When choosing the most disappointing Bruin from the 2016-17 season, there were numerous worthy candidates, some more obvious than others. Depending on which fan segment you ask, everyone from Jimmy Hayes, to David Krejci, Backes and especially Matt Beleskey could be included. Objectively, Beleskey was clearly never fully healthy and while Backes’ freshman season left plenty to be desired, it paled in comparison to others player’s disappointing efforts.
For this writer, the player who had the best opportunity to succeed but still failed in nearly every facet was one Ryan Spooner for the reasons detailed below.
Following the 2015-2016 season, it looked like the Bruins may have found one of the better 3rd line Centers in the league in a young, developing Ryan Spooner. He had just made massive improvements to his game, finally progressing into a true NHLer. His point total hit an impressive 49 points, and while his overall game needed polishing, he looked to be a future regular in the Bruins lineup and power play unit staple. Fast forward a year later and it would appear Spooner may have played his last game as a Bruin on April 19th, in a particularly lackluster performance in Game 4 of the Bruin’s first round exit. He would be a scratch in the final two games, potentially as a sign of things to come in the offseason.
Surface level statistics paint Spooner as a very serviceable 3rd line center in today’s league. For example his 39 points (11g, 28a) and 78 GP last season both point to a very good offensive third liner. How many teams would love to have a 40pt forward on their 3rd line? Unfortunately, those are frankly the only statistics illustrating a strong season. In reality, his points dropped by 20% YOY and he struggled to solidify a consistent role, either as the 3C or a scoring wing on the third line. His plus minus was once again a concern, yet another symptom of his overall defensively deficient game. Once again he struggled mightily at the dot, finishing the season at an inexcusably low 38.92% win rate, actually regressing from the prior year’s 42.76%.
On March 7th he suffered a concussion on an undisclosed play, costing him 3 regular season games. As the season progressed it became increasingly obvious that Spooner was painfully tentative on the ice, regularly shying away from contact and doing his best to avoid battling for the puck. Watching Spooner shoot from the blue line or the dots, instead of crashing the net or opening up space with his speed and vision became an every night occurrence. Worse yet, his powerplay prowess seemed to regress as well. In a word, his confidence was gone, and it showed on every shift.
Notably, both Spooner, and teammate Frank Vatrano publically placed blame on outgoing coach Claude Julien on multiple occasions, eventually leading Team President Cam Neely to admonish them publically and privately intervene by pulling both players aside. Fans and media members alike hoped, for better or worse, the removal of Julien would jumpstart Spooner’s overall game and herald the return of the confidence shown the year prior. The thought was, that under a less demanding and offensively minded coach Spooner could stop focusing so much on meeting Julien’s stringent demands for a 200 ft game, and instead focus on offense.
Unfortunately, Spooner failed to take advantage of his new coach and system and continued to be a non factor on the ice. Simply put, he was an abject disaster at the faceoff dot and a serious liability on defense and his spotty offense didn’t and won’t make up for his glaring deficiencies and seeming lack of effort. As a writer it is a tough subject to broach, but if any player’s attitude and “heart” deserved questioning during the 16-17 seasons, it was Ryan’s. Watching him shy away from the hard play, consistently passing when he should have shot and publically complain about his situation is why I (and many fans) chose him as the most disappointing player. Simply put, the results of his season failed to meet even the lowest expectations for him. While Hayes or even Beleskey certainly had statistically worse seasons, their expectations were much lower than Spooners.
Whose season was most disappointing?
This poll is closed