Archive for August, 2009

Krejci won’t rule out a return to Bruins lineup on Oct. 1

Monday, August 31st, 2009
David Krejci said he will return to the Bruins lineup at some point in October

David Krejci said he will return to the Bruins lineup at some point in October

WILMINGTON — David Krejci has been on the ice doing some light skating drills for the last week, and said on Monday afternoon that he wasn’t ruling out a return to the lineup for Boston Bruins opening night on Oct. 1 after offseason hip surgery.

Krejci was part of a skeleton B’s crew — that included Shawn Thornton, Marco Sturm, Tuukka Rask and Kevin Regan — who took part in the first day of informal Black and Gold practices at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. The crafty playmaker led the NHL in +/- last season and won the Bruins 7th Player Award, and is recovering quickly from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.

“It’s a process. I wish I was going at 100 percent, but I’m probably going 65, 70, 75 percent right now,” said Krejci. “I just started skating, but no November. October. We’re talking October (for a return). I would say maybe mid-October, but it’s hard to say because I just started skating. It’ll be October for sure”

Krejci said he won’t be ready for full-time drills with the rest of his team when the big hockey club starts official training camp on Sept. 12, but the 23-year-old hasn’t ruled out returning to full health in time for opening night at the TD Garden against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 1.

“Who knows? I might be ready. Who knows? But I just started skating and if I’m ready to play first game then I’ll play. But I don’t want to rush it. I’d rather miss a few games than be out for half of the year. There’s no point to rushing it.”

Krejci has consulted with Bruins trainer Scotty Waugh in his recovery while working out diligently over the summer, and appears to have added some muscle to his lithe frame. The center has also been comparing notes with B’s goaltender — and Southie native — Kevin Regan, who underwent a labrum hip surgery of his just months before Krejci went under the knife. The key has been slow and steady for Krejci, who stayed in Boston for much of the summer and made it over to the Newbury Street-area restaurants for most of the summer.

“Scotty Waugh told me that Mike Lowell had surgery on his hip, and he (Lowell) called me two months after surgery and said he feels great,” said Krejci. “Obviously it’s good to see another athlete have the surgery and keep playing. He’s playing all right and it’s been healing very well. Kevin Regan also had same surgery, and he got it a couple of months before me. So I’ve been asking him how it feels after a few months, and where he is at every few weeks. So it’s good.”

–Marco Sturm also took a few twirls on the practice ice Monday morning, and said his surgically repaired left knee (ACL, meniscus surgery) feels “much better” than it did during the July announcement of the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The German scorer didn’t anticipate having any problems with his left knee or being at full-strength to begin training camp, and wouldn’t have any limitations when things pick up on Sept. 12.

“I’ve started skating the last two weeks with my old team, and the first week was just okay. Last week was much better and much more comfortable, and we’ll go from there I guess,” said Sturm. “Practice the last two weeks has been full-out with one-on-ones and everything. It’s just timing and that’s all.

“I’m really excited to be back and glad to be skating with the guys again. It was good. Guys are coming in the next few days and I’m looking forward to having some fun. Being around the guys and playing hockey were the things you really miss watching on TV.”

Kelly relieved of Executive Director duties by NHLPA

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Boston native Paul Kelly’s highly successful two-year run as the Executive Director of the NHL Players Association came to a stunning close early Monday morning when the NHLPA Executive Board “overwhelmingly” voted to relieve Kelly of his executive duties.

The news was first reported by tsn.ca directly after Kelly was informed of the decision at roughly 3:30 a.m. in Chicago after waiting all day while the NHLPA’s Executive Board met about Kelly’s leadership. The Executive Board deliberated for nearly 10 hours while Kelly waited outside the meeting room with staunch union supporters like Glenn Healy and Pat Flatley.

Flatley reportedly resigned from his NHLPA position immediately following Kelly’s dismissal. 

No reason was given for Kelly’s removal, and the NHLPA did release a statement on Friday morning. The board said they would immediately form a search committee to identify and interview new candidates. The NHLPA Executive Board consists of player representatives from each of the 30 NHL teams, and those reps made the Friday morning announcement at their annual meetings in Chicago. 

The NHLPA released a statement addressing the firing: “Following the Executive Board’s review of the overall operation of the NHLPA, it was decided that Paul Kelly should no longer continue to serve as Executive Director. We appreciate Mr. Kelly’s service to our Association.”

