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Individual Bruins tix for 2009-10 season go on sale Aug. 20

08.05.09 at 4:51 pm ET
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Another sign popped up on Wednesday afternoon that hockey is slowly and surely wending its way back to the Hub . The Boston Bruins have posted information about purchasing individual tickets for the 2009-10 season, and those ticket sales will begin on Aug. 20. Individual tix for Bruins games played at the TD Garden during the 2009-10 preseason and regular season will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. at the TD Garden Box Office and online at www.bostonbruins.com

For games played at the TD Garden, tickets will range in price from $10.00 – $289.50. In addition to seat location, ticket prices will vary depending on opponent and date of game. Please note that ticket prices are subject to change by the Bruins. It should also be noted that the individual season ticket sales do not include any tickets to the NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway on Jan. 1. Those tix are reserved for season ticket-holders only.

The Bruins and Tufts Medical Center have partnered for the second consecutive year to offer reduced priced tickets in the Tufts Medical Center Family Section for every home game at the TD Garden. Tickets in the Family Section – located in Balcony Section 326, rows 3-15 – start at $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for children 14 and under. Family Section tickets for preseason games in September and regular season games in October will be available for purchase on Thursday, August 20, while Family Section tickets for the remainder of the team’€™s home games will be put on sale at a later date. Discounted balcony tickets in the Bruins Student Section will be available to students for a limited number of games as well.
 
A limited number of Bruins season tickets are also still available for purchase at the present time. These season ticket plans include access to tickets for the Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park between the B’s and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 1, 2010. For information on how to become a season ticket holder, call 617.624.BEAR (2327) or visit the team website at www.bostonbruins.com.

Prior to August 20, there will be an exclusive presale for fans who join the Bruins’€™ Cybear Club, which is the team’€™s official eNewsletter and online source for breaking news. For more information on the presale and how to join the Cybear Club, visit www.bostonbruins.com. Fans interested in learning more about Boston Bruins players, or ticket options, should visit the team website at www.bostonbruins.com or call 617.624.BEAR (2327).

Bruins announce affiliate agreement with Reading Royals

08.04.09 at 4:49 pm ET
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Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Tuesday afternoon that the Bruins organization have entered into an affiliation relationship with the Reading Royals of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Under the affiliation arrangements, the Bruins will be able to designate players within their development system for assignment to the Royals during the 2009-10 season.

The Royals have played in Reading, Pennsylvania since 2001 and are also the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Former Providence Bruins winger Ned Lukacevic, who arrived last fall in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers for Andrew Alberts, played in 13 games for the Royals last season prior to the deal. The Bruins did not have an ECHL affiliate during the 2008-09 season. For more information on the Royals, visit www.royalshockey.com.

Axelsson signs four-year deal with hometown Frolunda

07.27.09 at 10:04 am ET
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P.J. Axelsson didn’€™t want to leave the Boston Bruins after 11 seasons with a hockey club that looked to be on an upswing heading into next season, but ‘€“ without receiving an offer from the Black and Gold this summer ‘€“ the longest-tenured member of the B’€™s has signed a four-year deal with his hometown Frolunda team in the Swedish Elite League.

Axelsson’€™s agent Neil Abbott confirmed the signing to WEEI.com Monday morning, but said that there’€™s always the possibility of leaving Sweden after this coming hockey season for another NHL shot at the elusive Stanley Cup. Clearly B’s GM Peter Chiarelli is experiencing his own challenges keeping the Bruins’ core together under the current NHL salary cap conditions, and there wasn’t room for Axelsson when younger, affordable models like Vladimir Sobotka are challenging for spots on the Black and Gold roster. 

‘€œWe never received an offer from the Bruins and they never asked for an offer from us,’€ said Axelsson’€™s agent Neil Abbott, who said the winger has already been told he’€™s a strong candidate for the Swedish Olympic team in Vancouver this winter. ‘€œP.J.’€™s first choice always would have been to return to Boston, but at the end of the day we had a couple of multi-year proposals (from other NHL teams) that were contingent upon bodies being moved to create cap room. That didn’t happen.

