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Neely: ‘I was disappointed’ 03.20.10 at 10:20 am ET
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Appearing on The Big Show, Bruins vice president Cam Neely relayed his frustration regarding his team, coming right out of the gate by answering Glenn Ordway’s inquiry as to how he was doing by saying, “I’ve been better. … I was disappointed last night.”

Asked what went wrong in in the B’s 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh, Neely said, “I’ve been trying to figure that out all year, Glenn, to be honest with you. It’s been very, very disappointing just to see the way our team has performed with that lack of emotion, if you will. It’s something we try to instill here. I’ve said this for years, I said this when I played, I said this after I played, people expect their athletes to compete and show that they care, and if they don’t win they’re OK with that as long as they compete, show that they care and work hard. I’ve heard it too many times this year and I don’t blame our fans for complaining they don’t see that compete or passion that they want to see.”

Neely went to to say that one aspect of this season’s Bruins team that caught management off guard was the “loss of leadership and character in the locker room. … We honestly didn’t think it would be as big an issue as it turned out to be.” He pointed to the absence of players such as P.J. Axelsson as one of the biggest differences in this edition compared to last season.

As for the Bruins’ loss to Pittsburgh, Neely refused to buy into the notion that the flu some of the players were reportedly suffering from made a difference. “We just didn’t play with the type of passion that’s expected,” he said. “That’s what’s frustrating for me. … After the two-minute mark it was business as usual, as it has been. That’s what was frustrating for a lot of people and I don’t blame them for being frustrated.”

Neely said that he didn’t think Milan Lucic was fully recovered from his high ankle sprain, but that he also has to realize that his “bread and butter” is being physical. “That’s how he’s going to be successful in this league,” Neely said.

To listen to the entire interview with Ordway, Steve Buckley and Butch Stearns, click here.

Bruins ink Miroslav Satan 01.02.10 at 6:25 pm ET
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Bruins head coach Claude Julien told reporters at his team’s practice Saturday that Boston has signed free-agent forward Mirolsav Satan, who is expected to be at the team’s Sunday workout. The 35-year-old is expected to help a Bruins team that is 27th in the league in scoring, having scored 354 goals in his career. According to TSN the deal is for one-year, $700,000.

Picture Gallery From Fenway Park For NHL Winter Classic 01.01.10 at 11:20 am ET
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NHL facilities operations manager Dan Craig took a final skate around the rink at Fenway at 11:20 and indicated the ice is ready for hockey at the Winter Classic. “We’re right where we want to be,” Craig said when asked about temperature of the ice. “The Good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now.”

Courtesy of WEEI.com’s Graig Woodburn, here are pictures of the final preparations leading up to the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Friday:

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NHL ice guru Dan Craig takes a final skate around the rink before giving up thumbs up to play. (Graig Woodburn)

Bruins coach Claude Julien swaps hats with the Boston Fire Department (Graig Woodburn)

Bruins coach Claude Julien swaps hats with the Boston Fire Department (Graig Woodburn)

Bruins coach Claude Julien has a pre game talk with legendary defenseman Bobby Orr (Graig Woodburn)

Bruins coach Claude Julien has a pre game talk with legendary defenseman Bobby Orr (Graig Woodburn)

Despite the hoopla, there are key points at stake today. (Graig Woodburn)

Despite the hoopla, there are key points at stake today. (Graig Woodburn)

Faceoff at Fenway Park for the NHL Winter Classic. (Graig Woodburn)

Faceoff at Fenway Park for the NHL Winter Classic. (Graig Woodburn)

Photos from Fenway on the eve of the Winter Classic 12.31.09 at 11:55 am ET
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Courtesy of WEEI.com’s Graig Woodburn, some photos of this morning’s preparations at Fenway Park for the NHL’s 2010 Winter Classic:

A photo from the center field stands shows the players on the rink. (Graig Woodburn)

A photo from the center field stands shows the players on the rink. (Graig Woodburn)

The Bruins enjoy a skate on the ice. (Graig Woodburn)

The Bruins enjoy a skate on the ice. (Graig Woodburn)

The Bruins pose for the team photo at center ice, with the center field bleachers in the background. (Graig Woodburn)

The Bruins pose for the team photo at center ice, with the center field bleachers in the background. (Graig Woodburn)

The Bruins hit the ice amidst a dusting of snow. (Graig Woodburn)

The Bruins hit the ice amidst a dusting of snow. (Graig Woodburn)

Read More: Fenway Park, Winter Classic,
Getting ready for a Classic 12.31.09 at 9:38 am ET
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Looking back: Bruins get bounced 12.28.09 at 8:29 am ET
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storm1(WEEI.com is counting down the “Top 10 Things We Couldn’t Shut Up About In 2009,” and No. 10 is the Bruins getting eliminated from the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes. Here is a written, visual and audio look at the surprising end to the B’s season.)