Kelly was hired on Oct. 24, 2007 and came into the position discussing the “exciting and prosperous” new era of the NHL and the NHL Players Association as the organization’s fourth Executive Director. Kelly was a very successful trial lawyer in Massachusetts and spearheaded the five-year trial and prosecution of former NHLPA Executive Director Alan Eagleson on racketeering and fraud charges.

That role raised Kelly ‘s stature within the NHLPA’s decision-making body, and ushered in the Boston native to replace former Executive Director Ted Saskin when he was ousted in 2007.

Sharks free up cap space for Phil Kessel?

Friday, August 28th, 2009
The San Jose Sharks have freed up $4.6 million in salary cap space, and could be on the hunt for a young sniper

The San Jose Sharks have freed up $4.6 million in salary cap space, and could be on the hunt for a young sniper

Interesting roster movements made on Friday afternoon by the San Jose Sharks, who have been rumored to be in the Dany Heatley derby this summer while looking to peddle Patrick Marleau after another underachieving postseason. Sharks GM Ron Wilson dealt away a pair of middle-class hockey players to the Vancouver Canucks for two young skaters, and freed up roughly $4.65 million in salary cap space for the upcoming season in the process.

Defenseman/power play specialist Christian Ehrhoff has two years left on his contract at $3.1 million per year and forward Brad Lukowich has a $1.567 million cap hit in his final season before unrestricted free agency, and the two players San Jose got in return (University of Minnesota forward Patrick White and AHL player Daniel Rahimi) aren’t expected to be big role players for the upcoming season.

So the Sharks freed up $4.667 in salary cap space while heading into the last few weeks of the off-season, and require at least two more forward spots to round up their NHL roster among the top 12-forwards for next season. It doesn’t take a noted puckologist to assume that Dany Heatley and Phil Kessel are two of the best skill forwards still hanging out there in hockey limbo, and the Sharks have been rumored to be in the Kessel run at several different points over the last few months.

“This trade speaks to the confidence we have in the young players coming up through our system who have earned the right to compete for a spot on this team,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson in discussing the deal. “It also creates some flexibility in our team payroll for potential future transactions as the season progresses and adds two more talented players to our reserve list that can help this organization in the future.”

The $4.667 million in payroll flexibility also fits in roughly with what Kessel was expected to be looking for in a multi-year deal this summer while rehabbing right shoulder surgery. That figure is far from the $5 million per year Jeff Carter-type money that some assumed Kessel and agent Wade Arnott were chasing after, and is pretty close to what Kessel comparables like David Booth and Alexander Semin are currently making in terms of player salary.

 The 21-year-old sniper is expected to miss all of October while recovering fully from the rotator cuff/labrum surgery, and will be hard-pressed to match his 36-goal output from last season given the injury situation. During his recent participation in the Team USA Orientation Camp, Kessel indicated that he’d like something in the neighborhood of a three-year deal and expected that his deal would be done by the beginning of the NHL season on Oct. 1. Adding to the intrigue is that Kessel’s name doesn’t appear on a quick afternoon perusal of the team’s roster on www.bostonbruins.com, though that doesn’t mean anything definitively (Kessel was added back to the online roster by the early morning hours of Saturday).

Arnott told WEEI.com in an interview earlier this summer that Kessel was willing to be “creative” in terms of contract discussions, and that his client had directed him to get a deal done with the Bruins before entertaining offers from other teams.

The $4.65 million is probably right around where Kessel expected his payday to be at the beginning of this summer, as his numbers and service time are pretty much right in lock-step with Florida Panthers forwar David Booth. Booth signed a six-year, $25.5 million contract this summer amid the current hockey economy that’s going to pay him $4.25 million annually for the next six seasons.

The chances of Kessel getting awarded that kind of salary from the Bruins are “slim and none” as long as fellow teams avoid the option of signing the talented young restricted free agent to an offer sheet — but perhaps that’s about to change with the Sharks payroll shed on Friday afternoon. Wilson told reporters that the money was freed up to make moves “as the season progresses”, but it remains to be seen whether that means a new home for Kessel riding shotgun with Jumbo Joe Thornton.