‘€œP.J. played here (in Boston) for 11 years. He has over 850 games as a Bruin and the next guy has about 250 or 260. His heart was (in Boston). He loved it here and he loved the Boston fans. There wasn’€™t anything he enjoyed more than playing (in Boston), but once that wasn’€™t an option it became a choice of playing here, playing there or taking a very nice offer to stay home. We respected and accepted the decision by the Bruins. Once he found out that returning to (Boston) wasn’€™t an option, going back home to Europe became a much easier decision to make.’€

The 20 percent escrow giveback on player’€™s salaries was a big factor in Axelsson opting for a Swedish Elite League opportunity in his hometown Gothenberg over a one-year deal in Ottawa or Colorado. But legally Axelsson could return to the NHL after next season if there’€™s a ‘€œgood’€ offer waiting for him in certain locales, and Abbott said that winning a Cup is something that’€™s still on Axelsson’€™s list of career goals.

With an early August start date for training camp in the European Leagues, Axelsson was under the gun to make a decision and heading home to play hockey for the foreseeable future became a pretty easy choice for the winger and his family. The signing of Steve Begin and Mark Recchi to one-year deals also made the B’s writing on the wall pretty clear to Axelsson and his representation concerning any potential future with the team.

Axelsson was a defensive stalwart known for his consistency and versatility during his long career in Boston, and his easy smile and keen sense of humor — along with the natural leadership bred from a decade plus of experience with the Bruins — will be sorely missed in the Black and Gold dressing room next season.

So the Boston Bruins 1995 7th round pick will bring his penalty killing grit and 287 career points in 797 regular season games back to Europe, and another link to the B’€™s past moves right along with the 34-year-old Swede.

‘€œIf the right circumstance developed in the next year or two where he could jump in and the goal would be to win, obviously, that might be possible,’€ said Abbott of Axelsson, who managed 6 goals and 20 assists in 75 games for Boston last season. ‘€œBut in the short term his wife is pregnant with their second child and due in the fall, and he had a very good offer from his hometown team in Sweden. The hometown offer was very good, and timing-wise the European Leagues start much earlier than the NHL and training camp begins on Aug. 1.’€

Read More: P.J. Axelsson, Peter Chiarelli, Vladimir Sobotka,

Bruins signs Morris to a one-year, $3.3 million

07.25.09 at 10:58 am ET
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In a move that was first reported by INSIDEHOCKEY.com’s James Murphy on Friday afternoon, the Boston Bruins have signed puck-moving defenseman Derek Morris to a one-year, $3.3 million contract for next season. The signing of the 30-year-old Morris was confirmed by both ESPN.com and TSN.com later on Friday night, and came down within the same breath of dealing 36-year-old defenseman Aaron Ward back to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday morning.

 Morris was one of the defensemen that the Bruins targeted at last season’s trade deadline, but failed to acquire when they instead dealt with the Anaheim Ducks for Steve Montador. Morris has played in at least 75 games in each of his last three seasons, and had 25 points (5 goals, 20 assists) splitting time for the Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers last season.

Morris is certainly a faster-skating, puck-moving option (Morris had a career-high 11 goals, 48 points and +16 with the Avalanche during the 2002-03 season) than Ward was at his advanced hockey age, and he’s a safe bet to avoid some of the nicks and injuries that Ward suffered over the last few seasons. It’s expected that Morris and Zdeno Chara will be paired together as a defensive unit, and it’ll be interesting to see how Chara responds to skating with a player that isn’t as defensively responsible as Ward proved to be. 

The $3.3 million price tag is a pretty high price for Morris and leaves the Bruins with roughly $1.3 million under the salary cap with Phil Kessel still sitting unsigned as a restricted free agent. The feeling at this address is that the Bruins tried to deal Kessel through much of June, but couldn’t a deal to their liking and aren’t going to deal the 36-goal sniper this summer.

Either he signs a one-year deal with the Bruins for less than $4 million — and the Bruins are forced to trade another valuable dressing room/grit commodity like Chuck Kobasew — or Kessel sits and watches the Black and Gold hockey world move forward without him.

