|Shawn Thornton and Patrice Bergeron: Irish brothers?||09.30.10 at 7:35 am ET|
BELFAST — The European trip to kick off the Bruins’ 2010-11 season can be viewed as being about a lot of things. From seeing new places to seeing unfamiliar teams in preseason and getting a good deal of team bonding in, there are plenty of story lines that run congruent with the team’s 10-day trip. Just days away from the Bruins’ exhibition game with the Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland, one player comes to mind for embracing his family ties and soaking up the tradition. That player, of course, is Shawn Thornton, but should there be more?
Thornton’s mother, born in Belfast, flew in on Wednesday to stay with her cousin while her son is in town. Given all the excitement throughout his relatives, the veteran forward is expecting 20 family members to both show him around and attend Saturday’s game. Reallocation of the players’ tickets certainly came into play as a result.
“There’s a lot of guys who did not need tickets for this game. Thank God,” Thornton said with a smile. “I’ve got the most.”
Yet while Thornton is eager to see family members, some of whom he’s never met, there’s another Irish relative he’s excited for, and one Bruins fans might be a little more familiar with: Quebec’s own Patrice Bergeron.
“My grandfather was born in Northern Ireland. He came over a long time ago with his parents. It’s been a long time, but it’s going to be pretty special to go there,” Bergeron said of the surprising bloodlines.
Born and raised in Quebec and a star of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as a teenager, there isn’t much about Bergeron’s upbringing or time in the game that screams “Northern Ireland.” Though Bergeron isn’t sure if he actually still has any relatives in the area, Thornton can assure him that he has at least one.
“I mean, we’re Irish brothers,” Thornton said. “I call him Patrick Cleary, not Patrice Bergeron, so we’re probably related back from back there at some point.”
And thus perhaps the most unlikeliest of connections, even by sarcasm’s standards, is made. Both players are Canadian-born, of course, and neither have been to Belfast before. Though they’ll be there for just three days before departing for Prague on Sunday, the anticipation isn’t lost on either of them.
“It will be good to see some family,” Thornton said. “I’ve met some of them — they used to come over and visit my grandmother over time — so it will be good to see them again and hopefully get some local knowledge of the city.”
Bergeron, whose father’s last name actually is Cleary, is definitely excited for the trip, though it’s unlikely he’ll play the role as resident Belfast expert like Thornton hopes he will. Asked if he and Bergeron would embrace the culture heavily through the wearing of scally caps to truly reflect their Irish heritage, Thornton didn’t hide mask his pride a bit.
“I’ve got tons of them. We’re going to look for some while we’re over there, but I’ll be bringing a few just in case,” he said.”
Especially in the case of Prague, many players have some places in mind when it comes to sight-seeing. Bergeron spoke of how beautiful he found the city when he last played there in 2004 representing Canada in the World Championships.
For the Belfast leg of the trip, Thornton has put forth an effort in looking up interesting spots to take teammates during the team’s three days in Northern Ireland. That doesn’t mean he still won’t rely heavily on the natives in his family to direct him.
“I’m sure I don’t retain as much information as I should when I [research places], so I’ll probably just play it by ear when I get over there,” Thornton said. “I’ve got aunts and uncles that will be taking me around. I’m sure their knowledge of it is better than what I can find on Wikipedia.”
|Second period summary: Capitals 2, Bruins 0||09.29.10 at 8:34 pm ET|
With the second period wrapped up at the Garden, a couple of things have stood out that may be worth keeping an eye on in the Bruins’ final period of regulation before they depart for Belfast.
One thing that could easily be counted was the number of power play opportunities the Bruins had. That was four. The team applied good pressure on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and moved the puck well for the most part, though some of their scoring opportunities were broken up by either blocked shots or one too many passes.
The number that is difficult to pinpoint is just how many times the Bruins either seemed to have beaten/fooled Holtby, tied in with how many times the Capitals netminder was badly out of position and didn’t pay for it. The team’s best opportunity of the period came when Nathan Horton fired a hard wrist shot past Holtby only to see it clank off the post.
