|07.13.10 at 4:21 pm ET|
Bruins winger Blake Wheeler‘s arbitration hearing has been set for July 27, agent Matt Keator told WEEI.com on Tuesday. Though the team has generally avoided such hearings at all costs, their current salary cap situation may prevent them from being able to give Wheeler a new deal prior to arbitration.
Asked by WEEI.com if any negotiations to re-up the 23-year-old have been complicated by the team’s lack of cap space [the team has only $1,687,229 available according to CapGeek.com] Keator said there has been “not much talk yet” between the two parties, so Wheeler’s camp is “not sure” of whether the Bruins are planning on making a roster move to accommodate a deal as he prepares to enter his third season. If the hearing takes place and the Bruins choose not to pay him what he is awarded in arbitration, Wheeler will become an unrestricted free agent.
The fifth overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, Wheeler never signed on with Phoenix after playing his college hockey at the University of Minnesota and signed with the Bruins in the 2008 offseason. In two NHL seasons, both with the Bruins, Wheeler has totaled 39 goals and 44 assists for 83 points in 163 games. He earned $2.8 million last season.
Defenseman Mark Stuart was, like Wheeler, eligible for arbitration but chose against electing the process and last week signed a new deal for one year and $1.675 million. Center Gregory Campbell, who also filed for arbitration, has a hearing set for July 22, according to Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe.
|07.12.10 at 7:37 pm ET|
A group of current and former professional athletes including Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and his wife, former snowboarder Krista Bradford Ference, are meeting Monday night and will visit the site of the BP oil disaster Monday, the Bruins announced Monday.
The group, which also includes Rangers great Mike Richter, NFL fullbacks Mike Alstott (formerly of the Buccaneers) and Ovie Mughelli (currently with the Falcons), NASCAR racer Leilani Munter, and Olympians Stacey Cook (skier), hammer thrower Loree Smith , and race-walker Gary Morgan, will view the damages and “demonstrate their support for Gulf Coast communities.”
Ference wrapped up his fourth season as a Bruin in 2009-2010 and in March signed a three-year extension. He has totaled 54 points in 183 games since being acquired in the ’06-’07 season from the Flames.
Ference has been known for being mindful of the environment since his time in Calgary. The Sierra Club, which is organizing the trip, is the country’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. Ference will speak to the media following the experience, so check back for more as it comes.
|07.10.10 at 10:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The initiation of Tyler Seguin couldn’t have gone much better.
Fans turned out in record numbers at the team’s fourth annual summer development camp to see No. 57 in a yellow pinny skate in Bruins black and gold on the ice at Ristuccia Arena. [For the record, he’ll wear No. 19 when the real games begin].
He handled every media request flawlessly (see below for an example of that). He survived his first hockey test with an NHL organization. He was even matched up against the “veteran” of development camp, “Jumbo Joe” Colborne, who stands about 6-9 on skates, and handled himself with confidence and determination that showed Bruins executives like Don Sweeney that he might indeed be ready to compete for a spot on the big club this fall.
And most importantly, he made it through without any freak injuries and appears ready to get some R&R and come back in September and skate against the big boys.
“Obviously, I’m very excited,” the 18-year-old Seguin beamed. “This has been my dream my whole life to get this opportunity. It’s right around the corner, training camp, I’m going to come in here and work my hardest and hopefully, earn a spot.”
What’s the biggest lesson he’s learned in one week on the job?
“Here you have to be a professional,” Seguin answered. “This is a job. You’re trying to take other players’ jobs here and trying to get to the next level. I think it’s just the adjustment of how much bigger the players are here and I think it’s different than sometimes in the OHL, everyone here are 100 percent committed to their dream. It’s just a little bit different than what I’m used to. It’s just a whole other step.”
Still, there were moments for Seguin when he was reminded that he’s no longer with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League in junior hockey but rather in the big time. Like on Thursday when he arrived at practice and already had a little fan.
“I thought it was pretty cool a little kid saying my name,” he said. “Other than that, there’s no special treatment here. Everyone is treated fair. I don’t think it matters if you go first round or fifth round, everyone coming in here has the same opportunity to earn their spot and that’s just what I’m trying to do.”
|07.10.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — These are proud times for Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney.
