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Are the Bruins in Justoneguy mode?

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You know about win-now mode. You know about rebuild mode. Now, learn about Justoneguy mode

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

So, here's a possible lineup the Bruins could deploy.

Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak
Beleskey - Krejci - Connolly
Eriksson - Spooner - Hayes
Rinaldo - Kemppainnen - Randell
Chara - Trotman
Krug - Justoneguy
SeidenMillQuaid - Colin Miller

I'm slowly beginning to suspect that Miller and McQuaid are simply Seidenberg's alter-egos, so call whoever will play on the left side of that third pairing whatever you wish. You can blend those wingers around to your hearts content, too. Maybe throw a Vatrano in if you're feeling frisky. But if you ask me, all the Bruins need is Justoneguy, and they're a contender.

Justoneguy needs to be better at defense, though. Justoneguy's gotta be able to anchor that second pairing in the d zone. But it really shouldn't be all that hard to get Justoneguy to play next to Krug, compliment his play style, and make that second pairing great. Justoneguy will need to kill penalties, too. Can't forget that one. But that's all you really need out of Justoneguy. We have more than Justoneguy to generate offense from the blue line, that's for sure. And he's definitely not needed on the PP. But don't forget about last season. After the Boychuk trade, the Bruins really needed Justoneguy to replace him, and it never quite worked out.

You know, you never really notice how important Justoneguy is unless Justoneguy isn't in the lineup. In a lot of situations, we're screwed if we don't have Justoneguy. 3 minutes left against the Penguins, you're down by 1, they've got the goalie pulled and have Kessel, Crosby, Malkin and Letang all out there against you? With a Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson line, all you need is Justoneguy next to Chara and you're golden! Spooner's defensive woes are a much bigger problem without Justoneguy to make sure you're got 2 pairings that aren't defensive tire fires.

***

The Bruins are dangerously close to entering Justoneguy mode. This is an important topic, and what better time to bring it up than right before a Leafs game? Justoneguy mode is sort of purgatory that teams can get stuck in after contending but before rebuilding. It happens when a team that used to be good contracts one fatal flaw that can be fixed with Justoneguy. In an attempt to retool instead of rebuild, teams will attempt to trade for or sign the Justoneguy they need. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes trading for Justoneguy creates a hole where JustoneMOREguy is needed. Sometimes, by the time you get Justoneguy to play next to your star forward, your star forward retires, meaning you, yet again, need Justoneguy.

Worst case scenario, your team is horribly mediocre for many seasons in a row. Year after year, you're a bubble team. The lucky ones may still get to see their teams squeak into the playoffs some seasons as an 8th seed, only to get knocked out in the first round every year. The not so lucky ones will see their teams miss the playoffs by a few points every season. Maybe they'll do well, until they go on an annual losing streak that eliminates them from competition. In anycase, the teams will stay meh long enough to ensure that any worthwhile trading pieces have aged and gone down significantly in value, and never being bad enough to net a top 10 pick means your team's cupboard is dry too.

There have been two recent examples of teams in hellish Justoneguy scenarios. The Calgary Flames, for 6 years, were remarkably, astoundingly average. For 6 years, they never finished worse than 90 points, better than 98 points, and never won a playoff series. It's impressive really. Their woes were constantly blamed on lacking Justoneguy. They needed Justoneguy to center Jarome Iginla, so they traded Dion Phanuef for Matt Stajan. However, after that trade, now they needed JustTWOguys. One to replace Dion Phanuef, and the other to replace their faulty Matt Stajan. By the time they got around to rebuilding, their cupboards were bare, and Iginla's valuable prime years were in his past.

How do some teams avoid this? Mostly through careful planning. Always have a rough idea of what you want your opening night roster too like for the next 5 or so seasons. Don't draft to fill holes you have now. In fact, try your darndest not have holes, isn't that what got you into this mess in the first place? Draft the best player, then trade him for a guy who fills the holes you predict you'll have a few years. Find the underrated gems when they're young, and lock them up long term while they're still RFAs. Don't be afraid to trade a big name if you're sure you'll win that trade. In fact don't make a trade unless you're sure you'll win it.

Basically, what I'm saying is be the Blackhawks. Or the Lightning. That's the best case scenario.

And the worst case scenario?That's Toronto. Toronto's recent Justoneguy hell was notable for it's sheer length. For a decade, across two generations of players, Justoneguy was needed to make them into competitors. First they needed Justoneguy to play next to Mats Sundin, and then they needed Justoneguy to center Phil Kessel. Let me put it this way.

The pre-lockout Leafs were like a nice, new basketball.

Eventually, basketballs get some leaks. But that's ok! You can patch those right up!

But, like a child insisting that their goldfish is "just sleeping", they never knew when to just get rid of what they have and start over. They kept trying to patch the leaks. Over. And over. And over. Eventually, the ball was covered in so much tape that the original basketball was unrecognizable.

And now, after a decade of trying to make a clearly broken basketball bounce, the remaining internal ball is no more. Eventually became no more than a sticky, gross, mushy pile of used tape. The kind that the weird guy at your office has been picking used tape up off the floor to make since mid 2013, "Just because" he says.

Yeah, like that. That's your worst case scenario.

To be honest, I don't know if the Bruins are in the middle of a retool that'll end with them making a deep playoff run soon, or if they should just rebuild. I'm on the side of "not a trash tape ball", personally. But feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments below.

Just remember,

You either rebuild as champions,

Or you stay mediocore long enough to see yourself turn into a sticky gross ball of trash tape