Summer Reading - SCH's Season Review: Bruno
I notice in the comments for these there's a lot of pointing out just how much I mention the handling of a player or the way he was utilized. It has come up a lot, I admit. I think it makes our overriding point to this season. Perhaps no player was a better example than Andrew Brunette (aside from maybe Steve Montador). Did Bruno have his faults? Oh god yes. Did he have some use for the team? I still think so. But it doesn't matter much now.
Andrew Brunette's Stats: 78G 12G 15A 27P -13 4PIM -1.40 Behind The Net Rating, -0.015 QofC, -0.75 CORSI
The Good: You might not believe it, but there was some. Early in the season, when the power play was actually something that didn't result in your dinner in your toilet via your mouth, Bruno was the crease and net monster we thought he would be. A couple tip-ins, a couple nifty passes around the net, and some cool nerves when packed in tight. You might also forget that in the last six weeks of the season, when Kane was moved to center and Hossa and Brunette were his wings, Hossa and Bruno combined on some beautiful hockey. Hossa could do the forechecking that allowed Brunette to get around the net and work together. Brunette's hands when down low and under pressure could still be a thing of beauty.
The Bad: Before we get to the handling, there were some other problems. And large ones. Brunette's concrete skates were always an odd fit for this team, as he couldn't play the 180-feet to the opponent's net with his teammates. He had to have Hossa or someone as ferocious on the forecheck with him to make him even matter. He only got to play with Hossa at the end of the season and in an emergency. Because of his inability to keep up, defensively his lines were kind of getting eaten alive, and they didn't create enough at the other end to compensate. He also didn't have the excuse of bad zone starts that Frolik or Bickell did. That led to him being on the 4th line for a long stretch of the season, which only made things worse. Because Brunette needed so much around him to be slotted right to make him effective, it made the team less flexible. Then he didn't get as much power play time, even though the Hawks needed plays made around the net. And of course, he was nowhere to be found against the Coyotes, a series the Hawks really could have used someone to make things happen around Smith.
Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent
Stick Around Or Hit The Bricks: Not that this is a hard decision, but Bruno's probably going to retire anyway. And yet he'll be a marker of the confusion around the relationship between Q and Stan. A player billed as a Q guy who Q rarely put in a position to succeed. I've asked this before, but did Q know that a player he coached before was being signed? If he did, did he voice his concerns about how he would fit? Did he recommend him to be a Hawk and then either was surprised at the odd fit or purposely didn't make him fit? None of these answers make me comfortable. I still think Bruno could have provided a little more if slotted correctly. But seeing as how it took so much to slot him correctly, it probably wasn't worth it.