|Patrice Bergeron ready for different training camp than Bruins have had in recent years||09.02.15 at 3:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The voluntary practices that take place prior to training camp in September are very informal. The optional attendance means the group of Bruins that take the ice can be pretty varied from one day to the next. With guys like David Pastrnak, Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg not making it on Wednesday, there weren’t as many familiar faces as there were the day before.
Take that approach and apply it to building the actual roster, and you’ve got the 2015-16 Bruins.
Turnover was the name of the game this offseason, which means that plenty of time this preseason (and, realistically, the first couple months of the regular season) will be devoted to new guys fitting in and current Bruins getting familiar with new teammates. Where past training camps have largely been focused on the previous year’s team shaking off the cobwebs while minimal roster spots were open for competition, this month figures to be quite a bit busier.
“It’s going to be different from the past few years,” Patrice Bergeron said after Wednesday’s skate at Ristuccia Arena. “I’ve been here a little longer, so there’s been some years before where it’s been a complete change, so it is going to be different from the past few years, but I’ve been through that before. I think it’s just about getting to know the guys on and off the ice.”
Among the new faces are Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Colin Miller and Matt Irwin. Beleskey is considered the biggest prize, as he was the top free agent wing this offseason after scoring 22 goals for the Ducks last season.
“It’s our job as leaders and veteran guys to make guys feel comfortable off the ice and even on and make everyone realize it’s about everyone,” Bergeron said. “It’s not just one guy or two guys here. It’s about everyone going towards the same direction if you want to have some results.”
The players who left are more notable than the ones coming in, as Dougie Hamilton (Flames), Milan Lucic (Kings), Reilly Smith (Panthers) and Carl Soderberg (Avalanche) were all traded. The Hamilton loss is the biggest, but the other departures could hurt the Bruins in the short term while the new guys get settled in. With Smith gone, Bergeron and Brad Marchand seek a new full-time right wing for their line for the second time in three years.
Asked about Hamilton leaving, Bergeron was complimentary of the player’s character. After all, when Hamilton made the Bruins in 2013, Claude Julien said his character was more like Bergeron’s than that of fellow young star Tyler Seguin.
Yet Hamilton’s exit raised many questions, particularly when it became apparent he did not want to sign a new contact with the Bruins. While Hamilton wasn’t necessarily the most popular guy among his teammates, there was never any indication that things were so bad that the sides wouldn’t want to move forward together.
“I think he’s still the same guy,” Bergeron said when reminded of Julien’s comparison. “He’s low-key and he’s trying to get better. I wish him all the best, and I can’t really say what happened because I’m not sure what happened.’
Bergeron said didn’t see the trade coming.
“I didn’t get that sense,” he said when asked if he’d ever detected unhappiness on Hamilton’s part. “There’s been discussions between him, the management, his agent that I’m not aware of, so I can’t really go any further.”
Veterans still have another couple weeks before training camp kicks off on Sept. 17. The informal practices provide an opportunity for this much-altered squad to jell, and they could likely use it.
|Bruins past and present don’t understand why Dougie Hamilton wanted trade from Boston||08.10.15 at 1:42 pm ET|
As such, when he said that he isn’t concerned about the state of the Bruins’ defense — a group that made his life hard last year before it lost Dougie Hamilton — his outlook should be taken with a grain of salt.
“I don’t think there’s a reason to worry,” Rask said of Boston’s defense Monday at Shawn Thornton‘s Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament. “I haven’t been worried.”
Rask knows better than anybody how much the Bruins needed to improve on the back end, as his play had to make up for a rough season on the blueline. Between having to play nearly every time the B’s took the ice (70 of 82 games) and facing tougher challenges as a result of the team’s defense, Rask was overworked as a result of the team’s shortcomings.
So when Boston’s defense lost Hamilton, a 22-year-old restricted free agent who wanted out, it would have been understandable for the 2014 Vezina winner to head to the dairy section of his local grocer and go H.A.M. on some milk crates.
Instead, Rask took an it-is-what-it-is attitude when asked about Hamilton’s trade to the Flames.
“Obviously I was surprised,” Rask said. “I think everybody was surprised, but there’s always the truth somewhere. I haven’t heard what happened, but if he felt like he had to move on, he had to move on.”
While there was something (however small) to the chatter that Hamilton wasn’t the most popular guy in the Bruins’ dressing room, it would have been hard for Hamilton’s teammates to take issue with the way he played. Hamilton was clearly Boston’s second-best defenseman behind future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara and he was in line to eventually take the torch from Chara as the next in a long line of great Bruins blueliners.
