|Patrice Bergeron, Bruins ready for three games in four days||11.02.10 at 1:46 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins opened the season with games in Prague on back-to-back nights (or days, depending where you were watching it). Since playing the second game on Oct. 10, they’ve been able to familiarize themselves with comfortable spacing between their games. They’ve had no back-to-back games, and there have been plenty of days in between, playing their games on the 16th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, and 30th of October. It’s a new month, and perhaps a Patrice Bergeron quote from Tuesday sums up the schedule best.
“Now it’s coming.”
The Bruins will hit the road for Buffalo, where they’ll kick off a stretch Wednesday that has three games in four days, including the first of three different back-to-back nights of work in the next three weeks. From Buffalo they’ll head to Washington to face the Capitals before returning to the Garden to take on the Blues at home.
“The whole month is going to be like that,” Bergeron said of the hectic schedule. “We’re going to need to get our rest when it’s there, but get on a roll and just go from there. Just try to be ready for every game.”
Claude Julien can see that having the back-to-back games will be a challenge throughout the month, but his main focus is on a couple of teams with revenge on their minds. The Bruins eliminated the Sabres in the first round of the playoffs last season, and the 2010-11 edition has taken both of its games against Alexander Ovechkin and the capitals this season.
“It’s going to be a good challenge,” Julien said of the stretch. “First of all, going to Buffalo is never easy building to play in, I don’t care what they’re going through right now. They always play us hard, and then you go to Washington, a team that’s going to be looking for revenge, no doubt, after beating them in back-to-back games. And then you’re coming back late. We’ve got to go to the airport, which is at least an hour’s drive after the game, so we’re going to be getting in late Friday night. Then you’ve got a St. Louis team that’s really playing well and you’ve got to play them at home the next night. It’s not going to be an easy week for us. It’s not going to be an easy trip. We’ve got to be prepared for that mentally as well as physically.”
|Don’t expect Tyler Seguin to live with Mark Recchi||10.29.10 at 4:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Tyler Seguin knows that he’s staying, but where is he staying?
After being told Thursday night that he would not be sent back to juniors, the biggest question immediately became whether he, like many young players before him, would live with a teammate, much like Patrice Bergeron in his rookie year with Martin Lapointe.
The obvious line of thinking would lead one to think Mark Recchi, a future Hall-of-Famer and Seguin’s linemate, could be an obvious choice to host the 18-year-old. As a result, both players were bombarded with questions about whether Seguin might should study up on the rules of the Recchi home.
The verdict? The mentorship will have to be limited to the ice and the locker room.
“I don’t have a big enough place right now,” Recchi told WEEI.com on Friday. “I think the team will let him go on his own around the guys. Everybody’s right down town. [Jordan Staal] lived with me [in Pittsburgh], and I had a guest cottage on my property, so it was kind of the best of both worlds. He had his own space, and he hung out with us all the time for dinner and stuff like that. They’ll figure out exactly what [Seguin] wants, and the guys are all within such a small area that everybody’s going to be looking after him anyways.”
Seguin figured as much, and it appears the teenager will try living on his own, but in close proximity to his teammates.
“Right now I think I might be getting my own place, and everyone else kind of in the same building.”
The second overall pick in June’s draft, Seguin has two goals and two assists, good for four points through seven games. Some tried stirring the pot when it came to suggesting there was even a possibility Seguin would return to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, as the B’s could have sent him back to juniors without burning a year on his contract. In the end, the B’s elected to not wait for the nine-game trial to expire, telling Seguin after seven to get comfortable in Boston.
Recchi, who has seen just about everything in the NHL, couldn’t see a scenario in which the goal-scoring center didn’t stick.
“I didn’t think there would be any doubt [he’d stay],” Recchi said. “He’s talented, and the great thing about it is that he’s got the whole year to grow as a player and learn and get better. It’s a good spot for him to do it, so he’s in a good situation.”
Seguin still keeps in contact with some of his teammates from Plymouth and received a text message from head coach Mike Vellucci after he scored his first career goal. Seguin appreciated the kind thoughts from Vellucci, who essentially resurrected his junior career two years ago, but noted on Thursday that he isn’t rushing to tell him that they officially are no longer affiliated.