Bruins announce rookie training camp roster

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

With the Boston Bruins gearing up for rookie and veteran training camp next month in September, the B’s finally announced the roster of rookie players set to report to Kitchener, Ontario for rookie training camp beginning on Sept. 5. The rookie roster is comprised of 24 players that will take part in the mini-training camp from Sept. 5-10 and play three preseason games against the Toronto Maple Leafs (Sept. 7), Ottawa Senators (Sept. 9) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (Sept. 10).

Veteran training camp — which will include a handful of Providence Bruins players like Brad Marchand and Mikko Lehtonen expected to know on the door this year – is expected to begin on Sept. 12 with all players reporting for measurements and testing, but 21-year-old sniper Phil Kessel remains unsigned and appears to be a good bet to hold out at the beginning of training camp.

2009 First round pick Jordan Caron will not be participating in the rookie training camp camp after fracturing his collar bone during Team Canada World Junior tryouts this summer, but center 2007 First round pick Zach Hamill as well as 2009 draftees Ryan Button, Lane MacDermid and Tyler Randell are all slated to be among the 24 rookies on hand.

Other recent draft selections making the trip to Kitchener include: Max Sauve (2008, second round), Mike Hutchinson (2008, third round), Jamie Arniel (2008, fourth round), Alain Goulet (2007, sixth round), Jordan Knackstedt (2007, seventh round) and Levi Nelson (2006, sixth round).

Rounding out the travel roster are players acquired through trades or free agency Jeff LoVecchio, Matt Marquardt, Rob Kwiet, Scott Fletcher, Matt Dalton and Adam Courchaine and rookie camp invitees Chris DeSousa, Saugus native and BU alum Jason Lawrence, Taylor MacDougall, Jason Wilson, Mark Isherwood, Peter Stevens, Marc Zanetti and Brad Good.

Here’s the full 2009 BRUINS ROOKIE CAMP ROSTER:

Goaltenders (3): Adam Courchaine, Matt Dalton, Mike Hutchinson

Defensemen (7): Ryan Button, Scott Fletcher, Brad Good, Alain Goulet, Mark Isherwood, Rob Kwiet, Marc Zanetti

Forwards (14): Jamie Arniel, Chris DeSousa, Zach Hamill, Jordan Knackstedt, Jason Lawrence, Lane MacDermid, Taylor MacDougall, Matt Marquardt, Jeff LoVecchio, Levi Nelson, Tyler Randell, Max Sauve, Peter Stevens, Jason Wilson

Will not participate due to injury (1): Jordan Caron

College hockey officials announce Hockey East at Fenway

Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Hockey East added a college hockey doubleheader to the Fenway hockey festivities with a Thursday morning announcement

Hockey East added a college hockey doubleheader to the Fenway hockey festivities with a Thursday morning announcement

The proverbial cat has been out of the hockey bag for months now, but Hockey East made things official at Fenway Park Thursday morning when Commissioner Joe Bertagna announced a men’s and women’s college hockey doubleheader outdoors at Fenway Park on Friday, January 8.

Storied rivals Boston University and Boston College will play against each other in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. on a sure-to-be frigid evening, and the Northeastern University women’s team will host the University of New Hampshire at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon. BC will be the home team hosting the Terriers at a regular hockey rink that will be set up past the pitcher’s mound in the infield and shallow outfield areas.

Representatives from the Red Sox, NESN, Hockey East, the NHL and the Boston Bruins were on hand to make the announcement, and everyone on hand was looking forward to playing some outdoor hockey under the lights. The collegiate game will make a nice, affordable alternative to the NHL/Bridgestone Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Fenway Park, and the tickets will go on sale at noon on Sept. 17 and range from $5-90 for the once-in-a-lifetime event.

“We had heard rumors about this during the summer, but I didn’t really get my hopes up until coach Parker told us it was 95 percent a few days ago,” said Boston University forward and San Jose Sharks sixth round pick Nick Bonino. “I’ve played some pond hockey under the floodlights before, but nothing like this. The conditions will be unbelievable and I’m sure it’s going to be really cold.

“All I could think of when I heard we were playing this game was the movie ‘Mystery, Alaska. I wish I had Sidney Crosby’s cell phone number so I could give him a call and get some advice about adjusting to the elements and snow in an outdoor game.”

While it’s doubtful that Bonino will be tracking down Sid the Kid’s digits anytime soon for a little one-on-one consultation, it is another feather in the cap of the celebrated careers of college hockey coaching legends Jack Parker and Jerry York. Parker has been a longtime Red Sox season ticket holder and had been trying to put together a BC/BU game with York for years, but offseason improvement work inside Fenway Park always seemed to impede a potential outdoor game.

