|08.12.14 at 10:40 pm ET|
When the Beatles broke up, it wasn’t Paul McCartney or John Lennon who went on to make the best album outside the group (in my opinion), but rather George Harrison. Paul and John were obviously the bigger names throughout the Fab Four’s tenure, but Harrison, who had come an extremely long way as a guitarist and songwriter over the years, was primed for success.
Think of the breakup of the Merlot Line as being similar. Shawn Thornton is the biggest name (he’s in the movies, you know) and Gregory Campbell is known across the continent for killing a penalty on a broken leg, but Daniel Paille seems destined to have the strongest post-Merlot career.
Why? Because the opportunity is now there. If the Bruins embrace the trend of speedier and more skilled fourth line, Paille can handle it. If they want to move him up to the third line, he should be able to hang with the increased competition.
Paille, a former first-round pick of the Sabres who found his nitch in the NHL as a fourth-liner and penalty killer with the Bruins, possesses the speed that would allow him to fit on a quicker fourth line. Though there’s probably a shorthanded breakaway on which he didn’t score for every goal he’s scored in his career, Paille might remain a solid fit on the fourth line as it moves away from grit to skill. Ryan Spooner could take over as the line’s center, as the team is entertaining the idea of moving Campbell to the wing.
“The game is changing where there is a lot of skill on fourth lines,” Paille said this week. “Guys that used to be top-two line guys end up being fourth line when you look at [Brad] Richards and [Daniel] Briere. It’s becoming more of a challenge to play against. In my role, being fourth line typically, I have to be that much better.”
Of course, that’s not the only path Paille might take this season. With Loui Eriksson set to move up from the third line to the first line, Paille, who played left wing on the Merlot Line with Campbell and Thornton, is one of the candidates who figure to compete for the vacant third line right wing spot.
Paille figures to compete with a group of young wingers for that job. With the exception of Craig Cunningham and 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak, all of those players – Matt Fraser, Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Justin Florek ‘ are left shots.
Should he be moved up to play on Carl Soderberg’s line, Paille is confident he’d be able to handle more minutes and tougher competition.
“I know my role here on the team, and I have no complaints playing on the fourth line,” Paille said. “If I get to play that third line role, no complaints there either. I’m going to try to live up to the challenge if I’m able to do that, but if not, I’m going to keep working the way I need to and be prepared for the team.”
|08.12.14 at 7:11 pm ET|
Khokhlachev and Camara, both of whom spent last season in Providence, will join a group of 31 other prospects that includes Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft.
A Russian center, Khokhlachev was drafted 40th overall in the 2011 draft. After playing 11 games in Providence in 2012-13, he played all but one of his games last season in the AHL, scoring 21 goals and adding 36 assists for Providence. He played in his only NHL game to date on April 13 last season.
The Bruins selected Camara in the third round of the same draft. A chippy left wing, Camara dominated in his fourth year of OHL play, scoring 36 goals with the Barrie Colts. In his first professional season, Camara notched nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points and 50 penalty minutes in 58 regular-season contests.
While Khokhlachev will compete with Ryan Spooner for a job in Boston next season, Camara is more likely to return to Providence.
|08.11.14 at 6:15 pm ET|
MIDDLETON — Everyone knows Shawn Thornton wanted to remain a Bruin. Now that he’s had a couple months to accept that he won’t be, the veteran fighter is embracing his status as a Florida Panther.
“It’s exciting. It is,” Thornton said Monday at his annual Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament. “I’m probably past the point of being down a little bit about not coming back. I can’t wait to get down there and get settled and start the next chapter.”
Thornton said it’s been a busy summer of going back and forth between his home in Charlestown and Florida, where he’s been house-hunting and slowly getting settled in. His show of support Monday from current Bruins Tuukka Rask, Loui Eriksson, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille shows that he certainly hasn’t been forgotten up here, and that he’ll keep his Boston friendships as he becomes a divisional opponent.
“Tuukka didn’t buy me out of my half of [our] boat, so I think we’re still friends,” Thornton joked.
Thornton made the playoffs in each of his seven seasons with the Bruins. That’s hardly a guarantee for him with the Panthers, who have reached the playoffs just once over the last 13 seasons (2011-12).
Amongst other moves this summer, general manager Dale Tallon (who knew Thornton from their Chicago days) brought in Thornton on a two-year, $2.4 million contract, which is the richest of the 37-year-old fighter’s career. The Panthers also shored up their goaltending last season by trading for Roberto Luongo. On the first day of free agency, Tallon brought in a group of veteran forwards that included Thornton, Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen.
How those signings help a young Panthers team remains to be seen, but Thornton hopes that between the veterans brought in and the young group already there (Erik Gudbranson, Aleksander Barkov and 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad among them) the team will be able to get back to the postseason.
