|07.04.13 at 10:30 am ET|
Claude Julien‘s New Jersey Devils had just defeated the Bruins, 3-1. Winners of four of their last five, with their stars finally healthy, the Devils stood second overall in the Eastern Conference with 102 points and appeared poised to make another extended postseason run.
“They are a good example of one of the best defensive teams in hockey,” Bruins coach Dave Lewis said during the postgame press conference. The defeat marked the eighth loss in the Bruins' last nine games, and Boston was firmly entrenched in the basement of the Northeast Division.
The game was played on April 1, 2007. The next day, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello fired Julien. The biggest blemish for a coach in the National Hockey League is to lose his players. The loss of the coach’s job, naturally, soon follows. Speculation ran rampant that Julien had lost control of the players in the dressing room.
The reason for Julien's dismissal in New Jersey, in Lamoriello's eyes, was not complicated.
“I don't think we're at a point,” Lamoriello explained in 2007, “of being ready both mentally and [physically] to play the way that is necessary going into the playoffs.” Lamoriello, recognized as one of the finest executives in hockey since the day he arrived in East Rutherford in 1987, already had led to the Devils to three Stanley Cups. His words against Julien — a man whose life was completely intertwined with hockey — were condemning. He had lost his players.
A REBUILD IN BOSTON
Move ahead six years, and the Bruins, having just swept the extremely talented Penguins, huddled together to accept the Prince of Wales trophy. A collection of superstars, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, were no match for Julien's well-balanced team.
In the midst of the ensuing postgame celebration, Julien was asked what going to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years meant to him. ”What it means to us,” the polite Julien corrected, “it means a lot.”
While slowly silencing detractors, Julien has built a family on the ice in Boston. He is the longest-tenured Bruins coach since Milt Schmidt, who guided the Bruins from 1954 until 1961. Since his hire in 2007, Julien has won more playoff games (50) than any other coach except for Detroit's Mike Babcock (51). Two more victories would have catapulted Julien atop that list, as well as captured another Stanley Cup for his Bruins. Yet the man born in Blind River, Ontario, does not care to hear about his success or tell you how much he knows about the game. He has no time to share anecdotes from his playing days. Even after a painful defeat at the hands of the Blackhawks, his narrow lens is focused entirely on the ice.
“Our team likes to deflect credit,” says Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. ”The humble roots of Claude and the team, it's an important part of our makeup. It starts from the top and works its way down.”
|07.03.13 at 11:37 am ET|
With free agency set to begin on Friday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli held a conference call with the media Wednesday. Here are some quick notes from the call:
- The Bruins plan on getting Tuukka Rask‘s deal done “in short order,” and likely before free agency opens. If a deal isn’t signed by the time free agency opens, Chiarelli will approach free agency with a “placeholder number” for Rask in mind cap-wise. Rask is restricted, so there isn’t much of a threat of losing the player, as Rask would have to sign an offer sheet and then have the B’s not match it for him to leave. The chances of that are very slim.
- With a strong core of defensemen under contract, the Bruins will not be looking to add to their back end. Their priority is finding right wings to replace Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr. The team had met with Vincent Lecavalier on Saturday after Horton told them he would not re-sign with them, but ultimately Chiarelli decided to not further pursue Lecavalier for a number of reasons, one of which was that they want a “natural winger” and Lecavalier is a center who was willing to move to wing.
- Internal right wing options consist of Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Jordan Caron and Jared Knight. The Bruins qualified Caron this week, but the thought here is that they’ve just never given him a long enough look at the NHL level. If Caron starts the season in the lineup, they need to show their faith in him by playing him for at least 20 games so they can see what he can be at the NHL level. They gave Chris Bourque 18 games last year, so they can stand to play Caron and actually give him a fair chance.
- Chiarelli told Jagr on breakup day that the B’s wouldn’t be resigning him, but that was before Horton told them he was leaving. As such, Chiarelli said he has thought about “circling back” to Jagr, but said that after telling the veteran winger was moving on from him, he wouldn’t be surprised if Jagr has since moved on from the idea of returning to Boston.
- With limited cap space (even with Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve, a $7 million cap hit for Rask would leave the B’s with less than $2.2 million in space), Chiarelli admitted that he is also exploring the trade market, saying there are “a couple of trades” the B’s are considering.
- Chiarelli and other GMs can talk to impending free agents for the two days before free agency opens, but Chiarelli did not comment on who he’s met with. He was asked if he had met with Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and declined comment, though he did say that he believes the Bruins are a “destination” for older players seeking a Stanley Cup. Alfredsson has not yet signed with the Senators and is 41, though the Senators could be a strong contender next year as well and have tons of cap space. Chiarelli and Alfredsson go back to Chiarelli’s days in Ottawa, so the right wing would be an attractive option for the B’s were he to leave the Senators.
ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported shortly after the conference call that Chiarelli has indeed contacted Alfredsson’s camp.
- Chiarelli has had discussions with Anton Khudobin‘s agent, though the team’s priority is to sign Rask and then move their attention to Khudobin.
|07.03.13 at 10:43 am ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday in a pre-free agency conference call that he is “confident” that the team will have a signed with Tuukka Rask “in short order,” and when asked whether it would be before or after free agency opens, Chiarelli replied, “I would think before.”
The GM said that he has a “placeholder number that he can work around” cap-wise if Rask isn’t signed when free agency opens, as Rask will likely take up the majority of the team’s available cap space. He could very likely sign a deal that makes him the highest-paid goaltender in the league (Pekka Rinne makes $7 million a year). Rask is a restricted free agent, so the only risk the Bruins run if they don’t sign him by Friday is that another club would sign him to an offer sheet, which the B’s would then have to match or lose the player in exchange for draft picks.
