|Boston was Number One for Hunwick all along||07.22.09 at 11:15 am ET|
In Matt Hunwick’s eyes, there weren’t any other hockey locales that he’d rather be after getting a taste of what the Bruins were cooking last season.
The 24-year-old defenseman went from the last player cut during training camp to a breakout rookie that finished last season leading NHL first-year defenseman in scoring (6 goals, 21 assists) in only 53 games. By the end of the regular season, Hunwick had become a regular member of Boston’s six defenseman rotation and was sparking things offensively with his swift skating and offensive creativity.
Hunwick had emergency surgery in April to remove his spleen after playing in only one playoff game against Montreal, and now stands only two pounds away from his playing weight after dropping close to 20 pounds following the spring surgery.
“That was the No. 1 goal. I told my agent that Boston is where I wanted to be,” said Hunwick, who said he began his offseason training within days of last season’s May exit meetings with the Bruins. “There are so many players that live downtown and live within close proximity of each other.
“It makes the team itself that much closer, and the direction the pointed toward is outstanding. The combination of the city, the team and the direction we’re going is something that I think a lot of players around the league would want to be a part of. I’m lucky to be one of the players to have that opportunity.”
The two-year, $2.9 million deal signed on Monday – which will pay Hunwick $1.35 million in 2009-10 and $1.55 million on 2010-11 – gives the young defenseman a pretty affordable cap hit of $1.45 million over the next seasons, and puts the B’s D-man slightly above the salary of Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski’s first two seasons of a three-year, $5.5 million deal.
The agreement beat an arbitration hearing set for Friday, and allowed both Chiarelli and Hunwick’s representation – Peter Fish and Mark Witkin – to avoid a process that can sometimes leave hard feelings at the negotiating table.
“Historically I haven’t found (arbitration) to be that pleasant, and certainly the players haven’t found it to be that pleasant. We’re happy to have got Matt signed prior the (arbitration) deadline,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “Certainly the negotiations were good in my view. Matt had a very courageous year and a good year. He proved himself to be an NHL player, and certainly he played well when he had the chance.
“His style of play, his grittiness, his compete level and his offensive bent has certainly allowed to fit well into our mix and we’re fortunate to have him in our fold for more than a short period.”
The agreement with Hunwick leaves Chiarelli and the Bruins with slightly more than $2.85 million to sign Phil Kessel heading into the dog days of the offseason, and the B’s GM indicated that both A) they want the 21-year-old sniper back and B) they’ll make whatever moves necessary to shoehorn the 36-goal scorer under the cap.
That could mean shuffling a middle-class veteran salary like Chuck Kobasew or Aaron Ward, or it could mean pushing along a player like Michael Ryder, who just last season inked a $4 million per year deal with the Black and Gold. The B’s GM knows there may be moves that have to be made, and they will be made to make it all fit under next season’s $56.8 million ceiling.
“I like where we are because we have – for the most part – we have our team in place. We are at a point where, cap-wise, we are coming close to the end. So there would have to be some shuffling, but I’m not averse to that,” said Chiarelli during a Tuesday afternoon conference call. “(Kessel) is a talented player, a young player. We all like Phil, and we’d like to have him back. If it comes to a point where we have to make a move to get him in the mix, then we will certainly do that.
“I anticipate this team really growing as a team and that all of the young players are going to continue improving. We may not be done. The summer isn’t done yet and there are a lot of players out there.”
Kessel would be well within his rights to want something in the range of the six-year, $25.5 million deal signed this summer that will pay out $4.25 million per season Florida Panthers left wing David Booth.
Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott, has indicated in previous conversations with WEEI.com that Kessel has been “flexible” in negotiations and his “first priority is staying in Boston” and his statistics clearly indicate a player capable of earning a contract in the $4 million per season neighborhood.
A one-year deal where Kessel can continue to show his worth as a scorer and earn enough service time to secure arbitration rights for next year has been the popular solution toward bridging the gap between the two teams, but one sticking point is the winger’s recovery from offseason labrum and rotator cuff surgery: Kessel is expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season and that would adversely affect his overall scoring numbers – and therefore his eventual bargaining power — for the 2009-10 season.
|Kessel: Deal with Bruins is no ‘closer than it has been in months’||07.20.09 at 5:57 pm ET|
With Matt Hunwick signed on to a two-year deal, 21-year-old restricted free agent left winger Phil Kessel remains as the biggest unchecked box left to take care of on Bruins general manger Peter Chiarelli’s offseason work checklist.
Both Kessel and agent Wade Arnott appeared to have not made much progress in potentially landing either a one-year deal or multi-year deal with Boston this summer, and the amount of cap space keeps shrinking with each signing.
