|Zdeno Chara: Loss of friend Pavol Demitra, former coach Brad McCrimmon ‘hard to swallow’||09.08.11 at 12:56 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It takes a lot to shake the biggest player in the league, but a day after the tragic plane crash that killed the members of the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, it was clear that the event had a major impact on Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara.
Among those killed in the crash were former Bruin Brad McCrimmon, who was the head coach of the KHL team and had previously coached Chara while the two were in the Islanders system, as well as longtime NHL forward and Slovakia native Pavol Demitra. Chara had ties to both men, so the crash hit close to home for the Slovakian defenseman.
“It was huge. Still. It’s horrible,” Chara Thursday said of how hard the last 24 hours-plus had been. “It’s just a tragedy that shook up the whole world and hockey world especially. We all feel bad about the players’ families and it’s something that is just hard to swallow.”
Demitra and Chara grew up in neighboring towns, as Chara hails from Trencin, with Demitra being born in Dubnica nad Vahom. The two grew up less than 20 minutes away from one another, but had a long-standing friendship.
“Pavel was a guy who was always easygoing, was always friendly with everybody and never really had a conflict with anybody,” Chara said of his late friend. “He was really a very favored and popular guy between other guys, and obviously we all know he was an extremely talented player.
“People probably don’t know dedicated a dad he was,” Chara continued. “He was always spending time with his kids and family, and I think that speaks for itself, too. He had offers from the NHL, but he chose to return back home and be there for his kids and his wife when they were going to school, and they chose the school system in Slovakia. It’s a very very said time right now.”
Demitra had a profound impact in the NHL for a former ninth-round pick, as he was a three-time All Star, three-time 30-goal-scorer, and the recipient of the Lady Byng in 2000. McCrimmon was chosen by the Bruins with the 15th overall pick in the 1979 draft, and after a long playing career became a successful assistant coach in the NHL. Chara said he’ll remember those lost not by their accomplishments, but by who they were as individuals.
Said Chara: “When you get to know players as [people], it’s just devastating.”
|Dougie Hamilton recalls both times he met Zdeno Chara||07.12.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
A picture that Dougie Hamilton took with one of his idols this past year perhaps best illustrates how much being drafted can change things.
He won’t play in the NHL next season, but if he did, Hamilton would be the second-tallest defenseman on the Bruins. Having gained between a quarter of an inch and half an inch since the end of the season, the ninth overall pick in last month’s draft stands right around 6-foot-5.
Hamilton is used to being one of the taller guys out there, but he’s known since he was drafted that he won’t be the biggest Bruin. The Toronto native has long admired 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara, and the prospect met the Stanley Cup champion at the team’s development camp.
“He just said, ‘Hi, I’m Zee.’ I told him congrats, and he said ‘you too,'” recalled an excited Hamilton after camp concluded.
It wasn’t Hamilton’s first time meeting Chara, but the last time the two met, the circumstances were much different.
“I went down to the room after a game this year in Toronto and took a picture with him,” Hamilton said. “I kind of thought about that picture when I met him [at camp]. It’s pretty cool. You’re a fan, and you’re seeing him and taking pictures with him, and a couple months later you’re shaking his hand and could be his teammate one day. It’s definitely cool.”
Perhaps the next time a picture is taken of the two, they’ll both be on the ice at the team’s training camp. When he makes the big club in a year or two, Bruins fans can picture a rather large defensive pairing, should they skate together.
“He makes me feel small,” Hamilton, who needs to add around 20 pounds before he will be at optimal playing weight, said. “I don’t really feel small too often, but he definitely [makes it seem that way].”
Hamilton showed off his skills over the five-day development camp at Ristuccia Arena. He projects to be a top-pairing defenseman when he eventually reaches the NHL. The 18-year-old hopes to weigh between 210 and 220 pounds by then, with general manager Peter Chiarelli saying that 210 pounds “would be great.”
|Penguins sign Boris Valabik||07.03.11 at 1:59 pm ET|
The Bruins lost another free agent on Sunday, and though the player was big, the loss could hardly be described as such. The Penguins inked defenseman Boris Valabik, who was acquired with Rich Peverley in the Feb. 18 deal with Atlanta, to a one-year, two way deal on the third day of free agency.
