Griffith making most of opportunity

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
10:35
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- While forward Reilly Smith remains unsigned, the Boston Bruins have a “Help Wanted” sign for the right-wing position on the team’s second line.

At some point, Smith will sign but after the team’s Black and Gold scrimmage Sunday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had no update on negotiations with Smith or fellow entry-level free agent defenseman Torey Krug.

Boston’s second line of Smith, Patrice Bergeron and left winger Brad Marchand was the one unit coach Claude Julien planned on keeping intact this season. Without Smith in the mix, the Bruins are giving Seth Griffith an opportunity to prove what he can do.

[+] EnlargeSeth Griffith
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesAfter posting 20 goals and 30 assists in 69 games with Providence last season, Seth Griffith held his own on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
So far, he’s been solid.

The 21-year-old forward is only in his second pro season. He impressed during his first season with the Providence Bruins, posting 20 goals and 30 assists for 50 points in 69 games during 2013-14.

Griffith played well during the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville, and he’s continued that trend during main camp. Chiarelli has been impressed that Griffith has been able to keep up with Bergeron and Marchand, both of whom, as the GM described, are playing better now than they have in training camps past.

“Bergy and Marchy are a half step ahead of where they’ve been before,” Chiarelli said. “They’re playing well, so it’s about keeping up with those two. It’s about getting them pucks the right way and it’s about shooting, and Griff can do all that stuff. He’s had a really good year [in Providence] for his first year as a pro last year.”

Chiarelli compared Griffith’s play last season with the P-Bruins to the play of Marchand and David Krejci when they first turned pro and played in the AHL.

“Griff had a really good year,” Chiarelli said. “He makes good plays. He makes smart plays. He doesn’t have to hang onto the puck a lot, which Marchy and Bergy, they like to move in small spaces, and Griff does that. Three days in and I thought he’s acquitted himself well tonight. He made some good little plays and I thought he was fine.”

During Sunday’s scrimmage, Griffith never looked out of place.

“He’s definitely a smart player and makes the right plays out there. He wants to learn and that’s definitely a great sign,” Bergeron said. “He’s definitely showing some great things out there.”

Marchand concurs.

“He’s a good player, really smart,” Marchand said. “He’s very skilled and you can see that every time he has the puck. He sees the ice well and he’s a really good player.”

Keeping up with the veteran forwards hasn’t been a problem for Griffith in the early going of training camp.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting used to playing with one another and it’s always like that when you start with a new linemate,” Bergeron said. “It’s about finding the tendencies of one another. Me and Marchy, we have that going on for ourselves, but it’s about making sure the three of us find that together.”

Boston selected Griffith as its third pick (131st overall) in the 2012 draft. At 5-foot-9, 192 pounds, he’s shown a keen hockey sense and completely understands his opportunity.

“It’s pretty surreal playing with those two guys,” Griffith said. “They can make plays every shift and that’s the kind of stuff I like to do as well, so playing with them is just pretty surreal and hopefully I can make some plays with them.

“Obviously they have some confidence in me to put me with them during training camp, so hopefully I can continue to show them what they have and get a little chemistry going with them and show them I can make the next jump.”

There are four forward positions up for grabs during training camp and Griffith has an chance to earn one of them. Regardless of when Smith returns to the team, Griffith quickly has made a name for himself; it’s only a matter of time before he’ll have the opportunity to become a full-timer in the NHL.

“He’s had a good camp so far,” Julien said. “I’ve seen him in Providence [last season] and he’s got some good skill, can shoot the puck well and he’s got good hockey sense too. He can make great plays and when you look at who he’s playing with, that certainly helps as well. He’s off to a good start.”

Lucic: Wrist 'better than what I expected'

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
5:10
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Since he’s still rehabbing from offseason wrist surgery, Bruins forward Milan Lucic did not play in the team’s Black and Gold scrimmage Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Lucic participated in the first two on-ice sessions of training camp and showed no ill effects from the procedure he had on his left wrist last May.

“It’s been good. It’s been better than what I expected, which is obviously a good thing,” Lucic said. “Just seeing my progression the last two weeks has been good. My shooting feel, I’m not going to say it’s completely back to normal, but I can get to where I can get full pressure into my shot.”

