|Don Sweeney’s shining moment||07.10.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — These are proud times for Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney.
All one had to do was take one look at the massive crowd that turned out at tiny Ristuccia Arena here for the final day of the team’s week-long development camp for rookies and young prospects.
It was Sweeney who organized and ran the team’s first such off-season camp in July, 2007. He said after Saturday’s workout that the 2010 edition was another success, featuring star prospects Tyler Seguin and Joe Colborne.
“Not really comparing years here, I think we’re excited about the skill set we’ve gone out and identified and brought in,” Sweeney said. “Be it through the draft or through the acquisition side of it, I think, overall, our group should be proud and excited about the guys they’ve identified and brought in.
“Now, it’s time for the players to continue to get better and our coaching staff, who we feel teaches the game very, very well, and our management group, to continue to push these guys all forward. That includes our workout guys, everybody. You see all of our group here, from player personnel, to scouts, you can tell how much our organization is taking care of it and that comes from Peter [Chiarelli] and filters down.”
Under Sweeney, the team has brought the club’s top prospects to Ristuccia in advance of the main September training camp.
“Make no mistake about it, the ultimate goal is to produce the best NHL players we can,” Sweeney said. “The more we can build camaraderie and using that as an example of them understanding they have a chance to be teammates and be part of something where we hope to win.
Development camp gives the prospects the opportunity to get to know each other on and off the ice while teaching them the level of dedication and training necessary for them to reach the next stage of their careers.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to win,” Sweeney said. “I hope with all my heart that these guys come in here and they grab a hold of it right from the get-go and the culture we’re trying to create and the momentum we have and they continue to push that forward and I think that helps in that regard.”
“We referenced earlier in the week where Joe Colborne had reached out to a number of these kids and gave them a little heads up. That’s the stuff we hope each and every one [understands]. Next year, it might be somebody else that reaches out to a young draft pick and so you’ve created that momentum and the culture that we’re hoping to continue to build going forward.”
Colborne was only too happy to help.
“These guys have been coming up to me the whole camp with questions,” Colborne said. “I’ve tried to be as welcoming as possible and make sure they all feel comfortable because I know what it feels to be a new guy coming in with no idea. So I’ve been up front with them, trying to give them the heads up on what the tougher parts of camp are, the things you’re going to have to learn and they’ve all taken it in stride and improved since the start of camp.”
One of the bonding activities that Colborne helped lead was a bowling outing on Thursday night.
But perhaps the biggest confirmation of Sweeney’s optimism came from Colborne, who just completed his third such development camp with the B’s.
“Right from Day 1, when we were doing the program with the Marines, that’s all they talked about was doing that extra little bit that will be the difference between winning a Stanley Cup championship or losing in Game 7 like we did this year,” the 20-year-old Colborne said.
“Obviously, you can tell the management is hungry. The guys like [David] Krejci have been back here and he’s ready to get going. It’s going to be a very hungry group next year and hopefully, I’ll be part of it.”
|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.”
|Bruins, Stuart reach deal||07.08.10 at 11:12 pm ET|
A source confirmed to WEEI.com Thursday night that an agreement between the Bruins and restricted free agent defenseman Mark Stuart is a “done deal.” The contract is a one-year, $1.675 million pact, a raise from the $1.3 million he made the past two seasons. The Boston Globe was the first to report the story.
Stuart chose against filing for arbitration because negotiations with the Bruins had been encouraging. Earlier in the day, the sides were “very close,” as was told to WEEI.com. Stuart played in 56 games last season, battling a broken sternum in December and a finger injury sustained in late January. He totaled two goals, five assists and 80 penalty minutes in the campaign. A season earlier, he set a career high in points with 17.
The Bruins now have just over $1 million in cap space, according to CapGeek.com. The team still has yet to reach agreements with first-round pick Tyler Seguin and restricted free agent forwards Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, the latter two of whom filed for arbitration.
|Zaney draft pick breaks goaltending mold||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.”
|Photos: Slideshow of Bruins Development Camp||at 3:07 pm ET|
Click here or on the image below to launch a slideshow of the Boston Bruins Development Camp.
|Seguin not counting on anything||07.07.10 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.”
|Young leadership, excitement on display at development camp||07.06.10 at 5:58 pm ET|
With the team’s first day of development camp in the books, Bruins youngsters have endured plenty — from fitness testing in the morning to swarming media to a hellish afternoon of team-builing activities with a Marine. Despite how difficult the first day may have been, the promise shown and words spoken from the players during a day that didn’t feature a second of ice time was a good start to the five-day camp.
The players on display at this year’s camp may make this the best such class in the program’s four-year history. From those considered to be in the upper echelon among the league’s prospects (Tyler Seguin, Joe Colborne, and Jordan Caron) to local players (BC’s Tommy Cross, BU’s David Warsofsky), there was plenty on display the first day.
Despite how anxious and eager they may be however, the camp is merely a group of sessions to familiarize the players with their peers and help management gauge what to expect from the players likely to contribute to the NHL club. Players were assured of that by assistant general manager Don Sweeney at a welcoming meeting Monday night.
“It’s a place to make an impression for everybody and I did tell them that last night as well,” Sweeney said. “You’re not making our hockey club and playing for Claude [Julien] this week. We’ve had players as our reference that have done that, but it’s really about getting an understanding of what those coaches are going to require of them as players of the National Hockey League level for them to be able to play.
“In a perfect world, they’re all going to wear a Bruins jersey. Is that a reality? Probably not. Which they should understand as well and how difficult it is to get to that level. They all have a chance and that’s all it really takes to have that opportunity.”
Seguin continued to stress his ultimate goal of making the Bruins as a rookie, which both he and the Bruins seem to expect at this point. Though he did note he saw that Taylor Hall had signed his entry level deal with the Oilers on Monday, he didn’t seem to be in a rush to have his agent, Ian Pulver, finish up a contract with the Bruins. The task at hand appeared to be the priority for Seguin, with his new jersey the constant reminder.
“I’ve got the [No.] 19 Boston jersey in my bedroom,” Seguin said. “Before I go to sleep every night, I get to look at that and say, ‘That’s where I want to go. That’s my goal,’ and that’s what I have to work hard for all summer.”
The team-building activities did more than just drain the players physically. They helped highlight the potential leadership roles that some of the players could have in the future. Cross, goalie Zane Gothberg, Colborne, and Warsofsky were among the first to volunteer to lead exercises.
It wasn’t the first exercise in leadership for Colborne. The 2008 first-rounder has been proactive about welcoming younger players into the organization via text message, as he did with Seguin.
“That’s music to all of our ears to be honest with you,” Sweeney said. “Joe actually asked me for a couple of guys numbers and I was quick to shoot them out to him because I love initiative on all of our players. He’s a great kid and each and every one of these kids should understand that we hope that more will emerge.”
For Warsofsky, who was acquired from St. Louis on the second day of the NHL draft in exchange for center Vladimir Sobotka, Monday was the first day on the Marshfield native’s dreamjob.
“Every since the trade I’ve been really excited to get started with the Bruins, so it’s enjoying to get my future started here,” Warsofsky said.
The camp runs through Saturday. Practice on Wednesday will be open to the public at 1 p.m.
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