|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.
|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.”
|Patrice Bergeron wins third Selke Trophy||06.24.15 at 7:18 pm ET|
Bergeron is now a three-time winner of the Selke, which is given to the best defensive forward in the NHL as voted upon by the Pro Hockey Writers Association. Bergeron first won the award in the 2011-12 season and finished a close second to Toews in 2013 before earning consecutive Selke wins.
Bergeron is just the fifth player to win the Selke three times, joining Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Jere Lehtinen and Pavel Datstyuk. Only Gainey has won it four times.
The votes came down to the wire in Bergeron’s favor, as Bergeron recieved 1083 voting points to Toews’ 1051. Kopitar was a distant third with 364.
The 29-year-old Bergeron led the NHL with a 60.2 faceoff percentage this past season and was second in the league with an 8.99 percent CorsiRel. He also led the Bruins with 55 points, tying Dougie Hamilton for the team lead with 32 assists and scoring 23 goals.
While Toews’ quality of competition was higher than Bergeron’s this season, Bergeron had tougher shifts than both Toews and Kopitar based zone starts and boasted better possession numbers.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Patrice Bergeron gives Claude Julien endorsement||04.23.15 at 1:58 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron was made available to the media Thursday to discuss his Selke candidacy, but he was well aware that the Bruins have bigger things to worry about than awards this summer.
Bergeron gave Claude Julien a vote of confidence, saying that he enjoys playing for the longtime Bruins coach. Julien is currently in limbo, as the B’s recently fired general manager Peter Chiarelli and said that the next GM will decide whether Julien stays or goes. Julien has been Boston’s coach for the last eight years.
“By all means, I like Claude; I like playing for Claude,” Bergeron said. “We’ll see what happens with that.”
Bergeron said he sent Chiarelli a text last week expressing his gratitude for all Chiarelli had done for him. Chiarelli is reportedly in talks with the Oilers about joining their front office.
It is unknown who will replace Chiarelli, though the Bruins have some internal candidates in Don Sweeney and John Furguson. Bergeron said he’s confidently Neely will make the right decision.
“I’m not concerned. I’m a player. It’s definitely out of my control, but I have full confidence and support in what upper-management, the decision they’ll make,” Bergeron said. “[Nine] years ago now, they hired Peter and no one knew what was going to happen and we won a Stanley Cup. I’m definitely going to leave it in their hands again and I’m sure they’re going to make the right decision one more time.”
|5 things we learned as Bruins inch themselves closer to an early offseason||04.09.15 at 10:22 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins had 20 minutes to stay in control of their season’s destiny. They didn’t do it.
Within the same hour, the Bruins allowed a late second-period power-play goal to the Panthers to tie the game, and the Senators defeated the Rangers. The third period was going to be critical for the B’s in what was a 1-1 game, but rather than making a statement, they allowed the Panthers to score twice against Patrice Bergeron‘s line, putting the Senators a win away from reaching the playoffs in the process.
Brad Marchand got the Bruins within one with a well-placed wrist shot over Roberto Luongo‘s shoulder to end a 15-game scoreless streak with five minutes to play, but the Panthers answered promptly with a Jimmy Hayes goal to make it a 4-2 Panthers win.
The Bruins (95 points) are not yet eliminated, but they must win Saturday in Tampa and receive help from other teams. If Boston beats Tampa Saturday and Ottawa loses to the Flyers in regulation, Boston would make the playoffs over Ottawa. If Boston wins Saturday and Pittsburgh loses both of its remaining games, the B’s also would get in. Detroit going to overtime against the Canadiens Friday meant the B’s can no longer catch the Red Wings.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
STRONG START, NO GOALS AND A PREDICTABLE LETUP
A terrible start to Wednesday’s game against the Capitals cost the B’s two much-needed points. They realized their errors and dominated in the early going against Florida.