“I’m not going to be the one to call him and tell him that I’m staying up here,” Seguin said. “It’s not my place or my position. Once he finds out I’m sure he’ll call me.”
|Patrice Bergeron has Bruins leading Maple Leafs after one||10.28.10 at 8:03 pm ET|
After an awesome ceremony to honor the 92-years-young Milt Schmidt, the Bruins and Leafs skated to a competitive first period, with the B’s jumping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Patrice Bergeron‘s first goal of the season. Bergeron picked up the goal, a power play tally, on a slap shot off Jonas Gustavsson, at 19:19. The goal was the 100th of Bergeron’s career.
– The Bruins tinkered with the defensive pairings they opened the game with, as Matt Hunwick saw time with Dennis Seidenberg (remember the season-opener?) and Andrew Ference skated alongside Mark Stuart.
– Tim Thomas stopped all eight shots he faced, and got some help when a Luca Caputi shot rang off the right post.
And now for a D2: The Mighty Ducks are Back reference:
Move over, Dwayne Robertston: Brad Marchand laughs at your two minutes for roping. The B’s fourth-line winger took the always interesting two-minute minor for “shooting a stick to a teammate” at 8:46. As rule 10.3 states, “a player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides, or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice. … A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.”
The audience let out a collective laugh of confusion at the penalty’s announcement, but the B’s were able to kill off each of the two penalites on the period. Mark Stuart went off for interference at 1:03.
|Bruins see improvement in Maple Leafs||10.27.10 at 3:57 pm ET|
The Bruins are preparing for their first match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night, in an always-anticipated clash of original six teams. In the 2009-10 season, the Maple Leafs were nothing special, finishing at the bottom of the Northeast Division with a 30-38-14 record. Now, eight games into 2010-11, it seems the Leafs have turned things around. Toronto won its first four starts, then dropped three games in a row before picking up a 3-1 victory over the Panthers Tuesday night. The Leafs’ 5-2-1 record currently has them sitting atop the division standings.
‘They’re a good team, they’re a young team,’ Patrice Bergeron said after practice on Wednesday. ‘Their players have developed into good players so I think that’s why they’re improved.’
Right wing Nathan Horton said he knows the Leafs have shown plenty of reasons for other teams to fear them thus far.
“Their defensemen are big, strong, physical, and their forwards are quick and fast,’ Horton said, adding the Bruins will need to be prepared to work for 60 minutes on Thursday. Coach Claude Julien seemed to agree, noting that the B’s are ‘facing a team that’s coming in with lots of confidence, lots of speed and lots of energy.’
Speaking of energy, it has seemed to be just that the B’s have lacked early on in each of their losses this season. On Saturday, the Rangers put up a quick 2-0 lead on the Bruins in the first period, and the Bruins, despite getting goals from Zdeno Chara and Horton, were never quite able to make a full comeback.
‘I think it’s just about making sure we have a good first couple shifts and be good on the forecheck right away,’ Bergeron said. ‘If we get scored one goal against, we’ve got to make sure we keep our balance instead of just getting back over our heels for a couple shifts and letting them score another one.’
|Quebec connection paying dividends for Jordan Caron, Patrice Bergeron||10.15.10 at 1:34 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A player’s rookie year in the NHL presents some pretty predictable obstacles. Getting used to the speed of the game, limiting mistakes, and not letting the game get inside one’s own head. When the player is under 20 years of age and learning a new language, perhaps the jitters felt and the speedbumps experienced become enhanced a bit, and the rookie naturally seeks the guidance of a player who was once in similar shoes.
That may be exactly the relationship that exists between Bruins second-liners Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron. Both players come from Quebec, and like Bergeron did as an 18-year-old in the 2003-04 season, Caron, 19, is entering a new league while also trying to master a new language. To this point, both his English and his game have come along nicely, though the whole package has been aided by the now 25-year-old Bergeron.
