|09.14.16 at 3:06 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — When the Bruins added the forwards they did this summer, there were ample questions about what it would mean for incumbents in Boston’s bottom-six. They’d signed David Backes, Riley Nash and Dominic Moore and invited Peter Mueller to camp, but what about Ryan Spooner? What abut Noel Acciari? Isn’t Seth Griffith still a thing?
Nobody asked about Zac Rinaldo. Maybe that’s because they already knew the answer and it’s awkward, but Rinaldo is still here, with one year on his contract with a team that decided they were better off without him last season. He’s also got a five-game suspension waiting for him if and when he ever makes it back to the NHL.
“I guess ultimately you could speculate to what might happen — there’s a number of different scenarios that could unfold — but any time that I’ve spoken to B’s management, it’s been, ‘We expect him to be here. Have a good summer, come back in here and be an important part of this club,’” Rinaldo’s agent, Todd Reynolds, told WEEI.com Wednesday. “That’s why they acquired him, for those reasons. It didn’t end great last year, obviously, but their hope is that that’s just a moment in time.”
Last summer, the Bruins traded a 2017 third-round pick to Philadelphia for Rinaldo, whom nearly every statistic alleged did not belong in the league. Hockey is a sport where decision-makers believe that numbers can lie, however, so the Bruins took on the speedy forward despite him having more games suspended than goals scored in his career.
It didn’t take long to see why the Bruins liked Rinaldo, because the B’s care more about personality than they probably should. For all of the dangerous plays he’d committed in his career, Rinaldo was quickly recognized as a high-character guy by teammates and his desire to strive for the relatively unglamorous role of fourth-liner and penalty-killer was respectable. Fans often (unwisely and inaccurately) gauge their liking of a player on their own perception of the player’s commitment, something that should have curried favor for Rinaldo with the locals more than it did. Never at any point, however, did it seem that trading what they did for him was a smart move.
One might argue here that was just a third-round pick (and a future one at that) and that it’s not worth lamenting the loss of such a selection. It is when you lose one for something worth much less, as Rinaldo was a sixth-rounder himself and had not dramatically improved his stock since coming into the league. No, the Bruins didn’t trade a top pick for the player, but elite players can be had in the middle rounds and the best way to get one of them is to pick as often as possible. If the Bruins traded a seventh-round pick for Rinaldo, it likely would have yielded a shake of the head and everyone would have moved on. It was harder to do because the Bruins made the stakes (and thus immediately unrealistic expectations) higher.
We all know how things turned out. The Bruins pulled the plug prior to the trade deadline, waiving Rinaldo with the intention of sending him to Providence if he went unclaimed. He did just that (meaning they spent a third-round pick on a player no other team would take for free), but, in playing one last NHL game that night while on waivers, committed a hit on Cedric Paquette that earned him a five-game NHL suspension. He was sent to Providence before he could serve it, but earned a five-game AHL suspension in his first game for the Baby B’s for a hit on Kane Lafranchise of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Rinaldo was never brought back up to Boston, finishing the season in Providence after having not played in the AHL since the lockout. Rinaldo has declined to speak with the media since arriving for captain’s practices last week, but players say he’s dealing with his situation well.
“I didn’t really get to know him that well [last season], but here, now, he’s a great guy,” Acciari said. “Very friendly, very vocal; he’s a locker room guy. Even when I went down to Providence [at the end of the season], he had hurt his ankle but he was always vocal in the playoffs down there and just a good locker room guy. He was great to be around.”
The Bruins showed by waiving Rinaldo last season that they don’t feel beholden to the player just because they traded a decent commodity for him. As such, the only way Rinaldo will end up on Boston’s roster this season is on merit. That’s an uphill climb for him given the number of bodies the Bruins have up front, but his teammates aren’t counting him out.
“He’s phenomenal,” Acciari said. “He’s a good player and a great person. Good things will happen for him.”
|09.12.16 at 4:29 pm ET|
BOLTON — Since we last heard from Brad Marchand, the only way he’s gotten richer is by making a $104.4 million friend in World Cup of Hockey linemate Sidney Crosby. The high-scoring Bruins winger is still waiting on his own payday, however.
Speaking at the Bruins’ golf tournament Monday, general manager Don Sweeney gave the latest in what’s been a series of vague comments regarding the free-agent-to-be. Marchand, 28, is the Bruins’ best scorer and is due for a sizable raise from his team-friendly $4.5 million cap hit.
“We’re working on it,” Sweeney said. “As I’ve said, we’re never going to comment publicly, but we look forward to hopefully finding traction and getting something done.”
