Wheeler speaks about unresolved Kessel situation
|09.13.09 at 2:14 pm ET|
First official on-ice day of training camp for the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on Sunday afternoon, and the first wave of interviews are finished and in the books. Among the first group of players participating in the skate were Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi, Derek Morris, Johnny Boychuk and Mark Stuart along with Baby B’s like Brad Marchand and Zach Hamill.
There will be plenty of info from Sunday’s session still to come, including Stuart’s thoughts on taking more of a leadership role in the room and Wheeler’s physical adjustments headed into a pivotal second pro season with the B’s — but here’s a quick bite from Wheeler on his philosophy toward unsigned restricted free agent Phil Kessel. Wheeler and Kessel were good friends while both played for the University of Minnesota and remained close off the ice last season. But Wheeler and the rest of the Bruins are simply moving on with the players at training camp, and letting the Kessel situation resolve on its own timetable.
Kessel and the Bruins are in something of a limbo to start training camp off with suitors like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators and New York Rangers publicly lining up for the 21-year-old and other teams believed to be burning up the phone lines to B’s GM Peter Chiarelli behind the scenes. It’s been obvious for more than a week that Kessel’s days in a Spoked B are severely numbered, and the 23-year-old Wheeler is taking the business approach to things. The players understand that it’s a salary cap development more than anything else with the B’s holding roughly $1.7 million in cap space with a bright young star able to still attract offer sheets.
“it is what it is,” said Wheeler, perhaps unintentionally invoking the mantra of Bill Belichick. “It has nothing to do with me. Phil is one of my best friends and he’s my buddy, so from that standpoint you miss having him around. But that’s business. It’s got nothing to do with me, and I just leave it at that.”
–Best line of the day also came from Morris, who compared the massive Bruins fan turnout to the first day of training camp at the Garden to the bleak, dark days otherwise known as his entire career as a Phoenix Coyote.
“That was special,” said Morris of the fan turnout. “They’re good fans and they cheered when guys scored. It’s fun to practice when there’s fans there. We probably didn’t have that many there for games (in Phoenix).”