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Zdeno Chara: Dougie Hamilton ‘way better than I was at his age’ 01.13.13 at 3:24 pm ET
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Following the Bruins’ first day of training camp in front of approximately 1,000 fans at TD Garden, B’s captain Zdeno Chara sang the praises of fellow defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The 19-year-old, who was named the most outstanding defenseman in the OHL, is expected to make the team this year after being drafted ninth overall in the 2011 draft.

“You don’t see very often guys being so humble and almost shy come around and be so good,” Chara said of Hamilton. “We all can see he’s very talented and willing to learn, so it’s exciting for all of us to have a guy like that around and try to help him out as much as you can and see him growing as a person.”

Hamilton has long looked up to Chara, as he is also a taller blueliner (Hamilton stands at 6-foot-5, while Chara is the tallest player in the history of the NHL at 6-foot-9). Asked if he saw some of his younger self in Hamilton, Chara said that he wasn’t as advanced at 19 as Hamilton is now.

“He’s way better. He’s way better than I was, I can tell you right now,” Chara said. “He’s way better than I was at his age.”

Hamilton, whose Twitter avatar is a picture of him standing on the ice with Chara, lit up when told of the captain’s praise.

“That’s awesome,” Hamilton said. “Just watching him out there, you can see how good he is. I don’t get to watch that much NHL hockey because we’re always playing. But you go out there and watch him and he’s pretty sick. If I can learn from him and try to get better and just watch him, he’s going to help me out a lot. I’m really looking forward to that.”

For complete Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Some more prepared than others as Zdeno Chara, Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron return 01.09.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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Three of the Bruins’ leaders were back skating with their teammates Wednesday, as captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captains Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly joined eight other B’s on the ice at Agganis Arena after spending the lockout playing in Europe.

All three players spoke highly of their time in Europe, as Chara played for Prague Lev of the KHL and Bergeron and Kelly played in different leagues in Switzerland. Bergeron actually played right wing for HC Lugano of the Swiss-A league, but it wasn’t the strangest experience had by a Bruin in Switzerland. That distinction might go to Kelly, whose first game for HC Red Ice was a little more taxing than he expected.

“I think they thought I had just played in the playoffs and was swinging over there, but I hadn’t played a game in seven months,” Kelly said. “I think I played about 40 minutes that night, so the legs were a little tired. It went into overtime, so it wasn’t like you could kind of pick your shifts to catch your breath.”

Despite the first game catching him a bit off guard, Kelly called his month in Switzerland “a great experience.” Though he returned to North America (he spent the last month or so in Ottawa) in game shape, he was at least a little rusty when it came to packing his hockey bag for Wednesday. He took the ice in Tyler Seguin‘s HC Biel jersey, as he had forgotten socks and a jersey.

“It’s funny when you get used to having a jersey and socks in your stall and then you’ve got to scramble to find a jersey and socks, and asking guys if they brought an extra towel to shower with after,” Kelly said. “It will be nice having a towel at the rink.”

The Bruins had 11 players in Europe at one point or another during the lockout, something that Kelly feels should be an advantage from a preparational standpoint as teams get ready for the 48-game regular season.

“It was never about the money or anything like that or going over there of a vacation,” he said. “I know guys in this locker room extremely well, and if they went over to play, it was to play hard and help that team and play hockey.”

Read More: Chris Kelly, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara
KHL did not try to keep Zdeno Chara at 11:48 am ET
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Speaking publicly for the first time since returning from the KHL on Tuesday and amidst speculation that KHL teams were making big financial pushes to keep NHL players from returning to their teams, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said Wednesday that he was not approached about staying in Europe.

“No,” Chara said after skating with teammates at Agganis Arena. “It was pretty clear in my contract that once the NHL is beginning or the deal [for a new CBA] is done, that I’m leaving. It depends on how the guys feel or how they want to decide what to do.”

Ilya Kovalchuk has been the most popular player whose future remains uncertain as the start of the NHL season draws near. Though he’s entering the third year of a 15-year, $100-million contract with the Devils, multiple reports have surfaced citing Devils sources who believe Kovalchuk will stay in the KHL. Islanders defensman Lubomir Visnovsky recently announced his intention to remain with HC Slovan Bratislava for the rest of the season rather than going back to the NHL.

“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but we’ll see,” Chara said of NHL players staying in the KHL. “I mean, what can I say? I can’t really make comments for them.”