Given the results it yielded, it would be hard not to give Bruins general manager two thumbs up for trading Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta in a deal that landed the B’s Peverley. Yet Valabik proved to be nothing more than a throw-in in the deal, playing 10 games for Providence and totaling two assists and 24 penalty minutes. He had a minus-1 rating with the Baby B’s.
Valabik was chosen 10th overall by the Thrashers in the 2004 draft, but has made a minimal impact on the big stage since. He’s skated in 80 games, all of which were with the Thrashers, and totaled seven points (all assists) and 210 penalty minutes. At 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, the Slovakia native is one of the biggest players in the league. He once fought the biggest when he took on fellow countryman and hero Zdeno Chara back in 2008.
|Montreal police to question Zdeno Chara over hit on Max Pacioretty||06.28.11 at 12:19 pm ET|
In wake of Zdeno Chara‘s March 8 hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal, police said a criminal investigation would be tricky at the time given that many of the people they’d need to speak to had seasons to finish.
Now that the season is over, it appears that Montreal police still intend to speak to Chara about the play, which sent Pacioretty’s head into a stanchion and left Habs fans calling the cops. The investigation will be conducted to determine whether there was criminal intent on the part of Chara, who had a history with Pacioretty due to runs the Habs rookie had taken at the B’s captain and his defensive partner on Feb. 9 in Steven Kampfer.
According to CBC News, Sgt. Ian Lafreniere has indicated the investigation is near completion, but that they still need to speak to Chara.
“We haven’t met Chara, we don’t have his version of the facts, and also at the end of it, [a report is] going to be presented to a crown prosecutor, and this is the person who will decide whether there will be some accusations,” he said.
Chara, who was given an interference major and tossed from the game, was not suspended for the play, and Pacioretty missed the rest of the season with head and vertebrae injuries. Pacioretty recently expressed his frustration with the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup given that he felt the Canadiens could have beaten the B’s in the first round if they had a healthy roster, one that would have included him had the play not occurred.
The play and the different reactions led to extra attention being placed on Chara, as well as the rivalry between the two teams. Prior to the March 24 meeting between the two clubs (their first meeting since the Pacioretty incident), multiple members of the Bruins suggested the injuries to Pacioretty weren’t as bad as initially stated, suggesting embellishment on the part of the Habs. Pacioretty had tweeted from a movie theatre days after the hit, which led to some questioning his concussion, as people with severe concussions generally can’t be around bright lights. After the B’s blanked the Habs on March 24, Mark Recchi, who most famously called out the Habs, said he had done so to create a distraction, thus taking pressure off of Chara.
The report states that Chara will be questioned in the coming weeks.
|Dougie Hamilton not sure whether he’s ready for NHL just yet||06.24.11 at 10:53 pm ET|
Perhaps in a sign that the team may have not expected him to be available with the ninth overall pick, the Bruins did not host Niagara (OHL) defenseman Dougie Hamilton for a pre-draft visit. Hamilton, ranked the No. 4 North American skater in the draft by Central Scouting, slipped to the B’s in Friday night’s draft, and they selected the 6-foot-4, 187-pound blueliner.
“I didn’t visit there to interview but I met them at the Combine. I was maybe supposed to go visit them but it didn’t happen,” Hamilton said after being chosen. “I heard that they liked me and I’m just happy to be a Boston Bruin.”
Hamilton did make it to Boston for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, as some of the top prospects in the draft attended the game at TD Garden and spent the day there.
“We got to go in the room and meet a bunch of the guys, and talk to Tyler Seguin and guys like that, just got to watch the game and pregame skate,” Hamilton recalled. “The fans were basically standing the whole time and cheering, so that picture is in my head right now and it’s exciting.”
As for whether he’ll be in Boston next season, Hamilton said he’ll do what he’s told, and that either scenario will work for him.
“I have no idea,” Hamilton said when asked if he’s ready for the NHL. “It just depends what the Bruins want to do and I’ll be happy with whatever.”
