|07.07.10 at 5:00 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Boston College defenseman and Simsbury, Conn., native Tommy Cross knows all about Bruins development camp. Sort of.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder was the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2007 NHL draft after the team traded up to the 35th overall spot in order to secure him. Since he was selected in ’07, the first year the Bruins began running the camp, he has been eligible for each and every one of them. His right knee, however, has unfortunately dictated his participation, just as it has effected much of his hockey career.
Playing baseball in 2007, Cross slid into third base and injured the knee, which has since been operated on three times. As a result, he was on crutches for his first two camps (he did not attend in ’08), and could only work out and skate by himself for last summer’s camp. Those sessions were his first on the ice in six months. Though the knee has put a damper on his attempts to impress both BC and the Bruins, he enters this camp with something he has learned not to take for granted: health.
“Just to think a year ago I was skating in between sessions,” Cross said Wednesday. “The guys were in the locker room, [and] I’d go out and skate laps. I think they gave me a puck one day. That was my excitement. To be out there with the guys and be able to do the drills … the fans in the stands, the kids chanting, it’s just awesome. I certainly don’t take it for granted and it’s as fun as it gets.”
Though he ended his freshman year at BC, the ’08-09 season, off the ice with one of his three injuries to his right knee meniscus, Cross has been on a positive trail of late. He played a mostly healthy sophomore season with the Eagles in which he racked up 10 points (5 G, 5 A) and 36 penalty minutes. He led exercises at Tuesday’s team-building activities and enjoys what he feels is a close group of prospects at camp.
“No matter what you do, no matter how involved you say, there’s something about being out on the ice with your teammates and going through the ups and downs that you miss out on. I’ve experienced that when I’ve missed games, I missed long periods of time the end of my freshman year (12 games), but certainly this past season I was healthy [for] all but three games over the course of three weeks. Even in those three weeks I was skating, so I was still involved.”
Assistant general manager Don Sweeney noted that the team has been impressed with what they have been able to see out of the defenseman over the last season. Sweeney said that Cross deserves “a lot of that credit” for being able to go from injured to a solid prospect once again.
“Things have come in fits and starts with him,” Sweeney said. “It’s been a frustrating situation for him. He’s worked awfully hard to overcome a lot of lose adversities and put himself in a situation where he’s added a lot of strength to take advantage of the situations of being able to skate and be healthy enough to do things that he’s accustomed to doing.”
Now that the issues involving the knee are seemingly in the past, Cross gets to set about showing his promise as a blue-liner to the Bruins. Though many players come back as different players in some way, shape or form, following an injury or multiple injuries, Cross has kept the same work ethic and mindset.
“I don’t think I’ve changed anything. I think it’s made me better. A better person, a better player. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. I’m here now, I’m healthy, and I think that’s all that matters.”
|07.07.10 at 4:04 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Though the first day of on-ice activities for Bruins prospects at development camp featured 26 hopefuls on display, second overall pick Tyler Seguin attracted much of the attention. Those in attendance at Ristuccia Arena frequently chanted his name and cheered or moaned depending on whether he scored in drills. Though he has dealt with the hype and fanfare for much of his young playing career, Seguin refused to count himself as a member of the Bruins squad for when the season opens in October, which he pointed out Tuesday (‘I’m not looking at the situation [as] just because I went high in the draft, I make the team.'”)
Though he finally got to skate in a Bruins uniform after months of buildup, Seguin noted that he will not sit back and take it in until he has established himself as a presence in the NHL.
“It feels nice, but nothing’s settled in,” Seguin said. “Everything will settle in when I’m a year or two into my career. That’s when I can sit back, relax, and say, ‘I have a spot on this team.’ Right now I’m just trying to impress the scouts in the stands.”
Seguin looked good in his first day of drills, and having added six pounds since the end of the OHL he said that he feels both stronger and faster. He plans to add six more before training camp kicks off.
Though one shouldn’t read much into drills, on the ice he appeared to be every bit the player he was in Plymouth, as he placed wrist and snap shots wherever he wanted while also setting up the other forwards in offensive drills. He skated with 2009 first-rounder Jordan Caron to his right and 2010 32nd overall pick Jared Knight on the left in three-on-two drills.
As for the screaming of his name — which happened so often that he and his teammates were smirking as they skated off the ice to its final chorus — Seguin was merely impressed the children lined up against the boards got his name right.