Since forming in 2008, the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) has become the NHL’s primary competition as hockey leagues go.

“There are some really, really skilled guys there,” Chara said. “Players are very highly skilled as far as skating and handling he puck and making plays. I think it’s less physical, but skating-wise and skill-wise it’s a little bit different.”

Other new additions to Wednesday’s session at BU were alternate captains Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron.

Read More: Chris Kelly, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara,
Bruins away from Boston roundup: Anthony Camara continues to impress 10.08.12 at 12:21 pm ET
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Here’s the latest check on the Bruins’ stats as they play elsewhere during the lockout. Not everyone is in action quite just yet, as Patrice Bergeron (Switzerland) and Andrew Ference (Czech) have signed with their teams but have yet to play. Shawn Thornton is still looking for work, so keep an eye on that situation as it unfolds.

[Certain leagues' stats take a little longer to surface on the various hockey statistics sites (HockeyDB is used for most of these), so some statistics might not be up to the day/hour/minute/etc.]

Swiss National League A

- In four games for EHC Biel, Tyler Seguin has one goal and two assists for three points and and a minus-4 rating. For any college hockey fans out there, Seguin is teammates with former UNH forward Jacob Micflickier in Biel.

KHL

- Zdeno Chara has a KHL game under his belt after choosing to play for Prague Lev last week. Chara did not record any points and has an even rating.

- 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev has struggled mightily with Moscow Spartak, and the 19-year-old could be leaving the KHL to return back to the OHL. The Windsor Spitfires, Khokhlachev’s OHL team, claimed the playmaking center on re-entry waivers last week to secure his rights in the event that he does return. In 14 KHL games, the Moscow native has one goal and a minus-5 rating. Khokhlachev only had OHL seasons under his belt before opting to play for Moscow Spartak, the team of which his father is the general manager.

- In seven games for Moscow Oblast Atlant, Bruins backup goalie Anton Khudobin has a 2.88 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage to go with his 2-3-2 record.

Czech Elite League

- After finally securing a deal in the Czech Elite League last week, David Krejci has one goal and an even rating through two games for HC Pardubice.

- Ference is in the Czech Republic and had his first practice for Ceske Budejovice HC on Monday morning.

Deutsche Eishockey League

- In two games for the Manheim Eagles, Dennis Seidenberg has not recorded any points and has an even rating game. Seidenberg chose the Eagles as his team for the lockout so he could play with his brother, forward Yannic Seidenberg.

SM-liiga

- Through three games for JyP HT Jyvaskyla of the SM-liiga, Bruins forward Rich Peverley has one assist and four penalty minutes.

OHL

- Tough guy Anthony Camara continues to dominate in his fourth OHL season after scoring a hat trick in the season-opener. Through seven games for the Barrie Colts this season, Camara has seven goals and three assists for 10 points and a plus-1 rating. The Bruins’ third-round pick in 2011 also has 15 penalty minutes this season. It should be worth noting that Camara’s career high for goals in the OHL is 16, a number he should far surpass this season. Camara’s scoring has steadily increased over his OHL career, as he went from six to eight to 16 in his first three seasons.

- In seven games for the Niagara IceDogs, Dougie Hamilton has three goals and four assists for seven points and a plus-7 rating. Hamilton also has four penalty minutes.

- 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban has a 2.18 goals-against average and .929 save percentage through five games for the Belleville Bulls. His record this season is 3-2.

Read More: NHL Lockout, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara,
Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask headed overseas, Zdeno Chara still weighing options 09.24.12 at 4:44 pm ET
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According to a report out of Finland, Bruins forward Rich Peverley will sign with JYP Jyvaskyla of the SM-liiga in Finland to play during the lockout, and ESPNBoston is reporting that goaltender Tuukka Rask will sign with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga.

Rask’s signing makes him the third player headed to the Czech Extraliga, as Andrew Ference will play for Ceske Budejovice and David Krejci will play for HC Pardubice.

With Monday’s news, Bruins players set to play overseas for the lockout now include Rask, Peverley, Krejci, Ference, Tyler Seguin (Swiss Elite League), Dennis Seidenberg (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) and Anton Khudobin (KHL).

A source told WEEI.com on Monday that captain Zdeno Chara is still weighing his options and is in no hurry to find a place to play this season.