Boston had 10 of the first 12 shots on goal, while a power play that Marchand drew resulted in two full minutes without the Panthers clearing. One thing was missing, however: goals.
|Bruins finally showing winning ‘character’ at right time||03.13.15 at 10:11 am ET|
The Bruins have finally hit their stride. And they couldn’t have picked a better time.
They’re even winning shootouts. After winning their first two shootouts of the season, they lost their next seven such contests, prompting their head coach to say shootouts “suck” and giving thanks they end with the regular season. Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning ended the skid and gave many inside the dressing room and organization reason to hope.
Their critics will point to the up and down play of key players like Dougie Hamilton, who, by his own admission, had an off night Thursday. The critics will say the Bruins, even during the four-game winning streak, haven’t displayed the consistent 60-minute-plus effort it takes to win in the playoffs.
But what the Bruins showed Thursday night was character and grit. No one showed it more than Gregory Campbell, who took a puck to his right eyebrow early in the first period, necessitating no fewer than eight stitches. It was nothing compared to Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern finals against Pittsburgh, when he gave up his lower right leg on an Evgeni Malkin slapshot. Later in the period, when he returned to the game, he was mashed into the corner boards but got up only a little worse for the wear.
“When you win, things look a lot better,” Campbell said. “There have been times when we’ve played some pretty good hockey and for whatever reason haven’t gotten points. Winning hockey games makes everything look better. We’ve gone the right direction and I think it’s been a process this year. Sometimes there’s not answers for everything. You have expectations coming into the year and for whatever reason, we had a slow start and it’s been well documented that we’ve stumbled a little bit along the way.
“But we’ve continued to try and improve our game, find solutions and stick together as a team. The important thing to us is not what’s happened but the way things are going. This is the important time of the year and we need wins and that’s reason to be optimistic for our team because when you play important games and get wins, that’s playoff-like hockey. That’s a positive we can build on with our team.”
Wins are wins and Thursday was the seventh straight time the Bruins took the ice and gained points. Boston has won four straight, 6-of-7 and 7-of-9 since their six-game skid that put their playoff position in serious peril. Now, the Bruins have 80 points, six points better than ninth-place Florida with 15 games left. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins players would face new circumstances in World Cup of Hockey||01.28.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
When the return of the World Cup of Hockey was announced over the weekend, it wasn’t clear what that meant for the future of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics. One thing, however, was clear: It would not be the same experience as the Olympics.
By the time the tournament rolls around in the fall of 2016, some of the Bruins’ participants will be unfamiliar territory. While players like Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Tuukka Rask (Finland) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden) will likely wear the sweaters of their respective countries as usual, other Bruins stars will face different circumstances.
Zdeno Chara has represented Slovakia in three Winter Olympics, but Slovakia is not one of the six countries set to have its own team (United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, Sweden). Instead, Chara would qualify to play on Team Europe, which will consist of European players from countries not represented.
Dougie Hamilton, a Toronto native who represented Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships, would actually find himself playing against Canada, as the final team in the tournament will consist of American and Canadian players ages 23 and under. Hamilton, 21, would be 23 at the time of the tournament. No other player on Boston’s current roster would qualify for the team, but Malcolm Subban (Toronto) would be an option for the squad, as he’ll be 22 years old.
While children in sports dream about one day representing their countries, few dream about playing on a team called the North American Young Stars. That said, Hamilton would welcome the different opportunity.
“You want to play for your country, obviously,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “It’s kind of unique, but I think it would be a lot of fun to be able to play with all those young guys from North America, and at the same time kind of hard to play against Canada. It’s kind of hard when you have to play against your own country. I think it’s still a long ways away, but something you could look forward to.”
Bergeron, who is well-versed in international play (he’s won Gold medals at the World Championships and World Junior Championships in addition to his two Olympic Gold medals), likes the idea of having another squad for younger players, as Canada routinely turns away top talent due to its surplus of star players.
“Definitely [Team Canada] is going to be a tough team to make, and we know there’s great young players that are always coming up and don’t get a chance to get on either of these teams, US and Canada, but are still great players,” Bergeron said. “It could be a really good team.”