Lucic still is limited in battle and forechecking drills and he’s trying not to push it so as to avoid setbacks.

“As of right now, I think it’s just being smart and going about everything the right way and taking it step by step,” Lucic said.

The Bruins have seven preseason games; Lucic isn’t sure how many he’ll play in.

“The games will come whenever I’m ready to play,” he said. “You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re having setbacks right away. There’s two ways to look at it: You can come back early and have the opportunity to have a setback, or you come back when you’re fully ready and you’re at your best.”

Lucic said he wants to be as close to 100 percent as possible before playing in an exhibition game.

Lucic does not have a cruise control gear, so it’s been a challenge for him to go easy during training camp.

“That’s the biggest challenge right now,” he said. “You kind of have to think a little bit of not going all out to where you have a possibility of hurting yourself, but also there’s that fine line where you want to go hard and see how far you can push it and see how ready it is. That’s the mindset and mentality right now. It’s felling pretty good right now and you just hope it keeps getting better and better as camp goes on.”

Rask backup: Can Subban edge Svedberg?

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
8:30
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There's one thing missing from Tuukka Rask's résumé -- the Stanley Cup.

Yes, his name was etched into hockey's holy chalice when the Boston Bruins won in 2011, but Rask watched from the bench as fellow netminder Tim Thomas helped the team to a championship with his historic performance.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaTuukka Rask watches the puck get away from Chris Kelly at Bruins training camp.
In 2013, Rask led the Bruins back to the Cup finals, where they eventually lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Last season, Rask led the Bruins to the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best team during the regular season. He posted a 36-15-6 record, along with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, and won his first Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.

In the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens exposed the Bruins' inexperienced defensive core and beat Boston in the second round.

Rask is expecting to have another good season, but he's not satisfied.

"There's always room to improve," he said. "I'm not focusing on anything specifically; I just like to get better all-around, every area of my game. Guys get younger and there's always going to be new players in the league, so you have to keep up with them and try to reach another level."

Now that camp has begun, he's looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"It's just trying to catch up with the speed. I've been skating for a month now but the speed is obviously different than the captain's practices, so that's my main focus, catching up with the speed and getting my angles right," he said.

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The Bruins have only five days of practices before the preseason exhibition games begin Tuesday against the Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal. In total, the Bruins have seven games and little time to prepare, especially for the goalies.

"It's a challenge. You just try to feel as comfortable as quick as you can, because the first game is coming in a few days and if you're in there you don't want to look bad out there," Rask said. "Once you start playing it'll come back to you, but it always takes me a game or two to really feel good."

For Rask, preparing for the regular season is more about feeling comfortable than getting in a certain amount of games.

"I don't like to set up a goal," Rask said. "I'll just play whatever they tell me to play. I'm sure I'll get a couple of games, but there's four goalies and it'll be nice for everybody to have a game. It also depends on how you feel, too. If you don't feel comfortable, you say, 'I'd like to play more games.' But if I feel good, it's a couple of games."

During coach Claude Julien's tenure in Boston, he's never had an issue with goaltending. The only time he had to answer critical questions about one of his netminders, the subject was politics, not performance, and had to do with a trip to the White House. Other than that, it's been smooth sailing in the crease.

When Rask took over the No. 1 spot from Thomas, the Bruins brought in Anton Khudobin as the backup. That tandem was successful during the 48-game, lockout-shortened season in 2013. Last season, it was Chad Johnson, who was outstanding in the No. 2 role, posting a 17-4-3 record, 2.10 GAA and a .925 SP in 27 games for the Bruins.

[+] EnlargeNiklas Svedberg
Steve Babineau/NHLI.Getty ImagesNiklas Svedberg earned his first NHL win in his only appearance last season, but now he's looking to earn the backup goalie gig.
Now, it's Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban battling for that spot.

"There are guys that can certainly battle for that, but it's never been an issue in the past," Julien said. "We feel confident and every guy we've had has come in as a secondary goaltender, a backup goaltender, has always done the job, so we don't anticipate that being an issue again this year."

