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Lines unchanged as Bruins return to practice 01.16.13 at 1:35 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins returned to practice Wednesday after holding a scrimmage at TD Garden Tuesday in an effort to simulate a game-day. The P-Bruins bested Boston, 7-5, but Claude Julien likes what he got out of the game.

“I think it’s part of the plan moving ahead that we ramp it up a little bit, guys are getting in better shape, a little bit more on the battle side,” Julien said. “It’s all part of preparing for Saturday.”

The lines for the B’s remained the same, with Chris Bourque remaining on the left wing of Chris Kelly‘s line.

“I thought he played well last night,” Kelly said of Bourque. “It’s still new, but he skates well, he’s got a great shot, thinks the game well. There’s times that in the D zone when we had to change and things like that, and it wasn’t a problem. He’s fit in quite nice.”

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Peter Chiarelli conference call: Bruins not expecting return of Tim Thomas, Joe Corvo 06.01.12 at 4:54 pm ET
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Peter Chiarelli

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed goalkeeper Tim Thomas said he wants to sit out the 2012-13 season, citing familial reasons.

Chiarelli said on Friday that he will have to suspend Thomas if the goalkeeper does not play next year, but Thomas’ cap number will still impact the team.

“As of right now I’m operating under the premise that there’s a strong possibility that he’ll be taking the year off and we’ll have to go about our business without Tim Thomas for the year,” Chiarelli said.

If Thomas does not come back, Chiarelli said the Bruins would use Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin as the goalkeepers.

“We’ve got two very capable goalies in Tuukka and Khudobin so I’d be more than satisfied if that’s who we have to go with,” Chiarelli said.

Even though Thomas’ exploration into taking a year off coincides closely with the expiration of his no-trade, Chiarelli said he doesn’t think that factored into Thomas’ decision. The Bruins general manager said the reason why Thomas wants a year off is because the goalkeeper cares about his family and wants to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Chiarelli added that Thomas had expressed issues of exhaustion before.

“I remember one of the things that he told me after, the year before, we met, that he was really tired,” Chiarelli said. “And we had exit meetings after we won the cup and he was really tired. And he said to me after these exit meetings he definitely was worn down a bit.”

Thomas isn’t the only player with a questionable future as the Bruins are still involved in various contract negotiations. On Friday team announced the signing of Daniel Paille and Chris Bourque.

Chiarelli said Bourque, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, has a chance of making Boston’s lineup and playing with skilled players.

“He does have those attributes,” Chiarelli said. “He does have the ability to shoot and find seams, but he also has a great element to his game where if he has to play lower down the line that he can do that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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What the Chris Bourque/Zach Hamill trade means 05.27.12 at 3:44 pm ET
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The Bruins drafted Zach Hamill eighth overall in the 2007 draft. They never even got a goal out of him.

Zach Hamill (right) didn't have much to celebrate in his time in the Bruins' organization. (AP)

The Bruins finally ended the Hamill experiment Saturday night, as they shipped the forward to the Capitals in exchange for left wing Chris Bourque (son of some guy named Ray).

The trade is certainly a minor one, as both players have spent the majority of their professional careers in the AHL (they have played just a combined 53 NHL contests), but both Hamill and Bourque were names that fans of struggling teams once learned in hopes that they could help turn around their respective organizations. The teams swapped what once were big names, but are now players simply trying to catch on in the NHL.

As far as what the Bruins got, Bourque provides the organization with a fringe NHL winger who, if re-signed (he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1), could find his way onto the B’s roster should Daniel Paille elect to sign with another team. The former Boston University Terrier (he played there in 2004-05 but left after his freshman season) is now on his third NHL organization, as he has played in both the Washington and Pittsburgh systems before Saturday’s trade. In 33 career NHL games, Bourque has one goal and three assists for four points.

Bourque stands at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds. His last NHL action came in the 2009-10 season (20 games for the Penguins), and he spend the 2010-11 season between the Swiss League and KHL before returning to the Capitals organization this season. In 73 games for Hershey in 2011-12, Bourque scored 27 goals and had 66 assists for an impressive 93 points.

Ultimately, the trade might say more about Hamill and his selection than it does about Bourque. While Bourque also failed to live up to the hype that once surrounded him, this is the case of the Bruins giving up on the player they hoped could be a No. 1 center when they took him following a last-place finish in the Northeast division.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Hamill’s career with the Bruins was underwhelming from the get go and never saw a particularly noticeable improvement. Though he scored 32 goals for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL in his draft year, he never scored more than 14 goals in four seasons for Providence and only scored 10 goals twice.

Hamill began the 2011 postseason as one of the Bruins black aces and practiced with the team, but left in a later round. He was not with the team as they celebrated their Stanley Cup victory in Vancouver, though the rest of the black aces — including Matt Bartkowski and Anton Khudobin – were there to raise the coveted trophy.

Last offseason, the newly named Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy called Hamill out for not taking the strides expected of him.

“At the end of the day, when you’re in your fourth year in the same organization, it falls upon yourself just to push people,” Cassidy said of Hamill. “I think the individual has to recognize what’s going on around him. A few people have passed him and it’s time for him to start passing a couple of younger guys that have come in the last couple of years. And whether he’s ready to do that, we’ll find out in September.”