The B’s had roughly $4.3 million in cap space prior to signing Hunwick, and a hockey source told WEEI.com that the defenseman’s contract was for $2.9 million over two years. That leaves less than $3 million currently under the salary cap to take care of their sniper. Kessel led the Bruins with 36 goals scored last season in 70 games and paired with Boston center Marc Savard to form a lethal 1-2 duo on the B’s top line last season, and put up solid numbers in the playoffs despite playing with a bum right shoulder that eventually needed offseason surgery for a torn labrum and rotator cuff.
Part of the issue with a one-year deal from Kessel’s side is that his overall numbers will take a hit next season depending on how much time the shoulder rehab will take him to return to the B’s lineup. Both Kessel and the B’s expect that he could miss the first month of the season while strengthening his right wing for game duty.
Kessel had previously told reporters this summer that he wasn’t seeking as much as $5 million a year that some thought, and a player with similar statistics and experience – David Booth of the Florida Panthers – signed a six-year, $25.5 million extension ($4.25 million per year) this offseason despite some elements of salary cap uncertainty going forward for all NHL GMs.
When asked how things were going during a Monday afternoon interview with Toronto radio station AM 640, Kessel said that the two sides “are no closer” then they’ve been over the last two months. Without arbitration rights and with seemingly no teams willing to step up and sign Kessel to an offer sheet this summer as of yet, there aren’t many options available to the young, talented winger.
A trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs involving Kessel around the time of the NHL draft never came to fruition, and the young forward risks missing the entire hockey season – and a year of all-important service time — if he attempts to hold out next season.
“I have no clue what’s going to happen at this point. Obviously it’s been a slow process, but you never know what’s going to happen. I don’t think (a contract with the Bruins) is any closer than it has been in months’ past, or anything like that,” said Kessel to AM 640. “Obviously you’d like to always stay with the team you were first drafted by, and you never know what’s going to happen in hockey. Hockey’s a weird game: guys get traded all the time and guys move on because it’s a (salary) cap world. Who knows what’s going to happen? We’ll see.”
Kessel also didn’t have much of a reaction when he was asked about the potential June trade that might have had him going to the Maple Leafs.
“I was aware of (the trade rumors), but I didn’t have too many calls or anything like that about and it never happened I guess,” said Kessel.
|Hunwick signs two-year, $2.9 million deal with Boston Bruins||07.20.09 at 4:06 pm ET|
Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick avoided a Friday arbitration date and signed a two-year deal worth $2.9 million, according to a hockey source, with the Boston Bruins on Monday afternoon. The pact comes with a $1.45 million cap hit for the next two seasons, and leave the B’s with less than $3 million under the cap next season.
The 24-year-old defenseman was third on the B’s among defensemen with 27 points last season (6 goals, 21 assists) and had become a key member of the blueline corps by the end of his first full season in the NHL. Hunwick also tied with LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for the NHL lead among rookie defensemen with his 27 points in 53 games played during the 2008-09 hockey season.
Hunwick is one of few puck-moving defenseman currently gracing the B’s roster, so it was of paramount importance that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli got the 24-year-old signed in plenty of time for a full, productive hockey season. After the seven-game loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs, Chiarelli pointed to the injuries to both Hunwick and Andrew Ference as reasons why the team had issues breaking the puck out of their own zone during the series.
Hunwick ruptured his spleen after playing one playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens last spring, but has recovered fully after having his spleen removed and losing close to 10 pounds immediately following the emergency surgery. Hunwick is back undertaking normal workouts in his native Michigan this summer, and is expected to be without restrictions when training camp begins in September.
The 24-year-old native of Warren, Michigan was originally drafted by the Bruins in the seventh round (224th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut with the Bruins on November 10, 2007 against the Buffalo Sabres and recorded his first career point on December 10, 2007 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played in 13 games for Boston during the 2007-08 campaign and registered one assist.
Hunwick spent most of the 2007-2008 season with the Providence Bruins notching two goals and 21 assists in 55 regular season games. Prior to joining the Bruins, Hunwick played four years of collegiate hockey for the University of Michigan with 24-73=97 totals and 256 penalty minutes in 163 career games.
|Wonka-esque ‘Golden’ Season Tickets available at TD Garden||07.16.09 at 9:27 am ET|
In true Willy Wonka-style fashion, the newly renamed TD Garden will open up its doors on Thursday afternoon to commemorate the renaming of the Causeway Street home to the Celtics, Bruins and Boston Blazers, and offer five year-long “golden ticket” passes among 19,600 free chocolate bars handed out to participating fans.
