|Tommy Cross: A development camp legend||06.29.12 at 5:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A few years before Matt Grzelcyk was drafted, the Charlestown native went to Ristuccia Arena to watch the Bruins run their development camp. One of the players he watched at the camp was 2007 second-round pick Tommy Cross.
Cross, who just capped off a four-year career at Boston College with his second NCAA championship and third Beanpot title, has been a constant at the Bruins development camp. He hasn’t always been able to participate (he’s had three major knee surgeries), but he’s been there since the camp started.
Cross made his first appearance at the first camp in 2007, when the team was evaluating the then-17-year-old alongside players such as David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask and Adam McQuaid. Now, the 22-year-old Cross is the veteran of the camp, playing alongside younger prospects such as Dougie Hamiton, Malcolm Subban, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner.
But while the players changed around him, the development camp has been a familiar experience for the Westminster, Conn. native.
‘[It is the] same as usual,’ Cross said. ‘It is a really good learning experience. You can still take a lot out of these camps no matter how many times you come here.
‘You know what to expect. They change it up every year obviously. They kind of keep you on your toes. But you know the staff pretty well. You know some of the other players.’
As the veteran member of the camp, the former BC captain has become a leader among the Bruins’ prospects, especially those who are here for the first time. One player who is at his first development camp is goaltender Parker Milner, who won a national championship alongside Cross last season.
‘Tommy is intense,’ Milner said. ‘Whether it is the first practice here or the national championship, he is going to be intense. But he looks good out there. I think he is ready to make the jump and his leadership is next to none.’
This will be Cross’ final development camp, as he is expected to play next season with the Providence Bruins. Cross played two games with Providence last season, using the experience to get better acclimated to professional game as opposed to the college game.
‘The guys in the AHL are obviously older,’ Cross said. ‘It is a little bit more of a controlled style. I think college hockey is a great place for learning though, and I prepared myself for the next level and the AHL is kind of like a new system.’
|Tyler Seguin’s fantastic adventure||07.10.10 at 10:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The initiation of Tyler Seguin couldn’t have gone much better.
Fans turned out in record numbers at the team’s fourth annual summer development camp to see No. 57 in a yellow pinny skate in Bruins black and gold on the ice at Ristuccia Arena. [For the record, he’ll wear No. 19 when the real games begin].
He handled every media request flawlessly (see below for an example of that). He survived his first hockey test with an NHL organization. He was even matched up against the “veteran” of development camp, “Jumbo Joe” Colborne, who stands about 6-9 on skates, and handled himself with confidence and determination that showed Bruins executives like Don Sweeney that he might indeed be ready to compete for a spot on the big club this fall.
And most importantly, he made it through without any freak injuries and appears ready to get some R&R and come back in September and skate against the big boys.
“Obviously, I’m very excited,” the 18-year-old Seguin beamed. “This has been my dream my whole life to get this opportunity. It’s right around the corner, training camp, I’m going to come in here and work my hardest and hopefully, earn a spot.”
What’s the biggest lesson he’s learned in one week on the job?
“Here you have to be a professional,” Seguin answered. “This is a job. You’re trying to take other players’ jobs here and trying to get to the next level. I think it’s just the adjustment of how much bigger the players are here and I think it’s different than sometimes in the OHL, everyone here are 100 percent committed to their dream. It’s just a little bit different than what I’m used to. It’s just a whole other step.”
Still, there were moments for Seguin when he was reminded that he’s no longer with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League in junior hockey but rather in the big time. Like on Thursday when he arrived at practice and already had a little fan.
“I thought it was pretty cool a little kid saying my name,” he said. “Other than that, there’s no special treatment here. Everyone is treated fair. I don’t think it matters if you go first round or fifth round, everyone coming in here has the same opportunity to earn their spot and that’s just what I’m trying to do.”
|B’s development camp ends on record note||at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Judging by the crowd alone, the five-day Bruins development camp would be a rousing success. Over 1,200 fans turned out at Ristuccia Arena on Saturday as the entire seating section was filled with fans eager to get their first glimpse of top pick Tyler Seguin, along with other prospects Joe Colborne and Yuri Alexandrov.
The Bruins ran through drills and finished with an intrasquad scrimmage.
