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X-factors: Michael Ryder 08.23.10 at 1:02 am ET
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Michael Ryder could end up being valuable to the Bruins' offense once again. (AP photo)

Michael Ryder could end up being valuable to the Bruins offense once again, but will he even be in Boston? (AP)

Each day this week, WEEI.com will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their “X-factor” status entering the season. Michael Ryder is up first.

Who better to kick this series off than a guy who fans wanted gone in the offseason but could end up having a major offensive impact in 2010-11? No, it’s not Marc Savard, but rather right wing Michael Ryder. Given his $4 million cap hit and inconsistency last season, it has been rare to hear Ryder’s name in the past few months without also hearing “trade,” “buyout,” or “Providence.” To the contrary, the likelihood is that Ryder will indeed be with the club when the Bruins begin their season in Prague in just over six weeks.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been known for — in both positive and negative connotations — being a big supporter of Ryder. He spoke to the lack of appreciation and credit the winger has been given when he gave the “Michael just had one bad year” (2007-08) quote during the 2008-09 playoffs. Though he also pointed to him as a guy the team didn’t get enough of at times last season, he still seems to be one of Ryder’s biggest fans.

Though Julien’s fondness of Ryder dates back to their days in Montreal, Bruins fans aren’t quite as loyal to the now 30-year-old, and perhaps for good reason. After a debut season in which he finished second to Phil Kessel in goals with 27 and had 53 points, Ryder’s jersey sales likely took a major hit in the 2009-10 season.

Though the offense as a whole was never as powerful as it was when the team finished second in the NHL in scoring, Ryder was among those who took the brunt of it. The line that looked so good a season before consisting of him and Blake Wheeler with David Krejci in the middle wasn’t so hot the second time around and everybody took notice. Ryder finished the season with just 18 goals and his 33 points put him in a tie for seventh on the league’s worst offensive team. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Michael Ryder, xfactors,
Report: Whitfield could miss season 08.22.10 at 11:19 am ET
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Bruins center Trent Whitfield, who spent the majority of his last season playing for Providence, has a ruptured Achilles tendon and could miss the entire year, according to SomethingsBruin.net.

In 52 games for the Providence Bruins, Whitfield scored 17 goals and added 26 assists. He played 16 games for Boston and had one assist. The 33-year-old likely was not in Claude Julien’s plans for the upcoming season but the injury is certainly a case of losing depth at an important position.

The Bruins already have the likes of Marc Savard, David Krejci, Tyler SeguinPatrice Bergeron, and Gregory Campbell at center as they prepare for training camp next month.

Read More: Trent Whitfield,
Bruins tickets go on sale Sept. 10 08.18.10 at 11:25 am ET
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The Bruins announced Wednesday that individual game tickets for the upcoming season will go on sale Friday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m.

Tickets for the Bruins’ home games at TD Garden will be priced from $10-$294 per seat. The cost of the ticket will vary depending on the opponent and date. Both the Tufts Medical Center family section and the Chipotle student section will offer reduced prices at various points of the season.

Tickets can be purchased at the TD Garden box office or at the Bruins official website. Though full season-ticket packages are sold out, 21, 10, and five-game plans are still available for those interested in buying in bulk.

Lehtonen bolts for Sweden 08.17.10 at 3:35 pm ET
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The Bruins suffered a minor loss Tuesday, but a loss nonetheless when forward Mikko Lehtonen left the states to take a one-year deal in the Swedish Elite League. Though his Bruins career technically isn’t over (the Bruins still have his rights), the 23-year-old will play next season with Skelleftea.

In two games with the Bruins over the last two seasons, Lehtonen did not record a point, but he led Providence in goals in each of the campaigns, scoring 28 and 23 goals in 2008-09 and 2009-10, respectively.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe Tuesday that Lehtonen “felt there was not an opportunity for him in our organization.”

Read More: Mikko Lehtonen, Peter Chiarelli,
Savard ‘hurt’ by trade rumors 08.15.10 at 1:21 pm ET
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Bruins center Marc Savard has been popular this offseason. First there was the owners’ vote to penalize blindside hits to the head after his scary injury incurred from a Matt Cooke hit in March. Then came the recent news that the veteran’s seven-year, $28 million extension inked in December is under investigation by the NHL.

