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Chara feels Bruins can go ‘all the way’

09.07.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — It’s no surprise that the Bruins have a buzz around them that seems to grow by the day. Back-to-back Eastern Conference semifinals appearances likely will do that, and adding players the caliber of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin can’t hurt.

That’s the type of positivity that seemed to come from Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on Tuesday as he addressed the media for the first time since the team packed up following its ugly Game 7 defeat to the Flyers last season. With the conference semifinals all but wrapped up after the Bruins took a commanding 3-0 series lead, the B’s watched Philadelphia march back and take four games in a row en route to one of the biggest comebacks in the history of professional sports. It’s hard to take a lesson from such a crushing and embarrassing defeat, but Chara maintained that it helped to emphasize a basic teaching.

“It’s never won,” Chara said. “It’s never won until you win Game 4. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, like we found out. It was just a part of the history, but sometimes you’ve got to always have that in the back of your mind that it can happen.”

Though a chance at the Canadiens would have undoubtedly been a better prize than being taught a hard lesson, Chara seems to be done dwelling on the loss.

“It took a while [to get over], but you have to move on,” Chara said. “That’s just a part of the business. Obviously, you would like to be on the other side of that playoff round, but it happened and you have to learn from it and move on. Hopefully that makes us stronger for this year.”

And it seems this season is one that he’s particularly excited about with the aforementioned upgrades made to the team. The Bruins swung a deal with the Panthers for Horton before the draft and selected Seguin second overall just a few days later. They also retained their strong goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask, who led the NHL last year in GAA and save percentage, and Tim Thomas, who took home the Vezina a year before. Given the offseason, Chara is not afraid to hold his team to high expectations.

“I think that we improved again,” Chara said. “Anything can happen. Anything is possible. We have a good enough team to win all the way. There is a few that can change the direction of how the team’s going. Obviously, injuries are a big part of the success, and if we stay healthy, this team is very strong.

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Chara: ‘Of course I want to stay in Boston’

09.07.10 at 1:06 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Fifteen members of the Bruins took to the ice Tuesday for the team’s first captain’s practice. Players scrimmaged and partook in drills before meeting with the media. One of the more popular questions was how much longer the captain, defenseman Zdeno Chara, would be a member of the team. Chara’s contract expires after the season and negotiations haven’t reached the point of a deal being imminent. Given that Chara will likely receive a long-term contract worth big money, he said that the Ilya Kovalchuk saga may be a reason as to why the sides have waited before getting serious in talks.

“The investigations and the new rule between the NHL and NHLPA about long-term contracts kind of put everything on a pause,” Chara said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The new rule, put into place last week, prevents teams from circumventing the salary cap by tacking on extra years at minimal dollars in order to create a manageable cap hit. Getting top players under contract may be a bit trickier in regards to making both sides happy, but Chara is just glad that his camp and the Bruins know how to approach the negotiations.

“At least both sides know what the rules are, and going to into the new CBA it’s going to be very important to have these rules already set,” Chara said.

Chara added that if his negotiations on a new pact spill over into the season, he will remain focused in leading a team that he said “improved again” over the season. As a result, he wasn’t afraid to tip his hand on what he hopes will happen.

“Of course, I want to stay in Boston,” Chara said. “I want to be part of this team for, if possible, the rest of my career.”

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Captain’s practice commences for Bruins

09.07.10 at 12:29 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins wrapped up their first captain’s practice, featuring 13 skaters and a pair of goaltenders, Tuesday around noontime at Ristuccia Arena. The practice, which consisted of some offensive drills and some scrimmaging, featured some happy faces as players began the process off the preseason. Here are the guys that suited up for the Bruins’ first captain’s practice:

Forwards: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, David Krejci, Daniel Paille, Brad Marchand.

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart, Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg.

Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Matt Dalton

There were a few positives that came from the session. For starters, David Krejci wasn’t fooling when he said he’d be good to go for camp. With his wrist surgery and recovery in the rearview mirror, he didn’t seem to be slowed.

Tim Thomas was around prior to practice but did not skate with teammates.

Mark Recchi didn’t skate with his teammates but suited up after practice and skated by himself.

— Horton’s teammates spoke highly of their new winger after practice. The Bruins’ biggest trade acquisition this offseason, Horton said his old team had a captain’s practice-type skate when he was in Florida, but that “a lot of guys didn’t come.”

— Chara, Horton and Stuart spoke following the skate. Check back here later for what they had to say as they prepare for the 2010-11 season.

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Home ice should be more of an advantage for Bruins

09.06.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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With captain’s practice set to begin Tuesday in Wilmington (closed to the public), the offseason is getting closer and closer to being over. Though the additions of Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton might be viewed as the biggest differences between last season’s squad and the 2010-11 edition of the Bruins, the team may be helped in the seats of the TD Garden as much as it has improved on the ice.

With the team selling out full season ticket packages in July, the Bruins join the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens, Flames, Canucks in that regard. Though anyone hoping to get a traditional package is out of luck, single game tickets will go on sale this week. A pre-sale for season-ticket holders will begin Tuesday, with the general public getting their crack at tickets on Friday.

With season tickets flying so quickly, it appears the Bruins are set to be a hot ticket in Boston next season and perhaps could surpass their attendance numbers of a year ago.

