|Bruins year in review: Fight of the year||06.20.11 at 1:48 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year, and up next is fight of the year.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Shawn Thornton vs. Eric Boulton, Dec. 23 vs. Atlanta
“I think that’s what has come up through the whole season is the resiliency of our hockey club. That [game] was the start of it and there were a lot of other examples other than that, but that was the way our team was.”
When the Bruins were shut out at home on Dec. 20 by the Ducks, it seemed they had hit rock bottom. The B’s had won just one of their last five games, and it was only natural to wonder whether Claude Julien was done as coach of the team. The Bruins had two days between the loss and their next game, their last before the holiday break, and they spent both days at Ristuccia Arena trying to reignite the fire that had seemed to have gone out.
Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron got into during the first practice, as did Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk. The team was angry, and with Julien ramping up the practices to create some intensity, the players were ready to take it out on the nearest person they could find — including each other.
When that Thursday finally rolled around to make a statement against an Atlanta team that had embarrassed them in late November, Thornton took it upon himself to wake his teammates up. Thornton dropped the gloves with Thrashers winger Eric Boulton right off the face-off. The two had fought in that Nov. 28 game, but this fight meant way more to the Bruins’ season.
It was an even bout that lasted well over a minute, so though Thornton came far from pummeling Boulton, he may have changed the entire Bruins’ season by making sure he showed his teammates that it would be an emotional game, and that it was. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Thornton also scored a pair of goals in the 4-1 win.
|Bruins year in review: Goal of the year||06.20.11 at 12:52 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We start it off by looking at the goal of the year.
GOAL OF THE YEAR
Dennis Seidenberg, Dec. 2 vs. Tampa Bay
“I know he tried to do it more than once this year. That time it just worked. With Smith in there, I know he likes to play the puck, so he kind of faked him out.”
Dennis Seidenberg might be best known for making up one half of the Bruins’ impenetrable top defensive pairing in the playoffs, but teaming with Zdeno Chara was not the only way in which he left his mark on the Bruins’ championship season.
With the Bruins holding a 1-0 lead over the Lightning in the first period back in early December, Michael Ryder gave the puck to Seidenberg in the neutral zone. With just over 20 seconds left in the period, Seidenberg gained the red line and lowered his shoulder as he released the puck, seemingly into the corner. Given that he was going through all the motions of a dump-in (even David Krejci appeared ready to chase the puck toward the corner), Lightning goalie Mike Smith left his net to retrieve it.
The only problem was that Seidenberg was pulling hockey’s version of the hidden-ball trick. Despite throwing his shoulder as though he was dumping it in, Seidenberg fired a wrist shot on net. The puck reached Smith’s net just as he was leaving it, producing just about the most entertaining play that could come from such a routine scenario. The goal was Seidenberg’s first of the season. The B’s would go on to win the game, 8-1, and Smith would be yanked early in the third period.
For Smith, it was a lapse that only a goalie keen on handling the puck could make, and it’s one of the more embarrassing snafus a netminder could encounter. Seidenberg simply took advantage of the situation, and the game eventually got out of hand.
Did this goal have the pizazz of Tyler Seguin‘s first career goal in Prague or mean anywhere near what either of Nathan Horton‘s Game 7 gems? Not even close. Yet Seidenberg’s goal in that December blowout of the Lightning flashed a great combination of hockey smarts, guts and good ol’ fashioned trickery.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin Oct. 10 vs. Phoenix, Nathan Horton Game 7 vs. Montreal, Tyler Seguin Game 1 vs. Tampa Bay
|Tyler Seguin’s shot broke Milan Lucic’s toe in practice||06.20.11 at 12:00 am ET|
Bruins left winger Milan Lucic admitted Sunday at the team’s breakup day that Tyler Seguin broke his right big toe with a slap shot at a practice during the team’s championship run. Lucic, who said he had played the end of the regular season and into the playoffs with a sinus infection, said it was painful for him to play through it, but that he wanted to remain in the lineup.
“Against Tampa, just before Game 2 at practice, Seguin hit me in the toe with a slap shot, so I had a broken toe for the last 13 games, which sucked big time — which really, really sucked,” Lucic said.
“You don’t realize how much you actually push off it until you break it,” he added. “I don’t know if you guys had seen me limp a little bit, but I was limping a little bit. I definitely had to deal with that, especially in that Tampa series. That was kind of tough to deal with.”
Lucic said the injury “heals on its own” and will not require surgery. The 23-year-old did not miss any time in the postseason and totaled five goals and seven assists for 12 points in the playoffs. He led the B’s with 30 goals in the regular season.
|Tomas Kaberle wants to return to Bruins||06.19.11 at 11:59 pm ET|
Kaberle was acquired on Feb. 18 from the Maple Leafs in exchange for the Bruins’ first-round pick, center Joe Colborne and a 2012 second-round pick. The defenseman struggled with the B’s through the end of the season and into the playoffs but turned in a fine performance in the Stanley Cup finals vs. Vancouver and led all B’s defensemen in playoff points.
“Obviously we’re going to talk the next few days,” Kaberle said. “Everything was hectic the last couple of days. Hopefully we can sit down or we can talk to my agent and it will be nice to be back here.”
