|Don Sweeney’s shining moment||07.10.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — These are proud times for Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney.
All one had to do was take one look at the massive crowd that turned out at tiny Ristuccia Arena here for the final day of the team’s week-long development camp for rookies and young prospects.
It was Sweeney who organized and ran the team’s first such off-season camp in July, 2007. He said after Saturday’s workout that the 2010 edition was another success, featuring star prospects Tyler Seguin and Joe Colborne.
“Not really comparing years here, I think we’re excited about the skill set we’ve gone out and identified and brought in,” Sweeney said. “Be it through the draft or through the acquisition side of it, I think, overall, our group should be proud and excited about the guys they’ve identified and brought in.
“Now, it’s time for the players to continue to get better and our coaching staff, who we feel teaches the game very, very well, and our management group, to continue to push these guys all forward. That includes our workout guys, everybody. You see all of our group here, from player personnel, to scouts, you can tell how much our organization is taking care of it and that comes from Peter [Chiarelli] and filters down.”
Under Sweeney, the team has brought the club’s top prospects to Ristuccia in advance of the main September training camp.
“Make no mistake about it, the ultimate goal is to produce the best NHL players we can,” Sweeney said. “The more we can build camaraderie and using that as an example of them understanding they have a chance to be teammates and be part of something where we hope to win.
Development camp gives the prospects the opportunity to get to know each other on and off the ice while teaching them the level of dedication and training necessary for them to reach the next stage of their careers.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to win,” Sweeney said. “I hope with all my heart that these guys come in here and they grab a hold of it right from the get-go and the culture we’re trying to create and the momentum we have and they continue to push that forward and I think that helps in that regard.”
“We referenced earlier in the week where Joe Colborne had reached out to a number of these kids and gave them a little heads up. That’s the stuff we hope each and every one [understands]. Next year, it might be somebody else that reaches out to a young draft pick and so you’ve created that momentum and the culture that we’re hoping to continue to build going forward.”
Colborne was only too happy to help.
“These guys have been coming up to me the whole camp with questions,” Colborne said. “I’ve tried to be as welcoming as possible and make sure they all feel comfortable because I know what it feels to be a new guy coming in with no idea. So I’ve been up front with them, trying to give them the heads up on what the tougher parts of camp are, the things you’re going to have to learn and they’ve all taken it in stride and improved since the start of camp.”
One of the bonding activities that Colborne helped lead was a bowling outing on Thursday night.
But perhaps the biggest confirmation of Sweeney’s optimism came from Colborne, who just completed his third such development camp with the B’s.
“Right from Day 1, when we were doing the program with the Marines, that’s all they talked about was doing that extra little bit that will be the difference between winning a Stanley Cup championship or losing in Game 7 like we did this year,” the 20-year-old Colborne said.
“Obviously, you can tell the management is hungry. The guys like [David] Krejci have been back here and he’s ready to get going. It’s going to be a very hungry group next year and hopefully, I’ll be part of it.”
|B’s development camp ends on record note||07.10.10 at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Judging by the crowd alone, the five-day Bruins development camp would be a rousing success. Over 1,200 fans turned out at Ristuccia Arena on Saturday as the entire seating section was filled with fans eager to get their first glimpse of top pick Tyler Seguin, along with other prospects Joe Colborne and Yuri Alexandrov.
The Bruins ran through drills and finished with an intrasquad scrimmage.
Two extra sections, normally reserved for Bruins staff and media, were opened to accommodate the overflow crowd that stretched out the door of the Wilmington practice facility.
“We had to let them into our little private area,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said with a proud smile. “It was great. They liked the show that was put on. They see the obvious skill out there and the depth of the guys. It’s great.”
Some other quick notes from Saturday’s wrap up:
* Of the 27 players at camp this week, eight will return to college this fall, while the others will prepare for the upcoming training camp, which begins on the same sheet of ice in early September.
* Assistant general manager Don Sweeney is looking for a little more conditioning from talented but young Russian defenseman Yuri Alexandrov, who just turned 22.
“Obviously, there’s a language barrier there and [there’s] cultural differences,” Sweeney said on Saturday. “Once he’s on the ice, he feels most comfortable and that’s a good thing. But there’ll be systematic things and nuances he’ll have to figure out.
“We’ve tried to attack that communication and tried to get better at it because there is a gap there. And the onus falls on him a little bit to understand that and immerse himself in that.”
This is the second development camp for Alexandrov, who was drafted in 2009 by the Bruins and played in the professional KHL league in Russia this past winter.