As far as the rest of free agency goes, Chiarelli said the Bruins’ priority is to rebuild the right side of their offense after losing their top two right wingers in Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr. Chiarelli told Jagr after the season that the Bruins would not be re-signing him, but he admitted Wednesday that they’ve thought of “circling back” to the 41-year-old since Horton told them he would not be returning. The right wing position will be addressed either in free agency or via trade, as the GM said there are “a couple” of trades the team is looking at.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|07.02.13 at 12:30 pm ET|
Bruins forward Tyler Seguin was the target of some tough love from management over the weekend when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli shopped him and then called him out for not being professional enough. Patrice Bergeron weighed in Tuesday and seemed to acknowledge that there’s room for improvement from the 21-year-old, but Bergeron had his teammate’s back more than anything.
“I didn’t read or see his comments, but I think Tyler is a young guy still,” Bergeron said. “He’s got a lot to learn, but at the same time, he’s improved a lot. At that stage, when you’re learning like that it’s going to happen. You need to make sure you learn from it though and find a way to get better. That’s the main thing with him. It’s just about him finding ways to battle through it and find ways and build some character out of it. He’s a terrific player, a terrific person and sometimes you need to have some lows to get back up and feel better and play better.”
That’s a lot nicer than what Chiarelli said Sunday at the draft.
'He's got to commit his mind and focus to the one task at hand,' Chiarelli told reporters. 'He's got to become more of a professional. You know what? I can say that about a lot of 21-year-olds. I know he got criticized for playing on the periphery and all that stuff. He did. He's got to commit to being a professional and focusing on the game. Simple as that. He does that, we don't expect him to be crashing and banging. Just play your game.'
Seguin had just one goal in the playoffs and was demoted to the third line, but Bergeron went out of his way to compliment his linemate of the last two seasons.
“I thought he was really good, the way that he helped us,” Bergeron said of Seguin. “He found a way, even though he wasn’t scoring as much as he would have liked to, he was still battling hard and doing little details that you don’t always see on the scoresheet that goes a long way. That wasn’t gong unnoticed from us as players and as teammates. Like I said, he’s a terrific young player, so he’s going to learn.”
The interesting difference between the two isn’t the tone, but the content of the quotes. Bergeron says that Seguin was playing better than he looked, while the GM said that the criticisms that Seguin was being timid was warranted.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|07.02.13 at 11:53 am ET|
Because he was in the hospital during last week’s breakup day, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron met with the media Tuesday at TD Garden for a season-concluding press conference. He indicated that he will not receive any surgeries this offseason after playing with a broken rib, cartilage and tissue damage, a separated shoulder and a hole in his lung. He also said that after resting and allowing the injuries to heal, he expects to be ready for training camp.
Bergeron said that he does not believe the whole in his lung was suffered prior to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals , as an X-ray was taken before the game after he received a nerve-block procedure to help him deal with the pain. He did say that he received another shot in the second period, so it’s likely that the second shot was what punctured the lung.
As for a timeline on Bergeron’s injuries, he said the rib cartilage and tissue damage was suffered in Game 4 against Chicago, while he broke a rib on his left side in Game 5 and then separated his right shoulder in Game 6. Though all of the injuries and procedures forced him to spend three days in the hospital after the Bruins lost Game 6, the B’s alternate captain admitted that with the Bruins leading the Blackhawks in the final minutes of Game 6, he thought that he would play Game 7 in Chicago.
At that point I thought, ‘I’m just going to do the same thing all over and hopefully I can go through it,’” Bergeron said. “Now that I look back, I would have been in the hospital, so I wouldn’t have been able to play the game. It was a tough way to lose.”
It is believed that the Bruins and Bergeron, 27, will try to wrap up an eight-year extension for the 2011-12 Selke winner, and Bergeron said that he intends to spend the rest of his career with the Bruins.
“It would mean a lot. That’s the goal,” Bergeron said. “It’s the team that believed in me when I was 18 coming up, and now it’s my home. I love the city, I love the people and I love the organization. It would mean a lot to me and hopefully we can work something out.”
Asked if he’s confident the deal will get done, Bergeron responded, “Yeah I am.”
Added Bergeron: “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I’m very confident, yeah.”
|07.01.13 at 6:23 pm ET|
Agent Bill Zito tweeted Monday that Tim Thomas, his client, will look to see if there is an opportunity for him to play in the NHL next season.
Thomas, 39, sat out the final year of his contract to focus on “friends, family and faith” and was traded to the Islanders during the season so the Islanders could reach the cap floor with his $5 million cap hit. Even before the season started, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said he expected Thomas to try to play in 2013-14, and it appears that will be the case. Because the Islanders did not suspend his contract, Thomas will become an unrestricted free agent when free agency opens.
Tweeted Zito: Tim Thomas has asked me to explore possible options for next season.
In 378 career regular season NHL games, Thomas had a 196-121-45 record with a 2.48 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and 31 shutouts. His best season came in Boston’s Stanley Cup winning season, when he set an NHL record with a .938 save percentage. He went on to post a .940 save percentage and 1.98 GAA with four shutouts in the playoffs to earn the Conn Smythe trophy.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|06.30.13 at 10:15 pm ET|
The B’s used their final selection of the 2013 draft on OHL forward Mitchell Dempsey.
Dempsey, a 6-foot-3, 204-pound left wing, had one goal and four assists for five points in 36 games for Sault Ste. Marie last season.
Dempsey was the only OHL player selected by the B’s in the 2013 draft. Their top picks in the previous three drafts (Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, Malcolm Subban) were OHL players.
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