|Even when injured, Marco Sturm’s impact felt by Bruins||10.26.10 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Marco Sturm hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to health. Major injuries to each of his knees have cost him playing time over the last two seasons, the most recent of which has landed him on long-term injured reserve to open the 2010-11 campaign as he works his way back from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.
At face value, the Bruins received some positive news on Tuesday when Sturm did some light skating on his own prior to the team’s practice. Sturm took shots on an empty net by himself, saying that though he felt weak on the ice, he was encouraged by the session. Though Claude Julien said there is no timetable for Sturm’s return and the winger himself admitted it would be “tough” to return by late November, as initially expected, his captain noted that Sturm doesn’t need to be in the lineup for the B’s to feel his positive impact.
An upbeat Sturm could be seen around the Bruins throughout preseason and on the team’s season-opening trip to Europe, and despite not being able to take part in workouts or on-ice sessions with the team, he’s kept a grin on his face and the attitude of a guy who’s getting 20 minutes a night.
“[He's been] absolutely tremendous and supportive,” Zdeno Chara said of Sturm. “You don’t even notice that a guy like that is being affected by injuries. He’s always in a good mood, always helpful to young players, to all of us. It’s just a huge boost for us to see a guy like that always having positive attitude and bringing that energy in the room.”
It’s only natural that a player spending an extended period of time off of the ice and out of the lineup could get the sense of not being quite involved with the team as he normally is. Given the team’s dynamic, however, Sturm said one would be hard-pressed to find that with this Bruins’ club.
“I think especially on this team, it’s never been an issue,” Sturm said. “For the last few years, the guys are always really happy when injured guys are around. Like today, guys were really happy because I was on the ice for the first time. We can tell. It’s a tight group and we’re one team and we just want to be the best.”
It’s no surprise that Chara agrees with Sturm’s assessment, whiling also noting that involvement that Sturm and the other players have made a point to maintain hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We don’t have to do much,” Chara said. “Those guys are always a big part of our team, no matter what’s going on with them as far as injuries. They’re always included, they’re always a part of the programs that we all have to go through on a daily basis. To have a guy like [Sturm] coming back and see him skating, it’s awesome. It’s been a long road for him, and eventually it’s getting shorter and shorter for him. It’s nice.”
Sturm led the Bruins in goals last year, scoring 22 in 76 games last season. He is set to become a free agent at season’s end. Until then, and especially once he returns to the lineup, the Bruins can expect more positive things, both in production and in morale.
|Video: Zdeno Chara, 10/13/10||10.13.10 at 2:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Here’s the video of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara speaking after the team’s first practice since returning from an 11-day trek through Europe.
|Mike Milbury on D&H: Tyler Seguin ‘not an impact player’||at 1:22 pm ET|
NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury made the first of his weekly appearances on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked about rookie Tyler Seguin and the impact he could have this season, Milbury said Bruins fans will need to be patient. “I’ll answer the question without having seen him enough: He’s not going to be an impact player this season. He’s not,” Milbury said. “Those players are very few and far between. I’d put big money that he’s not an impact player. Does he get 15-20 goals? Maybe. Thirty points, 50 points tops, but that’s not an impact player. And when [Marc] Savard comes back ‘ and I assume he will ‘ he’ll have a tough time finding ice time.”
With the Bruins signing Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension last week, Milbury voiced his displeasure with long-term deals, citing the risk of injury and psychological letdown. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it for anybody, let alone the Bruins,” Milbury said. “And they’re not the only ones making questionable decisions with the salary cap. I mean, the team they play next, New Jersey, is a mess. They can’t even dress the full complement of players because of the cap issue.”
Added Milbury: “I don’t like long-term contracts. It’s a heartbeat away. You never know what these contracts will do a player’s psyche. This is not baseball. It’s not like you might not get hurt. You’re going to get hurt. It’s just how seriously.
“The team has made its bet on these core players. And we’ll find out in two years, three years maximum whether this core has the stuff to win a Stanley Cup championship. But the bet’s been made. And we’ll find out if it was a good one or not.”
|Welcome back to Wilmington||at 10:28 am ET|
WILMINGTON — It sure isn’t as visually pleasing as Prague’s O2 Arena, but it’s good to be back at Ristuccia Arena for the Bruins’ first practice since returning from Europe.
Prior to the team’s 10:30 skate commencing, there was a bit of an on-ice meeting with 10 Bruins consisting of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask.
Despite skating with the aforementioned first, smaller group, Ference did not skate with the team in practice. Judging by the team’s multi-colored sweaters, here are the forward lines.
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler
Dennis Seidenberg left the ice after about half an hour, so Thornton tossed a black jersey on to balance out the defense. Chara was paired with Boychuk, Hunwick was with Mark Stuart, and Thornton skated with Adam McQuaid.
|Team loses, but Chara deal means Bruins win big||10.09.10 at 6:16 pm ET|
PRAGUE — It was hard to imagine Saturday being too bad a day for the Bruins when word came down that the team had inked captain Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension that will begin following this season, the last of his current deal.