After he was named the AHL's goalie of the year for the 2012-13 season, with a 37-8-2 record in 48 games, Svedberg's game leveled off last season. He was still solid and posted a 25-15-4 record, with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Once the offseason arrived, the Bruins quickly signed Svedberg to a one-year, one-way deal worth $600,000.

"First of all, I'm happy with the contract. It shows that they believe in me," he said Friday after the first day of training camp. "At the same time, I don't know if it changes my position because I still have to earn my spot and make the team. That's my focus right now."

Team president Cam Neely, general manager Peter Chiarelli and Julien enjoy the internal competition.

"That's how it should be," Svedberg said. "It should always be the guy that plays best should earn a spot. There's a lot of good goalies here, so I just have to focus on my own thing, work hard and do everything I can to earn it. That's the only way I look at it."

Prior to his first pro season, Subban participated in the organization's rookie development summer camp, and it was an eye-opening experience for him. He arrived at training camp last fall with a better idea of what to expect, and throughout the regular season with the P-Bruins, Subban learned what it takes to succeed as a pro.

"Obviously, being professional and taking care of your body away from the rink, and to perform better at the rink and just being more consistent, in terms of in practice and that will carry over into games," Subban said.

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Subban
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaMalcolm Subban knows he's likely bound for Providence, but he's competing hard to stick around in Boston.
Last season in Providence, Subban split time between the pipes with Svedberg. Subban posted a 15-10-5 record, with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

During the summer, the Bruins inked Svedberg to his one-year, one-way deal, which basically means Subban will be the No. 1 goalie for the P-Bruins in 2014-15. That's not his goal, however, and he plans on doing everything possible to earn the backup role in Boston.

"Obviously I know there's a pretty good chance [of being back in Providence], but anything can happen at camp," Subban said. "You've just got to play well and that's all I can control is my game and not worry too much about the other stuff. Whatever happens, happens, and hopefully it happens for the better. I'm just going to try to play my game at camp."

No matter what happens at camp, he wants to perform well in hopes that will translate into the regular season. His focus is on having more consistent performances.

"Obviously, you want to have a strong start because it usually leads to a strong year," Subban said. "Just trying to start as good as I can right now and get back into the flow of things as quickly as possible, and that will help me going forward."

During his first season as a pro in Providence, Subban kept his mask completely white with no design. He showcased his new mask on Day 1 of training camp and it's pretty nice. It's black and gold with his name on the back and his number on the chin. The Grim Reaper is coming out of the top of the mask, and on the back Subban has Psalm 23:4, which reads: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Subban is confident. He believes he should be in the NHL. He needs to produce to earn that opportunity, because Rask isn't going anywhere and Svedberg is prepared to be stellar if he wins the backup role.

Fraser working to earn roster spot

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
2:08
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- When Matt Fraser learned he would start training camp playing alongside David Krejci, the prospect knew it would be a great opportunity to show the Boston Bruins' brass he's ready to earn a spot on Boston's roster.

In the first two days of camp, Fraser looks comfortable on the left side with Krejci. David Pastrnak, Boston's first-round pick, has been playing the right side, but he fell awkwardly into the boards, exited the ice and did not return for Saturday's morning session.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask, Matt Fraser
Eric Canha/CSMMatt Fraser works on a practice drill with Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said earlier this week that there are four open forward positions up for grabs. Fraser, 24, has an opportunity to seize one of them.

"To be honest with you, I'd fill up water bottles for this team, as long as it meant I was here," he said. "I want to bring my own brand to this team, my own kind of skill and persona to this team that adds to the element to the overall team, because that's what makes Boston so great, it's not a bunch of individuals, it's a team that works together."

Fraser, who spent the majority of the 2013-2014 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, was recalled by Boston and played 14 games for the Bruins and registered two goals from Dec. 8 to Jan. 12.

He sparked the Bruins during the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring when he was called up from Providence and scored the overtime goal to help Boston to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the second-round series.

Getting that first-hand experience helped him prepare during the summer, and he's motivated to earn a permanent roster spot this season.

"It definitely feeds the wolf a little bit," he said. "You reminisce about the special times you had in the playoffs and call-ups and everything like that, but at the end of the day, that's last year and this is this year. My job is to bring something to the table where they think will appeal to this team."