Asked for clarification on whether Boston is his first choice, Kaberle responded, “yes.”
Kaberle had a $4 million salary cap hit last season.
|Stanley Cup toes the rubber at Fenway with help from the Bruins||06.19.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
Chara and Thomas were on the lead duck boat of four that were in the processional that began by entering through the center field wall about 15 minutes before first pitch.
Chara was holding up the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire time during the procession around Fenway.
After making one round around Fenway, the players departed in the center field triangle and made their way to the infield with the Stanley Cup, in addition to the Eastern Conference trophy and the Conn Smythe trophy, earned by Thomas as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoff run.
The pre-game ceremony was capped off by all members of the Bruins throwing simultaneous first pitches to the Red Sox players, who stood in a line from dugout to dugout behind home plate.
|Andrew Ference happy to share Cup with Boston, surprised by Kevin Bieksa’s comments||06.18.11 at 5:39 pm ET|
The city of Boston has waited 39 years. The fans win.
To be able to bring the Cup to Boston has been special for Ference and his teammates, who feel they can identify with fans now more than ever. It’s what they have in common, Ference feels, that makes the city’s celebration of the Cup even more special.
“I just feel like everybody feels like we do,” Ference said Saturday. “We’ve waited our whole lives to win it, and put in a lot of work and dedication and we finally get to raise the Cup, but all the hockey fans here have put in their hard work, too, supporting the teams and waiting so long. It’s amazing how many people come up and introduce themselves as season ticket-holders for x-number of years. That’s hard work. That’s support and that’s incredible dedication to the sport and to the team. Of course they’re as excited as we are, so it’s amazing.”
Ference, who took the Cup through Boston in a stroller, earlier in the week, said it was total blur when he raised the trophy for the first time.
“It really happened so quick, and even the whole time on the ice is just kind of a blur and busy. You’re in disbelief. It was great on the ice, but it was more fun almost in the locker room after to real savor it. On the ice, you’re really just hoping for a good picture so you can put it on the wall.”
LAY OFF THE JACKET
Ference said Saturday that his team drew no motivation from the lack of respect it received during the Stanley Cup finals, but did not that he was surprised that players such as Kevin Bieksa bad-mouthed them to the media.
Bieksa, of course, made fun of the 1980’s jacket that Ference bought on eBay for $35 — a hideous sight to any eyes — that one player wears after each game to denote the team’s most valuable player. Bieksa called the tradition childish, asking, “Don’t Pee Wee teams have that?”
“It just surprised me that he would say that publicly,” Ference said Saturday. “How does that benefit them? I don’t know. Even if you think it, you can chirp us all you want in your own locker room. Publicly, it’s just more surprising. I didn’t care, it doesn’t hurt our feelings. We love it and what it represents. Yeah, just to say some things publicly were surprising because it does absolutely no good for your own team.”
The Bruins got the last laugh, of course, as the Stanley Cup ended up wearing the jacket as the team celebrated in the visitors room at Rogers Arena Wednesday.
NOT ALL VANCOUVER FANS ARE BAD
Aside from a chorus of boos for commissioner Gary Bettman, the Canucks fans were respectful of the Bruins when they won the Cup, cheering as Zdeno Chara lifted the historic trophy, and getting louder for the likes of Tim Thomas and Vancouver native Milan Lucic. The Green Men, who famously harass opponents, even held a “Congrats Milan” sign. Ference said he and the Bruins appreciated how they were treated by the fans, and that the riots that ensued don’t typify all those who root for the Canucks.
“As much as bad stuff happened from some people there, there’s still some great, great hockey fans that respect the game,” Ference said. “You don’t want to taint everybody from what a few people messed up after the game.”
|With playing days over, Mark Recchi hopes to find a way to manage||06.18.11 at 4:18 pm ET|
Recchi did offer a peek into where is mind is as he wraps his playing days, however.
“I’d like to stay in the game,” Recchi said. “We’ll see where that takes me. I’ll take a little time off. I’d like to stay in the game somewhat. I like more the management side. I like the building process, building a team. We’ll see where it takes [me].”
Recchi, who said he likes to “figure out the pieces of the puzzle,” said that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has done a fine job of that since coming to Boston in 2006.
“The pieces are all set there again,” Recchi said of the team’s future. “The way Peter set this organization up is incredible. They’ve got the No. 9 pick this year. They just keep stockpiling. It’s set up — the franchise — to be real successful for a long time. He did an incredible job.”
For Recchi to go from the ice to a front office would be nothing out of the ordinary, as many current NHL general managers are former players. While Chiarelli never reached the NHL as a player, president Cam Neely used his role as a means of winning his first Stanley Cup after a Hall-of-Fame playing career with the Canucks and Bruins.
Speaking of the Hall, it’s safe to say that is also in Recchi’s future. The 43-year-old finished his career with 577 goals and 956 assists for 1533 points. His 1652 regular season games place him fourth all time, behind only Gordie Howe (1,767), Mark Messier (1,756) and Ron Francis (1,731). He is 25th all-time with 61 playoff goals.