|Bruins promote Keith Gretzky to Director of Amateur Scouting, hire P.J. Axelsson||08.20.13 at 5:19 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Tuesday that they have promoted Keith Gretzky to Director of Amateur Scouting, hired P.J. Axelsson as a European amateur scout and hired Keith Sullivan as an amateur scout.
Gretzky, who is the brother of Wayne Gretzky, has been with the Bruins as an amateur scout since 2011. He replaces Wayne Smith, who was fired this offseason following the draft. Smith had been the team’s Director of Amateur Scouting since 2007. In that span, the Bruins have had a shaky go of it with their first-round picks, as top-10 picks Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton are the only sure-fire NHLers, while 2007 eighth overall pick Zach Hamill has been a career AHLer, playing in four organizations with just 20 NHL games and has been viewed largely as a bust.
Axelsson rejoins the Bruins after spending his entire NHL career with the Bruins from 1997-2009. In 797 games, the 1995 seventh-sound pick had 103 goals and 184 assists for 287 points. He will be based out of Sweden.
Sullivan was a scout for the Coytotes from 2007-11 before scouting for the Jets in 2011-12. He was the general manager of the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL last season and will be based out of Omaha.
|Report: NHL teams interested in P.J. Axelsson||07.17.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
According to Finnish sportswriter Matias Strozyk last week (and a myriad of other reports since), old friend P.J. Axelsson has a couple of NHL teams interested in his services. Axelsson, who is currently playing for Frölunda HC of the Elitserien league in Sweden, played 11 seasons in the NHL, all with the Bruins.
Axelsson has one year remaining on his contract with Frölunda, but Strozyk tweeted last week that two NHL teams are interested in the 37-year-old. Former Bruin and current TSN analyst Aaron Ward tweeted Axelsson’s deal does not have an out clause that would allow him return to the NHL before the end of the deal.
The Bruins selected Axelsson in the seventh round (177th overall) of the 1995 draft. In 797 NHL games, the Swedish forward had 103 goals and 184 assists for 287 points and 276 penalty minutes.
|Axelsson signs four-year deal with hometown Frolunda||07.27.09 at 10:04 am ET|
P.J. Axelsson didn’t want to leave the Boston Bruins after 11 seasons with a hockey club that looked to be on an upswing heading into next season, but – without receiving an offer from the Black and Gold this summer – the longest-tenured member of the B’s has signed a four-year deal with his hometown Frolunda team in the Swedish Elite League.
Axelsson’s agent Neil Abbott confirmed the signing to WEEI.com Monday morning, but said that there’s always the possibility of leaving Sweden after this coming hockey season for another NHL shot at the elusive Stanley Cup. Clearly B’s GM Peter Chiarelli is experiencing his own challenges keeping the Bruins’ core together under the current NHL salary cap conditions, and there wasn’t room for Axelsson when younger, affordable models like Vladimir Sobotka are challenging for spots on the Black and Gold roster.
“We never received an offer from the Bruins and they never asked for an offer from us,” said Axelsson’s agent Neil Abbott, who said the winger has already been told he’s a strong candidate for the Swedish Olympic team in Vancouver this winter. “P.J.’s first choice always would have been to return to Boston, but at the end of the day we had a couple of multi-year proposals (from other NHL teams) that were contingent upon bodies being moved to create cap room. That didn’t happen.
“P.J. played here (in Boston) for 11 years. He has over 850 games as a Bruin and the next guy has about 250 or 260. His heart was (in Boston). He loved it here and he loved the Boston fans. There wasn’t anything he enjoyed more than playing (in Boston), but once that wasn’t an option it became a choice of playing here, playing there or taking a very nice offer to stay home. We respected and accepted the decision by the Bruins. Once he found out that returning to (Boston) wasn’t an option, going back home to Europe became a much easier decision to make.”
The 20 percent escrow giveback on player’s salaries was a big factor in Axelsson opting for a Swedish Elite League opportunity in his hometown Gothenberg over a one-year deal in Ottawa or Colorado. But legally Axelsson could return to the NHL after next season if there’s a “good” offer waiting for him in certain locales, and Abbott said that winning a Cup is something that’s still on Axelsson’s list of career goals.
With an early August start date for training camp in the European Leagues, Axelsson was under the gun to make a decision and heading home to play hockey for the foreseeable future became a pretty easy choice for the winger and his family. The signing of Steve Begin and Mark Recchi to one-year deals also made the B’s writing on the wall pretty clear to Axelsson and his representation concerning any potential future with the team.
Axelsson was a defensive stalwart known for his consistency and versatility during his long career in Boston, and his easy smile and keen sense of humor — along with the natural leadership bred from a decade plus of experience with the Bruins — will be sorely missed in the Black and Gold dressing room next season.
So the Boston Bruins 1995 7th round pick will bring his penalty killing grit and 287 career points in 797 regular season games back to Europe, and another link to the B’s past moves right along with the 34-year-old Swede.
