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Bruins players hold last pre-lockout practice 09.14.12 at 12:48 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Who knows when it will happen again, but Bruins players took the ice Friday at Ristuccia Arena for an informal practice. It figures to be their last time at their practice rink before the owners lock the players out on Saturday night.

B’s players (everyone was present with the exception of Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand) were joined by other local skaters, including defensemen Keith Yandle (Coyotes) and Ryan Whitney (Oilers). Ryan Bourque, son of Ray Bourque and younger brother of Chris Bourque, was also in attendance.

Some players will stick around locally and hold informal skates for the time being, while others (such as Dennis Seidenberg) will likely play elsewhere. Captain Zdeno Chara plans to stay in Boston for the time being, but he said Friday that as the two sides continue to negotiate, missing games helps nobody.

“Everybody [loses],” Chara said. “The players sacrifice, the owners sacrifice, the fans sacrifice. Everybody loses something. There’s no question about that.”

Added Chara: “We all want to play. We all love hockey. That’s our jobs, but at the same time we have to play under certain rules and it’s got to make sense.”

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David Krejci wants Tim Thomas to return to Bruins 09.10.12 at 1:57 pm ET
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BOLTON — The Tim Thomas subject is a rather touchy one when it comes to the Bruins. He told them after the season he’d be taking the year off, leaving them with a potential salary cap burden. Furthermore, his exit paved the way for Tuukka Rask to get his chance as a starting goaltender, so Thomas’ (former?) teammates have often gone on record of respecting his decision to not play this year while pointing out that they are confident in what Rask will do with his opportunity.

Bruins players have danced around the subject of what might happen if Thomas were to return after next season, but when David Krejci brought up the subject Monday at the team’s golf tournament in Bolton, the center made his opinion clear: He wants Thomas back with the Bruins.

Asked what his reaction was when he heard about Thomas’ decision, here’s what Krejci said:

“I was in shock a little bit just like everybody else I guess, but you’ve got to respect his personal life. If he wants to take a year off, then he should do what he feels is right for him and his family. I respect that, but I hope he’s going to come back because he’s, in my opinion, I think he left — I hope he’s going to come back. If not, I think he left too early because he’s still one of the best goalies in the league. It would be bad for everybody, for the league, for the fans, for himself and for us if he wouldn’t [resume] his career. I haven’t talked to him this summer, so I don’t really have much to talk about.”

Read More: David Krejci, Tim Thomas,
Andrew Ference not optimistic about CBA negotiations 09.10.12 at 1:39 pm ET
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BOLTON — Wearing an NHLPA hat with his golf attire, Bruins defenseman and former player rep Andrew Ference said prior to the team’s golf tournament Monday that he doesn’t see much reason for optimism that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached before the current one expires this Saturday.

“I don’t know if optimistic’s the right word, not with the way things have been going so far,” Ference said. “It’s pretty tough to be optimistic. I think at the beginning of the summer there were a lot of great talks. Hopefully that can continue and we can see some progress. Obviously this next week or two is pretty big.”

Upwards of 200 NHL players are set to meet this week in New York, as will the league’s board of governors.

“Hopefully they’ll get some different viewpoints on the table and let some of the other people talk from around the league,” Ference said. “‘€¦ You’d hope that in the next two weeks there’s some movement and some reason for optimism”.

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Tyler Seguin: Contract negotiations have ‘definitely picked up quite heavily’ 09.10.12 at 12:54 pm ET
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BOLTON — Speaking before the Bruins’ annual golf tournament at The International, Bruins right wing Tyler Seguin said that he hopes to sign a new contract before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement (Saturday), and that he’s comfortable with where things stand in negotiations.

“There’s been discussions,” Seguin said. “It’s looking good, and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing in Boston for many years.”

The 20-year-old Seguin is set to enter the final year of his entry-level contract, and fellow 2010 draft stars Taylor Hall (seven years at $6 million per) and Jeff Skinner (six years, $5.75 million per) have already signed their next contracts.

Seguin, who led the Bruins with 29 goals last season, said that the sides started talking after the season and that negotiations have “definitely picked up quite heavily since then.” He added that negotiations have been “all positive” thus far and that there is enough interest on both sides to get a deal done.

“I want to stay here and start a life here,” Seguin said. “That’s what I’m looking for.”

It is unclear where Seguin would be able to play if the season were to be delayed by a lockout. With agents working the phones to make sure their clients have places to play this season, Seguin said he doesn’t know where he’ll play.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m headed to New York for two days to see what’s going on and then talk to my agent a bit more. Obviously I want to be playing hockey, NHL first, and then I’ve thought about AHL, thought about going overseas, but nothing I can confirm on right now.”

Seguin said that his left hand is at 100 percent after getting offseason surgery to repair a tendon. He’s been on the ice and is back in Boston after training with esteemed strength coach Matt Nichol in Toronto.

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What will Tyler Seguin get in his next contract? 09.07.12 at 6:23 pm ET
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While the Bruins may not be playing any time soon, Peter Chiarelli made a strong play Friday by signing Brad Marchand to a four-year, $18 million a year before he was set to become a restricted free agent. While Marchand’s signing crosses a name off a list of important players set to become RFAs (Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic), the most interesting case remains that of Seguin.