Despite the numerous reasons for the buzz surrounding Savard as he prepares for his fifth season in Boston, nothing compares to the months of speculation as to whether the Bruins would trade the center before he plays the first game of his new contract.

Savard has been quiet throughout everything. In fact, he hadn’t spoken at all in the midst of the rumors until recently, when he told the Ottawa Sun that he did indeed hear his name in numerous reports.

Now 33, Savard signed with the Bruins following a 2005-06 season in which the team finished 13th in the Eastern Conference with 74 points. With the Bruins having made it to the second round in each of the last two postseasons, it would seem like the worst time for any player with Stanley Cup aspirations to be shipped out.

“[The rumors] hurt me a little bit just because I went to Boston and I helped to build that team back up,” Savard told the paper. “I’ve really tried to work hard with the young guys and being a core player. I was really focused on staying there for the rest of my career. To hear all this stuff this summer bothered me inside more than anything else.”

Though there haven’t been concrete reports of specific trade talks regarding Savard, the logic that would lead one to such speculation consists of multiple factors, including the Bruins’ salary cap situation and the selection of wunderkind center Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick in June’s NHL draft.

In 782 career games, Savard has scored 205 goals and registered 491 assists for 696 points since coming into the league in 1999 with the Flames. Should his contract, which tacks on extra years at lower salaries to decrease his cap hit in an otherwise lucrative deal, be voided, Savard would be free to sign with any team. Speaking with the Sun, however, Savard indicated he’s simply staying in the present.

“Right now I’m a Bruin and that’s the way it is,” Savard said. “[But] it’s been tough.”

Read More: Marc Savard,
Rookie games moved to Boston 08.13.10 at 1:59 pm ET
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The two preseason rookie games between the Bruins and Islanders scheduled for the two days leading up to training camp have been moved from Shelton, CT to the TD Garden, the team announced Friday. The games will be played on September 15 and 16 before camp opens the following day. Tickets go on sale Thursday, August 19 at 10 a.m. and will cost $5. All proceeds will go the Bruins Foundation.

Read More: Tyler Seguin,
Quick thoughts on the Savard situation 08.10.10 at 5:06 pm ET
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It’s been a long day for the Bruins, as news hit today that the NHL is indeed investigating center Marc Savard‘s seven-year, $28.05 million extension. The deal is perceived to be a “retirement contract,” as it pays the 33-year-old veteran half its money in the first two years of the deal and the other half over the following five years, which makes for a much more affordable $4.007 million cap hit.

Hours after the news broke, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli came out with a statement in which he said that the investigation has been ongoing and that he had met with NHL lawyers as recently as last week. With the Bruins’ cap situation up in the air and the team risking the loss of Savard, it might be a little too much to keep track of. Here’s what we’ve learned today, and what it might mean for the Bruins.

- This investigation has been going on for a while, and by a while, we mean since Savard’s contract was registered with the league in the first place way back in December. This means two things. First of all, this isn’t some new development for the Bruins. Maybe it was the magical cap relief they were expecting all along when they made signings that in total would put them more than $3 million over the salary cap (Savard’s cap hit is $4.007 million).

Secondly, it really dents the validity of rumors that the team was working on trades to move Savard out of town this offseason. In addition to there being zero concrete or validated reports of the Bruins and another team discussing a deal for the center, would it really make sense for the Bruins to shop a player knowing full well that the NHL was intent on voiding his deal? That would make the Bruins look awfully bad as a prospective trade partner for any team in the future.

- Savard is not the only one. The only reason the news came about was because Savard’s investigation was listed in the footnotes of arbiter Richard Bloch‘s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk‘s appeal. In noting why the NHL was correct in rejecting the winger’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the Devils, Bloch also listed Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger and Roberto Luongo as players also being investigated.

- Yes, the Bruins have been looking to save money off the cap (they’re right up against it even when factoring in the $3.5 million they will get in relief to begin the season thanks to Marco Sturm‘s long-term injury status), but there’s no way Savard’s contract could be viewed as the one that’s weighing them down. In fact, the only reason this deal is being investigated is because it is so team-friendly that the NHL is trying to prevent deals like this from being made going forward.

Both Savard and Tim Thomas ($5 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons) have starred in offseason trade rumors, but their values to the team should not be overlooked. If the team does end up losing Savard for nothing, it would seemingly be a huge loss for the Bruins.

Read More: Marc Savard, Tim Thomas,
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