Current and former Bruins players are expected to be on hand. Here’s the details from a release sent out by the folks from Delaware North Companies:
WHAT:To celebrate the official renaming of the venue, John Wentzell, President, Delaware North Companies – Boston and TD Banknorth Garden, and Bharat Masrani, President and CEO, TD Bank, Americas Most Convenient Bank, will unveil the new brand identity by illuminating the first completed piece of TD Garden signage on Thursday, July 16. TD Garden will be the official name of New England’s world-class sports and entertainment arena through 2025.
Following this symbolic gesture by Wentzell and Masrani, the TD Garden Golden Ticket Giveaway will commence. Hidden among 19,600 FREE, limited edition TD Garden chocolate bars will be five TD Garden Golden Tickets. Winners of the TD Garden Golden Tickets will receive a behind the scenes tour of the TD Garden, a 10 game pack of tickets and a $500 Garden Gold card.
One TD Garden Golden Ticket recipient will win the grand-prize, a pair of tickets to every event at the TD Garden for the 2009-2010 season. There are hundreds of secondary prizes hidden among the TD Garden chocolate bars including pairs of tickets to see the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics and concerts at the TD Garden. Contest winners will be announced on Friday, July 17th.
Select TD Banknorth branches across the state will also be handing out a limited number of TD Garden chocolate bars. For a full list of locations, prizes and rules, please visit www.TDGarden.com.
WHO: John Wentzell, President, Delaware North Companies – Boston and TD Banknorth Garden
Bharat Masrani, President & CEO, TD Bank, N.A.
Current players and alumni from the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics Dancers, current players from
the Boston Blazers and an ambassador from the World Famous Harlem Globetrotters.
WHERE:TD Banknorth Garden (soon to be TD Garden), 100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114
WHEN: THURSDAY- July 16, 2009, 12 NOON
|Sounds of the game: Bruins vs. Flyers at Fenway||07.15.09 at 8:07 pm ET|
It was sunny and 80 on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park. No one could see their breath when they spoke at the 30-minute gala news conference atop the first base dugout.
But while there’s always a chance for sunshine on Jan. 1 in Boston, the temperature is likely to be cut in half, and that’s being conservative, as the Bruins will host the Philadelphia Flyers in the third annual NHL “Winter Classic”.
The Bruins sent five players in their sweater tops, including Shawn Thornton, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Aaron Ward and Marco Sturm. The Flyers sent three, including goalie and Rhode Island native Brian Boucher.
Here are the highlights – audio style – from Wednesday’s presser at Fenway.
|Showcase Time at Fenway||07.15.09 at 7:35 pm ET|
When the NHL debuted outdoor hockey on New Year’s Day 2008, the Boston Bruins were not exactly on the radar of those planning showcase events for the league.
But as the sun shone down on Fenway Park on Wednesday, the spotlight could not have been brighter or more welcome for Boston and its beloved hockey team.
Not only did it appear real summer weather had arrived in Boston after a brutal spring, but it appears the NHL is warming to Boston as a showcase city for its sport on the world stage. The Bruins will play the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 1, 2010 in the NHL “Winter Classic.”
“This is so great for the organization,” Bruins Vice President Cam Neely said following Wednesday’s ceremony atop the first base dugout. “It’s great for our fans. We’ve kind of been working our way out of where we were maybe up until the last couple of years. I think this is just another great stepping stone for us being relevant, not only here in the local market, but league-wide.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Sturm: ‘I’m planning to stay (in Boston)||07.15.09 at 7:13 pm ET|
Boston Bruins forward Marco Sturm has been one of a handful of B’s players that have heard their names bandied about in trade rumors this summer with salary cap constraints facing B’s GM Peter Chiarelli. Sturm missed almost all of last season with a left knee injury that required surgery in January after putting up 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) in 18 games, and has two more years remaining on his current contract. Sturm has averaged just under 28 goals a season for the previous three years while skating the left wing — with much of his Boston success coming along with a pairing of Patrice Bergeron at center.
The Bruins currently have $4.3 million in cap space, and need to sign both restricted free agents Matt Hunwick and Phil Kessel to contracts — or possibly trade Kessel if there isn’t ample room under the cap. Sturm stated on Wednesday afternoon that he was aware of some trade rumors involving himself, but couldn’t imagine any scenario where he’d waive his no-trade clause.
“I have heard there are rumors, but no I haven’t (been asked to waive my no-trade). Obviously we’re pretty tight against the cap and we still have two people to sign,” said Sturm. “So obviously one of them on the team has to leave, but it’s part of the game. It doesn’t matter who it is. It’s just the way it is.”
Does Sturm envision any scenario where he would waive his no-trade clause if the Bruins approached him with a trade in place?
“No. I’m planning to stay here,” said Sturm, who can now be crossed off the list as a potential trade chip to make cap space this summer. “I still have two more years (on my contract). I definitely love it here on and off the ice.”
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