When the Boston Bruins let go of Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton, they not only parted with an enforcer and a top-class goal scorer, but they also lost two valuable leaders. Thornton was not only a vocal leader in the locker room and on the ice; he led by example and was an active part of the Boston community. As for Iginla, well, the future Hall-of-Famer speaks for himself.
The Bruins will have a considerably younger squad than in past years, and they will have rely on their veterans to take over the reigns. Due to salary cap limitations, GM Peter Chiarelli is forced to turn to cheaper prospects to fill the holes in the lineup. Two players who seem most capable of stepping into bigger leadership roles are Milan Lucic and Gregory Campbell.
Lucic elevated his play last season, and you could tell he benefited from playing alongside Iginla and David Krejci on the top unit. Without Iggy in the picture, Loui Eriksson seems to be the most suitable alternative. The trio have plenty of potential to be a force in the NHL, but a lot of weight will be carried on Lucic’s shoulders.
Last season, Campbell was nominated for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to an NHL player who demonstrates qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He leads by example, and several players credited Campbell with being the first and last one at the rink.
The B’s are going to need these two players to contribute at both ends of the ice if they want to compete in the East next season. Despite the loss of Iginla and Thornton, the Bruins have plenty of players who are ready to command more leadership, with Lucic and Campbell at the forefront.