All one had to do was take one look at the massive crowd that turned out at tiny Ristuccia Arena here for the final day of the team’s week-long development camp for rookies and young prospects.
It was Sweeney who organized and ran the team’s first such off-season camp in July, 2007. He said after Saturday’s workout that the 2010 edition was another success, featuring star prospects Tyler Seguin and Joe Colborne.
“Not really comparing years here, I think we’re excited about the skill set we’ve gone out and identified and brought in,” Sweeney said. “Be it through the draft or through the acquisition side of it, I think, overall, our group should be proud and excited about the guys they’ve identified and brought in.
“Now, it’s time for the players to continue to get better and our coaching staff, who we feel teaches the game very, very well, and our management group, to continue to push these guys all forward. That includes our workout guys, everybody. You see all of our group here, from player personnel, to scouts, you can tell how much our organization is taking care of it and that comes from Peter [Chiarelli] and filters down.”
Under Sweeney, the team has brought the club’s top prospects to Ristuccia in advance of the main September training camp.
“Make no mistake about it, the ultimate goal is to produce the best NHL players we can,” Sweeney said. “The more we can build camaraderie and using that as an example of them understanding they have a chance to be teammates and be part of something where we hope to win.
Development camp gives the prospects the opportunity to get to know each other on and off the ice while teaching them the level of dedication and training necessary for them to reach the next stage of their careers.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to win,” Sweeney said. “I hope with all my heart that these guys come in here and they grab a hold of it right from the get-go and the culture we’re trying to create and the momentum we have and they continue to push that forward and I think that helps in that regard.”
“We referenced earlier in the week where Joe Colborne had reached out to a number of these kids and gave them a little heads up. That’s the stuff we hope each and every one [understands]. Next year, it might be somebody else that reaches out to a young draft pick and so you’ve created that momentum and the culture that we’re hoping to continue to build going forward.”
Colborne was only too happy to help.
“These guys have been coming up to me the whole camp with questions,” Colborne said. “I’ve tried to be as welcoming as possible and make sure they all feel comfortable because I know what it feels to be a new guy coming in with no idea. So I’ve been up front with them, trying to give them the heads up on what the tougher parts of camp are, the things you’re going to have to learn and they’ve all taken it in stride and improved since the start of camp.”
One of the bonding activities that Colborne helped lead was a bowling outing on Thursday night.
But perhaps the biggest confirmation of Sweeney’s optimism came from Colborne, who just completed his third such development camp with the B’s.
“Right from Day 1, when we were doing the program with the Marines, that’s all they talked about was doing that extra little bit that will be the difference between winning a Stanley Cup championship or losing in Game 7 like we did this year,” the 20-year-old Colborne said.
“Obviously, you can tell the management is hungry. The guys like [David] Krejci have been back here and he’s ready to get going. It’s going to be a very hungry group next year and hopefully, I’ll be part of it.”
|07.10.10 at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Judging by the crowd alone, the five-day Bruins development camp would be a rousing success. Over 1,200 fans turned out at Ristuccia Arena on Saturday as the entire seating section was filled with fans eager to get their first glimpse of top pick Tyler Seguin, along with other prospects Joe Colborne and Yuri Alexandrov.
The Bruins ran through drills and finished with an intrasquad scrimmage.
Two extra sections, normally reserved for Bruins staff and media, were opened to accommodate the overflow crowd that stretched out the door of the Wilmington practice facility.
“We had to let them into our little private area,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said with a proud smile. “It was great. They liked the show that was put on. They see the obvious skill out there and the depth of the guys. It’s great.”
Some other quick notes from Saturday’s wrap up:
* Of the 27 players at camp this week, eight will return to college this fall, while the others will prepare for the upcoming training camp, which begins on the same sheet of ice in early September.
* Assistant general manager Don Sweeney is looking for a little more conditioning from talented but young Russian defenseman Yuri Alexandrov, who just turned 22.
“Obviously, there’s a language barrier there and [there’s] cultural differences,” Sweeney said on Saturday. “Once he’s on the ice, he feels most comfortable and that’s a good thing. But there’ll be systematic things and nuances he’ll have to figure out.