Read More: Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,
Bruins players hold last pre-lockout practice 09.14.12 at 12:48 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Who knows when it will happen again, but Bruins players took the ice Friday at Ristuccia Arena for an informal practice. It figures to be their last time at their practice rink before the owners lock the players out on Saturday night.

B’s players (everyone was present with the exception of Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand) were joined by other local skaters, including defensemen Keith Yandle (Coyotes) and Ryan Whitney (Oilers). Ryan Bourque, son of Ray Bourque and younger brother of Chris Bourque, was also in attendance.

Some players will stick around locally and hold informal skates for the time being, while others (such as Dennis Seidenberg) will likely play elsewhere. Captain Zdeno Chara plans to stay in Boston for the time being, but he said Friday that as the two sides continue to negotiate, missing games helps nobody.

“Everybody [loses],” Chara said. “The players sacrifice, the owners sacrifice, the fans sacrifice. Everybody loses something. There’s no question about that.”

Added Chara: “We all want to play. We all love hockey. That’s our jobs, but at the same time we have to play under certain rules and it’s got to make sense.”

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Looking back and ahead: Zdeno Chara 05.22.12 at 11:08 pm ET
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With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

Zdeno Chara

Age: 35

2011-12 stats: 79 games played, 12 goals, 40 assists (career-high), 52 points (career-high), plus-33 (tied career-high)

Contract status: Signed through 2017-18 season ($6,916,667 cap hit through 2016-17 season, $4 million cap hit in 2017-18)

Looking back: Chara had the best offensive season of his career and was once again one of the most dominant defensemen in the league. He averaged 25 minutes a night, which is right around his average over the last three seasons.

What was uncharacteristic for Chara, however, was his midseason slump. Though the Bruins as a whole were not playing their best hockey, the B’s captain didn’t look like himself in many of their losses. From Feb. 8-19, Chara finished with a negative rating in five of six games and was an overall minus-9 in that span. He was a minus-3 on three separate occasions in February and March after only having a rating worse than minus-2 once in the previous season.

Despite some bad nights from the captain, the 2011-12 season marked the second consecutive and third overall campaign in which Chara finished with a plus-33 rating. That was tops amongst NHL defensemen and third amongst players, and he had a lot to do with the fact that the five best ratings came from Bruins this season (Patrice Bergeron led the league with a plus-36, followed by Tyler Seguin‘s plus-34, Chara’s plus-33, Chris Kelly‘s plus-33 and Brad Marchand‘s plus-31).

After skating with Johnny Boychuk in the regular season, Chara was paired with Dennis Seidenberg for the playoffs. Though he was beaten a couple of times and finished the postseason with a minus-1 rating, Chara teamed with Seidenberg to limit Alexander Ovechkin for the most part and keep the games low-scoring.

In the end, it wouldn’t be surprising if Chara’s season earns him his second Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but in the interest of full disclosure, my top vote went to Nashville’s Shea Weber. While there’s no denying that Chara is the best defenseman in the league, his midseason struggles made it tough to say that this was truly a full campaign of vintage Chara.

Looking ahead: While other players get plenty of accolades too (Tim Thomas‘ save percentage record, Seguin’s points, that Selke Trophy that should finally be making its way to Bergeron this summer), there is no doubt that Chara is the Bruins’ best and most important player.

Chara may be getting up there in age, but he is truly one of the few players in the league a team should be happy to have signed through his 30s and into his 40s. There might not be a better-conditioned player in the league, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player more dedicated to his training, both from a work and diet perspective.

With Boychuk re-signed, you can assume that Claude Julien will continue to play Chara with Boychuk, at least to start next regular season. The guy who has the best chance at breaking up Chara and Boychuk might be youngster Dougie Hamilton, but don’t expect that to happen next season. Hamilton needs to show he can handle 20-plus minutes a night before he can be paired with a guy like Chara, but the idea of a Chara-Hamilton pairing could really put the Bruins’ blue line over the top. Hamilton could be the offensive presence on the back end that the team has been seeking for years.

Getting back to Chara: The offensive numbers may go up and down, but he’ll be the first to tell that while he likes to score, he prides himself on not letting the other team score. In a nutshell, that’s what he is. He’s the guy who will play close to half the game, be a nightmare for opposing teams’ offensive stars, and keep opponents off the board. Then there’s that slapshot.

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