Once he gets there, the big defenseman knows that he won’t be considered the big guy on the Bruins’ blue line given that captain Zdeno Chara stands at 6-foot-9.
“That’d be pretty special,” Hamilton said of potentially being paired with Chara at the next level. “I wouldn’t be the bigger D partner, that’s for sure, but I’m just going to work as hard as I can during the summer and hope for that opportunity.”
|Max Pacioretty obviously upset Bruins won the Stanley Cup||06.22.11 at 12:01 am ET|
Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty signed a two-year contract extension with the team this week, and upon signing told The Score that he could not watch the Bruins celebrate winning the Stanley Cup last week given that the Habs nearly eliminated the B’s in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Pacioretty did not play in the series, of course, as he missed the rest of the season after a March 8 hit into the stanchion at the Bell Centre from Zdeno Chara left him severely concussed and with a fractured vertebrae.
“I’m going to be dead honest with you, I actually turned the game off when I knew it was over. I didn’t want to see any of that,” Pacioretty said of the celebration. “Just knowing that that team won the Cup was definitely hard, because I know that we were so close to beating them.
“Maybe if we had a full roster, we would have beaten them. It’s unfortunate, but it’s given me a lot of motivation this summer, and I hope to use it to be strength and be able to do whatever it takes to get ready for next year and hopefully be the one lifting the Cup next year.”
Pacioretty’s recovery from his concussion has gone well, much like that of Nathan Horton, who was lost for the rest of the Stanley Cup finals in Game 3 on a head shot from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome. A host of the show asked the Habs forward a very leading question, seemingly to get him to call out Horton for embellishing much like Mark Recchi did of Pacioretty, but Pacioretty, who had tweeted his well-wishes for Horton at the time of the Rome hit, was just happy to see that his rival was OK.
“Concussions are a weird thing. Everyone’s brain is different, so it doesn’t matter really how hard you’re hit or how hard you’re knocked out for. Everyone’s brain reacts differently,” he said. “I think mine was similar to the case of Horton’s, where we were both unconscious for a long period of time but came back a couple days later and had no symptoms since. I hope the same for him and I would never say he embellished his injury at all. I know exactly what he’s going through and I hope a lot of fans out there are trying to realize the same thing now.”
As for Recchi’s and many people on Twitter’s reaction to him seeing a movie days after his concussion, Pacioretty still seemed a bit burned.
“It definitely shows the type of fans that Boston Bruins fans are,” Pacioretty said, “because I definitely still — I try not to look at it, but through Twitter I still get some pretty nasty stuff regarding embellishing injury, and it’s sad that people can actually think that way, especially after it happens to someone on their own team.”
The NHL reworded Rule 48, which focuses on hits to the head, on Tuesday. Pacioretty has made his thoughts on Chara’s hit very public, and was outwardly disappointed with the league when Chara was not suspended. He hasn’t let up on his line of thinking.
“It was definitely frustrating,” he said of the fact that Chara, who was tossed from the game, was not suspended. “It’s like what everybody really talks about. They’ve got to stay consistent with head shots. It might not be the same type of head shot as everyone else’s experiences, but everyone who plays hockey knows that that’s an illegal play. I mean, he got kicked out of the game, and it ended up with me having a broken neck and out for the season with a concussion as well, so I definitely would have liked to see something. That didn’t happen, but I hope down the road that they can clean up the game a bit and keep stuff like that out of it. Players don’t want to see it and fans don’t want to see it either. There’s definitely no place for it.
|Stanley Cup toes the rubber at Fenway with help from the Bruins||06.19.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
Chara and Thomas were on the lead duck boat of four that were in the processional that began by entering through the center field wall about 15 minutes before first pitch.
Chara was holding up the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire time during the procession around Fenway.
After making one round around Fenway, the players departed in the center field triangle and made their way to the infield with the Stanley Cup, in addition to the Eastern Conference trophy and the Conn Smythe trophy, earned by Thomas as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoff run.
The pre-game ceremony was capped off by all members of the Bruins throwing simultaneous first pitches to the Red Sox players, who stood in a line from dugout to dugout behind home plate.
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