“Usually if anyone’s talking about me it’s like Seguini or Seegin or something,” Seguin said with a laugh. “These guys, they have it right on point.”
|07.06.10 at 5:58 pm ET|
With the team’s first day of development camp in the books, Bruins youngsters have endured plenty — from fitness testing in the morning to swarming media to a hellish afternoon of team-builing activities with a Marine. Despite how difficult the first day may have been, the promise shown and words spoken from the players during a day that didn’t feature a second of ice time was a good start to the five-day camp.
The players on display at this year’s camp may make this the best such class in the program’s four-year history. From those considered to be in the upper echelon among the league’s prospects (Tyler Seguin, Joe Colborne, and Jordan Caron) to local players (BC’s Tommy Cross, BU’s David Warsofsky), there was plenty on display the first day.
Despite how anxious and eager they may be however, the camp is merely a group of sessions to familiarize the players with their peers and help management gauge what to expect from the players likely to contribute to the NHL club. Players were assured of that by assistant general manager Don Sweeney at a welcoming meeting Monday night.
“It’s a place to make an impression for everybody and I did tell them that last night as well,” Sweeney said. “You’re not making our hockey club and playing for Claude [Julien] this week. We’ve had players as our reference that have done that, but it’s really about getting an understanding of what those coaches are going to require of them as players of the National Hockey League level for them to be able to play.
“In a perfect world, they’re all going to wear a Bruins jersey. Is that a reality? Probably not. Which they should understand as well and how difficult it is to get to that level. They all have a chance and that’s all it really takes to have that opportunity.”
Seguin continued to stress his ultimate goal of making the Bruins as a rookie, which both he and the Bruins seem to expect at this point. Though he did note he saw that Taylor Hall had signed his entry level deal with the Oilers on Monday, he didn’t seem to be in a rush to have his agent, Ian Pulver, finish up a contract with the Bruins. The task at hand appeared to be the priority for Seguin, with his new jersey the constant reminder.
“I’ve got the [No.] 19 Boston jersey in my bedroom,” Seguin said. “Before I go to sleep every night, I get to look at that and say, ‘That’s where I want to go. That’s my goal,’ and that’s what I have to work hard for all summer.”
The team-building activities did more than just drain the players physically. They helped highlight the potential leadership roles that some of the players could have in the future. Cross, goalie Zane Gothberg, Colborne, and Warsofsky were among the first to volunteer to lead exercises.
It wasn’t the first exercise in leadership for Colborne. The 2008 first-rounder has been proactive about welcoming younger players into the organization via text message, as he did with Seguin.
“That’s music to all of our ears to be honest with you,” Sweeney said. “Joe actually asked me for a couple of guys numbers and I was quick to shoot them out to him because I love initiative on all of our players. He’s a great kid and each and every one of these kids should understand that we hope that more will emerge.”
For Warsofsky, who was acquired from St. Louis on the second day of the NHL draft in exchange for center Vladimir Sobotka, Monday was the first day on the Marshfield native’s dreamjob.
“Every since the trade I’ve been really excited to get started with the Bruins, so it’s enjoying to get my future started here,” Warsofsky said.
The camp runs through Saturday. Practice on Wednesday will be open to the public at 1 p.m.
|07.06.10 at 3:44 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Bruins prospects struggled plenty in the morning on the first day of development camp, but based on the way their afternoon team-building activities have kicked off in Bedford, the heat was nothing.
Upon arriving at The Edge Sports Center, youngsters including Tyler Seguin, Joe Colborne, and David Warsofsky took in an hour-long presentation from Eric Kapitulik, who shared both gut-wrenching and inspiring stories from his life with the NHL hopefuls. Kapitulik, who played lacrosse at Navy, experienced a life-changing tragedy in 1999 during his time as a Marine. A helicopter crash in San Diego saw him and those under his command sink in the chopper under water as they tried to swim out while drowning. Kapitulik was one of 11 who survived, but they lost seven men in the December crash.
Kapitulik, who since has competed in eight Ironman triathlons and raised money for a scholarship to benefit the six children who lost their parents in the disaster. In speaking with the players, he addressed them as “warriors” and preached that the most important people in the room were the people to the left and right of one another. In leading workouts with the team that have ranged from pushups to flutter kicks to carrying sandbags, he continued to preach the logic, as Boston College defenseman Tommy Cross learned.