Chiarelli doesn’t like to see players get to free agency, and in Marchand’s case he made sure he locked up a player set to become a restricted free agent before he could step onto the ice in the final year of his deal. Last season, Chiarelli locked up a player set to become a restricted free agent when he gave David Krejci a three-year, $15.75 million contract during the season. He admitted that to be his style Friday, but he wouldn’t comment on whether he intends to sign Seguin before the season starts.

All Chiarelli said Friday was that he has “had some discussions” with the other Bruins that are near the end of their deals. While we don’t know when or for how much Seguin will sign, here’s what we do know: At 20 years old, he led the Bruins with 29 goals and 67 points and he has yet to reach his prime.

Furthermore, three signings have set the bar for what he may command. Taylor Hall, the player picked one spot ahead of Seguin in the 2010 draft, signed this summer for seven years at $6 million per. Fellow Oiler Jordan Eberle got the same cap hit for six years, while Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner (the seventh overall pick in 2010) signed a six-year deal that will carry a $5.75 million cap hit. All three players, like Seguin, are entering the final seasons of their entry-level deals.

Here are the stats of all four players from last season, with the exception of Skinner, whose rookie (his best year) stats are shown:

Eberle: 78 GP, 34 G, 34 A, 76 P, 17:36 AVG. TOI
Hall: 61 GP, 27 G, 26 A, 53 P, 18:13 AVG. TOI
Skinner [2010-11]: 82 GP, 31 G, 32 , 63 P, 16:44 AVG. TOI
Seguin: 81 GP, 29 G, 38 A, 67 P, 16:56 AVG. TOI

Chiarelli admitted Friday that the sides do take into consideration the comparables, and in Seguin’s case it would appear the comparables are there.

“Again, I’€™m not going to go into details of negotiations,” he said. “You look at comparable players, you look at where your team salary structure is, and you look at the market. You don’€™t look strictly at one of those things – you try and look at all of them. So we try and do that in all our negotiations, and we will continue to do that. Sometimes you’€™re faced with different dynamics, and you have to make decisions at certain junctures of the negotiation, but generally speaking the comparables are important, comparable peer groups, and where he fits into the team salary structure.”

If Seguin were to get the lowest cap hit of the trio — Skinner’s $5.75 million — he would become the Bruins’ highest-paid forward, ahead of the likes of Krejci ($5.25 million) and Patrice Bergeron ($5 million). Seguin brings something that neither of those two players bring with his elite scoring touch, but he plays less than the other two (Bergeron and Krejci averaged 18:35 and 18:25 per game last season, respectively), and unlike the Oilers stars and Skinner, is playing on a recent Stanley Cup champion team that is crowded with capable veterans.

For example, the Bruins have five forwards (including Marc Savard) who are set to command cap hits of $4 million or more next season. The Oilers have two, while the Hurricanes are three. The Bruins also have the highest payroll in the NHL right now, so money may be tight when it comes time to get all of their players — including a guy like Rask who could be due for a raise from the $3.5 million he’s set to earn — signed before the 2013-14 season.

Because the whole Phil Kessel thing didn’t work out, it’s yet to be seen just how much the Bruins are willing to shell out for elite scorers. It will be interesting to see how things unfold for Seguin and the Bruins.

Read More: Tyler Seguin,
New CHL/NHL transfer agreement could allow Dougie Hamilton to play in OHL and NHL 09.07.12 at 3:42 pm ET
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While the Bruins announced some bad news regarding a potential lockout Friday by canceling their rookie camp, they have gotten some good news when it comes to having their top prospect in the 2012-13 season.

General manager Peter Chiarelli said that the NHL and CHL are in talks regarding a new transfer agreement that would allow players to start a locked out season with their junior clubs and then go to the NHL mid-season if there is to be a season. Chiarelli said he is unsure of how many players the B’s would be able to take back, but he said defenseman Dougie Hamilton would be their priority.

Because there had been no precedent set in the previous lockout (the season was cancelled rather than starting late), teams and players were unsure as to whether junior-eligible players (under 20 years old; Hamilton is 19) could start the season with their junior teams and then jump to the NHL. It appears now that they most likely will be able to, though it is not yet official and just how many players can do so remains unknown.

“We’€™re told they’€™re working on an agreement, and we’€™re told that there will be the ability to take players, in the event of a work stoppage, and it cutting into the CHL [Canadian Hockey League] season,” Chiarelli said. “There will be some type of ability to take players from their respective CHL teams. So, I’€™m hoping that that will be finalized, but at the very least I’€™m told that it’€™s expected to happen in the agreement. So, I mean, to the extent – I don’€™t know how many we can take, and I know that they haven’€™t done the agreement yet, but they’€™re working on it. So yes, if we can take one, I can tell you that [Hamilton] will be the one.”

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Bruins cancel rookie camp 09.07.12 at 3:38 pm ET
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The Bruins have cancelled their upcoming rookie camp and tournament due to CBA uncertainty, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday.

The camp was expected to open on Sept. 14, one day before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. The team has not made any changes regarding their training camp, which is set to open on Sept. 21, and they plan to have select players who would have participated in rookie camp in attendance.

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