Hamilton’s fit with his teammates was not a big deal in the Bruins’ eyes, which is evidenced by the fact that they tried to re-sign him. Whether it was his teammates, the city or coach Claude Julien, it has not been made clear why Hamilton wanted to leave.
“I thought he felt comfortable with everybody,” Rask said, “but what you feel deep inside is a different thing and he felt like he needed to move on.”
Thornton laughed off a question about the Hamilton situation by saying he didn’t care, but he admitted he found the departure to be a bit odd.
“Listen, I’m a little surprised,” Thornton said. “I loved Boston, obviously, and for someone to want to get out of it, I don’t get it ‘ especially in the first few years. But it’s his world. He had decisions to make and that’s the one he made. Hey, hopefully he’s happy in Calgary.”
The Bruins received a very underwhelming package of three draft picks in exchange for Hamilton, who will co-star on a terrific blue line in Calgary. The deal did not help the Bruins for 2015-16 at all, as the team used the three picks on prospects Zachary Senyshyn (15th overall), Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (45th overall) and Jeremy Lauzon (52nd overall).
|Don Cherry on MFB: Milan Lucic is ‘[going to] come back with a force’ this season||07.02.15 at 12:52 pm ET|
Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry joined Middays with MFB on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ recent moves. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Prior to the NHL draft Milan Lucic and 22-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton were traded to the Kings and Flames, respectively. The trades caught many by surprise, though the return for both of them gave the Bruins pieces to work with, namely those acquired in the Lucic trade.
The winger was traded to Los Angeles for goaltender Martin Jones, defenseman Colin Miller and the No. 15 overall pick in last Friday’s draft. The B’s were able to flip Jones to the Sharks afterwards for a first-round pick in 2016 and the rights to Miami Redhawks rising senior Sean Kuraly.
“I think what happened is [Lucic] sort of fell out of favor with that  goals [last season],” Cherry said. “You expected more goals from him. I have to admit, he wasn’t Lucic of old last year, but somehow or other, I always think of the Bruins, I think of them as tough and everybody thinks of them as tough.”
“Lucic, I know he had an off-year last year, but he’s [going to] come back with a force,” he added. “When you think of the Bruins, when everybody thinks of the Bruins, they think of Lucic, and then a 22-year-old guy. … You don’t get a 22-year-old stud like that guy and Calgary now has the best defense in the league, there’s no doubt about it.”
Following Hamilton being traded there were reports saying Hamilton was a “loner” and an “uppity kid.” Cherry said that wouldn’t matter to him if he were coaching the Bruins.
“If I had Hamilton, somehow I’d work him in, and that’s the job of the organization,” he said. “When I hear he doesn’t work and he’s a loner, who cares? Look at the way he plays, it’s on the ice. I don’t care if he’s a loner or not. I don’t believe in that stuff.”
|Dougie Hamilton signs team-friendly contract with Flames||06.30.15 at 2:44 pm ET|
Perhaps Don Sweeney was on to something.
The Flames poured salt on Boston’s wound Tuesday, signing Dougie Hamilton to a very team-friendly six-year deal worth $34.5 million total with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. The signing was first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger.
The Hamilton extension comes four days after the Bruins traded the 2011 ninth overall pick to Calgary because they felt they could not sign the player.
The numbers on the contract make the whole situation all the more interesting. Hamilton was seeking a deal similar to Drew Doughty’s eight-year contract worth $7 million annually. The Bruins’ highest offer to Hamilton was reportedly for six years and $5.5 million annually, which is very similar to what Hamilton took with the Flames.
That gives credence to Sweeney’s line Friday about how the Bruins didn’t feel Hamilton would be “comfortable” in Boston.
Hamilton declined to comment on his time in Boston during a conference call Tuesday, even when asked if he could deny that he wanted out.
Even if Hamilton’s preference was to play elsewhere, the Bruins can still expect criticism for receiving only picks for a player considered to be a major asset.
Boston received a first-round pick (15th overall) and two second-rounders (Nos. 45 and 52) in last week’s draft for Hamilton. While that’s a mediocre haul for a 22-year-old top defenseman who has yet to enter his prime, it is more than the B’s would have received had Hamilton signed an offer sheet for the money he got from Calgary.
Had Hamilton signed a six-year, $34.5 million deal in restricted free agency, its annual number would have been calculated by dividing the total money by five, making the number $6.9 million. That would qualify the Bruins to receive a first, second and third-round pick if they chose not to match.
