When Dennis Seidenberg went down with a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 27 against the Ottawa Senators, the Boston Bruins immediately recognized a giant hole in their defensive structure. Not only had Seidenberg just signed a four-year contract extension, he also was the second best defenseman on the team behind captain Zdeno Chara. Seidenberg’s ability to eat up minutes and play a bruising game made him a valuable asset throughout the season.
As put on display in Boston’s two most recent deep postseason runs, the pairing of Chara and Seidenberg became a shutdown duo that could neutralize even the best hockey players on the planet. Ask Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin just how dominating that defensive pair was. But when Seidenberg went out for the season, the defense lost a stalwart that eats up minutes and plays on the power play and penalty kill.
When Boston got into trouble against the Montreal Canadiens in their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, rumors began to circulate that maybe, just maybe, Seidenberg could return. Prior to Game 3 of the series, the Boston Globe quoted Seidenberg as saying that, “I could probably play right now.” Um, what?
With medical innovations returning professional athletes to the playing fields (and ice) faster than ever before, a five month recovery from a torn ACL and MCL was unfathomable. The injury looked bad enough, and for Seidenberg to have been skating at a competitive enough level where he believed that a return to playoff hockey was ridiculous. But for Seidenberg to have played in the playoffs in such a short time since a major knee injury would have placed the rest of his career in jeopardy.
Seidenberg’s return would have absolutely helped the Bruins in the defensive end, and given the team an emotional jolt headed into Games 6 and Game 7, but regardless of the outcome of that series, the ramifications were simply not worth the possibility of his return. He turns 33 in July, which leaves a solid three to four years — Seidenberg is signed through the 2017-18 season — left in his career, and also coincides with Boston’s current window of opportunity to compete for another Stanley Cup. A chance to play against Montreal would have been helpful, but a full offseason, training camp and preseason will return the German to stride without pushing his recovery.