“You can tell when the game starts, his positional play, his understanding and his stick positioning is very, very good,” Sweeney said. “You can tell that’s been taught and built into his game. When you play against bigger and stronger players, you have to develop those techniques and he’s done that.
“To be honest with you, and something we’re communicating with him, I didn’t think he was in quite as good a shape as he was the year before so that’s got to be something he’ll have to attack and address between now and September to realize that he continues to push forward. I would tell all the kids that. I’m not going to single him out for any particular reason, except that the facts are what they are.”
|Chiarelli explains why he’s ‘standing pat’||07.09.10 at 6:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli emphasized in the days after his team’s shocking playoff loss to the Philadelphia Flyers that he and management would not be doing anything rash when it comes to re-shaping the roster for 2010-11 season.
He reiterated that in the wake of re-signing defenseman Mark Stuart – one of his team’s core leaders – to a one-year contract on Friday.
“Right now, we’re standing pat,” the GM said. “You look out here, there might be a few guys that challenge, too. I like our prospect depth. Right now, I’m going to be standing pat. That may change but right now, I’m standing pat.”
Chiarelli believes that with the core four of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Stuart and Andrew Ference coming back, the Bruins have the foundation of a solid blue line. He believes he can mix and match with Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick and Adam McQuaid and top-level organizational prospects to have a solid D for next season.
Chiarelli pointed to one area of improvement he’d like to see in Stuart’s game – and the team’s for that matter – puck movement in the defensive and neutral zones.
“I go back to the five or six games where he had more minutes prior to the LA game and he was getting more confidence, moving the puck a little better,” Chiarelli said on Friday. “With Stewie sometimes, he freezes when he pushed the puck up after retrieving it. He’s getting better at it, he’s getting better at passing. So, a lot of that is a function of confidence and I think you’re going to see that with more minutes.”
Now, a priority for Chiarelli is signing his two players that have signed for arbitration, Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, the left winger acquired on June 22 with Nathan Horton from Florida for defenseman Dennis Wideman. Chiarelli also indicated that McQuaid, based on his contributions in the playoffs, has earned a shot at the big club next season.
|Chiarelli: Stuart gives B’s ‘size, strength, character’||07.09.10 at 2:08 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart was about as humble and agreeable as possible on Friday in accepting his one-year contract extension for next season.
After general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the team had re-signed defenseman, Stuart spoke of wanting to forget about the way the playoffs ended while looking forward to the young, talented core the team is building.
Stuart, 26, is a veteran of 252 NHL regular season games and has 12 goals, 23 assists for 35 points and 261 penalty minutes in those contests. He also has 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games, with two career assists in those 22 games.
The contract is a one-year, $1.675 million pact, a raise from the $1.3 million he made the past two seasons.
Stuart chose against filing for arbitration because negotiations with the Bruins had been encouraging. Stuart said Friday during a conference call with reporters that he’s open to playing this one season with the hope of something better down the road.
“I’m very excited about the deal,” Stuart said. “I expected after the season that I had if I was going to get a deal it was going to be a one-year deal and then see how I played. Hopefully, I can have a great year this year and then hopefully, yeah, a long-term deal is in the future.”
The Bruins now have just over $1 million in cap space, according to CapGeek.com. The team still has yet to reach agreements with first-round pick Tyler Seguin and restricted free agent forwards Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, the latter two of whom filed for arbitration.
Last season, Stuart played in 56 games for the Bruins, with two goals and five assists. He was sidelined for 26 regular season games and eight postseason contests with a broken left pinky finger and a subsequent infection within that finger.
During his 2008-2009 campaign, Stuart set career highs in goals, assists and points as well as tying his career high in games played, with five goals and 12 assists in 82 games.
“He was okay with the one year. To the point of building onto something more, we have more flexibility, too, next year,” Chiarelli said. “If you remember before he hurt his hand against LA, he was starting to play more minutes. He was actually coming along pretty good. It’s size, strength, character. Now, we’ve got, between him, Dennis [Seidenberg], Z [Zdeno Chara] and Johnny [Boychuk], we’ve got some big strong guys.”
|Boynton: The road to the Cup began in Boston||06.10.10 at 10:31 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Nick Boynton dreamed of a moment like Wednesday night since he was three. And finally, on the ice of the Wachovia Center, the 31-year-old Blackhawks defenseman was finally able to hoist the Stanley Cup over his shoulders.