Bruins trade defenseman Aaron Ward back to the Hurricanes

07.24.09 at 11:55 am ET
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The Boston Bruins made a salary cap-inspired move on Friday morning as they dealt popular defenseman Aaron Ward back to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for former Boston College forward Patrick Eaves and a 4th round pick in the 2010 draft.

After nabbing Eaves in the deal, the Bruins placed the winger on waivers for the purpose of eventually buying out his contract. The 25-year-old Eaves comes with a cap hit of $1.4 million over the next two seasons, so a contract buyout will give B’s GM Peter Chiarelli a little more room under the salary cap once Eaves is bought out and Ward’s $2.5 million cap hit is also cleared from the books.

According to Capgeek.com, Eaves’ buyout will count against the salary cap in this manner over the next four seasons:

PATRICK EAVES BUYOUT FROM CAPGEEK.COM
2009-2010: $258,333
2010-2011: $-41,667
2011-2012: $258,333
2012-2013: $258,333 

Ward enjoyed some of his best seasons withthe Carolina Hurricanes and won the Stanley Cup with Carolina back in 2006, and actually makes his home in North Carolina around the Raleigh area during the offseason. A 6′€™2′€, 209 lb. native of Ottawa, Ward has played the last two-plus seasons with the Bruins since he was acquired from the NY Rangers for Paul Mara at the March, 2007 trade deadline and he had three goals and seven assists for ten points in 65 regular season games while adding one goal in 11 post-season games for the Bruins last year.

“We do still have a strong group. In this system now, when you make moves like these you have to make the assumption that other players — some of your current players — can carry on those responsibilities” said B’s GM Peter Chiarelli speaking of replacing Ward’s leadership and toughness on the ice. “It’s a fairly minor cap hit if (Eaves) doesn’t get claimed. I’m looking at (bringing in) another defensemen.

“(Ward) love it in Boston, and he was disappointed when I talked to him today. But he also understood and appreciated the fact that he was going to Carolina. If it was a strict cap-clearing exercise we could have picked a lot of different destinations. This made sense on all ends.”

One of Ward’s lasting images will be the Scott Walker “sucker punch” that he took to his face in the closing minutes of a Stanley Cup playoff game against the very-same Hurricanes team. Ward was left with a black eye for the rest of the playoff series, but Walker had an automatic one-game suspension rescinded by the NHL in a controversial ruling that set the tone for Walker’s Game 7 OT game-winner.

Because Eaves is under 26 years of age, per the NHL contract buyout rules, the Bruins are only on the hook for 1/3 of his $2.8 million salary owed over the next two seasons, and Boston will save more than 2 million — the combined savings of dealing Ward and buying out Eaves – on the salary cap this season. Once he had turned 26, the Bruins would have been on the hook for 2/3 of his salary per terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Eaves’ cap hit is $1.1 million less than Ward to begin with, and there could be at least $750,000 more coming off the books via the impending buyout of his deal. Could this be a move to clear enough space to sign restricted free agent Phil Kessel, or portend another move for another puck-moving defenseman?

“With respect to Phil, he’s a good young player and we want him in the mix,” said Chiarelli. “I’ve got the endorsement from ownership that any offer sheets that come we will match. To get these players at this level, you have to draft them. So they’re hard to get, and (Kessel) will be hard to pry from us.”

Stay tuned for more details this afternoon, as there is clearly another move to come after the Ward trade.

Boston was Number One for Hunwick all along

07.22.09 at 11:15 am ET
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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.

‘€œThat 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. ‘€œThere are so many players that live downtown and live within close proximity of each other.

‘€œIt 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.

‘€œHistorically 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. ‘€œCertainly 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.

‘€œHis 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.

‘€œI 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. ‘€œ(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.

‘€œI 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 ‘€œflexible’€ in negotiations and his ‘€œfirst 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
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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 ‘€œare 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.

‘€œI 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. ‘€œObviously 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.

‘€œI 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.

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