In the 2009-10 season, one in which they finished sixth in the Eastern Conference and made it to the conference semifinals, the Bruins were a middle-of-the-pack team as far as attendance went (15th in the league), but their average of 17,388 people a night was 99 percent of the Garden’s 17,565 capacity.

With any luck, a potentially increased crowd could help the team improve upon a lackluster home record. Last season, the Bruins posted an 18-17-6 record at the Garden, a far cry from their 21-13-7 road record. Though the Bruins entered last season coming off a first-place regular season finish in the Eastern Conference, the buzz surrounding the team this year has been unlike any other in the club’s recent history. Even given the economy, it appears they’re set to be a huge draw in Boston.

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Chiarelli tells Savard he’s staying

09.04.10 at 1:59 pm ET
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On the same day that the NHL dropped its investigation of Marc Savard‘s contract, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told ESPN’s James Murphy that he’s assured the center that he will remain in Boston.

“There is all these things that happen and there are always things that swirl around about moving guys, and I cannot respond to anything in kind because I don’t directly comment on trade rumors,” Chiarelli told Murphy. “I can tell you, though, that there was discussion and inquiries on Marc and they became public.

“There has been a number of inquires on a lot of the players, some become public and some don’t for obvious reasons, but as we told Marc, that’s part of the business and he understood that. I made sure he knows what we think of him: He is a Boston Bruin and an elite offensive player we’re happy to have on this team.”

Savard signed a contract extension with the Bruins worth $28.5 million over seven years in December. Under the rules at the time, the deal would call for a $4.007 million cap hit, but since it circumvented the cap by tacking on additional years to decrease the hit, the NHL opened an investigation that could have lead to it’s voiding. The investigation was dropped after the NHLPA agreed to calculate cap hits so that later years of contracts couldn’t drastically water down a player’s cap hit.

The coming season will be Savard’s fifth in Boston after originally joining the Bruins as a free agent in 2006.In 41 games last year (he missed time due a concussion suffered on the infamous Matt Cooke hit on March 6) Savard had 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points. He had 88 points the year prior.

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Savard deal no longer an issue

09.03.10 at 7:10 pm ET
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According to TSN, the NHL and NHLPA have finally agreed to a change in rules regarding players’ contracts. As part of the agreement, longterm deals that were under investigation by the league (including Marc Savard’s deal) will be grandfathered. The rules, which will be explained below, will apply to all contracts filed after Friday.

The report includes two stipulations. Though the gist of it is well-understood here, rewording it may only confuse some. Here’s an excerpt from Darren Dreger:

“First: For long-term contracts extending beyond the age of 40, the contract’s average annual value for the years up to and including 40, are calculated by dividing total value in those years by the number of years up to and including 40. Then for the years covering ages 41 and beyond, the cap charge in each year is equal to the value of the contract in that year.

For example, say a 35-year old player agrees to a 7-year deal that is set to expire when the player is 42 years old. The deal is set up as follows: $7.6 million for the first four years followed by $4 million in the fourth year, then two final seasons at $525,000. Under the terms of the new amendment you would add up the first five years of the contract (to the age of 40) and calculate the average: $34.4 million divided by five years equals $6.88 million. That number would now be the player’s cap hit over those first five years. His cap hit in the final two years of his deal would be the actual value of the contract in those seasons, therefore a cap hit of $525,000 for years six and seven of the deal.

Secondly, for long-term contracts that include years in which the player is 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40; the amount used for purposes of calculating his average annual value is a minimum of $1 million in each of those years (even if his actual compensation is less during those seasons).

As an example, a player signs the exact same seven-year deal discussed above, however the deal is signed at the age of 32 and is set to expire when the player reaches 39 years old. For that contract, the two seasons at $525,000 would remain, however they would be treated as years at $1 million for the purpose of calculating the appropriate cap charge.”

The second stipulation would have applied to Savard, whose deal runs until he is 39.

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Reported NHL/NHLPA agreement could end Marc Savard saga

09.03.10 at 2:46 pm ET
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According to a tweet from TSN’s Darren Dreger, an agreement has been reached between the NHL and the NHLPA on a revision to the calculation of salary cap hits. As part of the settlement that has been agreed upon, the latest Ilya Kovalchuk contract proposal will be approved and, if previous reports prove consistent, so-called “retirement contracts” being investigated will be grandfathered.

Dreger tweets that the two sides are working to file the necessary paperwork on the revision by 5 p.m. Friday, the NHL’s deadline for the players’ association to accept their terms.

Previously, a player’s cap hit was calculated simply by dividing the contracts total money by the years of the deal. Teams found a loophole and capitalized on it by paying players big money up front and tacking on additional years for very little money. This meant a player would still get the high salaries they demanded while the team would have a managable cap hit.

Marc Savard‘s contact was viewed as such by the league, as the seven-year, $28.5 million pact paid far more up front than it did over the rest of its life (more than half the money is being paid out in the first two seasons, but his cap hit will be just $4.007 million).

The new rules will make it so that a player’s cap hit is calculated the same way as before, but with only years until the player’s 40th birthday counted. This prevents teams from dramatically lowering a highly paid player’s cap hit. For what it’s worth, Savard’s deal, which has been under investigation since December, would expire less than a month before his 40th birthday and would not be deemed illegal even by the new rules.

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