Of course, teams would have had to offer more had the Bruins kept Hamilton and gone into restricted free agency. The deal Hamilton took with Calgary would have been a no-brainer to match.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘I do think [the Bruins] have a plan’||06.29.15 at 12:26 pm ET|
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss the Bruins’ rebuilding strategy and the direction they will go after surprise moves prior to the NHL draft last week. To hear the full interview, visit the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
“I can’t see that happening,” McGuire said. “They’re a proud franchise. I can’t see that alienation of their fan base. They’ve been down this road before back in the [mid-1990s]. It was painful. … They’ve still got a very solid infrastructure of players. But again, they’re going to have to pass the torch here because some of their better guys are getting older.
“I can’t see them trading Patrice Bergeron. You put his name out there and every team in the league’s going to want him. … This is my one word of caution on this: I would be really careful pre-judging this thing if I were a Bruins fan, because I do think they have a plan. Doesn’t mean they have to share it with everybody only because you don’t want to show your cards too often in this league. In this league, they throw you anchors, not life jackets.”
According to McGuire, the recent moves made by the Bruins are part of a trend that began last offseason with the departure of Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla, among others.
“[My reaction was] that Don Sweeney wanted to put his stamp on the team early on along with Cam Neely that this was clearly something that was approved by ownership, that they felt that maybe something had gone a little bit astray in their building plan and they wanted to try to get it straightened out as soon as possible,” McGuire said. “I remember being in Boston last year when Johnny Boychuk got traded away … and I remember the reaction of the players and it was really negative. They were not happy at all.
“Shawn Thornton moves on to Florida, Jarome Iginla moves on to Colorado, Johnny Boychuk moves on to the New York Islanders and then you see what happens this year — Chiarelli gets fired, Gregory Campbell‘s not coming back, Danny Paille’s not coming back, Milan Lucic isn’t coming back and obviously Dougie Hamilton’s not coming back. Start doing the math. That’s a huge part of your infrastructure, so clearly they knew that they wanted to go in a younger, different direction and they’ve started that process.”
|Breaking down Bruins’ moves from Friday||06.27.15 at 8:36 am ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins did a lot on Friday. It’s obvious that the moves as a whole represent a horrid day for new general manager Don Sweeney, but at least one of them made sense in a vacuum.
As such, here’s an attempt to break down each of the individual moves made by the Bruins:
Bruins trade Dougie Hamilton to Flames for picks No. 15, 45 and 52
One-word summary: Unforgivable.
The Hamilton fiasco represents really two lapses on the part of Don Sweeney.
First is the struggle to sign the team’s most important young player to a second deal. He asked for a lot of money because the best young defensemen in the league make a lot of money on their second deals. The Bruins’ unwillingness to pay it does not bode well for the future.
Consider this: David Pastrnak has two more years left on his entry-level deal. Guess who represents him? The same guy they just swung and missed with in J.P. Barry. This group can only hope it has better a better feel for re-signing youngsters by then.
The second part of it is the trade itself. Hamilton was one of the very best chips Sweeney had, and one that should have been kept at nearly all costs. Instead, he was flipped for the 15th overall pick and two second-rounders.
At the very, very least, the Bruins should have been able to get at least another first-round pick or a top prospect from a team in exchange for the already established Hamilton. This was the kind of move that can set a franchise back.
|After losing Dougie Hamilton, Claude Julien says young players ask for too much too soon||06.26.15 at 11:48 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — Claude Julien lamented the fact that Dougie Hamilton wanted top dollar hours after the Bruins traded the 22-year-old star defenseman in a stunning deal with the Flames.
With statistics and big-name comps on Hamilton’s side, the defenseman’s camp sought a deal commensurate with those of other top young defensemen such as Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo. The Bruins were unwilling to pay that, with a source telling WEEI.com Friday that none of Boston’s offers exceeded $6 million a year.
Julien said he understood why Hamilton wants to be paid like his peers, but he doesn’t like how soon players cash in these days.
“The players and the organization, I guess everybody’s in their right with the way CBA is,” Julien said after the first round of the draft on Friday. “As a coach, to be honest with you, I find it very unfortunate that players that have played maybe three years in the league, all of a sudden they’re looking to be up there with the top-paid players.
“I prefer it the other way, where they work their way up: years of service and everything else.
“That’s not to say he wasn’t in his right. He’s in his right. He’s entitled to do what he did. I’m not standing here blaming him at all. Would we like to have kept him? I think we would have liked to have kept Dougie Hamilton. He’s a good promising young player, but you move on.”