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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.

Hunwick signs two-year, $2.9 million deal with Boston Bruins

07.20.09 at 4:06 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Drew Doughty, Matt Hunwick, Peter Chiarelli,

Wonka-esque ‘Golden’ Season Tickets available at TD Garden

07.16.09 at 9:27 am ET
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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
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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.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman makes the announcement.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs underscores just how big this event has become.

Bruins Executive Vice President Charlie Jacobs said talking hockey on July 15 is awesome. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, NHL Winter Classic,

Showcase Time at Fenway

07.15.09 at 7:35 pm ET
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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 »

Read More: Bruins, Fenway Park, NHL, Red Sox

Sturm: ‘I’m planning to stay (in Boston)

07.15.09 at 7:13 pm ET
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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.”

It’s official: Bruins and Flyers will tangle in Winter Classic on Jan. 1

07.15.09 at 6:39 pm ET
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The NHL and the Bruins finally officially verified the longest-running rumor in the history of Boston hockey Wednesday, as it was announced the B’s and Philadelphia Flyers will play against each other on Jan. 1  at 1 p.m. as part of the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

The pomp and circumstance was raised to an all-time high on Wednesday afternoon at the Fens as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, a phalanx of NHL officials, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, Mayor Tom Menino, as well as Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs, were in attendance to announce the NHL showcase event in Boston.

B’s players David Krejci, Shawn Thornton, Aaron Ward, Patrice Bergeron, and Marco Sturm were also on hand to take part in the event and talk about playing in an outdoor game in January. The players, as expected, were typically excited about playing in such a marquee event at a once-in-a-hockey-lifetime setting like the Lyric Little Bandbox on Yawkey Way.

“It’s an honor to the play in the National Hockey League where there’s only about 700 guys that get to do it — and get that privelige,” said Ward. “Then you add this to that where you’re one of about 40 guys that will play hockey at Fenway Park. We’ll be the only guys that get to experience that, and you never know when it’ll be back because it’s moving around every year.

“We’ve experienced a lot, we’ve been in some great building and played in some big pressure games. But this is something that I don’t think we could have foreseen as a hockey player. If you’re from Boston then you know the weight that this Red Sox team carries and the weight that Fenway carries, and it helps us further inject excitement into Bruins hockey and the NHL as a whole.”

The game also signals the continued return of the Black and Gold franchise to the NHL’s upper echelon, and further proves that pro hockey is back in a big way in Boston. Sources told WEEI.com weeks ago that BU and BC are planning a Jan. 8 outdoor game at Fenway Park to take place a week after the Winter Classic, and Menino indicated there will be two days of public skating offered to those interested in taking a few turns at the Fens. There’s also been rumblings about a women’s college hockey game around the same time, so the NHL officials have plenty of extra activities planned in Boston around the event.

“To be able to play outside at Fenway Park, in a regular-season game, you never thought it would happen,” said Bruins Vice-President Cam Neely, who never dared to dream about a game at the Fens during his playing days. “It’s a great experience to be a part of. Every player in the NHL wants to be part of this. It’s quite a spectacle and great for the fans. It’s unbelievable for Boston and our fan base.”

Some of hockey’€™s brightest stars — and toughest characters — will be on display at the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic, including the Bruins’€™ recent NHL Awards winners: Tim Thomas (Vezina Trophy and William M. Jennings Trophy), Zdeno Chara (James Norris Memorial Trophy) and coach Claude Julien (Jack Adams Trophy). The Flyers’€™ roster boasts marquee talent such as Selke Trophy Finalist Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and the newly acquired Chris Pronger.

The Bruins and Flyers have a long history of hockey hatred between the two teams, with the most recent chapter coming in the wake of a Randy Jones hit from behind in on Patrice Bergeron in October 2007 that knocked Bergeron out for the entire remaining balance of the 2007-08 season.

It’s consistent with the long and contentious rivalry between the two cities. The Flyers earned their first Stanley Cup in 1974 against the Bruins, the Celtics and 76ers battled in the NBA Playoffs of 1981, 1982 and 2002, and the Patriots-Eagles showdown in Super Bowl XXXIX, making this a classic match-up on New Year’€™s Day.

‘€œLanding the Winter Classic here is something that we have worked hard to achieve for our fans for quite some time.” said owner of the Boston Bruins and Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs. “In Boston, we have been home to more than our fair share of great sports moments ‘€¦ too many to list. But there is no doubt that on New Year’€™s Day 2010, we will be adding another indelible memory to that long list.’€

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