|Tuukka Rask supportive of, but not surprised by Tim Thomas||08.02.12 at 4:42 pm ET|
Speaking publicly for the first time this summer, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute that he wasn’t overly surprised when he heard this summer that fellow goalie Tim Thomas was taking a year off from hockey.
“Well I was and I wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting him to do that obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to be with his family and take some time off from hockey. It really didn’t shock me that much, but I’m more upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on. I’m sure he’s happy now where he is.”
Added Rask: “I mean, everybody knew he was a little tired because he played so much the last two years, but it didn’t seem like he was exhausted mentally.”
Thomas, who was a two-time Vezina winner and a the Conn Smythe winner in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley-Cup winning season, became somewhat of a controversial figure for being more outspoken politically over the last calendar year. Most recently, Thomas sided with Chick fil-A in its stand against gay marriage. Asked what he though Thomas’ legacy in Boston should be given the on-ice success and off-ice controversy, Rask said he couldn’t answer because he was biased towards his former teammate.
“To me, I look at it a little differently because he’s a friend of mine, so I don’t really care what he says on the Facebook or whatever because I don’t read that stuff,” Rask said. “He’s been good to me, and we’ve been good friends and usually don’t talk about that stuff, what he posts. All I know is he’s been a good teammate to me and a good friend.”
|Current Bruin on Tim Thomas/Chick-fil-A situation: ‘He’s not my teammate’||07.26.12 at 6:16 pm ET|
Tim Thomas‘ Facebook posts — and his unwillingness to elaborate on them with the media — left a lot of teammates busy answering questions about his political views last season.
The common answer was that Thomas was a good teammate, and that his politics didn’t mess with team chemistry. With Thomas taking next season off, the Bruins will get the year off from having to answer for him.
Thomas, who said — via Facebook of course — that he will spend next season focusing on “friends, family and faith,” took to Facebook again Thursday by supporting Chick-fil-A, which is owned by the Cathy family. The Cathys have been outspoken in opposing gay marriage.
That flies right in the face of the “You Can Play” project, which encourages a safe environment for a homosexual NHL player to come out to the league. This is perhaps he most controversial of the stances Thomas has taken, and the Bruins no longer have to explain why it isn’t a bad thing.
“He isn’t playing next year,” one current Bruin told WEEI.com Thursday, “which means he’s not my teammate, which means I don’t have to react to his Facebook posts.”
|Claude Julien addresses the Tim Thomas situation||07.24.12 at 3:08 pm ET|
In an offseason that’s seen minimal roster turnover, the Bruins’ biggest change of the summer was the subtraction of Tim Thomas, who will sit out the next season to focus on fiends, family and faith.
Speaking at the press conference to announce his contract extension, Claude Julien talked about what the Bruins will be like without the two-time Vezina-winner and said he thinks the Bruins can handle it.
“We lost a guy by the name of Marc Savard who led our team in scoring every year and we were able to adapt,” Julien said. “I see that as a same kind of a challenge. There’s no doubt, nobody’s going to deny what Tim’s done here for our hockey club over the years but we’ve mentioned that Tuukka [Rask] is a very capable goaltender. He’s got his opportunity to showcase that this year and I think when I saw [Anton] Khudobin play, whether it was training camp or whether it was when he was with us that game in Ottawa, practice, you can see a goaltender who has not only improved but has matured.
“I honestly have a lot of confidence in our goaltending and, obviously, we drafted, we’ve signed a few goaltenders as well. I think our depth is there. I don’t really see that as an issue. And that’s because I have the confidence in what I have in front of me right now.”
The most games Rask, who will become the No. 1 goaltender, has started in his career is 39 back in 2009-10. It will be interesting to see how he handles being a true No. 1 with a traditional backup in Khudobin after years of splitting time with Thomas. Rask’s certainly got a lot to play for, as he’s on a one-year deal that can land him a huge payday should he pick up where Thomas left off.
|Bruins offer injury updates on Nathan Horton, Adam McQuaid, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin||07.24.12 at 2:58 pm ET|
Speaking at Claude Julien‘s press conference Tuesday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli gave updates on the Bruins who finished last season with injuries. The most notable update regarded the status of Nathan Horton, who has been knocked out of the last two seasons with concussions.
“Nathan Horton has been cleared for contact and by all accounts from our medical staff will be ready to play when it comes time to play,” Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli added that Patrice Bergeron‘s oblique injury is “completely healed” and that the team expects Adam McQuaid (concussion) and Tyler Seguin (hand surgery) to be god for training camp in September.
“Adam McQuaid has been completely cleared,” he said. “Seguin is on his road to recovery in his initial timeframe. It may be sooner than that.”
|Claude Julien already has his place in Bruins history||07.24.12 at 7:21 am ET|
Claude Julien‘s stay in Boston has worked out pretty well, and to the surprise of no one, it isn’t over yet.
The Bruins announced Monday that they locked up the coach with a multi-year deal, with a press conference to take place Tuesday at TD Garden. With him will be Peter Chiarelli, the man who finally stopped the revolving door of Bruins coaches in 2007 and found the coach who could not only last more than a couple of seasons but could bring the Stanley Cup to Boston.
