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Bruins forward David Backes had trouble adjusting to new city, new team 05.03.17 at 2:50 pm ET
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David Backes had 17 goals and 38 points in 74 games this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Backes had 17 goals and 38 points in 74 games this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Deep down, the Bruins know that the early years of the five-year, $30 million contract handed down to David Backes, who turned 33 years old just two days ago, are going to be the most rewarding ones.

What they didn’t account for, however, was that Backes’ first year removed from the Blues, the team that he called his own for over a decade, would come with a whole different set of adjustments.

Those adjustments did not derail his first season in Boston, which featured 17 goals and 38 points in 74 games along with absences due to an elbow procedure and concussion, but rather appeared during Backes’ fair share of dry spells and production dips from years prior.

“It was a big transition. He was very honest in saying he was overwhelmed with moving from a place where he had been very well established, had a very identifiable role as captain, and a relationship with the coach,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said of Backes’ first season with the Bruins. “All those things are moving parts that he admitted openly that it was a little overwhelming at times, despite everybody doing what they can to make him comfortable.

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Bruins prospect Anders Bjork will make NHL decision following World Championships 05.02.17 at 6:48 pm ET
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Anders Bjork is still undecided on his future plans. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Anders Bjork is still undecided on his future plans. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Anders Bjork is not Jimmy Vesey.

But he could by all means become the next Vesey next summer following his senior season at Notre Dame. And the Bruins know it.

Seeing him an instant fix to their scoring woes on their second or third line, the Bruins want to bring him in. They want to do anything and everything they could to prevent Bjork from becoming a star, affordable free agent for all 31 NHL teams come the summer of 2018.

Drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round (146th overall) in 2014, the ultra-talented Bjork recorded 21 goals and 52 points in 39 games en route to a Hobey Baker nomination and Frozen Four appearance for the Fighting Irish. It almost goes without saying that he holds the keys to his future, beyond the idea of simply returning to Notre Dame for his senior season and a shot at the National Title or joining the Bruins.

 

Again, the Bruins know it, too, which is exactly why they’re trying to get this situation wrapped up as soon as they can.

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Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs doesn’t see NHL changing their mind on skipping 2018 Olympics 05.02.17 at 4:53 pm ET
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The NHL is not expected to let its players go to the 2018 Olympics. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The NHL is not expected to let its players go to the 2018 Olympics. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The NHL has already let it be known that they have no interest in going to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, and as of right now, they will not put their league on hold and send their players overseas.

Some players, many of whom skate for the Bruins, have also held out hope that NHL owners will eventually change their mind and will allow their players to compete in their sixth straight Olympics.

But one of the league’s most influential suits, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, seemingly shot that hope down in a Tuesday press conference.

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Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs says firing Claude Julien was ‘overdue’ 05.02.17 at 1:53 pm ET
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The Bruins fired Claude Julien back in February. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins fired Claude Julien back in February. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien was on the hot seat long before the Bruins finally pulled the trigger and relieved him of his duties back in February.

And speaking with the media for the first time since he said that he expected a deep playoff run from his then Julien-led Bruins squad, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs did not hold back when asked about the decision to move on from the club’s all-time winningest coach.

“My own impression is that it was overdue – maybe a little late,” Jacobs said. “Maybe I precipitated part of that and misplaced loyalty in that sense. But, it was the right move.

“I think I had a false sense of loyalty there. I think we gave Claude a lot of leeway and it didn’t produce, so it was time to move on.”

With the club teetering on the edge of a full-on collapse (and earlier than in previous years) with their 26-23-6 record, Julien was replaced by Bruce Cassidy, and the Bruins went 18-8-1 to finish the season en route to a return to playoff play for the first time since 2014.

“Coaches have a definite life it seems to be. [Julien] had been a long serving coach. He spent a good bit of his career with us, and hopefully he does well in Montreal,” Jacobs continued. “But, once Bruce took over, I think he either had the first or second best record of any team in the National Hockey League for that period of time. I don’t know the exact number, but I think it was 24 games or something like that. So, it was a very prudent move and it was very prudent there. Under those circumstances, I would say that Don did a terrific job in selecting him and motivating him and motivating the team.”

Under Julien, who won 419 of 759 games behind the Boston bench, the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup and made it to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks. The Bruins also made it to the playoffs in all but the final two of Julien’s nine full seasons as the team’s head coach. And they advanced to the second round of play in all but two of those seven postseason runs.

But the B’s results under Cassidy spoke for themselves in a lot of ways, and left more than Jacobs impressed with the decision made by the B’s leadership group of team president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney.

“Don [Sweeney] certainly talked to me about the thought of removing Claude [Julien] and putting Bruce in as an interim,” Neely said. “What Bruce did and what the players did when he took over was pretty impressive. So, there was a different feeling around the locker room, he practiced differently, and it showed up in the way we played.”

The Bruins named Cassidy as the club’s full-time head coach last week.

After strong playoff showing, Bruins should protect Kevan Miller from Vegas expansion 04.30.17 at 3:37 pm ET
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Kevan Miller averaged 25:12 of time on ice during the playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller averaged 25:12 of time on ice during the playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Somebody on the Bruins will take a contract-long vacation to Las Vegas as part of the league’s upcoming expansion draft this June.

By now, the names floated out there as most likely to venture out to Nevada as an original member of the Vegas Golden Knights are well known. It’s a mix of guys eventually due for raises that the B’s may not want to pay (Ryan Spooner, Colin Miller), experienced veterans (Adam McQuaid), or potentially cap-crushing contracts, which could actually help Vegas reach the cap floor, such as Matt Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes.

On the other side, the people you want to see the Bruins protect likely remained the same from start to finish this season. But at the same time, it should have changed if you watched the B’s first-round series loss to the Senators with a close eye.

Specifically in regards to one person: Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller.

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David Pastrnak will play for Czech Republic at 2017 World Championships 04.28.17 at 3:59 pm ET
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David Pastrnak will play for the Czech Republic at the World Championships. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak will play for the Czech Republic at the World Championships. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Defenseman Charlie McAvoy and prospect Anders Bjork, both of whom will suit up for the United States, are not the only Bruins heading overseas to the 2017 World Championships next week, as David Pastrnak will join them as he plays for the Czech Republic.

Given the fact that Pastrnak is healthy (unlike many of his teammates and fellow Czech, David Krejci, who is suffering from a knee injury), the jump to the Czech national was pretty much expected.

The invite also comes on the heels of Pastrnak’s best NHL season to date, with a career-high 34 goals and 70 points in 75 games this year.

This will be the second time that Pastrnak has played for the Czechs in the World Championships. He recorded one goal and six points in eight games for the Czech Republic at last year’s games. Pastrnak also skated in three games in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey back in September.

The 20-year-old Pastrnak, a restricted free agent this summer, will report to the national club next week.

But not before he heads off to Scottsdale, Ariz. for one more road trip with his teammates.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney admits team rode Tuukka Rask too hard during season 04.27.17 at 3:48 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask won a career-high 37 games this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask won a career-high 37 games this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask’s season had its peaks and valleys.

Rask would be the first to tell you that.

“Pretty steady,” Rask said of his season. “I had ups and downs but for the most part I did my job and just tried to give us a chance to win every night, and for the most part I accomplished it.”

But it was the Bruins, out of necessity for the most part, that created those valleys when they overworked the all-world Rask. And Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has finally admitted such as a truth.

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