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Horton ready for playoffs, glad Savard is staying with Bruins

09.07.10 at 2:48 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The argument against the Bruins last season was that they could not generate any offense. Given that they finished dead last in scoring in the regular season, one would have to guess that the stats were on the side of whomever would make such a claim.

But days before the team was set to draft the counterargument for the future in Tyler Seguin, they made a big splash by trading for Nathan Horton. Now the former Panthers winger is charged with being part of the group that re-establishes the Bruins as a major scoring threat. Speaking after captain’s practice on Tuesday, he looked to the team’s offensive core as something that can meet expectations in his first season as a Bruin.

“You look around and I think there’s obviously going to be high expectations on everyone,” Horton said. “It’s a great team, a great bunch of guys, and a lot of good hockey players. I think it’s great to have high expectations and I think it’s going to be a fun year.”

Horton, who has scored over 25 goals in three of his six seasons since being the third overall pick of the the 2003 draft, looks forward to whatever pressure may be placed on him and a squad that has been eliminated from two consecutive Eastern Conference semifinals.

“I grew up in Canada, so I know what that’s like, but I’m excited,” Horton said. “It’s going to be different, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s pressure to perform, and I think that’s what any player wants.”

That pressure, especially in Horton’s case, could be alleviated a touch if he ends up being on a line centered by Marc Savard. The two have been discussed throughout the summer as good complements to one another, especially with Horton’s scoring touch, since the winger joined the team in June.

But it was following his arrival that rumors that Savard could be a goner via trade picked up steam. Many wondered whether the man some thought could make Horton a 40-goal scorer would be around to help potentially form a line. With Peter Chiarelli recently stating that Savard would not be traded, Horton seems that the center, who in December signed a seven-year extension, is staying.

“I don’t know who I’m playing with, but I think obviously he’s a great player,” Horton said. “He’s been a great player for a long time, he sees the ice real well and it’s tough to say, but obviously I would like to see him here. He’s been here for a while, and like I said, he’s a great player.”

Regardless of who he ends up playing with, Horton seems most excited about the team he’s playing for. Expected to contend for a Stanley Cup this season, the 2010-11 Bruins could be Horton’s first shot at the playoffs. Having to endure regular season after regular season without any postseason play has been a challenge for Horton, but with his career overdue for a run at a Cup, Horton’s glad he found his way to Boston.

“It’s been tough,” Horton said. “Seven years is a long time. It’s where you want to play the most, I think, is the playoffs. When you never get there, you don’t taste it. It’s tough, but I guess it’s a new page, a new chapter, and I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled to be here.”

Read More: Captains practice, Nathan Horton,

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.

Read More: Captains practice, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara,

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.”

Read More: Captains practice, Zdeno Chara,

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.

Read More: Captains practice, Nathan Horton, Zdeno Chara,

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.

Read More: Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin,

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.

Read More: Marc Savard, Peter Chiarelli,

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.

Read More: ilya kovalchuk, Marc Savard,
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