|05.20.09 at 12:13 pm ET|
Q: I’m sure winning this award (NHL Executive of the Year) doesn’t feel like congratulations after the end of the season does it?
A: It’s a nice distinction but we’re still picking up pieces to a degree and looking to see how we’re going to face next year, but we have a bit of summer to work with and we’ll see where we go.
Q: How are you moving forward from that Game 7 defeat?
A: I’m not in a stage of denial. It happens, you have to deal with it. I’m still sour, so to speak, and without taking anything away from the Hurricanes, I believe that we were the better team and that we should’ve won. You can take all you want from it as far as being battle-tested, but our team has to learn to seize these opportunities. It’s painful. I don’t know when we will get over it, but we will.
Q: Why didn’t your team win the series?
A: I believe we were impacted a little bit by the layoff. You think about that after the series, after conducting my exit interviews with players, a lot of them brought that up. You just tend to slip over that period of time in practice. I think another part of it, maybe we underestimated them a little bit. We didn’t play as well in the first part of the series as we were capable of playing and we fell behind it and we couldn’t catch up. Look at Game 7. If we score once on a power play, we probably win that game. We were nervous on the power play. There was a lot of reasons, I think they just compiled and accumulated and helped us lose the series.
Q: How do you decide that 50 percent of one of your players is better than 100 percent of a replacement from Providence?
A: It’s a matter of talking with the doctors, talking with the player, seeing if there is future damage possible. Testing it out off the ice and on the ice. At the end of the day, you have to rely on what the player tells you. Chuck (Kobasew) had the ribs; he was banged up pretty good. For Phil (Kessel), he was dealing with the shoulder. It’s not scientific. You’ve got to rely on them to tell you what they can give you and see how it goes from day to day.
Q: Does it make you nervous that neither Krejci of Kessel will be available at the start of training camp?
A: A little bit, yeah it does. The fact that these guys are big contributors, we’ll be fine and we are getting Marco Sturm back but the proper thing is that these guys rehab it properly. You could miss a step in rehab and fall even further behind.
Q: How will those injuries impact their restricted free agency this offseason?
A: I know we will start dialogue and see where it goes. These are young players who will continue to improve and also will heal at a good clip. We have talked to them during the course of the year while they were injured about the future and I’m satisfied that these players will continue to grow and improve. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat here, and I think that (signing both Krejci and Kessel) is going to require some skinning. I don’t know where and I don’t know how.
Q: Is the room under the cap pretty tight for you guys?
A: It’s just going to be harder negotiations and harder choices. But I wouldn’t just focus on that. It could be a number of things that we could do. There’s going to be a crunch across the league. You see some of the things that the (Patriots) have had to do over the years and you go ‘Wow’. That may happen with us, and I know that will happen across the league. There’s going to be some of those ‘Wow’ moments and it’s the product of a cap system and a shrinking cap.
Q: Consider the possibility of bringing Mark Recchi back for next year?
A: Yes I have to consider it. He really stabilized the psyche of the team. He brought an element that we would like to have more of. The grindy goals, the tip-ins. How many net drives did he do over the course of the game? That’s an element that we want to improve on. I told Mark to let me sort some things out first and I would get back to him in short order to see what we can do. He was a good addition and I’m glad we acquired him.
Q: Have you watched Game 7 again?
A: No. I’ve seen that goal enough so it drives me crazy. You could hear a pin drop after they scored that goal in overtime. I wish we didn’t let it get to that point. Anything can happen in a Game 7. We shouldn’t have been in that position.
Q: Could you make a case that Walker should’ve been suspended for Game 7?
A: Yeah I’m sure you could. That was a disappointing situation and my inclination is to look at these things and rationalize them. I say my piece behind closed doors when we speak to the league and whatnot, and I was really disappointed in that result. Really disappointed that someone could be sucker-punched and not be sanctioned.
Q: What are the areas that you would like to improve on in the offseason?
A: I’d like to get a little more size up front. I tried to do that at the deadline and we got certain elements of that in Recchi. I’d still like to do that and I believe that it would help our team. You’d like to add a defenseman or a big forward along the way, that’s kind of a mini-wish list for now.
Q: How do the contracts work with accessible bonuses and things like that?
A: This year these bonuses became hard money. All those bonuses, that’s soft money and you can go beyond the cap on that. We have more flexibility than people think. It’s called the bonus cushion and you can exceed the cap with those bonuses. They’re soft so it gives us a little more flexibility.
Q: Which team remaining this year do you like the most?
A: I like Detroit. I told some of our guys in our exit interview to watch, they have a bunch of different types of players but they are all hard and heavy on the puck and it’s hard to strip them of the puck. They’re a smart, experienced team and I really enjoy watching them play. There’s no other team that plays like them.
Q: How are they able to do it consistently?
