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Chara feels Bruins can go ‘all the way’ 09.07.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — It’s no surprise that the Bruins have a buzz around them that seems to grow by the day. Back-to-back Eastern Conference semifinals appearances likely will do that, and adding players the caliber of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin can’t hurt.

That’s the type of positivity that seemed to come from Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on Tuesday as he addressed the media for the first time since the team packed up following its ugly Game 7 defeat to the Flyers last season. With the conference semifinals all but wrapped up after the Bruins took a commanding 3-0 series lead, the B’s watched Philadelphia march back and take four games in a row en route to one of the biggest comebacks in the history of professional sports. It’s hard to take a lesson from such a crushing and embarrassing defeat, but Chara maintained that it helped to emphasize a basic teaching.

“It’s never won,” Chara said. “It’s never won until you win Game 4. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, like we found out. It was just a part of the history, but sometimes you’ve got to always have that in the back of your mind that it can happen.”

Though a chance at the Canadiens would have undoubtedly been a better prize than being taught a hard lesson, Chara seems to be done dwelling on the loss.

“It took a while [to get over], but you have to move on,” Chara said. “That’s just a part of the business. Obviously, you would like to be on the other side of that playoff round, but it happened and you have to learn from it and move on. Hopefully that makes us stronger for this year.”

And it seems this season is one that he’s particularly excited about with the aforementioned upgrades made to the team. The Bruins swung a deal with the Panthers for Horton before the draft and selected Seguin second overall just a few days later. They also retained their strong goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask, who led the NHL last year in GAA and save percentage, and Tim Thomas, who took home the Vezina a year before. Given the offseason, Chara is not afraid to hold his team to high expectations.

“I think that we improved again,” Chara said. “Anything can happen. Anything is possible. We have a good enough team to win all the way. There is a few that can change the direction of how the team’s going. Obviously, injuries are a big part of the success, and if we stay healthy, this team is very strong.

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Chara: ‘Of course I want to stay in Boston’ at 1:06 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Fifteen members of the Bruins took to the ice Tuesday for the team’s first captain’s practice. Players scrimmaged and partook in drills before meeting with the media. One of the more popular questions was how much longer the captain, defenseman Zdeno Chara, would be a member of the team. Chara’s contract expires after the season and negotiations haven’t reached the point of a deal being imminent. Given that Chara will likely receive a long-term contract worth big money, he said that the Ilya Kovalchuk saga may be a reason as to why the sides have waited before getting serious in talks.

“The investigations and the new rule between the NHL and NHLPA about long-term contracts kind of put everything on a pause,” Chara said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The new rule, put into place last week, prevents teams from circumventing the salary cap by tacking on extra years at minimal dollars in order to create a manageable cap hit. Getting top players under contract may be a bit trickier in regards to making both sides happy, but Chara is just glad that his camp and the Bruins know how to approach the negotiations.

“At least both sides know what the rules are, and going to into the new CBA it’s going to be very important to have these rules already set,” Chara said.

Chara added that if his negotiations on a new pact spill over into the season, he will remain focused in leading a team that he said “improved again” over the season. As a result, he wasn’t afraid to tip his hand on what he hopes will happen.

“Of course, I want to stay in Boston,” Chara said. “I want to be part of this team for, if possible, the rest of my career.”

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Captain’s practice commences for Bruins at 12:29 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins wrapped up their first captain’s practice, featuring 13 skaters and a pair of goaltenders, Tuesday around noontime at Ristuccia Arena. The practice, which consisted of some offensive drills and some scrimmaging, featured some happy faces as players began the process off the preseason. Here are the guys that suited up for the Bruins’ first captain’s practice:

Forwards: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, David Krejci, Daniel Paille, Brad Marchand.

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart, Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg.

Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Matt Dalton

There were a few positives that came from the session. For starters, David Krejci wasn’t fooling when he said he’d be good to go for camp. With his wrist surgery and recovery in the rearview mirror, he didn’t seem to be slowed.

Tim Thomas was around prior to practice but did not skate with teammates.

Mark Recchi didn’t skate with his teammates but suited up after practice and skated by himself.

— Horton’s teammates spoke highly of their new winger after practice. The Bruins’ biggest trade acquisition this offseason, Horton said his old team had a captain’s practice-type skate when he was in Florida, but that “a lot of guys didn’t come.”

— Chara, Horton and Stuart spoke following the skate. Check back here later for what they had to say as they prepare for the 2010-11 season.

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A productive offseason appears over 09.01.10 at 12:26 am ET
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There are some pretty big similarities and differences that come to mind when looking at how the Bruins entered training camp last season vs. how they will do so this month (September 17). The biggest similarity isn’t too hard to find, as the team is coming off a Game 7 defeat in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second time in as many years.

Some things, though, are just the opposite of what they were a year ago. Last season, the biggest question regarded what would happen to the team’s hotshot youngster in Phil Kessel. Five days into camp, Kessel was a Maple Leaf and a much richer man. This season, with Tyler Seguin, the team enters camp with the excitement that surrounds a new young star (refraining from overusing “wunderkind”).

Last year, it was calculating whether the offense would still be elite without Kessel (it wasn’t). This season, it’s a matter of how much better it becomes with Seguin and Nathan Horton.

Last year carried the excitement of a re-signed Vezina winner in Tim Thomas. This year, the team will enter camp with a goalie who was forced to hear his name in trade speculation.

The Bruins have made the moves and non-moves that they’ve made and haven’t made, and now it appears they are ready to go for camp. General manager Peter Chiarelli caught up with Matt Kalman of the Bruins Blog (always a good read) Tuesday and said that the squad you see now is likely the one you’ll see in just over two weeks.