The Capitals added a tally in the second, a Nicklas Backstrom redirect past Tim Thomas for the Washington captain’s second of the night.
Blake Wheeler collided with Holtby late in the period and immediately left the ice and walked down the tunnel, though he turned around and returned to the bench.
|No Ovechkin Wednesday||09.29.10 at 5:47 pm ET|
A night after the Bruins kept some of their stars out the lineup on the road, the Capitals are doing the same on Wednesday at TD Garden. Here’s the Capitals’ roster for Wednesday night:
Forwards: Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Eric Fehr, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, Matt Hendricks, David Steckel, Steve Pinizzotto, Andrew Gordon, Jay Beagle, Matthieu Perreault, Marcus Johansson
Defensemen: John Erskine, Karl Alzner, Brian Fahey, Jeff Schultz, John Carlson, Tyler Sloan
Goaltenders: Dany Sabourin, Braden Holtby
The Bruins forward lines are as follows:
The defensive pairings are Zdeno Chara with Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference with Johnny Boychuk, and Matt Hunwick with Matt Bartkowski. In net for the Bruins is Tim Thomas, who is seeing his first preseason action.
|Jacobs: Circumvention, demoting big contracts both costly games||09.29.10 at 4:17 pm ET|
This summer, it came to light that the Bruins were among the teams accused by the league of circumventing the salary cap with the signing of Marc Savard to a seven-year, $28.5 million deal. Though the deal was structured so that the latter years of the deal carried lower salaries and thus brought the overall cap hit down, it does not go past his 40th birthday and seemed to be a far cry from the 17-year Ilya Kovalchuk deal that was rejected before being tinkered with and finally accepted in an agreement that dropped the Savard investigation.
“I think they threw out a wide net and tried to be as inclusive as possible of everyone that they thought had extended contracts,” Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said. “Whether they thought it was fair or not, I don’t know, but I didn’t feel there was any problem with it. If we have to stand scrutiny, that’s what we have to do.
“I think all the contracts have to be looked at that way, and at least from Boston’s standpoint, I think the commissioner made a valued judgement on this and I think clearly the arbitrator agreed on the Kovalchuk one, so he was right there, but fortunately he put an end to it. It was a very expensive situation, though.”
As for how the team will approach deals in the future, even with the NHLPA and the league reaching an agreement to prevent future circumvention, Jacobs noted that there’s still plenty of reason to be cautious with contracts and how they fit within the CBA.
“I think Boston is going to be a lot more sensitive to that,” Jacobs said. “Boston’s going to be very aware of the circumvention areas, and there’s a lot of things that can go into that terminology, circumvention. We’re sensitive to it.”
Jacobs had a few other interesting comments during his media scrum, with the Rangers’ demotion of Wade Redden bringing up the possibility of the Bruins sending a big-money player to the AHL when Marco Sturm and Marc Savard return from long-term injured reserve.
|Seguin appears headed for center||09.29.10 at 12:29 pm ET|
The Bruins made six more cuts from camp on Wednesday, sending Joe Colborne, Zach Hamill, Steven Kampfer, Jeff LoVecchio, Jeremy Reich, and Wyatt Smith have been assigned to Providence. Though Colborne was expected to require some more seasoning in the AHL anyway, the move to send Hamill down significantly narrows down the team’s options regarding the third-line center.
“It wasn’t easy,” coach Claude Julien said of sending the former eighth overall pick to Providence. “Zach is a player that has progressed every year so far, and he’s getting there. For him, maybe it’s a disappointment, but for us, we were really impressed with how much he’s gotten better over the course of the few years. He’s pretty close, and to the point where I don’t think as a coach I’d even hesitate to give him a call and use him because there’s going to be some injuries.
“All he has to do is go to Providence and continue to show that he’s a good player and try and be as dominate a player as he can down there. If he has a good season, there’s no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be back. ”
With the competition seemingly down to second overall pick Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler, Claude Julien indicated Wednesday that Seguin may be the preference, though the team will get looks at both players in the three final preseason games. Seguin will center a line with Michael Ryder and Wheeler vs. the Capitals on Wednesday at TD Garden.