As far as Bruins coaches go, Julien, at 460 regular-season games coached, has a ways to go before catching Art Ross (728) and Milt Schmidt (726). Assuming he coaches every game this season, Julien will be at 542. Should he coach the following two seasons in Boston (after all, it’s a multi-year deal that will start in 2013-14), he’ll break the 700-game mark.
In many ways, Julien has perhaps been underappreciated in Boston. Though he may have once appeared to be the Marty Schottenheimer of the NHL for his ability to consistently get teams to the playoffs only to come up short in the postseason, he was there to lead the Bruins out of the mess they’d been in since the lockout and back to respectability.
In his first year on the job, Julien took Boston from a club that had previously finished 13th in the Eastern Conference to a playoff team. The Bruins grabbed the eighth and final playoff spot in 2007-08 and lost to Julien’s former team in the Canadiens, but it was the 2008-09 season — a campaign in which Julien picked up the Jack Adams Award for the league’s top coach — that things really stared to change in Boston. The B’s finished tops in the conference, and it was the first of three consecutive seasons in which the Bruins got past the first round. The last time the Bruins had accomplished such a feat was when they won at least a round in five straight playoffs from 1988 through 1992.
Julien’s crowning achievement, of course, was the 2010-11 season in which the Bruins beat the Canadiens, Flyers, Lightning and Canucks en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup. It seemed that Julien was criticized by select media and fans more than he’d ever been in that season. The Bruins were coming off an embarrassing playoff defeat in 2010 in which they’d blown a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers, and after they were blanked by Jonas Hiller and the Ducks at home on Dec. 20 of the 2010-11 season, it seemed hard to find a fan who didn’t want Chiarelli and Cam Neely to can the coach.
In the playoffs, Julien was scrutinized for his handling of Tyler Seguin. His sticking with Michael Ryder over the then-rookie proved to be right, as Ryder’s Game 4 performance (two goals, one of which was the game-winner in overtime, and an assist) tied the team’s first-round series with the Habs. Seguin shined when he finally got his turn in the Eastern Conference finals, but Julien’s handling of the situation was correct.
Julien definitely has faced some good ol’ fashioned Boston scrutiny thus far in Boston, but if his future with the B’s matches what he’s accomplished in the recent past, fans won’t have much to (logically) complain about.
Now if only they could do something about that power play …
|Rick Nash headed to Rangers, so that Bruins thing isn’t happening||07.23.12 at 3:14 pm ET|
One common solution to many Bruins fans’ problems has been for them to trade for Rick Nash. Their reported interest in the star winger has popped up multiple times over the last year, and while such a scenario never seemed likely, it definitely isn’t happening now.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Rangers and Blue Jackets have agreed to a deal that will send the seven-time 30-goal-scorer to New York. Headed to Columbus for the 2002 first overall pick will be forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky as well as defenseman prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.
While the Rangers have to take on six more years of a $7.8 million salary cap hit with the 28-year-old, it sure looks like New York got the better of the deal. The Rangers didn’t have to touch their core, and while Dubinsky (26) and Anisimov (24) might have their best years ahead of them, they have two 20-goal campaigns between them in eight combined seasons between them. Nash has scored 40 goals twice in nine seasons.
Also, when looking at the haul that the Blue Jackets got, it’s pretty clear the B’s could have easily gotten Nash if they really wanted him. Any one of Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin or Tuukka Rask is a better piece than any of the players New York gave up.
|A national view of Bruins prospects||07.23.12 at 9:57 am ET|
ESPN released its organizational prospect rankings last week (ESPN Insider account required), with the Panthers and revamped Wild taking the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively. The Bruins were ranked eighth (they were 14th last year), and having an elite NHL-ready blueliner like Dougie Hamilton certainly had a lot to do with that.
Writes Grant Sonier:
The 2012 draft did not yield much for the Bruins, other than highly touted, athletic goaltender Malcolm Subban (Belleville-OHL). Previous drafts, however, should have B’s fans excited as one of their top prospects has really matured well. D-man Dougie Hamilton (Niagara-OHL) will have a chance to play big minutes and should turn heads in camp this fall. Forward depth is among Boston’s assets in the form of Jared Knight (London-OHL), Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor-OHL) and Ryan Spooner (Sarnia-OHL).
Sleeper Prospect: Tyler Randell, RW, (Kitchener-OHL/Providence-AHL) (sixth round/2009) I like his combination of size, grit and skill. His skating is on the upward swing and he shows potential.
To clarify, Kohkhlachev will play next season in the KHL, not OHL, and we’ll add another potential sleeper in 2011 third-round pick Anthony Camara. The Barrie Colts forward is tough as nails and has added some offense to his game over the last season, scoring 16 goals in 2011-12 after totaling eight in his draft year.
For a sense of where the Northeast Division stands, the Canadiens were ranked third, the Sabres were 12th, the Senators were 14th and the Maple Leafs were 22nd.