Two extra sections, normally reserved for Bruins staff and media, were opened to accommodate the overflow crowd that stretched out the door of the Wilmington practice facility.
“We had to let them into our little private area,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said with a proud smile. “It was great. They liked the show that was put on. They see the obvious skill out there and the depth of the guys. It’s great.”
Some other quick notes from Saturday’s wrap up:
* Of the 27 players at camp this week, eight will return to college this fall, while the others will prepare for the upcoming training camp, which begins on the same sheet of ice in early September.
* Assistant general manager Don Sweeney is looking for a little more conditioning from talented but young Russian defenseman Yuri Alexandrov, who just turned 22.
“Obviously, there’s a language barrier there and [there’s] cultural differences,” Sweeney said on Saturday. “Once he’s on the ice, he feels most comfortable and that’s a good thing. But there’ll be systematic things and nuances he’ll have to figure out.
“We’ve tried to attack that communication and tried to get better at it because there is a gap there. And the onus falls on him a little bit to understand that and immerse himself in that.”
This is the second development camp for Alexandrov, who was drafted in 2009 by the Bruins and played in the professional KHL league in Russia this past winter.
“You can tell when the game starts, his positional play, his understanding and his stick positioning is very, very good,” Sweeney said. “You can tell that’s been taught and built into his game. When you play against bigger and stronger players, you have to develop those techniques and he’s done that.
“To be honest with you, and something we’re communicating with him, I didn’t think he was in quite as good a shape as he was the year before so that’s got to be something he’ll have to attack and address between now and September to realize that he continues to push forward. I would tell all the kids that. I’m not going to single him out for any particular reason, except that the facts are what they are.”
|Zaney draft pick breaks goaltending mold||07.08.10 at 6:32 pm ET|
Bruins sixth-round draft pick Zane Gothberg is dialed in at development camp in Wilmington and thrilled to have the stands packed with fans as he looks to show the Bruins front office and die-hards alike what he’s got. A skater comes in and tries to go stickside on him, but the goaltender quickly reacts and uses his blocker to deflect the puck.
Disappointed, the crowd moans.
The next day, a skater beats him during drills for a goal.
No, the world isn’t out to get the Minnesota native, but when the skater in each instance happens to be second overall pick and center of attention Tyler Seguin, it’s a bit easier for the goalie to laugh it off.
“It’s a little discouraging when he snipes you and stuff and the crowd goes wild,” Gothberg said with a laugh on Thursday. “You just get a little flustered and stuff out there. It just makes you that much better because you just have to know that they’re going to do that and prepare for it [the] next shot when he comes down or when any other player comes down.”
The peculiar thing with Gothberg, however, has nothing to do with the crowd’s reaction to him or any other goalie facing Seguin. It’s the fact that in a locker room full of young prospects, it’s the goalie that appears to be among the most outgoing and, to a degree, a serious candidate for draft class clown honors.
Though many goalies throughout the history of the game have kept more to themselves and been among the quieter players on teams, it’s Gothberg who was among the first to volunteer to lead exercises on the first day of team-buliding activities with Marine Eric Kapitulik. In the two days of on-ice activities thus far, it has appears that Gothberg, who as a 2010 draft choice is in his first development camp and meeting the other hopefuls for the first time, is one of the biggest characters of the lot of 27 (26 if you exclude Max Sauve, who has only been able to skate in between sessions).
“I just like to keep the room spunky and stuff, just have a good time and kind of goof off with the guys and stuff,” Gothberg, who has also played with the USA U-18 team, said after practice Thursday. “It’s a good opportunity hanging out with these guys from around the country and around the world too, so it’s a good time.”
Gothberg doesn’t see himself as the typical goalie. He’s not the type to sit by himself or try to get into a deep focus before the game. In fact, Gothberg says he doesn’t even put his headphones on until “five minutes before warmups” on game day, instead electing to “interact and hang out” with his teammates. When he does put the head phones on, “Hell’s Bells,” “Black Betty” and other hockey standards aren’t the sounds coming from his mp3 player. Instead it’s Lil’ Wayne, “a lot” of techno, and, when the mood should strike him, Miley Cyrus.
“Yeah, for sure, Miley Cyrus,” Gothberg said, laughing despite seemingly meaning it. “There it is. She’s amazing. Gets me every time. Gets me deep.”
