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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 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.’€

Matt Hunwick arbitration date set for July 24

07.14.09 at 11:59 am ET
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Defenseman Matt Hunwick and the Bruins have set their arbitration date for Friday, July 24 — less than two weeks away. But the two sides have had discussions on a multi-year deal that would keep the 24-year-old with Boston for up to three years.

According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, discussions have recently dried up between the two sides, however, and arbitration appears to be a more likely resolution for the disparity in contract terms over the NHL’s leading rookie scorer at the defensemen position last season. With only $4.3 million remaining under the cap and Phil Kessel still unsigned (but still B’s property), it’s likely that the Bruins are looking for a little bit of savings with Hunwick, and seeking something in the $1-1.3 million range.

It’s also likely that Hunwick and Co. are looking for something closer to the $1.5-2 million for the 2009-10 season and beyond. Hunwick’s camp should also have the knowledge in the back of their minds that the young defenseman was labeled by Bruins management — no less — as one of the key elements missing in last season’s seven-game playoff defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes after he ruptured his spleen against Montreal.

There is also precedent for Hunwick, as RFA defenseman Alex Goligoski signed a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins for $5.5 million on June 19. Goligoski’s pact will pay him $1.833 million a season over the next three years — with annual salaries of $1.25 and 1.5 million in the first two years — and Hunwick’s numbers were actually better than the 23-year-old Goligoski’s last season for the Pens. 

Boston has a distinct lack of puck-moving defensemen, and that’s exactly what Hunwick flashed ample evidence of when he was on the ice for the Black and Gold last season. Hunwick was the B’s third-leading scorer at defensemen with 6 goals and 21 assists last season, and he tied Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty for tops among rookie defensemen while actually playing in only 53 games.

Hunwick is back undergoing his normal offseason workout regimen in Michigan after fully recovering from the splenectomy performed on April 18, and shouldn’t be under any kind of physical restrictions when Bruins training camp commences for veteran players in September.

Read More: Alex Goligoski, Matt Hunwick, Peter Chiarelli,

Bruins sign four players to one-year deals

07.13.09 at 7:06 pm ET
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The Boston Bruins hauled in a crop of free agent depth players from last week’s Prospect Development Camp, and announced on Monday afternoon that they’d signed four players to one-year entry-level deals. Defenseman Rob Kwiet, center Drew Larman, defenseman Zach McKelvie and center Trent Whitfield were all inked to one-year contracts after — with the exception of Larman and Whitfield — showing off their skill set up close and personal with the B’s brass in attendance.

The 20-year-old Kwiet spent the 2008-2009 season with the 2009 Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League as a teammate of Boston’s fourth-round pick Lane MacDermid.  Kwiet skated in 66 regular season games recording 12-55= 67 totals and showed some offensive flash-and-dash with the Baby B’s last week.

The 24-year old Larman has spent the last four seasons with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.  In 2008-09, he skated in 61 regular season games potting 10 goals and registering a career high 12 assists. Larman has also played in 22 games with the Florida Panthers during his pro hockey career.

The 24-year-old McKelvie has spent the past four seasons in the NCAA playing for the Army Black Knights.  In the 2008-2009 season, he skated in 33 regular season games recording 5-12=17 totals and won the prestigious Army Athletic Association Award, an honor awarded to the male and female cadet who displays the “most valuable service to intercollegiate athletics during a career as a cadet.”

The 32-year-old Whitfield spent most of 2008-2009 playing with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL.  In 69 games played, Whitfield led the team with 30 assists and 50 points, while finishing second in goals scored with 20.  Whitfield played in three NHL games for the St. Louis Blues during the 2009-2009 season and notched one assist.

NHL set to announce Winter Classic at Fenway on July 15

07.10.09 at 3:22 pm ET
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As first reported on last night, the NHL will be traveling to Fenway Park on Wednesday July 15 to announce the storied Boston ballpark as the next setting for the NHL Winter Classic in 2009-10. The announcement is set to take place at 2 p.m. at the Fens, and also first reported that the New Year’s Day game will pit the Boston Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Friday morning’s press release indicated only that the NHL will have a “major announcement” to make at Fenway next week, but multiple sources have already indicated to that it will be the official reveal for next season’s Winter Classic at the Fens — along with at least one other outdoor hockey involving BU and BC to take place at Fenway Park on January 8. The Bruins also announced that they will release their entire NHL regular season schedule on July 15 as well the critical upcoming dates for the 2009-10 season — with rookie set to report to training camp on Sept. 5 and returning players will open regular training camp on Sept. 12.

