|Lines unchanged as Bruins return to practice||01.16.13 at 1:35 pm ET|
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.”
|Some more prepared than others as Zdeno Chara, Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron return||01.09.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Three of the Bruins’ leaders were back skating with their teammates Wednesday, as captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captains Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly joined eight other B’s on the ice at Agganis Arena after spending the lockout playing in Europe.
All three players spoke highly of their time in Europe, as Chara played for Prague Lev of the KHL and Bergeron and Kelly played in different leagues in Switzerland. Bergeron actually played right wing for HC Lugano of the Swiss-A league, but it wasn’t the strangest experience had by a Bruin in Switzerland. That distinction might go to Kelly, whose first game for HC Red Ice was a little more taxing than he expected.
“I think they thought I had just played in the playoffs and was swinging over there, but I hadn’t played a game in seven months,” Kelly said. “I think I played about 40 minutes that night, so the legs were a little tired. It went into overtime, so it wasn’t like you could kind of pick your shifts to catch your breath.”
Despite the first game catching him a bit off guard, Kelly called his month in Switzerland “a great experience.” Though he returned to North America (he spent the last month or so in Ottawa) in game shape, he was at least a little rusty when it came to packing his hockey bag for Wednesday. He took the ice in Tyler Seguin‘s HC Biel jersey, as he had forgotten socks and a jersey.
“It’s funny when you get used to having a jersey and socks in your stall and then you’ve got to scramble to find a jersey and socks, and asking guys if they brought an extra towel to shower with after,” Kelly said. “It will be nice having a towel at the rink.”
The Bruins had 11 players in Europe at one point or another during the lockout, something that Kelly feels should be an advantage from a preparational standpoint as teams get ready for the 48-game regular season.
“It was never about the money or anything like that or going over there of a vacation,” he said. “I know guys in this locker room extremely well, and if they went over to play, it was to play hard and help that team and play hockey.”
|KHL did not try to keep Zdeno Chara||at 11:48 am ET|
Speaking publicly for the first time since returning from the KHL on Tuesday and amidst speculation that KHL teams were making big financial pushes to keep NHL players from returning to their teams, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said Wednesday that he was not approached about staying in Europe.
“No,” Chara said after skating with teammates at Agganis Arena. “It was pretty clear in my contract that once the NHL is beginning or the deal [for a new CBA] is done, that I’m leaving. It depends on how the guys feel or how they want to decide what to do.”
Ilya Kovalchuk has been the most popular player whose future remains uncertain as the start of the NHL season draws near. Though he’s entering the third year of a 15-year, $100-million contract with the Devils, multiple reports have surfaced citing Devils sources who believe Kovalchuk will stay in the KHL. Islanders defensman Lubomir Visnovsky recently announced his intention to remain with HC Slovan Bratislava for the rest of the season rather than going back to the NHL.
“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but we’ll see,” Chara said of NHL players staying in the KHL. “I mean, what can I say? I can’t really make comments for them.”
Since forming in 2008, the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) has become the NHL’s primary competition as hockey leagues go.
“There are some really, really skilled guys there,” Chara said. “Players are very highly skilled as far as skating and handling he puck and making plays. I think it’s less physical, but skating-wise and skill-wise it’s a little bit different.”
Other new additions to Wednesday’s session at BU were alternate captains Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron.
|Report: Chris Kelly headed to Switzerland||10.31.12 at 12:10 pm ET|
According to a tweet from Finnish sportswriter Matias Strozyk, Bruins center Chris Kelly has signed with HC Red Ice of the Swiss League.
Kelly becomes the third Bruin to head to Switzerland, as both Tyler Seguin (HC Biel) and Patrice Bergeron (HC Lugano) are in Switzerland for the lockout.
|News and notes from Wednesday’s conference call with Peter Chiarelli||06.13.12 at 8:01 pm ET|
Here are some of the takeaway bits from Peter Chiarelli‘s conference call with the media today. For Wednesday’s column on what he and the players had to say about the Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell signings, click here.
- Chiarelli said that while he did not see Tim Thomas‘ Facebook post, nothing has changed on the Thomas front and the team still believes Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin will be the NHL goalies next season. Thomas heavily implied but did not flat-out say that he was taking the year off, and the Bruins have not heard from the netminder since.
- Asked about the status of restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot, Chiarelli offered no update on the team’s intentions but said a return for the 25-year-old is “a possibility.” Pouliot and Brian Rolston are the only two forwards from last year’s team that are not signed.