Playing with Krejci will also help Fraser's confidence.

"It's nice to have that confidence going into camp, especially at the start of camp that they want to see what you've got," Fraser said. "Obviously, you hear about the openings, but at the end of the day, it falls on my shoulders and what I can do and what I can bring to this team. I want to do what I can to show these guys that I can bring a different element to this team."

Added Fraser, "There's such a fine line that separates American League players and NHL players, and you look around this dressing room, and these are guys that found that extra step, or whatever it is to make them succeed. I think I'm there, or I'm close to being there. There are a few things I need to work on, but this opportunity to play with Krech, and the openings that are on this team, I really feel like I can step in and be an impact player."

The Bruins acquired Fraser, along with Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow, from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley on July 4, 2013. With a full season of experience in the Bruins' organization, Fraser is ready to make his mark.

"Maybe it's just an opportunity like this to break through," Fraser said. "I've done what I can to prepare my body, to prepare my mind for a grueling season. I've prepared to be a Boston Bruin, and that's what I want."

Pastrnak hurts shoulder, exits practice early

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
1:47
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins No. 1 pick David Pastrnak exited the ice early Saturday morning and did not return to practice.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said Pastrnak is doubtful for Sunday's Black and Gold scrimmage at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

"He tweaked his shoulder. I don't know how serious it's going to be, but very, very doubtful for tomorrow. I think, if anything, he'll be stiff and we wouldn't take that chance. I don't think it's too, too serious."

Pastrnak has been skating with top-line center David Krejci and fellow prospect Matt Fraser to start training camp.

"Everybody knows that he's skilled. He's a very talented guy. I don't know what happened to him in the first half [of practice] and he wasn't out there for the second half," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

On Friday, general manager Peter Chiarelli had said the Bruins planned to be careful with Pastrnak and bring him along slowly.

"Let's keep in mind on this player, he's still young and he's light and, you know, you worry with a player of this age and size ... that he could get hurt," Chiarelli said Friday. "He's a very smart player, very good vision and you just have to be careful, and we're taking it slowly and we'll see where it goes."

Dougie Hamilton begins pivotal Year 3

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
9:12
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There's no denying the talents of Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

He's big. He's strong. He has a keen hockey sense and uses it to his advantage. He also has an offensive element to his game.

[+] EnlargeDougie Hamilton
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDougie Hamilton pulls on his Bruins jersey on Thursday at training camp.
The 21-year-old blueliner has showcased those skills during the first two seasons of his NHL career, but in Year 3, it's this simple: Hamilton needs to have a big season for the Bruins.

His performance in 2014-15 should function as a barometer of how the rest of his career plays out. It's not unusual for younger players to fizzle out after a few good seasons. Some become complacent, or too comfortable.

It will be interesting to see how this season unfolds for Hamilton.

"It's important because he had a great finish," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought he was really good at the end of last year and his confidence level was up. But, he's still a young player and you've got to stay on top of him and make sure that little bad habits don't creep in, or a comfort level, which sometimes happens to young players. They've got to know they've got to keep pushing themselves if they want to keep improving.

"He still has a lot of room for improvement, which is a good thing, because we already think he's a pretty good player, so he just has to stay on top of his game and keep pushing himself to get better."

Hamilton made his NHL debut during the 48-game, lockout-shortened season in 2013. The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals that season, before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton played only seven games between the first two rounds and watched the Eastern Conference finals and the Cup finals from press level.

He made significant strides during the 2013-14 season and was relied upon as a top-four defender. When veterans Dennis Seidenberg (knee) and Adam McQuaid (quad and foot) suffered season-ending injuries midway through the season, Hamilton's ice time increased, and he proved to be up to the task.

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"He played great last season, even the year before," Seidenberg said. "He took great strides developing really nicely. He's such a powerful skater and moves really smoothly for a big guy, and he's just really dangerous offensively. His physical presence, he's gotten stronger and better on one-on-one battles. I only see him getting better and more dominant than he has already."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said earlier this week that the team's overall defense needs to be more consistent this season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has enjoyed an ice-level view of Hamilton's development.