“We’ve tried to attack that communication and tried to get better at it because there is a gap there. And the onus falls on him a little bit to understand that and immerse himself in that.”
This is the second development camp for Alexandrov, who was drafted in 2009 by the Bruins and played in the professional KHL league in Russia this past winter.
“You can tell when the game starts, his positional play, his understanding and his stick positioning is very, very good,” Sweeney said. “You can tell that’s been taught and built into his game. When you play against bigger and stronger players, you have to develop those techniques and he’s done that.
“To be honest with you, and something we’re communicating with him, I didn’t think he was in quite as good a shape as he was the year before so that’s got to be something he’ll have to attack and address between now and September to realize that he continues to push forward. I would tell all the kids that. I’m not going to single him out for any particular reason, except that the facts are what they are.”
|07.09.10 at 6:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli emphasized in the days after his team’s shocking playoff loss to the Philadelphia Flyers that he and management would not be doing anything rash when it comes to re-shaping the roster for 2010-11 season.
He reiterated that in the wake of re-signing defenseman Mark Stuart – one of his team’s core leaders – to a one-year contract on Friday.
“Right now, we’re standing pat,” the GM said. “You look out here, there might be a few guys that challenge, too. I like our prospect depth. Right now, I’m going to be standing pat. That may change but right now, I’m standing pat.”
Chiarelli believes that with the core four of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Stuart and Andrew Ference coming back, the Bruins have the foundation of a solid blue line. He believes he can mix and match with Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick and Adam McQuaid and top-level organizational prospects to have a solid D for next season.
Chiarelli pointed to one area of improvement he’d like to see in Stuart’s game – and the team’s for that matter – puck movement in the defensive and neutral zones.
“I go back to the five or six games where he had more minutes prior to the LA game and he was getting more confidence, moving the puck a little better,” Chiarelli said on Friday. “With Stewie sometimes, he freezes when he pushed the puck up after retrieving it. He’s getting better at it, he’s getting better at passing. So, a lot of that is a function of confidence and I think you’re going to see that with more minutes.”
Now, a priority for Chiarelli is signing his two players that have signed for arbitration, Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, the left winger acquired on June 22 with Nathan Horton from Florida for defenseman Dennis Wideman. Chiarelli also indicated that McQuaid, based on his contributions in the playoffs, has earned a shot at the big club next season.
|07.09.10 at 2:08 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart was about as humble and agreeable as possible on Friday in accepting his one-year contract extension for next season.
After general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the team had re-signed defenseman, Stuart spoke of wanting to forget about the way the playoffs ended while looking forward to the young, talented core the team is building.
Stuart, 26, is a veteran of 252 NHL regular season games and has 12 goals, 23 assists for 35 points and 261 penalty minutes in those contests. He also has 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games, with two career assists in those 22 games.
The contract is a one-year, $1.675 million pact, a raise from the $1.3 million he made the past two seasons.
Stuart chose against filing for arbitration because negotiations with the Bruins had been encouraging. Stuart said Friday during a conference call with reporters that he’s open to playing this one season with the hope of something better down the road.
“I’m very excited about the deal,” Stuart said. “I expected after the season that I had if I was going to get a deal it was going to be a one-year deal and then see how I played. Hopefully, I can have a great year this year and then hopefully, yeah, a long-term deal is in the future.”
The Bruins now have just over $1 million in cap space, according to CapGeek.com. The team still has yet to reach agreements with first-round pick Tyler Seguin and restricted free agent forwards Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, the latter two of whom filed for arbitration.
Last season, Stuart played in 56 games for the Bruins, with two goals and five assists. He was sidelined for 26 regular season games and eight postseason contests with a broken left pinky finger and a subsequent infection within that finger.
During his 2008-2009 campaign, Stuart set career highs in goals, assists and points as well as tying his career high in games played, with five goals and 12 assists in 82 games.
“He was okay with the one year. To the point of building onto something more, we have more flexibility, too, next year,” Chiarelli said. “If you remember before he hurt his hand against LA, he was starting to play more minutes. He was actually coming along pretty good. It’s size, strength, character. Now, we’ve got, between him, Dennis [Seidenberg], Z [Zdeno Chara] and Johnny [Boychuk], we’ve got some big strong guys.”
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