Sometimes things come together and bring success in ways nobody could have imagined. The 2008-09 Bruins were an unlikely candidate for such an achievement. An aging goaltender, a front office that — like the one before —  was starting to look like it was getting taken advantage of, a 2006 free agent class that had yet to bring Eastern Conference dominance for the money invested, and an inability to beat the bad guys of Montreal were just some of the things that had the Hub down on hockey.

The infamous Joe Thornton trade having doomed the franchise, Harvard product Peter Chiarelli was named general manager in 2006 and, after spending the fifth overall selection on University of Minnesota winger Phil Kessel, signed top free agents Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. With Andrew Raycroft out of the picture, Tim Thomas assumed the job in net under a team to be coached by Dave Lewis. After finishing the 2006-07 season with just 76 points and finishing dead last in the Northeast Division, the B’s ushered Lewis out and brought in former Devils and Canadiens coach Claude Julien.

storm2The team made strides in the 2007-08 campaign but doubt still lingered on Causeway Street. Despite Dennis Wideman, who a year earlier had been acquired for Brad Boyes, finishing the season a plus-11, naysayers pointed to the lack of a 30-goal-scorer and to the fact that Boyes wound up with 42 goals. The Bruins finished the season with 94 and secured the final playoff spot in the East before being eliminated in seven games by the Canadiens, who had also beaten them seven of eight regular-season contests. It was after their comeback from 3-1 in the series fell short, however, that the tide turned.

With offseason additions that included Blake Wheeler and former Hab Michael Ryder, the 2007-08 Bruins represented a departure from the hockey that had been seen post-lockout in Boston. Kessel emerged as the 30-goal-scorer that Boston had been calling for, with 32 goals, and Ryder wasn’t far behind with 27. Savard was the team’s third 25-goal-scorer and led the team with 88 points as Boston finished the season first in the East with 116 points, just one behind the Sharks for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Thomas and Manny Fernandez established themselves as the league’s best goaltending tandem early on, as Thomas, who in April turned 35, posted a 2.10 goals-against average en route to winning his first Vezina Trophy. Fernandez had a 2.07 GAA in 19 games in the season’s first half, though he followed it up with a 3.65 mark in nine games following. Eventual Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara — who anchored the season’s only defense to allow less than 200 goals (196) — added 50 points and a plus-23.

storm3Everything had changed. Even the Canadiens, who for years had left Boston hopeless, were no match for the Bruins, whose success landed Julien the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach. Boston went 5-0-1 against Julien’s former team in the regular season and in an ironic turn of events faced its rival as the No. 1 seed after facing the top-seeded Canadiens as the No. 8 just a year before. Unlike 2008’s nail-biter, the first round was a breeze for the Bruins, who swept their rivals in four games. With a 4-1 victory at the Bell Centre in Game 4, the Bruins had finally given the Canadiens — who were ESPN’s preseason Stanley Cup favorites — and their fans a feeling that they themselves were all too familiar with.

If Boston fans were scared by the ghosts of Montreal, their next opponent should have been just as scary. The Hurricanes had experience on their side, as they raised the Cup in ’06 behind goaltender Cam Ward. However, the team had fired coach Peter Laviolette in December and hired Paul Maurice en route to a 96-point season that landed them the sixth seed.

The Bruins improved to 5-0 in the playoffs with a Game 1 victory in Boston, but Ward stepped up in Game 2 by silencing the offense and the TD Banknorth Garden crowd with a 3-0 shutout. The Hurricanes used home victories in Game 3 and 4 to push the East’s top team to the brink of elimination, but Thomas allowed just two goals through the next two games to send the series to Game 7.

It seemed only fitting that a season as exciting as ’08-09 would have to end in overtime of a Game 7, which is exactly what it did. After the teams sparred to a 2-2 tie (including a Hurricanes goal from old friend Sergei Samsonov) Scott Walker took a rebound from a Ray Whitney shot and beat Thomas to send the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference finals and end what had been a faith-renewing season in Boston. The run had ended, but the season had injected an Original Six town with Bruins fever all over again.

Peter Chiarelli: The Sporting News Executive of the Year said that maybe the Bruins underestimated the Hurricanes in their playoff series: http://audio.weei.com/m/22330315/peter-chiarelli-bruins-gm.htm
Jeremy Jacobs & Gary Bettman: Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs joined Dale & Holley for the second edition of the Owners Series. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined the conversation to discuss the overall state of the NHL and the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals: http://audio.weei.com/m/22483980/jeremy-jacobs-bruins-owner-gary-bettman-nhl-commissioner.htm

Claude Julien: The coach talked about last year ending on a disappointing note but looked ahead to this year and discussed the new players adjusting to the Bruins system and players returning from injuries, and helped preview the 2009-10 Bruins: http://audio.weei.com/m/26670179/claude-julien-bruins-head-coach.htm

Video blog from Bruins loss 11.13.09 at 6:22 am ET
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Here is a video blog brought to you by Kristine Leahy:

GRAIG WOODBURN

MIKE PETRAGLIA

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