“We don’t care about you, Tommy,” Kapitulik shouted as the defenseman led the team in pushups. “All we care about are the warriors to your left and to your right.”
The team-building activities, which consisted of four quarters of what Kapitulik called “judgement day,” were certainly challenging on the players, many of whom had attended development camp in years past. Rather than counting off pushups in traditional style, whomever led the exercises (players volunteered, with Cross being the first to successfully do so — Zach Trotman tried to but was sent back to his teammates for walking) would push up, down, and up, counting one, two, and three at each move, before his teammates would yell “one” back as they pushed up again. As a result, the 17 pushups Cross led the players in to lead off the first quarter were more like 37.
“If you don’t think you can possibly do one more pushup, do one more,” Kapitulik said before the first quarter kicked off. “Then do one more.”
Colborne, the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft, was the first prospect to get an earful from Kapitulik. After the Marine’s initial speech, which was given in a room next to the indoor turf the players then exercised on, he asked the center if he felt he could get his teammates to fold up their chairs, put them away, and be lined up on the field in 60 seconds. Colborne accepted the assignment, and when the 27 players couldn’t finish in time, Kapitulik shouted to the center that it was only his fault.
Exercises were often stopped by Kapitulik and members of the Program when players were not calling out their teammates for slipups. Though the likes of Don Sweeney and Peter Chiarelli were in attendance, the lasting image of the day might be president Cam Neely sitting by himself on a bench in the middle of the turf, completely silent as he watched the players struggle in the first 16 minutes.
|07.05.10 at 5:18 pm ET|
Agent Matt Keator has confirmed to WEEI.com that Bruins left wing Blake Wheeler filed for arbitration before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline. The Boston Globe was the first to report the story. Center Gregory Campbell also filed, as he was on the list of players to elect the process by the NHLPA Monday night.
Though Wheeler and Campbell both filed, a possibility still exists that the team could reach agreements with the forwards before their respective arbitration hearings, as the team did last summer with Matt Hunwick.
Defenseman Mark Stuart, the other Bruin eligible for arbitration, did not file, as Keator, who represents both Stuart and Wheeler, indicated that the two sides felt they were close enough to reaching a one-year deal that filing wouldn’t be necessary.
Wheeler had 38 points this past season for the Bruins, scoring 18 goals while playing in all 82 games.
|07.05.10 at 4:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced the signings of veteran defenseman Nathan McIver and goaltender Nolan Schaefer on Monday. McIver, who has played in 36 NHL games in his career, was given a two-year deal while Schaefer comes in on a one-year pact.
The 25-year-old McIver should serve as an option for organizational defensive depth, but after spending all of last season in the AHL, he likely won’t be a game-changer among the Bruins’ blueliners. He last played in the NHL in 2008-2009, picking up one point (an assist) in 18 games for the Ducks. He also played 18 games between 2006 and 2008 for the Canucks. Last season with the Manitoba Moose, McIlver skated in 44 games, tallying five points and racking up 109 penalty minutes.
Schaefer, the younger brother of former Bruin Peter Schaefer, played in seven games in the 2005-2006 season with the Sharks, but bounced around the AHL before playing the last season with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. The now-30-year-old had a 2.66 goals against average in 22 games last season in the Russian league.
While playing for Providence College, Shaefer set the school record for saves by stopping 2,848 shots as a Friar in 99 games.
|07.05.10 at 3:48 pm ET|
The top overall pick in the NHL draft, Taylor Hall, has officially signed with the Edmonton Oilers, and the contract comes with very few surprises as Bruins fans anticipate what their team may be paying Tyler Seguin.
Hall’s three year deal finds ways around the $900,000 maximum salary for an entry level deal, as has become a trend in recent years. CapGeek.com (which every hockey fan should check about 12 times a day in the offseason) has the deal including $2.85 million in performance bonuses, which swells that dinky $900,000 into a cap hit of $3.75 million. The cap hit puts Hall’s deal right on par with the pact John Tavares signed a year ago with the Islanders.
There might not be much of a dropoff in what the second pick commands in comparison to the top choice, as Hall and Seguin co-headlined the draft class with 106 points apiece in the OHL and Seguin being the top-ranked player according to NHL Central Scouting.