A: I think it’s obviously a lot of reasons why. Scouting is one. Mentality I think is the biggest reason and that is passed from player to player over time I think it kind of started in the Yzerman era. You’re expected to play this way whatever style you have. There’s a mentality, a message, and a psyche engrained in everyone. We’re trying to get that in the Bruins right now.
Q: I was wrong about Ryder. He really contributed well to the team all season long.
A: Yeah, he really started slow, but I really like the way that he plays. I believe that he can be a 40-goal scorer if he brings his game every night. To me, he had an average series against Carolina but it’s our job to get more out of him and he’s been a good acquisition.
|05.20.09 at 11:15 am ET|
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli told 850 WEEI’s Dale and Holley on Wednesday morning that there will be some salary “skinning” this summer when making decisions about signing both restricted free agents Phil Kessel and David Krejci.
The two young forwards represent the biggest priorities on Chiarelli’s summer docket, and it’s expected that — with the salary cap ceiling potentially going down next season — the B’s might have to trade a high-priced key veteran in order to make room to sign both talented youngsters.
The Bruins retain exclusive rights to negotiate with both players until July 1, and then other teams could come in and sign either to offer sheets that Boston would need to match in order to retain them. The “skinning” will most likely come in the form of trading a high-priced veteran, with the most obvious names on the list including Patrice Bergeron ($4.75 million), Marc Savard ($5 million with a no-trade clause), Michael Ryder ($4 million). Marco Sturm ($3.5 million with a no-trade clause) and Chuck Kobasew ($2.33 million).
The B’s GM also compared potential Bruins moves to surprising salary cap personnel decisions that the New England Patriots have been forced to make over the years in order to shimmy themselves under the NFL salary cap.
“We’ll start dialogue and see how it goes. (Krejci and Kessel) are young players that will continue to improve and will heal at a good clip. We talked to both of them through the year — while they were injured — about future impact and I’m satisfied that these players will continue to grow and improve,” said Chiarelli. “There are a lot of ways to skin a cat here, and I think that (signing both Krejci and Kessel) is going to require some skinning. I don’t know where and I don’t know how.
“It’s just going to be harder negotiations and harder choices. But I wouldn’t just focus on that. It could be a number of things that we could do. There’s going to be a crunch across the league. You see some of the things that the (Patriots) have had to do over the years and you go ‘Wow’. That may happen with us, and I know that will happen across the league. There’s going to be some of those ‘Wow’ moments and it’s the product of a cap system and a shrinking cap.”
|05.20.09 at 10:35 am ET|
As Boston Bruins players packed up their gear and exited the Garden for the final time earlier this week, it was clear in the eyes of Swedish forward P.J. Axelsson that the scrappy Swede doesn’t want to leave Boston. Axy has been a swift-skating, penalty-killing winger during his 11 seasons wearing the Spoked B on his chest, and is the elder statesman on this B’s team.
The 34-year-old is the longest-tenured member of the Bruins dating back to the 1997-98 season, and remains as the only active link back to the Ray Bourque Era. Axelsson is clearly hoping that dropping Game 7 to the Carolina Hurricanes doesn’t endure as his final act as a member of the Black and Gold.
“If it is (my last game as a Bruin) then it’s kind of sad going like that,” said Axelsson. “It is what it is, but I can’t say too much because I don’t know. I want to come back, but all I can say is we’ll see. I don’t know anything else (but being a Bruins player).
“We can only speculate what’s going to happen. They have a lot of decisions to make (this summer) and they have a lot of guys that are up (for contracts). With the new CBA and all that it’s not easy, so we’ll see what happens. That’s how it is in this business. We’re going to see in years to come that it’s going to be about shorter contracts and more free agents (in the NHL).”
Axelsson was on the books for $1.85 million this past season in his last contracted year before hitting unrestricted free agency, and he indicated that there’s “not much” in the way of talks between B’s GM Peter Chiarelli and his agent during the course of the 2008-09 season. The Swede has never scored more than 36 points or three power play goals in a single season during the course of his 11 years in Boston, but he’s been among the most dependable third and fourth line checking players in the NHL during his career.
It’s pretty clear that in the Harsh New World of the NHL salary cap — and plummeting economy with a likely drooping salary cap to go along with it this summer — Axelsson will be one of those mid-level veterans feeling the pinch of bad fiscal times. Coming off a season that saw him finish with his customary six goals and 24 assists along with responsible defensive work in several different spots among the top 12 forwards, Axelsson is most assuredly looking at a one-year contract and a cut in dough no matter where he’s skating.