Still, that 5-2 loss sure did give the signing a run for it’s money, didn’t it? The game aside (read about it here), Saturday marked the second of two consecutive huge days for the Bruins’ future. In re-signing both Chara (seven years, $45.5 million) and center Patrice Bergeron (three years, $15 million), the team made sure two players who wear letters other than the spoked “B” on the front of their sweaters (Bergeron himself is an alternate captain at 25 years of age) would be in the fold long term.
What does it mean financially? Put it this way: This season, with the Chara carrying a $7.5 million cap hit and Bergeron with a cap hit of $4.75 million, the Bruins are paying $12.25 million combined for the two of them. When the new deals kick in for the two players, Chara will have a $6.917 cap hit for the first six years (he makes $4 million — less than the average annual value of the rest of the deal — in salary in the last year, which since he will be over 40 is not allowed to be factored into the cap calculation), with Bergeron taking up $5 million in cap space. Combined, that’s a grand total of $11.917 million for both of the players, a savings of about $333,000 for Bergeron and Chara. Imagine the cap going up (even if it’s slightly) in the future, and the Bruins seem to have had themselves a very productive couple of days.
So how did it all come together for the players? Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, told WEEI.com on Saturday that “it was not an easy negotiation,” and that it had “lots of moving parts.” Even so, much like Bergeron said a day before, Chara said — as, to his credit, he did in the week leading up to the signing — that he believed the end result would be him staying in Boston. General manager Peter Chiarelli felt the same way, saying he was “pretty confident” before departing for Europe last week that the players would sign on the trip.
“From our perspective, these are two very, very important pieces of our team, very important individuals on and off the ice. There’s uncertainty as you see some precessions as far as trying to retain these types of players,” Chiarelli said. “As they get closer to the free agent market, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s also an extreme show of good faith when both sides can get it done now, meaning both sides wanted to get a deal done. We want Z and Bergy to be a part of the Bruins for a while, and they wanted to remain with the Bruins. It’s a typical thing. When two sides want something to happen, it usually happens.”
Any longterm deal with Chara, 33, figured to be a tough one for both sides to hammer out given that any deal that goes past a player’s 40th birthday can be complicated as a result of the new cap calculation that came about following the Ilya Kovalchuk saga that grabbed headlines in the offseason. Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million deal with the Devils was nixed by the league because its later years paid out little money in an attempt to lower the cap hit. Now, as a result, the above calculation applies to longterm contracts that go into a player’s 40′s.
“Obviously, Kovalchuk’s situation was a little extreme, and that maybe put the negotiations on hold for a little bit,” Chara said of the hitches that came up in negotiations. “I just knew that we would get this done and I would be a Bruin.”
That’s two top players in two days to accept deals to stay in Boston prior to hitting free agency. It could be a coincidence, but it’s more likely that the Bruins and Chiarelli are seeing a trend develop.
|Chara gets extension||at 12:02 pm ET|
PRAGUE — The Bruins and captain Zdeno Chara have agreed to a seven-year contract extension hours before the season-opener against the Coyotes at O2 Arena in Prague. The agreement was first reported by the Boston Globe.
Speaking with WEEI.com and other outlets last week, Chara did not keep his desire to stay in Boston a secret while also stating in Belfast that though he would like to play until his mid-40′s, he planned on it taking more than one deal to finish his career. Dupont writes that Chara, 33, will see his new deal carry a cap hit in the mid-to-upper $6 million range. His current deal carries a team-high $7.5 million hit.
Chara is entering the final year of a five-year, $37.5 million deal signed in 2006 after beginning his career with the Islanders and Senators. He has served as captain for his entire Bruins career. In 847 career games in the NHL, the Slovakian defenseman has scored 111 goals and picked up 252 assists 363 points.
|Bruins re-sign Bergeron||10.08.10 at 3:42 am ET|
PRAGUE — The Bruins and center Patrice Bergeron have agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $15 million. The deal will carry an annual cap hit of $5 million, making him tied with Tim Thomas for the team’s highest cap hit in the 2011-12 season (captain Zdeno Chara remains unsigned following the coming season). RDS was the first to report the story.
Bergeron was set to become a free agent at season’s end, and after a very impressive preseason, the Bruins avoid the risk of seeing the 25-year-old center put together a career year and leave via free agency. Chara now becomes the team’s top priority regarding contracts, as he is in the final year of a five-year, $37.5 million deal signed back in 2006.
Bergeron’s career high for points in a season is 73, which he recorded in 2005-06, his second NHL season. In 73 games last season, Bergeron picked up 52 points before adding 11 more in 13 postseason games.
Both Bergeron and general manager Peter Chiarelli are set to address the media today, so stick with the Big Bad Blog for everything from both sides following the Bruins’ noon skate (6 a.m. EST).
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