The Bruins have eight preseason games scheduled, as they will face the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets twice and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators once. They will open their preseason schedule with back-to-back road games on Tuesday, September 15 and Wednesday, September 16 against the Rangers and Maple Leafs before returning home to face the Rangers on Saturday, September 19. 

The Bruins will then travel to Quebec City where they will play the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, September 20 in their only neutral site game of the preseason. Following the matchup with the Habs, the Black & Gold will play three straight on the road at Columbus (9/22), Montreal (9/24) and Ottawa (9/25) before wrapping up the ‘€™09 preseason at home against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, September 26.

Hamill looking to take the ‘Krejci way’ to the Bruins

07.08.09 at 11:01 am ET
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BEDFORD — The Bruins Prospect Development Camp is becoming old hat for B’s center Zach Hamill. The 20-year-old former first-round pick is in Boston this week for this third development camp, and knows that this is a pivotal upcoming season for him.

That’s the big picture focus for Hamill going through this summer, but the small picture consists of Hamill being a leader of this particular group of puck-shooting youngsters — a role that comes naturally to the older, wiser Hamill with fresh faces like Jordan Caron, Ben Sexton and Ryan Button among the few invited to the camp.

“It’s the third time coming around for me,” said Hamill. “I remember being a first-timer at this camp — like some of these guys are now — and guys like (David) Krejci and (Matt) Lashoff helped me when I was that age. Now I’m trying to be that guy helping (the younger guys).”

After fighting through a thumb injury and the necessary adjustments for an undersized, still-maturing skill player navigating through professional hockey, Hamill ended with a modest 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 65 games. The B’s front office wants to see more development in Hamill’s game next season, and is expecting greater production and some leadership qualities out of their prized pick from the 2007 draft.

“The injury obviously set him back, and the fact he was a first year pro — and he was trying to make that impression — that’s a difficult thing to adjust to. I think he made some really good progress and we had a real good talk with him around Christmas-time as to where he thought he would be and where he envisioned himself — as opposed to where he was,” said Bruins Director of Player Development Don Sweeney. “I think he made some really good strides in the second half and he’ll continue to be able to play against men. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to play at that size against guys that just keep getting bigger and bigger and stronger.

“But we like that he’s got a good head for the game, and they’re not going to be able to ever take that away from him. He has an understanding of playing both sides of the puck and can play defense with that awareness. If you put Zach Hamill as a freshman in college (right now) you’d say he’s on the right path. So you don’t look past the fact that he’s played one year of pro and he’s on the right path. He’ll continue to get better.”

The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder started slowly with the aforementioned injury — a badly strained thumb that still stiffens up on him from time to time and could take up to an entire year to fully heal — but finished up strong before registering a goal and five assists in 16 Calder Cup playoff games.

The eighth overall pick in the 2007 draft knows he needs to be better next season, and has to begin to show the playmaking skill and high hockey IQ that made him such a bright prospect while playing for the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League. Part of Hamill’s plan is to construct a blueprint based on the success he saw Krejci enjoy in a breakout NHL season that saw him lead the entire league in +/- and become the center of a pivotal second scoring line for the Bruins.

Hamill sees a player with very similar size and very similar skill set in Krejci, and he wants to emulate that toughness on the puck that’s a real hallmark of the small-ish Krejci’s game against much bigger, much stronger opponents looking to knock his block off

“For me getting bigger, stronger and faster is (the focus this summer) and I’ve done that,” said Hamill, who is clearly going to be judged this season as to whether he could step into the Bruins fold should the price tag become too steep to resign All-Star center Marc Savard. “I want to be a better skater and a better shot. Stuff like that. I want to get 5-10 pounds of that good weight, and the guy I really look at in that regard is Krejci.

“He’s kind of not an overly big guy, but he’s got that hockey strength and that core strength and he’s really got that part of it mastered. Just looking him in street clothes and in workout stuff, I want to pattern myself after him and he’s really got that strength on the ice to battle guys that are much bigger than him. He’s able to keep the puck away from them and that’s what I want to do.”

The desire and the talent are there for Hamill to take the “Krejci Way” to the Bruins and the NHL, and now he must prove it next season during a season-long audition for a future spot in the Black and Gold lineup. That started on Tuesday during the first day of testing at the development camp, and it shouldn’t stop until he’s opened all the right eyes over 82 games next winter.

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