"I think he just needs to continue where he finished off last year," Rask said. "I thought he took big steps last year and really got better defensively, and he was really showing off his talent offensively, too. He just needs to keep it going and improve overall. He'll be a really good player for us."

The Bruins held their first on-ice session of training camp Friday at Ristuccia Arena. Hamilton looked comfortable and confident.

"Just try to keep getting better," he said at the start of camp. "I really don't set goals for myself but just to keep getting better and keep improving and keep learning. This is the most comfortable I've been coming into camp. Obviously, playing for a year and a half now has helped me, so just knowing the guys, the city and everything makes it a lot easier to come here."

He spent the summer preparing as he normally would. It was a long summer for all the Bruins, but Hamilton is refreshed, recharged and ready to go.

"It was really good. I'm pretty happy with how it went, my development over the summer, and I'm looking forward to camp and seeing how my hard work translates," he said. "I'm excited to get going again."

In 106 regular-season games, Hamilton has 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points, as well as a plus-26 rating. He has averaged close to 18 minutes of playing time per game.

"I've definitely worked on my defensive game and trying to improve that," he said. "I think I've gotten a lot better at it. From when I first got here until the end of last year, my defense has improved a lot and it needs to keep on improving. I need to focus on that with our team and our system and that's defense first. To be accountable and reliable on the ice is important. The offense, I guess, is just a bonus."

He showed glimpses of a mean streak late last season, and it would be good to see him play with a little more fire. He should use his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame to wear down opponents. If he can produce that type of physical play on a consistent basis, he could become extremely dangerous.

There's no time like the present for Bruins fans to witness the real Dougie Hamilton.

Pastrnak's first day an eye-opener

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
4:25
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- David Pastrnak got his first taste of the NHL on Friday as the Bruins started training camp at Ristuccia Arena.

Boston’s first-round selection (No. 25 overall) in June’s NHL Entry Draft, the 18-year-old forward admitted it was a bit more overwhelming than he expected.

“It’s pretty hard. On the ice, they’re NHL players, so you have to adjust and try to keep going with them and play your best,” Pastrnak said.

The training camp roster is split into two groups, and Pastrnak participated in the second session, playing on the line with David Krejci and Matt Fraser.

[+] EnlargeBoston Bruins
AP Photo/Elise Amendola"It's pretty hard," David Pastrnak said of his first day of Bruins training camp. "On the ice, they're NHL players, so you have to adjust and try to keep going with them."
“It’s great. I like [Krejci] and he’s a skilled player. I like to play with him and I’m pretty sure we understand each other on the ice,” said Pastrnak, who grew up idolizing Krejci, a fellow Czech native.

Krejci, 28, laughs at the notion he’s old compared to Pastrnak. But the veteran has been impressed with the rookie’s abilities.

“For me, playing with David, he’s got great hands, he’s got really good speed,” Krejci said. “It was alright today. We didn’t do too many line drills. We’ll just take it day by day and hopefully we’ll be better tomorrow.”

There’s a legitimate chance Pastrnak could earn a roster spot out of camp, but the Bruins won’t put any unnecessary pressure on the prospect.

“What we've been saying with David is take it one step at a time,” Chiarelli said. “So, get your feet wet in main camp and he had a real good few games in Nashville. You know, he's got the little things where guys overtry a little bit, hang onto the puck a little bit, cut to the middle and stuff like that, but he's a smart player and he'll adjust.”

The plan is for Pastrnak to start on the right wing. Chiarelli described it as a slow progression.

“Let's keep in mind on this player, he's still young and he's light and, you know, you worry with a player of this age and size ... that he could get hurt. He's a very smart player, very good vision and you just have to be careful, and we're taking it slowly and we'll see where it goes,” said Chiarelli.

Pastrnak impressed during rookie development camp in July and again at the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville. Now, it’s a bit different.

“All the players are men here, and in development camp they were all kids, so that’s the difference," Pastrnak said. "We are all hockey players and I just have to keep up with those guys and try to play like them.”

