of 82 when heading into the playoffs? What if Jaromir Jagr or Iginla were limited to 50 games? I realize they were last year due to the lockout, but the condensed schedule didn’t help. 82 games over the full length season would allow them to play in 40 to 50 games over the full schedule allowing them to keep their legs and their bodies healthy for the playoffs.
The NHL salary cap may prevent this and hurts a team who would want to try this approach. This is why the Bruins should have kept a player like Andrew Ference and set themselves up with one or two first teams that they could use in any situation. The Bruins are deep enough, especially on defense, to give this a go. While it will never happen it may be the solution to some of their problems.