- The general manager confirmed that with all of the team’s centers locked up, the plan for Tyler Seguin is to keep him at right wing in the coming seasons. Seguin was drafted as a center after playing the position in the OHL, but the combination of the team’s depth and his getting familiar with the NHL has kept him at right wing for the vast majority of his two professional seasons.
“Kells is a center and [Rich Peverley] is a center and they’ve played wing, so for the short term, yes,” he said of Seguin staying at wing. “He’s had success at the wing, and short term may be one, two, three years. Who knows? At this point we don’t have any reason to put him to the middle.”
- Kelly’s deal won’t officially be signed until July 1 because of what Chiarelli called “payroll tagging issues.”
“It’s a salary cap thing,” he said. “It’s called tagging room about future commitments, and so because of that, we won’t be able to register until July 1st. Basically, it’s a formula based on salary cap and future commitments.”
|Report: Bruins re-sign Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell||06.11.12 at 6:34 pm ET|
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Twitter, the Bruins have re-signed centers Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell to multi-year deals. McKenzie reports that Kelly’s deal is for four years and $12 million while Campbell will get three years and $4.8 million.
Kelly is coming off a career year offensively, as he reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career and put up a personal-best 39 points. He is an alternate captain for the Bruins, sharing the team’s second ‘A’ with Andrew Ference.
Campbell, who was acquired from Florida in the June 2010 trade that brought Nathan Horton to Boston, has totaled 45 over his two seasons with the B’s.
|Looking back and ahead: Chris Kelly||05.15.12 at 3:46 pm ET|
With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.
2011-12 stats: 82 games played, 20 goals (career high), 19 assists, 39 points (career-high), plus-33 (career-high)
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent ($2.125 million cap hit in 2011-12)
Looking back: Kelly entered the season coming off a playoff run in which he served as just one of the reasons as to why the Bruins had the depth to win the Stanley Cup (13 points in 25 games as the third-line center). The pace at which he put up points in the 2010-11 postseason was something he had never been able to maintain in the regular season, but he didn’t slow down a bit as the 2011-12 season began.
Kelly’s previous career-high for points in the regular season was 38, which he set back in 2006-07 as a member of the Senators. He surpassed that by one point this season, but the most notable number from his performance was that he reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. It was a good time to do so, as the the 31-year-old’s career year happened to come in the final season of his contract.
While he was never extended and is set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the Bruins made clear how much they valued the center before the season started by having him share the ‘A’ formerly worn by Mark Recchi with Andrew Ference. That’s quite the destination for someone playing a veteran team given that this season was Kelly’s first full campaign as a member of the B’s after being acquired the previous February.
While Kelly spent the vast majority of the season serving as the team’s third line center (usually with the likes of Benoit Pouliot, Rich Peverley, Jordan Caron and Brian Rolston as his wings), his improved offensive production gave the Bruins flexibility when injures struck Claude Julien simply felt shakeups among the lines were in order. Kelly saw even saw some time as the team’s first line center (something that occurred as early as October 20). He also continued to play a major role on special teams, tying for the team lead with two shorthanded goals.
Looking ahead: The Bruins have a lot of other free agent forwards (Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Brian Rolston and the restricted Pouliot among them), but there’s no doubt that Kelly’s situation will have the biggest impact on Boston’s offense this offseason.
While seeing Kelly score 20 goals for the first time in his career is an encouraging sign, it made things very tricky for the Bruins, as the 20-goal-scorer label undoubtedly jacked up his price. Now, the Bruins have to decide whether they think they’ll be getting a consistent scorer out of Kelly before paying him like one.
Boston gave Peverley a three-year, $9.75 million contract extension during the regular season. It’s hard to say exactly what Kelly is seeking, but a contract with a salary cap hit similar to Peverley’s ($3.25 million annually), would seem to be a fair number for the veteran center. That would also be a $1 million raise from what he was getting, and with big contracts potentially upcoming for Tuukka Rask (restricted free agent this summer), Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand (all restricted at the end of next season), the B’s will need to be careful to not overspend. Still, with plenty of cap space this offseason, they will be able to afford Kelly with ease as long as they don’t plan on going after one of the big-name free agents such as Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, both of which would seem highly unlikely to happen.
For Kelly and the B’s, it’s just a matter of whether the sides will agree, and the guess here is that the B’s wouldn’t let Kelly go without a fight. Factor in that Kelly likes it here, and it seems the only thing that could prevent the sides from coming together is dollars and cents.
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