“It’s amazing what can happen when the NHL gets involved, isn’t it?” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna, who cracked that he had already consulted the Farmer’s Almanac to check the weather for the Friday night hockey game. “This is something that I think everyone in the league wanted to be a part of, and it’s really going to amount to a great experience for the student-athletes at BU, BC, UNH and Northeastern.”

According to Bertagna, event organizers have also left Saturday, Jan. 9, open in case there’s a blizzard or some other kind of crazy inclement weather in store for Friday night, and the games will be scheduled at the same times on Saturday if a postponement becomes necessary. The rink at Fenway will be fully constructed by mid-to-late December, and will stay intact diring the week between the Winter Classic game between the Bruins and Flyers on Jan. 1 and the college hockey doubleheader. It’s expected that public skating at Fenway will take place in the week between the Winter Classic game and the college hockey doubleheader.

Bruins representative Bob Sweeney also made mention of an alumni game during the announcement, which is an idea that was kicked around when the Winter Classic was announced in July at Fenway Park. Perhaps a game between a Boston Bruins legends team and a Philadelphia Flyers legend team full of the old Broad Street Bullies?

As mentioned before, tickets will go on sale Sept. 17 and can be purchased at www.tickets.com/fenwayhockey.

National TV schedule for Bruins in 2009-10

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Great job by the Puck the Media hockey blog to compile a list of all potential national TV hockey games for each NHL club next season. So here’s the schedule of 21 potential B’s games that will be covered by Versus, NBC, CBC or TSN/TSN2 next season. The Black and Gold could have as many as five games on NBC next season — with one of those obviously being the NHL/Bridgestone 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Here’s the complete schedule of TV hockey dates to circle on your pucks calendar.

Among the US hockey teams in the NHL, the 21 national TV games in the US and Canada ranks only behind the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals in terms of sheer number of potential dates. 

Boston Bruins

NBC – 5
VERSUS – 7
CBC – 8
TSN/TSN2 – 8
Total – 21

Oct. 1 – vs. Washington, 7:00 PM (VERSUS)
Nov. 3 – at Detroit, 7:00 PM (VERSUS/TSN)
Nov. 5 – vs. Montreal, 7:00 PM (TSN)
Nov. 10 – vs. Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM (VERSUS/TSN)
Dec. 4 – at Montreal, 8:00 PM (CBC)
Dec. 5 – vs. Toronto, 7:00 PM (CBC)
Dec. 19 – at Toronto, 7:00 PM (CBC)
Jan. 1 – vs. Philadelphia, 1:00 PM (NBC/CBC)
Jan. 4 – at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM (VERSUS/TSN)
Jan. 23 – vs. Ottawa, 1:00 PM (CBC)
Jan. 24 – at Carolina, 12:30 PM (NBC)
Feb. 7 – at Montreal, 12:30/3:00 PM (NBC/CBC)
Mar. 4 – vs. Toronto, 7:00 PM (TSN)
Mar. 7 – at Pittsburgh, 12:30 PM (NBC)
Mar. 13 – at Montreal, 7:00 PM (CBC)
Mar. 15 – at New Jersey, 7:00 PM (VERSUS/TSN2)
Mar. 21 – vs. NY Rangers, 12:30 PM (NBC)
Mar. 29 – vs. Buffalo, 7:00 PM (VERSUS/TSN2)
Apr. 3 – at Toronto, 7:00 PM (CBC)
Apr. 5 – at Washington, 7:00 PM (VERSUS/TSN)
Apr. 11 – at Washington, TBD (NBC)

Yelle signs a one-year deal with Hurricanes

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

The brief Bruins career of veteran center Stephane Yelle came to a close on Wednesday afternoon as the 35-year-old signed a one-year, $550,000 deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Yelle totalled 7 goals and 11 assists with the Bruins last season in 77 games skating with the checking lines, but B’s GM Peter Chiarelli had indicated that Yelle was likely moving on after Boston had signed Steve Begin to a one-year deal.

Yelle will join defenseman Aaron Ward in Carolina, as the B’s blueliner was also dealt to the Canes — the team that ended Boston’s playoff run last year — this summer. Yelle was a valued penalty-killer and faceoff specialist for Boston after signing a late summer deal with the Bruins just prior to training camp last season.