Through the Cyrus talk (“Not Hannah Montana — just Miley. The original.”) that ensued, a reporter couldn’t help but ask the goaltender if he was actually serious. The laughter subsided a bit as Gothberg responded, “Yeah, for sure. It’s good.”
The 6-foot-1, 177-pound Gothberg has looked good thus far in development camp but any contributions the 17-year-old will make for the Bruins are a ways away. He is set to go to the USHL, where he will man the pipes for the Fargo Force for a season or two. From there, it’s off to the University of North Dakota, where he is committed to play under coach Dave Hakstol.
A football player through his sophomore year of high school, Gothberg gave the sport up to focus on hockey. He excelled at Thief River Falls high school, recording three shutouts as a senior 1.81 goals against average and .925 save percentage.
As Gothberg makes saves on top prospects and continues to display behavior that strays from his position’s norm, he may gain more attention among fans and reporters alike, though he understands he won’t draw attention like Seguin or 2008 first-rounder Joe Colborne. Either way, he’s alright with it.
“There’s been a couple of reporters on me and stuff, which is good, but every guy in this room deserves to have an interview or two here too,” Gothberg said. “It’s pretty easy to fall under the radar, but it’s alright.”
|BC defender looking to Cross out injury woes||07.07.10 at 5:00 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Boston College defenseman and Simsbury, Conn., native Tommy Cross knows all about Bruins development camp. Sort of.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder was the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2007 NHL draft after the team traded up to the 35th overall spot in order to secure him. Since he was selected in ’07, the first year the Bruins began running the camp, he has been eligible for each and every one of them. His right knee, however, has unfortunately dictated his participation, just as it has effected much of his hockey career.
Playing baseball in 2007, Cross slid into third base and injured the knee, which has since been operated on three times. As a result, he was on crutches for his first two camps (he did not attend in ’08), and could only work out and skate by himself for last summer’s camp. Those sessions were his first on the ice in six months. Though the knee has put a damper on his attempts to impress both BC and the Bruins, he enters this camp with something he has learned not to take for granted: health.
“Just to think a year ago I was skating in between sessions,” Cross said Wednesday. “The guys were in the locker room, [and] I’d go out and skate laps. I think they gave me a puck one day. That was my excitement. To be out there with the guys and be able to do the drills … the fans in the stands, the kids chanting, it’s just awesome. I certainly don’t take it for granted and it’s as fun as it gets.”
Though he ended his freshman year at BC, the ’08-09 season, off the ice with one of his three injuries to his right knee meniscus, Cross has been on a positive trail of late. He played a mostly healthy sophomore season with the Eagles in which he racked up 10 points (5 G, 5 A) and 36 penalty minutes. He led exercises at Tuesday’s team-building activities and enjoys what he feels is a close group of prospects at camp.
“No matter what you do, no matter how involved you say, there’s something about being out on the ice with your teammates and going through the ups and downs that you miss out on. I’ve experienced that when I’ve missed games, I missed long periods of time the end of my freshman year (12 games), but certainly this past season I was healthy [for] all but three games over the course of three weeks. Even in those three weeks I was skating, so I was still involved.”
Assistant general manager Don Sweeney noted that the team has been impressed with what they have been able to see out of the defenseman over the last season. Sweeney said that Cross deserves “a lot of that credit” for being able to go from injured to a solid prospect once again.
“Things have come in fits and starts with him,” Sweeney said. “It’s been a frustrating situation for him. He’s worked awfully hard to overcome a lot of lose adversities and put himself in a situation where he’s added a lot of strength to take advantage of the situations of being able to skate and be healthy enough to do things that he’s accustomed to doing.”
Now that the issues involving the knee are seemingly in the past, Cross gets to set about showing his promise as a blue-liner to the Bruins. Though many players come back as different players in some way, shape or form, following an injury or multiple injuries, Cross has kept the same work ethic and mindset.