After over-thinking situations on the ice at points in the team’s scrimmage in Belfast, Bergeron and Mark Recchi, at the time linemates with Caron, had lunch and discussed the challenges the young winger was facing. The lunch concluded with the two deciding that it would be best if Bergeron took Caron for dinner to remind him of how big a difference he could make.
‘It’s been a long camp for me, but I don’t want to take that as an excuse,’ Caron said a few days after the Belfast game. ‘I guess it has been a long training camp for me, but I have to get over it and just try to do my best.’
While in Prague, Bergeron did take Caron, who by then had been demoted to the third line, out for the meal, one that both players feel helped the rookie.
“We went for dinner in Prague. I didn’t say much. It was just to make him feel comfortable and realize that he’s part of the team and he’s a good player and that even though he’s young, he’s good,” Bergeron said, adding that he told Caron to, “just play the same game that he’s been playing throughout his career.”
After scoring in the team’s preseason finale in Liberec, Czech Republic, Caron was a scratch in the season-opener against the Coyotes, a game in which the team fell to Phoenix, 5-2. He made his NHL debut on Sunday, being bumped back up to the second line with Bergeron and Blake Wheeler. Caron logged a team-low 9:42 minutes of ice time but got a couple of shots on net in the process, making an overall first impression that he’s glad to have gotten out of the way.
Since the team returned from Prague, Caron has skated with the second line and though he has taken to the “anything can happen” mentality, it appears his ice time will only go up as the season progresses. As that comes, so too may more rookie challenges, but Bergeron has made it clear to Caron that he is more than happy with aiding in the adjustment as well as he can. After all, it wasn’t long ago that he had a go-to guy in the locker room for the same purpose.
“Martin Lapointe was always there [for me] my first year,” Bergeron recalled. “He was always calming me down and helping me make sure I wasn’t getting ahead of myself.”
Bergeron lived with Lapointe and his family in his rookie year. On the ice, he made big strides, contributing 39 points as rookie despite facing the challenges that accompany someone learning English off the ice.
“It was pretty hard, especially that first year. It was different and difficult as well, just for opening bank accounts and all that, social security number, and all that stuff,” Bergeron said. “Things that were different with me are pretty much the same with Jordan. They’re all things you’ve got to go through, but with help it’s pretty easy.”
A difference can definitely be observed in Caron’s English from the summer’s rookie development camp until now. He notes that he’s “getting comfortable with everything,” but that he’s not afraid to be persistent with Bergeron if it means getting a firmer grasp on things.
“I don’t want to be annoying, but he told me not to be scared to ask him anything, and that’s what I do,” Caron said.” If I don’t understand a drill sometimes because the language is different, I’ll go right up to him and ask him.”
|Team loses, but Chara deal means Bruins win big||10.09.10 at 6:16 pm ET|
PRAGUE — It was hard to imagine Saturday being too bad a day for the Bruins when word came down that the team had inked captain Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension that will begin following this season, the last of his current deal.
Still, that 5-2 loss sure did give the signing a run for it’s money, didn’t it? The game aside (read about it here), Saturday marked the second of two consecutive huge days for the Bruins’ future. In re-signing both Chara (seven years, $45.5 million) and center Patrice Bergeron (three years, $15 million), the team made sure two players who wear letters other than the spoked “B” on the front of their sweaters (Bergeron himself is an alternate captain at 25 years of age) would be in the fold long term.
What does it mean financially? Put it this way: This season, with the Chara carrying a $7.5 million cap hit and Bergeron with a cap hit of $4.75 million, the Bruins are paying $12.25 million combined for the two of them. When the new deals kick in for the two players, Chara will have a $6.917 cap hit for the first six years (he makes $4 million — less than the average annual value of the rest of the deal — in salary in the last year, which since he will be over 40 is not allowed to be factored into the cap calculation), with Bergeron taking up $5 million in cap space. Combined, that’s a grand total of $11.917 million for both of the players, a savings of about $333,000 for Bergeron and Chara. Imagine the cap going up (even if it’s slightly) in the future, and the Bruins seem to have had themselves a very productive couple of days.