Marchand said prior to leaving for the World Cup of Hockey that he would like to sign a new contract with the Bruins. His deal would figure to be a longterm pact in excess of $7 million annually given that his 37 goals last season made him one of just eight players in the NHL to score at least 35.
“This is an incredible organization and one that I think we’re all very fortunate to be part of,” Marchand said earlier this month. “It would be great to be able to be here my whole career, and you see how rare that is nowadays. It doesn’t happen often, so it would be an incredible thing, but a lot of things have to line up for that to happen, not only now but down the road, so we’ll play it year-by-year.”
|09.08.16 at 3:38 pm ET|
There are three generalizations made about sportswriters: They eat a lot, drink a lot and complain a lot. Like many generalizations, they often aren’t true, except for the last one. Sportswriters who don’t complain aren’t really sportswriters.
Twitter has only heightened this. Sportswriters send angry tweets to airlines about delayed flights as often as they send misguided tweets about Bruce Springsteen being one of the greats. With teams controlling more and more of the message, lack of availability has also become a common gripe from media members.
The plane thing is silly. If a plane can’t fly, it can’t fly. Adding any risk to your flight or someone else’s hardly sounds appetizing, so the flack writers catch for whining to airlines is well-deserved.
Yet the one complaint that is beyond mocking and completely warranted only applies to hockey writers, and it’s the “Stop telling me where to stand” complaint.
For those who don’t follow any hockey reporters on Twitter, many teams have giant logos in the middle of their dressing rooms, with the teams forbidding anyone from walking on them.
(Just to make sure you’re keeping up, “it” here means “the floor.” No walking on the floor. It’s like when kids call certain parts of the playground “lava,” only the hockey version is way more childish.)
When people accidentally step on The Sacred Part of the Floor, they’re often barked at by team employees, interns or the children of that team’s players. It is truly the most ridiculous part of a sport in which men chase each other around with sticks trying to hit one another in the penis (and then defend the guys who do it to them).
— Andrew Shaw (@shawz15er) July 10, 2013
The Bruins are among the teams with such logo placement and such rules. As newcomers to the room are scolded time and again, veterans of the beat are left to shake their heads and mutter, “If you don’t want people stepping on it, put it on the [expletive] ceiling.”
On Thursday, the Bruins answered the prayers of so many who had to pray over such a dumb thing. When the team opened the doors to its new practice facility at Warrior Ice Arena, the Bruins’ dressing room featured a magnificent three-dimensional logo with carefully placed lights to accentuate the eight-spoked B… on the [expletive] ceiling.
THE B IS ON THE CEILING THEY FINALLY LISTENED THANK GOD pic.twitter.com/dkKjQAdw94
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) September 8, 2016
“I never liked to put the jersey on the floor; I don’t know why the logo was on the floor,” once-perceived-fledgling-team-president-but-now-actual-genius Cam Neely said. “The whole concern about people stepping on it, that seemed to take up a lot of energy. I just felt that it was time to move it.”
Now, Bruins devotees might note that this isn’t really a change at all. After all, the dressing room in their former practice facility (Ristuccia Arena) did not feature a logo on the floor; the real chaos has always happened at the Garden, where the team plays its games. One time, in fact, the son of a player barked at a veteran reporter over stepping on the B. The reporter shouted something not-so-nice back at the kid, making “Don’t step on the B!” an actual thing that yielded screaming matches between children and grown men.
That’s where the real good news comes in. In explaining his confusion over the don’t-step-on-the-B hubbub, Neely said that renovations to TD Garden will affect the Bruins’ dressing room, at which point that carpet has a good chance of going bye-bye.
“In the very near future, the side of the building that faces the empty lot right now is going to be bumped out, so when that happens, we’ll probably renovate our locker room place,” he said.
Asked specifically if the logo will be taken off the floor, Neely replied, “That will happen.”
This change won’t help the Bruins’ in the standings. It won’t show up in box scores, and even the most advanced of stats won’t detect any change that this small move will bring, but it will indeed matter. For so many people (and Justin Bieber), it will bring peace of mind.
He’s made his share of mistakes (check out WEEI.com for more on that), but with this move, Cam Neely made has made his case for being the smartest guy in hockey. It’s hard to have any argument against that right now.
|09.08.16 at 1:40 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — John Whitesides will no longer serve as the Bruins’ strength and conditioning coach, Cam Neely confirmed to WEEI.com Thursday. Whitesides, who has been with the Bruins for 15 years, will transition to a role that sees him head up a community fitness program through the Bruins, while Mike Macchioni will take over as Boston’s strength and conditioning coach.