“I think it’s getting clearer. Obviously, with Colborne and Hamill being gone, there’s a bit of a competition in a way to see who’s going to end up there. We’d like to see Tyler play in that position tonight and really give him that chance. We know he can play the wing, we’ve seen him play the wing with some players, and be pretty successful, so more than likely you’re going to see him [at center] and we’ll see how he handles it tonight, especially against a Washington team that is usually a pretty good team. If not, we’ve got a couple of preseason games over in Europe where we can rotate him and Blake in and out.”
Here is the rest of the roster for the game:
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brian McGrattan, Daniel Paille, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Blake Wheeler
Defensemen: Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, Matt Hunwick, Dennis Seidenberg
Goaltenders: Nolan Schaefer, Tim Thomas
It is expected that Thomas will start in net on Wednesday night. It will be his first preseason action.
|Savard missing Belfast||09.29.10 at 1:00 am ET|
According published reports, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed on Tuesday with reporters that center Marc Savard will not accompany the team on its trip to Belfast on Wednesday night. Savard has missed all of training camp with post-concussion symptom syndromes. Peter Chiarelli has indicated that he could potentially fly to Prague to watch his teammates open the regular season against the Coyotes on Oct. 9 and 10.
UPDATE [Wednesday]: Chiarelli said that Savard is on a seven or eight-day program for his conditioning as he works his way back to potentially pass an impact test. Savard failed the test on September 17, the day the team opened training camp.
|Prague prep: Jet lag tips and a geography lesson from Dennis Seidenberg||09.29.10 at 12:44 am ET|
With the Bruins gearing up for their preseason-concluding and season-opening trip to Europe, the anticipation throughout the locker room is rather apparent. Though some may know the respective areas of Belfast and the Czech Republic better than others, all seem to be genuinely excited for the trip.
Count Dennis Seidenberg among those players, but factor in that when he speaks of heading overseas to open the regular season, he speaks from experience. Last season, he, Gregory Campbell, Nathan Horton, and the rest of the Panthers made the trek to Finland for a couple of preseason games and two regular season matchups with the Blackhawks, the latter a series in which the Panthers split with the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
As much as Seidenberg, a native of Germany, enjoyed the trip, he found the travel of the preseason to be a bit much, and it would be hard to blame him based on the team’s preseason schedule: at Novia Scotia, at Ottawa, at Montreal, at Edmonton, at Calgary, at Dallas, home at Florida, and finally to Finland. Given that the Bruins’ travel this preseason has consisted of Montreal, New York, and DC as its road games, Seidenberg isn’t concerned the side effects that accompany a hectic schedule will be factor this time around.
“This year we definitely didn’t have all the traveling we had with the Panthers. We had a couple of road games, but they were pretty close, so traveling wasn’t a problem at all,” Seidenberg said. “I think we’ll get in there a little more rested, a little better prepared and it should be a good experience for everybody.”
The Panthers took the first game in a shootout. That was the good. The bad was the lesson that a hockey player’s schedule and jet lag don’t exactly fit together well. The Panthers played all four of their European games in the span of six days, while the Bruins arrive Thursday morning and will play their four games over an eight-day span (Oct. 2-10).
“The tough part was the time change, because every day around noon or three or four, you just wanted to go to sleep and sleep for the rest of the night,” Seidenberg said. “You just can’t do that. It takes a few days to get used to it, but that’s why we’re going over there a little earlier.”
Belfast is five hours ahead of EST, while Prague is six hours ahead. Seidenberg added that dealing with each countries quirks — whether they be food or anything else — does make the experience “a little bit different” but that “you get used to it pretty quick.”
Though nobody on the squad is actually from Prague and David Krejci hasn’t been there in several years, Seidenberg is among the players expecting family at the games. Hailing from Villingen-Schwenningen, West Germany, Seidenberg’s family will make the six-hour drive to Prague. The team’s final preseason game will be played in Liberec, which is about an hour north of Prague. With Villingen-Schenningen near the Swiss border and Liberec right around the Poland border, Seidenberg doesn’t expect his family to make that trip.
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