So how did it all come together for the players? Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, told WEEI.com on Saturday that “it was not an easy negotiation,” and that it had “lots of moving parts.” Even so, much like Bergeron said a day before, Chara said — as, to his credit, he did in the week leading up to the signing — that he believed the end result would be him staying in Boston. General manager Peter Chiarelli felt the same way, saying he was “pretty confident” before departing for Europe last week that the players would sign on the trip.
“From our perspective, these are two very, very important pieces of our team, very important individuals on and off the ice. There’s uncertainty as you see some precessions as far as trying to retain these types of players,” Chiarelli said. “As they get closer to the free agent market, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s also an extreme show of good faith when both sides can get it done now, meaning both sides wanted to get a deal done. We want Z and Bergy to be a part of the Bruins for a while, and they wanted to remain with the Bruins. It’s a typical thing. When two sides want something to happen, it usually happens.”
Any longterm deal with Chara, 33, figured to be a tough one for both sides to hammer out given that any deal that goes past a player’s 40th birthday can be complicated as a result of the new cap calculation that came about following the Ilya Kovalchuk saga that grabbed headlines in the offseason. Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million deal with the Devils was nixed by the league because its later years paid out little money in an attempt to lower the cap hit. Now, as a result, the above calculation applies to longterm contracts that go into a player’s 40’s.
“Obviously, Kovalchuk’s situation was a little extreme, and that maybe put the negotiations on hold for a little bit,” Chara said of the hitches that came up in negotiations. “I just knew that we would get this done and I would be a Bruin.”
That’s two top players in two days to accept deals to stay in Boston prior to hitting free agency. It could be a coincidence, but it’s more likely that the Bruins and Chiarelli are seeing a trend develop.
|A look back at what Patrice Bergeron has overcome||10.08.10 at 12:32 pm ET|
PRAGUE — There are plenty of determining factors that go into whether a team looks to sign a player, whether in free agency or through the process of re-upping their own guys. One factor that can turn an enticing player into a heaping bowl of plutonium is the three most dreaded words in all of sports: history of concussions.
Patrice Bergeron, who on Friday agreed to a three-year extension with the Bruins worth $15 million, unfortunately is quite familiar with concussions, having suffered a brutal Randy Jones hit from behind on October 27, 2007. Just 10 games in, Bergeron was done for the season and would not return until the following campaign.
“I still remember that arena being so quiet as a coach, and the players. Really it seemed to rattle the whole bench. The first thing you want to do when the game is over is not even talk about the game, but go and see him and make sure that everything’s fine, because it was a real close call. It was one that could have easily ended his career,” Claude Julien said on Friday. “The thing that we really wanted to do was make sure that the person was taken care of first and foremost.”
Julien added that despite Bergeron wanting to return for the playoffs that season, much like Marc Savard did this past season, the Bruins decided that taking the entire season and offseason to get his health in tip top shape was the safest route for a guy who was just 22 years of age and dealing with such a serious injury.
“We were going to be as patient as we needed to be, we were going to be as supportive as we needed to be,” Julien said. “He never played the rest of that year. I know at one point he wanted to come in and play in the layoffs, but at that point we made a decision that it would be better off not to and wait a little bit more.”
Bergeron spoke on Friday of how much the team looking after his wellbeing rather than trying to get as much production as they could meant to him. Sitting at his press conference at O2 arena in Prague, he made it clear just how respected and valued the team’s treatment of him feel in the post-concussion process.
Of course, the Jones hit would not be the last of Bergeron’s dealings with concussions. A December 2008 collision with Dennis Seidenberg, then of the Hurricanes, left him once again flat on the ice with what would later be determined to be his second concussion in the span of 15 months.
Julien said that it was natural to “start worrying again” after the Seidenberg collision, but gave Bergeron much-deserved credit for letting things like his two-way style of play, as well as his leadership, define who he’s been as a player rather the concussions. As the Savard situation has illustrated all too clearly, concussions are a messy affair, and one that makes projecting the future almost impossible. With Bergeron primed for a big season and still with room to grow offensively, the Bruins couldn’t have hoped for a better result in wake of two of the darker moments in recent franchise history.