There was a time when Boynton thought those dreams would be realized in Boston. After all, he was taken by the Bruins as a defenseman in the 1999 NHL Draft and there were those who thought he would be able to help replace the legendary Ray Bourque as a defenseman who could move the puck and kick-start the Bruins offense.
Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1997 NHL Draft, Boynton was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes just before his first camp with the Bruins but the disease did not keep him from pursuing his life-long dream.
His best season was 2003’04 with Boston, when he had six goals and 24 assists. During the NHL lockout season of 2004’05, Boynton played for the Nottingham Panthers in the British Elite Ice Hockey League.
“It’s hard to describe,” Boynton said. “But this is what I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s the greatest thing ever.”
He played one more season for Boston before being dealt to Phoenix for fellow defenseman Paul Mara. Since then, he’s bounced around, going to Florida, Anaheim and finally stopping in Chicago after being traded there this March.
What a break for him. He winds up with a ring out of it.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career, starting with the Bruins,” Boynton said. “I love Boston and have so many friends back there. I’m a lucky guy. I head back to Boston every summer and I miss it. Those were my younger years and made me who I am today so I love it there.
“It was everything you expect and more. It’s been 31 years. Since I was three years old, I’ve been dreaming about this. It’s been a long time.”
|Kane: ‘Pretty surreal… for sure’||06.10.10 at 9:22 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — What if a team won the Stanley Cup and no one noticed? Not even most of the players on the team that just made history.
No, that’s no cruel joke or a shot at the NHL. That’s what happened Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center when Patrick Kane’s simple shot – a lesson in why you always put the puck on the net – got past Philadelphia’s Michael Leighton just over four minutes into overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 win and its first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
Without question, the ending to the 2010 Stanley Cup will go down as one of the most bizarre and surreal endings to a championship in recent memory.
Let the man who scored explain why.
“Well, I shot it, I saw it go right through his legs and it was sticking right under the pad in the net so I don’t think anyone saw the puck in the net,” Kane said. “I just booked it to the other end. I knew it was in right away and tried to sell the celebration a little bit and everyone came down.
“I think some guys were still iffy to see if the puck was in the net. I saw the coaches pointing at the puck and just jumping around. It’s pretty surreal right now, for sure.”
[Click here to hear Kane explain his Cup-winning goal and the ensuing celebration.]
[Click here to hear a stunned Leighton explain what he saw from his point of view.]
|Flyers run out of time and luck||06.10.10 at 1:28 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The team of destiny that made history in Boston went to the well once too often in overtime and it finally cost the Flyers their Stanley Cup dreams. Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored on a bizarre goal that few people in the building even realized went in just over four minutes into overtime and the Blackhawks claimed their fourth Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center in Game 6.
They then matched up against the No. 6 Bruins, and no one in New England needs to be reminded that ‘ up three games to none and 3-0 in Game 7 on Garden ice ‘ the Bruins let the Flyers come back to tie and win Game 7 and the series, 4-3, on a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with the Bruins serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.
It was in Game 4 in overtime when Gagne scored his first goal back from injury to re-ignite the flame for the Flyers.
Three wins later it was the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern finals. The Habs proved little opposition for the Flyers, who prevailed in five games.
Then the Chicago Blackhawks. The team that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1961 won a shootout, 6-5, in Game 1 and another one-goal game in Game 2, 2-1.
The Flyers showed their character by winning Game 3 again in overtime and handling Chicago 5-3 in Game 4. After a 7-4 loss in Game 5 the Flyers were again on the brink, down 3-2 with 3:59 left in regulation when Scott Hartnell scored to force ‘ yep ‘ another overtime.
This extra session would be the heartbreak of heartbreaks for the Flyers. A weak shot from Patrick Kane, almost an afterthought, was thrown on Michael Leighton. The goalie didn’t see it until it went under him and the lip of the goal on the right side.
“He walked out of the corner, and there was a guy driving the net so I thought he was going to pass it,” Leighton said. “He just threw it at the net and it went underneath me.”
Bang. Game over. Stanley Cup over. Team of Destiny denied.
But still, this Flyers team will have its fondest memories of one of the most remarkable playoff run in recent sports rooted in Boston.
It was at TD Garden on May 14 that the Flyers became just the fourth team in major professional sports to wipe out a 3-0 deficit and win a series and the first to overcome a 3-0 hole on the road in Game 7 to do so.
“Yeah, you look back at a lot of games throughout the whole season,” Hartnell said. “The way we got in, the way we came back against Boston to beat a great goalie and New Jersey and Montreal was on fire as well. We have to be proud to a certain point but certainly it’s disappointing, too.”