“If the right circumstance developed in the next year or two where he could jump in and the goal would be to win, obviously, that might be possible,” said Abbott of Axelsson, who managed 6 goals and 20 assists in 75 games for Boston last season. “But in the short term his wife is pregnant with their second child and due in the fall, and he had a very good offer from his hometown team in Sweden. The hometown offer was very good, and timing-wise the European Leagues start much earlier than the NHL and training camp begins on Aug. 1.”
|Sobotka sent back to Providence||04.14.09 at 7:52 pm ET|
Following Tuesday’s practice, the Boston Bruins sent forward Vladimir Sobotka back down to Providence. Sobotka was called up to Boston on April 10 and registered an assist in the final two road games in New York (Sabres, Islanders) to close out the season. The move indicates that both P.J. Axelsson and Patrice Bergeron (both didn’t play in either of the NY games) made it through the practice skate without any complications and the B’s — save for sidelined D-man Andrew Ference — are about as healthy as they could hope for the start of the series vs. the Habs.
Sobotka will finish out the season with the P-Bruins and suit up for them in the playoffs, but would be the first logical player called back up should the B’s suffer injuries along the front line against Les Habitants.
Sobotka has played in 25 games for Boston during the 2008-2009 season and recorded 1-4=5 totals. On April 10, he was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis and recorded 0-1=1 totals in the Bruins last two games of the regular season against Buffalo and the Islanders.
In 44 games with the P-Bruins this year, Sobotka contributed 20 goals, 24 assists and a +11 plus/minus rating. He split the 2007-2008 season between Boston and Providence. With Boston, he saw action in 48 regular season games and contributed one goal and six assists and added two goals in six postseason games. With Providence last year, he had 10-10=20 totals in 18 regular season games and added four assists over six postseason games.
Sobotka was originally drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round (106th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
|B’s morning skate scrubbed by Julien||04.09.09 at 7:42 am ET|
For one of the first times this season Bruins head coach Claude Julien has completely scrubbed the pre-game morning skate at the TD Banknorth Garden prior to tonight’s grudge match against the Montreal Canadiens. Though the Black and Gold have clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the game still has playoff ramifications for a Habs squad that’s currently situated as the seventh seed — but hasn’t yet clinched a playoff berth. A Bruins’ win could drop the Canadiens to the eighth spot and set up a potentially explosive Bruins vs. Canadiens match in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs tentatively set to begin next Thursday.
Three injured Bruins – Dennis Wideman, P.J. Axelsson and Chuck Kobasew – are being considered day-to-day, and would have had their playing fates for tonight answered during the morning skating session. Now that will have to wait until game time. The Bruins media relations staff called with the news around 8:15 a.m., and gave advanced notice that there would be no “players or coaches” reporting to the Garden until just hours before game time. The playoffs may be starting a week early with tonight’s showdown against Montreal.
|Penalties aplenty in early going, Ward, Axelsson and Kobasew score||03.12.09 at 6:18 pm ET|
Three penalties in the first two minutes of play here at the Garden in a game between the red-hot Ottawa Senators — winners of four straight — and the not-so-hot Bruins — losers of two in a row — at the TD Banknorth Garden.
The first B’s penalty to Aaron Ward actually proved fortunate for the Black and Gold when Ward finished up his sin bin time and jumped out of the box behind the Ottawa defense. Ward received a long entry pass from Patrice Bergeron in the B’s D-zone, skated in all alone and roofed a high, hard one right on the glove hand of Sens goalie Alex Auld. The whole play was set up by a goal-saving blocked shot by Zdeno Chara in the defensive end.
The score is the first career short-handed goal for the 35-year-old Ward.
13:08: Beautiful give and go between PJ Axelsson and David Krejci that ends with Krejci putting a perfect dish on Axelsson’s tape, and the Swede roofed another shot against Auld for another Boston score. That was a flicker of the old Krejci with the uncanny puck instincts.
13:04: Fight between Milan Lucic and Chris Neil in a busy first period. Good shots on both sides, and the refs step in when Looch’s jersey comes up over his head.
12:35: Huge hit by Michael Ryder on Anton Volchenkov as Ryder carried the puck and dished it in the offensive zone. Lots of oohs and aaahs as Volchenkov the aggressor was dumped on the ice.
9:36: Bing, bang boom. Former BC skater Ryan Shannon goes off with a penalty, and Ryder finds Kobasew right on the doorstep with a quick tap-in bid that bounced off Auld’s skate and into the net.
7:12: Great stop by Tim Thomas on a Dany Heatley wraparound bid going left to right, but the rebound kicked out to Jason Spezza in the slot, and that’s a spot he doesn’t miss from.
4:26: Snapping glove save by Auld of a Montador slapper on a loose puck that was leaking back to him at the blue line. Good jump by both the Marc Savard/Blake Wheeler/Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic/David Krejci/Michael Ryder combos.
1:03: Somewhat questionable holding penalty on Blake Wheeler, who clearly needs to start skating and moving his feet rather than bear-hugging his opposition.
The B’s lead the Senators 3-1 at the end of the first period.
|Bruins won’t be headed for European opener next season||02.19.09 at 4:04 pm ET|
Though it seemed like a natural fit for P.J. Axelsson to enjoy a homecoming in Stockholm or for Zdeno Chara to have a hero’s welcome in Trencin, Czechoslovakia, the NHL announced this afternoon that the Red Wing, Blues, Blackhawks and Panthers will be the four teams opening the 2009-10 season in Europe next year. There were previous rumblings that the B’s were being considered for “NHL Premiere 2009″, but instead the four teams will play respective games in Sweden and Finland on Oct. 2-3.