Neely said that the shakeup was Whiteside’s decision, and that he asked to transition out of his longtime role and into the burgeoning “B Fit” program.
“John had approached us last year about an idea he had to get more involved in the community, getting out there in schools and maybe firehouses to show them the proper way to train and work out,” Neely told WEEI.com. “This summer, he had asked if there was an opportunity to transition to the community relations and foundation. It’s an area that he was looking forward to jumping into. We said, ‘If that’s what you want to do,’ we ended up creating this opportunity for him.”
Neely added the the team has also hired two additional physical therapists as they look to strengthen their overall program.
Prior to coming to the Bruins, Whitesides served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for Boston College’s men’s hockey and women’s basketball. He became something of a fan favorite with Bruins fans in recent seasons, as he was frequently shown barking at his players with expletive-laced speeches on NESN’s “Behind the B.”
Macchioni has worked with the Bruins for a number of years, serving as the Providence Bruins’ strength and conditioning coach in recent seasons and also acting as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the B’s. Prior to that, the Warwick, R.I. native was a strength and conditioning coach for Providence College. Macchioni was on hand for this summer’s development camp, as he had been in previous years.
“He’s always been helping out at development camp,” Neely said. “He’s worked with Providence, so our group knows him pretty well. He’s excited about the opportunity.”
|09.08.16 at 1:17 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — The Bruins finally unveiled Warrior Ice Arena, their new practice facility that could also be the location of the team’s morning skates.
|09.07.16 at 9:46 am ET|
Peter Mueller wants another shot at the NHL, and it appears the Bruins will at least entertain the idea.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Bruins will have Mueller, the eighth overall pick in the 2006 draft, in camp on a professional tryout. The 28-year-old center has played the last three seasons overseas, spending last season with the Malmö Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League.
Mueller spent five seasons in the NHL after playing his junior hockey with 2007 Bruins first-rounder Zach Hamill on the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. Selected by the Coyotes, Mueller spent parts of three seasons in Phoenix before being traded to the Avalanche during the 2009-10 season.
Concussions derailed Mueller’s career for a time, as he missed the entire 2010-11 season due to a head injury sustained during the preseason. Mueller would play one more season in Colorado and one in Florida before leaving North America to play in the Swiss National League.
After one season in Sweden, Mueller signed a one-year contract to return to the NHL with the Blues for the 2014-15 campaign, but the sides agreed to a mutual termination of his contract prior to the start of the season. Mueller then returned to Switzerland.
Not helping Mueller’s case is the fact that he had his best season in the NHL as a rookie, when he scored 22 goals and added 32 assists for 54 points in 2007-08. He failed to play 45 games in each of his final two seasons in the NHL (three if you count the one he missed altogether).
Last season, Mueller scored 13 goals and had 12 assists for 25 points in 43 games for Malmö.
It’s unclear where the Bruins could see Mueller fitting in on their NHL roster, if at all. The team is overflowing with bottom-six centers at this point, as they recently added Dominic Moore to a group that already included Ryan Spooner, Noel Acciari and potentially David Backes.
|09.07.16 at 8:38 am ET|
Colin Kaepernick is not playing in the World Cup of Hockey for a couple of reasons. For one, he doesn’t play hockey. For another, the World Cup of Hockey is a sporting event, and Kaepernick doesn’t participate in sporting events these days because Blaine freaking Gabbert took his job.
Still, Kaepernick was a popular topic at Team USA’s training camp, where both the coach and its players were asked about Kaepernick’s recent peaceful protests in which he sat and kneeled during the national anthem. While coach John Tortorella had a rather harsh response, saying he would bench any player who sat during the national anthem, Bruins forward David Backes was a bit more sensible.
“I think as athletes we have a great platform and to use it to influence social change is within our right,” Backes told USA Today. “Whether you should do that during the anthem, which stands for our country and salutes those who have given their lives for our country, allowing athletes to play, is a matter of debate. I have my opinions on that.”
Backes is a strong advocate of rescuing pets, something he displayed when he brought some of Sochi’s stray dogs back from the 2014 Winter Olympics. The veteran forward also heads up Athletes for Animals, a foundation that aims to control the pet population by finding homes for animals to getting them spayed and neutered.
On the subject of the anthem itself, the Minnesota native was respectful of Kaepernick but said that he personally would never sit.
“He is going to do his thing, but I salute those who have stood for our country, who have died and given limbs and lives for us,” Backes said. “I will salute that flag every time it is raised.”