“I don’t think I’ve changed anything. I think it’s made me better. A better person, a better player. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. I’m here now, I’m healthy, and I think that’s all that matters.”
|Seguin not counting on anything||at 4:04 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Though the first day of on-ice activities for Bruins prospects at development camp featured 26 hopefuls on display, second overall pick Tyler Seguin attracted much of the attention. Those in attendance at Ristuccia Arena frequently chanted his name and cheered or moaned depending on whether he scored in drills. Though he has dealt with the hype and fanfare for much of his young playing career, Seguin refused to count himself as a member of the Bruins squad for when the season opens in October, which he pointed out Tuesday (‘I’m not looking at the situation [as] just because I went high in the draft, I make the team.'”)
Though he finally got to skate in a Bruins uniform after months of buildup, Seguin noted that he will not sit back and take it in until he has established himself as a presence in the NHL.
“It feels nice, but nothing’s settled in,” Seguin said. “Everything will settle in when I’m a year or two into my career. That’s when I can sit back, relax, and say, ‘I have a spot on this team.’ Right now I’m just trying to impress the scouts in the stands.”
Seguin looked good in his first day of drills, and having added six pounds since the end of the OHL he said that he feels both stronger and faster. He plans to add six more before training camp kicks off.
Though one shouldn’t read much into drills, on the ice he appeared to be every bit the player he was in Plymouth, as he placed wrist and snap shots wherever he wanted while also setting up the other forwards in offensive drills. He skated with 2009 first-rounder Jordan Caron to his right and 2010 32nd overall pick Jared Knight on the left in three-on-two drills.
As for the screaming of his name — which happened so often that he and his teammates were smirking as they skated off the ice to its final chorus — Seguin was merely impressed the children lined up against the boards got his name right.
“Usually if anyone’s talking about me it’s like Seguini or Seegin or something,” Seguin said with a laugh. “These guys, they have it right on point.”
|Team-building kicks off||07.06.10 at 3:44 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Bruins prospects struggled plenty in the morning on the first day of development camp, but based on the way their afternoon team-building activities have kicked off in Bedford, the heat was nothing.
Upon arriving at The Edge Sports Center, youngsters including Tyler Seguin, Joe Colborne, and David Warsofsky took in an hour-long presentation from Eric Kapitulik, who shared both gut-wrenching and inspiring stories from his life with the NHL hopefuls. Kapitulik, who played lacrosse at Navy, experienced a life-changing tragedy in 1999 during his time as a Marine. A helicopter crash in San Diego saw him and those under his command sink in the chopper under water as they tried to swim out while drowning. Kapitulik was one of 11 who survived, but they lost seven men in the December crash.
Kapitulik, who since has competed in eight Ironman triathlons and raised money for a scholarship to benefit the six children who lost their parents in the disaster. In speaking with the players, he addressed them as “warriors” and preached that the most important people in the room were the people to the left and right of one another. In leading workouts with the team that have ranged from pushups to flutter kicks to carrying sandbags, he continued to preach the logic, as Boston College defenseman Tommy Cross learned.
“We don’t care about you, Tommy,” Kapitulik shouted as the defenseman led the team in pushups. “All we care about are the warriors to your left and to your right.”
The team-building activities, which consisted of four quarters of what Kapitulik called “judgement day,” were certainly challenging on the players, many of whom had attended development camp in years past. Rather than counting off pushups in traditional style, whomever led the exercises (players volunteered, with Cross being the first to successfully do so — Zach Trotman tried to but was sent back to his teammates for walking) would push up, down, and up, counting one, two, and three at each move, before his teammates would yell “one” back as they pushed up again. As a result, the 17 pushups Cross led the players in to lead off the first quarter were more like 37.
“If you don’t think you can possibly do one more pushup, do one more,” Kapitulik said before the first quarter kicked off. “Then do one more.”
Colborne, the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft, was the first prospect to get an earful from Kapitulik. After the Marine’s initial speech, which was given in a room next to the indoor turf the players then exercised on, he asked the center if he felt he could get his teammates to fold up their chairs, put them away, and be lined up on the field in 60 seconds. Colborne accepted the assignment, and when the 27 players couldn’t finish in time, Kapitulik shouted to the center that it was only his fault.
Exercises were often stopped by Kapitulik and members of the Program when players were not calling out their teammates for slipups. Though the likes of Don Sweeney and Peter Chiarelli were in attendance, the lasting image of the day might be president Cam Neely sitting by himself on a bench in the middle of the turf, completely silent as he watched the players struggle in the first 16 minutes.