Cassidy and the P-Bruins moved Hamill to wing, and they saw improved play as a result. In fact, Hamill played well enough to take Jordan Caron’s spot on the NHL roster in January. A month later, they placed him on waivers and he went unclaimed. After it all – 16 contests this season 20 career NHL games – Hamill is still looking for his first career NHL goal.

It won’t come with the Bruins.

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Krejci likely to play in B’s opener 09.28.09 at 2:32 pm ET
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With Zach Hamill and Brad Marchand both dropped down to Providence, it’s expected that David Krejci will be able to skate in Thursday night’s season-opener against the Washington Capitals. Krejci was at his customary position centering a line of Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, and B’s coach Claude Julien took as a great sign when his young pivot took part in all drills at practice.

Both Marco Sturm (groin) and Steve Begin (groin) also skated a full practice on Monday morning at the TD Garden, and neither player felt any health restrictions during the session.

“It’s a positive because nobody told me they had to get off [the ice] and they’re doing fine,” said Julien, referencing all three players battling assorted bumps and bruises. “They’re doing fine. Krejci is fine and he’s been practicing with us for close to a week now. The other two guys had small groin issues, and with a day off yesterday — and giving them a few days to heal before that — it’s going to help us Thursday.

“[Krejci] is day-to-day, and I’ll still put him at 50-50 for Thursday. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Today was a little more gritty for him at times with 3-on-3 down low. We made sure that guys finished their checks on him and made sure he’ll feel comfortable. I think a lot of it is feeling comfortable [mentally].”

• Vladimir Sobotka couldn’t keep the smile from his face after learning that he had made the final roster after a training camp effort that improved with each passing day. The young Czech Republic forward pointed to a conversation he had with Julien that helped him relax and begin playing his game — a mix of puck skills and controlled aggression.

“I’m glad I could stay here and get this opportunity. I just have to keep it simple,” Sobotka said. “The last three games I felt less pressure on me and I didn’t put it on myself. I didn’t try to do too much on the ice and it helped me. I wanted to try to score two goals every game, you know, and it wasn’t working.

“[Julien] told me to play like I did two years ago and I’d be good. I try to play without minuses, the coaches don’t like that. Try to score some goals, keep it simple and play my game.”

• Chris Bourque has made the Washington Capitals’ final roster after a competitive training camp, and he’ll be taking shifts at his hometown rink on Thursday night for the first time as an NHL player.

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Some Saturday postgame thoughts 09.27.08 at 5:31 pm ET
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A few hockey thoughts after watching the Bruins fall by a 4-3 score to the Washington Capitals in their first home game of the hockey exhibition season:

*Blake Wheeler is the real hockey deal and there doesn’t seem to be any way to keep the 22-year-old

Could Wheeler be this preseason's Milan Lucic?

Could Wheeler be this preseason's Milan Lucic?

Minnesota native off the B’s roster this season. The 6-foot-5, 208-pound beast showed tenacity and an instinctual nose for the puck in the areas around the paint, and also flashed a very good set of hands while faking out defenders and popping in his first goal of the preseason. The best part of the goal was watching Caps defenseman Karl Alzner hanging off the mighty forward like a piece of carry-on luggage as he banged home the rebound.  Wheeler and Bergeron displayed pretty good early chemistry in their very first game skating together, and the rookie is quickly becoming the rising star of this camp. A fellow hockey hack thought he saw a little Tomas Holmstrom in him, but when I look at him and watch him play…I must admit I see a lot of Mike Knuble, possibly my favorite Bruins player during my time covering the team. “It doesn’t seem like he’s young,” said Bergeron after the game. “He seems like a veteran out there. I’m very impressed with the way he’s playing.”

*Veteran pick-up Stephane Yelle showed many of the “little hockey skills” that he’ll be offering the Bruins this season, provided he makes the final roster. Yelle screened Jose Theodore on Boston’s first goal of the game — an Andrew Ference strike from the point, won 8 out of his 12 faceoffs after starting out with five straight wins in the circle, and set up a bevy of prime scoring chances down the stretch. Saturday afternoon was a big game for the 34-year-old and the Yelle/Sobotka/Nokelainen line began taking on the makings of a formidable energy line over the course of the season.

Umm dad...you never said anything about the minors.

Umm dad...you never said anything about the minors.

*You can’t take the Boston out of the Boy with Chris Bourque. In his last game at the TD Banknorth Garden he won a Beanpot Championship for BU with an OT goal during his one-and-only season in the Scarlet and White, and he did it again on Saturday afternoon with a forceful wrist shot from the high slot with less than three minutes to play. It was a proud moment for the 22-year-old with daddy Ray in the crowd of 13,000 plus (not sure how many were actually disguised as yellow seats, but such is life). ”It’s kind of like going back to the glory days. It doesn’t even seem real right now,” said Bourque. ”This is basically where I learned how to skate, here and in the other building. This is my first game in Boston being in the NHL. It’s just a little weird, but it’s pretty exciting.”

 Bourque had a tiny cup of coffee with the Capitals last season, but is pushing to stick with Washington in his pivotal fourth pro season. “I view it as a big year. I feel that I am ready for the next step. That’s what I’m trying to prove right now in training camp,” said the younger Bourque.

The Bruins will now take off for Vermont for three days of practice and team-building exercises in Stowe, but I’ll be hoping to keep you busy with some bloggerific stuff over the next few days. Have a good Saturday night and we’ll check in tomorrow while I’m double-dipping at Fenway Park.

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