If he stays in the United States and plays in the NHL, that is. It could be that Axelsson — at 34 years old — decides to pack up and head back to Sweden where he’d find a much more handsome return than the NHL cash commanded in the penny-pinching, youth-obsessed NHL. Axelsson will give it his best shot to return with the B’s next season, and should be under consideration for a return engagement — as should Mark Recchi, Stephane Yelle and Shane Hnidy after doing excellent jobs filling out player/leadership roles for the B’s this winter.
Axesson would clearly have to drop his salary expectations to something around the $1 million level if he’s hoping to stay in the Hub for a 12th kick at the Stanley Cup can, but that’s one of many things he has to mull over this summer.
“(Playing in Europe) is a decision I’ll have to make going forward,” said Axelsson. “We’ll sit down and see what happens, and go from there. (I want) to be on a good team. That’s the number one thing. A place where my family would like to be is the No. 2 thing.”
Axelsson is prepared for whatever might befall him this summer, and knows his home since getting scooped up in the seventh round of the 1995 draft may no longer be his place of employment when training camp opens. Axelsson has sometimes been a subject of fan ire because of limited offensive skills and hard-to-quantify defensive abilities, but the affable Swede might clearly be a case of “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Till It’s Gone” if he’s sent along his merry hockey way this summer.
Stay tuned for the fates of guys like Axelsson, Yelle and Recchi this summer — it could be a bumpy ride if the NHL salary cap drops down from its $56.8 level this past hockey season.
“We’ve got some decisions to make, as far as signing, the amounts, the term, how that impacts future years under the cap. These are things that we’ve been addressing and looking at all year, so it’s come time now that we have to make these decisions,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “Part of those decisions will come out in how we negotiate; part of those decisions will come out in with whom we negotiate. Really, to tell you exactly what we’re going to do, I couldn’t tell you exactly what we’re going to do, but you’ll see it in future days.”
|05.20.09 at 9:21 am ET|
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, the architect of a Boston team that went barely squeaking into the playoffs in 2007-08 to an Eastern Conference-best 116 this season, has been named Sporting News’ Executive of the Year by his NHL peers, a panel of 39 coaches and executives.
Chiarelli, when asked for the moves he made that had the biggest impact on the team, cited the signing of underachieving Montreal forward Michael Ryder as one.
‘I know it was a criticized move at the time,’ Chiarelli said. ‘We put a lot of thought into it from the perspective that it was a guy who I had seen for many years in the Northeast Division. He was a guy who had a long relationship with our coach, and he was the type of player we were looking for.’
Ryder scored 27 goals and was a plus-28 for the Bruins. The entire NHL awards package will appear in the new Sporting News Magazine, which will be available at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets later this week.
The Bruins have several candidates for awards and trophies being handed out at the NHL Awards Show at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on June 18.
|05.19.09 at 9:47 am ET|
Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien, who guided the Boston Bruins to the top of the Eastern Conference standings this season, has been named NHL Coach of the Year by The Sporting News in a vote by 39 coaches and executives from throughout the league.
Julien, whose team posted a 53-19-10 record and 116 points in his second season at the B’s helm, molded the Bruins into a league power by instituting a more offensive style with his normal defensive system — and also impletemented an effective blueprint for dealing with players.
“When things are going well, he doesn’t mess them up,” goalie Tim Thomas said. “He knows how to step back and let go. But if he sees something he wants to do better, he also lets it be known.”
|05.18.09 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Bruins are Boston’s darlings once again. Even with the heartbreaking end in Game 7 against Carolina, these Bruins seemed to have captured the imagination of the blue-collar fan while casting in the average fan who heretofore has been preoccupied with the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots.
“It was honestly one of the best (experiences),” 36-year-old defenseman Aaron Ward said on break-up Monday at the Garden. “I came in here two years ago towards the tail-end of the season and I don’t know if people even knew what the ‘B’ represented anymore. We didn’t have an identity. We didn’t have guys that you could associate with or to. You ask people who their favorite Boston Bruin was and they’d reach to yesteryear and it would be Cam Neely or Ray Bourque or Johnny Bucyk and now I think the game is revitalized.” Read the rest of this entry »
|05.18.09 at 2:05 pm ET|
The end of an NHL season is usually rife with announcements of assorted surgeries and full disclosure of injuries previously hidden to the media through the season and the ensuing playoffs.
It’s no different for the Bruins this morning as they conducted their break-up meetings for the season and announced that David Krejci (impingement in his right hip), Phil Kessel (torn left rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder) and Andrew Ference (torn groin, hernia) are all scheduled to go under the knife for a bevy of hockey injuries.
In addition to the surgeries, Chuck Kobasew was playing with broken ribs, Zdeno Chara had shoulder, knee and groin woes, Mark Recchi had surgery to remove kidney stones between the Games 6 and 7 and Marc Savard had a sprained knee that will require a month of rest. Despite all of that, each of those players soldiered through and for that the Spoked B skaters certainly deserve credit.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara