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Though suspended at NHL level, Zac Rinaldo eligible to play preseason games for Bruins 09.22.16 at 2:53 pm ET
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Zac Rinaldo

Zac Rinaldo

BRIGHTON — If and when Zac Rinaldo makes it back to the NHL, he’ll have to serve a five-game suspension. That won’t apply during the preseason, however, as B’s general manager Don Sweeney said that the league will allow him to play in exhibition games.

Rinaldo was given a five-gamer for a hit on Cedric Paquette that he committed on Feb. 28, the same day he was waived by the team with the intention of being sent to Providence. He has one more year on his contract and plans to push for a return to the NHL.

Sweeney said that Rinaldo is currently injured, but clarified that he should play in the preseason.

“That’s been clarified by the league. He’s eligible to play in preseason games,” Sweeney said. “He has a little bit of a lower-body injury that he’s nursing right now. He’ll be out for the first couple of days of camp, and we’ll monitor and see, but he doesn’t have any restrictions in preseason. He’s still under suspension in the regular season; he’ll have to serve those, but he doesn’t have any restrictions in preseason.”

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David Krejci, Torey Krug not ready for contact as training camp begins for Bruins at 2:46 pm ET
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David Krejci

David Krejci

BRIGHTON — The Bruins kicked off training camp Thursday with fitness testing, and they’ll take the ice for the first official practices of the season Friday.

Don Sweeney said there were no major surprises in the testing, with no two names drawing more attention than David Krejci and Torey Krug. The players are coming off offseason surgeries for hip and shoulder injuries, respectively, and both players will practice Friday in a limited capacity.

Both Krejci and Krug said they intend to have no limits skating-wise, but intimated they will not take contact yet. Sweeney said the players will be on a “modified contact” plan in the early going of camp as they look to be ready for the Oct. 13 season-opener. Krejci said his plan is to play at least a couple preseason games.

Zach Senyshyn, who has been skating in recent days after an appendectomy on Sept. 4, will also practice with the team. Zac Rinaldo is nursing an injury, according to Sweeney, and will not practice in the earlygoing of camp. Suspended at the NHL level, Rinaldo will be allowed to play in preseason games.

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Bruins in awkward situation with Zac Rinaldo 09.14.16 at 3:06 pm ET
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Zac Rinaldo

Zac Rinaldo

BRIGHTON — When the Bruins added the forwards they did this summer, there were ample questions about what it would mean for incumbents in Boston’s bottom-six. They’d signed David Backes, Riley Nash and Dominic Moore and invited Peter Mueller to camp, but what about Ryan Spooner? What abut Noel Acciari? Isn’t Seth Griffith still a thing?

Nobody asked about Zac Rinaldo. Maybe that’s because they already knew the answer and it’s awkward, but Rinaldo is still here, with one year on his contract with a team that decided they were better off without him last season. He’s also got a five-game suspension waiting for him if and when he ever makes it back to the NHL.

“I guess ultimately you could speculate to what might happen — there’s a number of different scenarios that could unfold — but any time that I’ve spoken to B’s management, it’s been, ‘We expect him to be here. Have a good summer, come back in here and be an important part of this club,’” Rinaldo’s agent, Todd Reynolds, told Wednesday. “That’s why they acquired him, for those reasons. It didn’t end great last year, obviously, but their hope is that that’s just a moment in time.”

Last summer, the Bruins traded a 2017 third-round pick to Philadelphia for Rinaldo, whom nearly every statistic alleged did not belong in the league. Hockey is a sport where decision-makers believe that numbers can lie, however, so the Bruins took on the speedy forward despite him having more games suspended than goals scored in his career.

It didn’t take long to see why the Bruins liked Rinaldo, because the B’s care more about personality than they probably should. For all of the dangerous plays he’d committed in his career, Rinaldo was quickly recognized as a high-character guy by teammates and his desire to strive for the relatively unglamorous role of fourth-liner and penalty-killer was respectable. Fans often (unwisely and inaccurately) gauge their liking of a player on their own perception of the player’s commitment, something that should have curried favor for Rinaldo with the locals more than it did. Never at any point, however, did it seem that trading what they did for him was a smart move.

One might argue here that was just a third-round pick (and a future one at that) and that it’s not worth lamenting the loss of such a selection. It is when you lose one for something worth much less, as Rinaldo was a sixth-rounder himself and had not dramatically improved his stock since coming into the league. No, the Bruins didn’t trade a top pick for the player, but elite players can be had in the middle rounds and the best way to get one of them is to pick as often as possible. If the Bruins traded a seventh-round pick for Rinaldo, it likely would have yielded a shake of the head and everyone would have moved on. It was harder to do because the Bruins made the stakes (and thus immediately unrealistic expectations) higher.

We all know how things turned out. The Bruins pulled the plug prior to the trade deadline, waiving Rinaldo with the intention of sending him to Providence if he went unclaimed. He did just that (meaning they spent a third-round pick on a player no other team would take for free), but, in playing one last NHL game that night while on waivers, committed a hit on Cedric Paquette that earned him a five-game NHL suspension. He was sent to Providence before he could serve it, but earned a five-game AHL suspension in his first game for the Baby B’s for a hit on Kane Lafranchise of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Rinaldo was never brought back up to Boston, finishing the season in Providence after having not played in the AHL since the lockout. Rinaldo has declined to speak with the media since arriving for captain’s practices last week, but players say he’s dealing with his situation well.

“I didn’t really get to know him that well [last season], but here, now, he’s a great guy,” Acciari said. “Very friendly, very vocal; he’s a locker room guy. Even when I went down to Providence [at the end of the season], he had hurt his ankle but he was always vocal in the playoffs down there and just a good locker room guy. He was great to be around.”

The Bruins showed by waiving Rinaldo last season that they don’t feel beholden to the player just because they traded a decent commodity for him. As such, the only way Rinaldo will end up on Boston’s roster this season is on merit. That’s an uphill climb for him given the number of bodies the Bruins have up front, but his teammates aren’t counting him out.

“He’s phenomenal,” Acciari said. “He’s a good player and a great person. Good things will happen for him.”

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Zac Rinaldo voted dirtiest, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara voted biggest pains in National Post NHL player poll 03.29.16 at 1:54 pm ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

The National Post polled both NHL players and fans on a number of NHL-related topics recently, ranging from who they felt would win the Stanley Cup to which Canadian cities in the league they liked and disliked.

The Bruins were well-represented in the responses from players. On the subject of who was the “biggest pain in the ass to play against,” Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand tied for the most votes, as Chara, Marchand, Corey Perrt and Ryan Kesler each received 11 percent of the votes. Three-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron got nine percent of the votes.

As one might have expected, the Bruins were also popular in the dirtiest player vote, as nearly half of the votes cast went to players in the Boston organization. Zac Rinaldo, who is currently playing in Providence but will serve a five-game suspension when he returns to the NHL, got 25 percent of the votes. Just behind him was Marchand at 22 percent. Marchand and Rinaldo tied for the most votes in last year’s poll.

Former Bruin Phil Kessel was voted the most overrated player in the NHL, getting 29 percent of the votes. To see the complete results as well as the fan vote, click here.

National Post graphic

National Post graphic

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Update: Zac Rinaldo suspended 5 games in AHL 03.07.16 at 1:24 am ET
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If and when Zac Rinaldo makes it back up to the NHL, he will begin by serving his five games due to his hit on Cedric Paquette. In the meantime, he’s still in the AHL.

And also suspended.

Playing in his first game for Providence on Friday, Rinaldo was given a match penalty for intent to injure on a hit on Bridgeport defenseman Kane Lafranchise in a P-Bruins’ 4-3 loss. That carries with it an automatic indefinite suspension pending league review, and the league announced Monday that Rinaldo would be given a five-game ban. Joe McDonald of ESPN was the first to report Rinaldo’s AHL suspension.

It has not been a good week-plus for Rinaldo, who was placed on waivers last Sunday, committed his suspendable hit against the Lightning later that night and was sent to Providence Monday, the same day that his five-game ban was given by the league.

It is unclear whether Rinaldo will regain his spot on Boston’s roster this season. For the time being, it appears the Bruins are set on a fourth line of Noel Acciari between Landon Ferraro and Brett Connolly. Tyler Randell is the team’s extra forward.

The Bruins sent a 2017 third-round pick to Philadelphia this summer in what was considered a head-scratcher of a deal at the time. In 52 games for Boston this season, Rinaldo has one goal and two assists for three points and 83 penalty minutes.

Here is video of the hit on Lafranchise, per Weekend at Bergy’s:

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Loui Eriksson practices; Zac Rinaldo has hearing for hit, assigned to Providence 02.29.16 at 11:06 am ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

WILMINGTON — With hours to go until the 3 p.m. trade deadline, Bruins forward Loui Eriksson participated in Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.

The Bruins are still determining whether to trade Eriksson, make a last-ditch effort to sign him to a contract extension or potentially keep him past the deadline without a new contract inked. Both sides have indicated that the possibility of the B’s keeping Eriksson unsigned is real, though the guess here is that it’s a situation Boston would like to avoid.

After sending him to Providence for a two-game conditioning loan, the B’s brought Tyler Randell back up for Monday’s practice. Zac Rinaldo, who remains on waivers until noon, did not practice and was the only absence. Should he go unclaimed, the Bruins can either keep him on their roster or send him to Providence. (Update: Rinaldo has been sent to Providence, according to the AHL transactions page.)

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Monday that Rinaldo would have a hearing for his illegal check to the head of Cedric Paquette in Sunday’s loss to the Lightning. Rinaldo has not been suspended as a member of the Bruins, though he came to Boston this summer having been suspended a total of 14 games over the course of his Flyers career.

Max Talbot, who cleared waivers Saturday, remains on the NHL roster and was on for the start of Monday’s skate, though he left the ice just a few minutes into the practice.

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Bruins place Zac Rinaldo on waivers 02.28.16 at 1:32 pm ET
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Zac Rinaldo

Zac Rinaldo

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Bruins placed forward Zac Rinaldo on waivers Sunday. Max Talbot, who was waived Saturday, has cleared.

Rinaldo is in his first season with the Bruins, as it was just this summer that the B’s traded a 2017 third-round pick to the Flyers for his services. In 51 games this season, Rinaldo has one goal and two assists for Boston. The 25-year-old is second on the B’s in penalty minutes with 81, which is one behind Brad Marchand.

If Rinaldo clears waivers on Monday, he can be sent to Providence in order to open up another spot on Boston’s NHL roster. The Bruins currently have 14 forwards on their NHL roster, though Tyler Randell is currently in Providence on a conditioning loan. That leaves the B’s with 13 forwards available for Sunday’s game against the Lightning, a group that includes both Talbot and Rinaldo.

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