“I’m happy where we’re at,” Chiarelli told Kalman. I know there’s been some stuff in the summer with Tim [Thomas] and Marc [Savard], and that has blown by, and we’ve got those two players on our roster, we’ve got some young blood coming and that’s where we’re at.”

The question now is whether the team has done enough to consider themselves a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference given their offseason. Here are a few of the positives:

- Tuukka Rask is a year older and led the league last season in GAA and save percentage while splitting time with Thomas.

- Horton may be in the best situation he’s been in thus far in his career.

- The roster looks strong enough to perhaps be considered favorites in the Northeast division.

And negatives:

- The team could be a puck-moving blueliner away from having the defensive group it needs.

- It may not get the same attention as the Tom Brady situation, but Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Stuart are among those entering the final year of their contracts. This means 2010-11 could be the final season with the current core of players, which certainly includes Chara and Bergeron.

- The salary cap is going to be a headache that could last into the season. If a move isn’t made before the season, expect speculation to continue until the team makes a move or Marco Sturm returns.

Is this a team that will go to an offensive extreme for the third year in a row (second in the league in scoring in 2008-09, dead last a year ago)? Very unlikely. Will the offense, when put in front of a good defense and top goaltending duo, be good enough to still make them one of the more difficult teams to face next season? There isn’t much that would suggest the contrary. This is a team that finished sixth in the East in the regular season. There’s plenty to improve on, but it seems they’ve done plenty to do so.

The guess would have to be that the Bruins will be a better team September 17 than they were after dealing Kessel away last September. Whether it’s good enough remains to be seen, but any buzz surrounding this club as it gears up for a new season seems warranted.

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B’s Town Hall meeting set for September 21 08.30.10 at 1:02 pm ET
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The Bruins announced today that their annual “State of the Bruins” town hall meeting will take place September 21 at 7:00 p.m.

The meeting, which will take place at the TD Garden, will give season ticket holders (as well have half-season and 10 game package owners) a chance to address the franchise directly with Jeremy Jacobs, Charlie Jacobs, Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien, and players Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi. NESN’s Andy Brickley will be the meeting’s moderator.

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Agent: ‘No rush’ on Chara deal 08.23.10 at 10:30 am ET
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Will Zdeno Chara be re-signed? (AP photo)

Will Zdeno Chara be re-signed? (AP)

These days, when a Bruins contract is brought up, it is done so in a conversation about how the B’s must clear money and distance themselves from the salary cap. The team is over $3 million over the cap and will need to move a big contract when Marco Sturm returns from his long-term injury status.

Maybe this is why there hasn’t been much of a commotion when it comes to extending the team’s impending free agents. While the contracts of Sturm, Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder and Andrew Ference receive regular attention, a guy like Zdeno Chara prepares to enter what could be his last season in Boston.

Chara signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal as a free agent with the Bruins in 2006 and has been a key member of the team since, contributing as both the team’s top defenseman and its captain. Though there have been points at which Chara’s camp and the Bruins have touched lightly on the possibility of an extension, nothing has progressed past the preliminary stage.

Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, told WEEI.com Sunday night that he and Chara are taking a “wait and see” approach, and that there’s “no rush now at all.”

Chara is the team’s highest-paid player and, at $7.5 million, has a cap hit that’s more than $4 million higher than any other defenseman on the team. Dennis Seidenberg is the team’s second-highest-paid blueliner at $3.25 million per year.

The Bruins would be wise to try to swing a deal with Chara’s camp before he hits free agency, as he would likely cash in on the open market, as he did in ’06 after bolting the Senators. Chara’s value to the team seems to be worth the high price tag, as he is the first Bruin to win the Norris Trophy since Ray Bourque, a feat Chara accomplished in 2008-09. He also led the team in plus-minus last season.

The Bruins likely will do what they can to bring Chara back. With Ryder and Sturm coming off the books at season’s end, the team will have some money to throw at the likes of Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stuart, but all is quiet for now.

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Ward on D&H: ‘Boston’s on the upswing’ 05.18.10 at 12:54 pm ET
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Former Bruin Aaron Ward, who is serving as an analyst for NHL coverage on Versus, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Ward said the Bruins were in a difficult situation in their series vs. the Flyers. “It’s tough to overcome the loss of your two top scorers in Marco Sturm and David Krejci. And then couple that with Philadelphia getting back Simon Gagne. That’s a tough one to deal with,” said Ward, who finished this season with the Anaheim Ducks.

Ward said Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that the future is bright for this team. “Boston’s on the upswing. They’ve got a great situation now with the draft, they’ve got a great situation where they have a lot of key, young guys that have that experience in the playoffs, regular season, that familiarity with the city. And it means a lot to a team to where you can start forming some sort of consistency and looking toward becoming a dynasty.”

Ward, who said he would return to Boston “in a heartbeat,” defended the leadership of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, saying: “He possess every intangible. … He knows when to say something and when not to.”

Ward was traded by the Bruins last offseason to the Hurricanes. There he became teammates with Scott Walker, who sucker-punched Ward in the face during their playoff series last season. Ward said it didn’t take long to put hard feelings aside. “The first phone call from a player [after the trade was finalized] was Scott Walker,” Ward said. “That was pretty easy to deal with, because we aired it out right there, put it right on the table, and there was no issue. We’re big boys. One of the things I found out right after that punch was that Scott’s wife had cervical cancer, and that was the day he found out. So, you know what, there’s times in the game as a player, as a human, you figure out you’ve got to cut him some slack because you never know what kind of frame of mind you’d be in in that situation.”

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