“I know they’re expecting big things from talking to them,” Thornton said of his new team. “Hopefully we deliver. I’d like to make the playoffs. Obviously I’m not a big fan of losing. I think they brought in some really good character guys. I think with their youth, they’re going in the right direction and I think they’re definitely improving. I’m hoping I can be a part of that.”
As for mentoring that young group of players in Florida, Thornton noted that Father Time has made that role pretty apparent.
“I’m going into my 17th or 18th year [Editor's note: 18th],” Thornton said with a smirk. “I don’t think anyone really needs to tell me to be an older guy in the room. I am whether I want to be or not.”
Thornton’s first game back in Boston will be on Nov. 4. Interestingly enough, it will be Thornton’s first time playing in Boston as an opponent despite having parts of four NHL seasons under his belt out west before coming to the Bruins.
“It will be weird,” he admitted. “I never played a game in the Garden until I had the Bruins jersey, so every game I’ve played in there [I've had] the spoked B, so it will be different. It will be weird. Maybe I’ll pull a groin or something.”
|08.11.14 at 2:09 pm ET|
MIDDLETON – Loui Eriksson was among four current Bruins in attendance to support Panthers forward Shawn Thornton at his annual Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament at Ferncroft Country Club
Eriksson, who was traded to Boston last summer in the Tyler Seguin megadeal, is set to enter next month’s training camp as Boston’s first-line right wing. This comes after an up-and-down debut season in Boston that saw the now-29-year-old forward struggle with concussions and adjustment to a new team. Eriksson eventually found very strong chemistry with Carl Soderberg and was dominant when teamed with David Krejci and Milan Lucic late in the regular season while the team rested Jarome Iginla.
The longtime Dallas Star told WEEI.com Monday that he didn’t anticipate such a rocky time adjusting to his new team last season, but then again nobody could have expected injuries hitting Eriksson, as he had played every game in all but one of the previous five seasons (three games missed in 2010-11).
The lack of offensive production (he finished the season with 10 goals and 27 assists for 37 points in 61 regular season games) led to some impatience from fans, but Eriksson, who scored 36 goals in the 2008-09 season and was an All Star in 2011, said the fans should have held him to a high standard.
“It was tougher than I thought, actually, but it was something I have to live with, too. Of course they should have high expectations,” Eriksson said. “It was kind of a tough beginning of my season to play for Boston with all the concussions and everything a new system. I thought I was getting into it more at the end of the season and into the playoffs.”
Check back later for more on Eriksson and what he expects from his second season in Boston. For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|08.09.14 at 1:53 pm ET|
The Czech Republic handed Canada a 5-2 loss Friday at the world junior development camp, with the victory led by Bruins first-round pick David Pastrnak.
Pastrnak, a right wing selected 25th overall by the B’s in June, scored two goals for the Czech Republic and added an assist.
The Bruins liked what they saw out of the 18-year-old at last month’s development camp, with B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli not ruling out the possibility of him competing for a roster spot on the NHL team this season.
|08.09.14 at 1:17 pm ET|
Here’s DJ Bean’s attempt at pulling off the world’s smoothest ice bucket challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS. If you haven’t yet, please read up and donate at ALSA.org.
|08.06.14 at 8:19 pm ET|
LOWELL – Though he tossed the first pitch prior to Wednesday’s Spinner’s game, Gregory Campbell will not be a pitcher next season. From there, it gets tougher to narrow down which position he’ll play.
Campbell, who has centered Boston’s fourth line since the B’s acquired the former second-round pick in a trade with the Panthers prior to the 2010-11 season, is due to see plenty of change in the coming season. For starters, Shawn Thornton is gone. Daniel Paille may move up to replace Loui Eriksson on the third line. Plus, with Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev knocking on the NHL‘s door, Campbell may be moved to wing. Peter Chiarelli said the possibility has been discussed and that the team feels he’d be able to handle it.
Discussing the possibility of the position switch for the first time, Campbell told WEEI.com he would put up no fight if moved to the wing.
“I’ve been a center for the last four years, but I’m not going to [demand anything]. I want to be in a spot where I can complement other guys,” Campbell said. “If they throw me with whoever it is and I have to play wing and we’re a successful line, then so be it. That’s where I want to be. I have played center for a long time, so it may take me a few games, but I’m sure I can do it.”
The position wouldn’t be completely new for Campbell. He played some wing over the course of his five-season tenure with the Panthers, and he’s confident he’d be able to swing it.
“I played wing in Florida for a while in different seasons,” he said. “I think the last season I was in Florida I was actually a winger, so I’m comfortable with doing that. Obviously I haven’t played wing in some time now, but it’s a position that I think is easy to adapt to. It’s not necessary an easy position to play, but the responsibilities are a little different and I’m used to those responsibilities and would welcome the challenge.”
The Bruins are no strangers to moving veteran centers to the wing. Just last season, Chris Kelly was moved to left wing to accommodate Carl Soderberg. In 2011, the B’s traded for Rich Peverley and made him a wing on Kelly’s line.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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