Archive for July, 2009

Sounds of the game: Bruins vs. Flyers at Fenway

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

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. (more…)

Showcase Time at Fenway

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

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.” (more…)

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

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
Marco Sturm said he can't envision a scenario where he'd waive his no-trade clause

Marco Sturm said he can't envision a scenario where he'd waive his no-trade clause

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

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
Winter Classic Hockey

David Krejci, Shawn Thornton, Aaron Ward and Patrice Bergeron stand at center ice near second base on the field at Fenway Wednesday afternoon. (AP)

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.

“Landing 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

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

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.

Bruins sign four players to one-year deals

Monday, July 13th, 2009

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

Friday, July 10th, 2009

As first reported on WEEI.com 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 WEEI.com 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 WEEI.com 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.