When the first day of camp concluded, Pastrnak was all smiles. He genuinely loves the game and admits it’s still sinking in that he’s attending his first NHL training camp.

“For me, I’m trying to enjoy it. I didn’t expect to be here and now I’m here, so I have to just try to enjoy it and do my best here,” he said. “I need to keep working hard, get better every day, so I can be a good forward for the Bruins.”

Kelly thankful to be back on ice

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
12:53
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins forward Chris Kelly made it through the first day of training camp feeling like his old self. Kelly had offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disk and has no restrictions during camp and the preseason exhibition schedule.

“The back felt great, actually, no issues,” Kelly said. “It’s felt good for a while now. It’s gotten to the point where you’re never going to think about it and that’s a good sign because that’s where you want to be.”

Kelly suffered the injury on April 8 and missed the final four games of the regular season. He attempted to come back for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the pain was too much to handle and he had the procedure in May.

“You appreciate just being able to play hockey,” Kelly said. “Hockey was the last thing from my mind, but I wanted to be a normal person where you can get up, eat, sleep. For a while there, I couldn’t do those things. So, now it’s just about being a hockey player, which is great.”

Camp is split into two groups and Kelly skated in the morning session. He was in the middle with Milan Lucic on his left and Brian Ferlin on his right.

Kelly joked that Lucic went over to David Krejci after the session and gave him a big hug.

Jacobs, Neely discuss Krug, Smith delay

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
8:51
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BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are pulling out all the stops in trying to make sure forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug agree to shorter contracts and report to training camp.

Both entry-level free agents remain unsigned and missed the first official day of training camp, which consisted of off-ice testing and physicals. At this point, they're expected to miss Friday's first on-ice session, too.

Earlier Thursday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would not comment on negotiations, saying only that he hopes it gets done sooner rather than later.

After the team's annual "State of the Bruins" meeting, owner Jeremy Jacobs, principal Charlie Jacobs and president Cam Neely weighed in on the situation.

The Bruins have spent to the salary cap and are trying to figure out ways to sign both players. Charlie Jacobs said the last thing the organization wants is an ugly showdown where no one wins.

"Listen, that only leads to discord," he said. "In particular, you talk about arbitration and that stuff tends to go south between relationships with the players and that's not where we aim to be. We really want to be a collaborative partner and we are with our player personnel.

"When it comes to the two players we're talking about -- Reilly and Torey -- their situation is they're two-year pros ... and they're in a unique situation. They're not coming out of an entry-level deal with three years' experience, they're really coming out with really less than two. Peter addressed it best, saying circumstances are what they are and I expect that they will be here in time."

He added: "I really think this will remedy itself. I'm not too concerned about it. I may feel differently in November, but at the moment I feel the circumstances dictate that they're going to have to come maybe on a one- or two-year deal to bridge into their next, perhaps larger deal."

Neely is obviously in a unique position, having been a player at one time but who now sits on the other side of the table.

"I hate to see young guys, I was a young player once and I had a contract dispute one time and I didn't get to camp on time and I know it takes awhile to catch up," Neely said. "Especially nowadays with the shape these guys are in. I know they're in great shape going into camp, but we talk about practicing with a purpose and getting into some exhibition games is a little different than off-ice training and skating on your own.

"I just hope we get something done real quick. Obviously, those guys had great years for us last year and they're a big part of our organization moving forward. I'd like to see something get done sooner rather than later."

Jeremy Jacobs made it clear he has given Chiarelli ownership's full support in this unique situation.

"I think Peter is absolutely doing the right thing. I'm very confident," Jacobs said. "We've got a cap and he has to accommodate these players. Signing [David] Krejci was the right idea. [Chiarelli] moved in the right direction. We spent to the cap and we can't accommodate everybody at this point, not at the level they want to be compensated."

Jacobs pointed to Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and other veteran players who had to produce for a longer period of time before the organization rewarded them with long-term contracts.

"There are times when you get paid very well, and there's time that you don't. That's the way the system is built and it's functioning and doing well. We've never had more money to spend than we have right now and we've spent every cent we have. We told you early on we were going to spend to the cap and we've done it and we'll continue to. It isn't like these people are necessarily underpaid that they can't live on it. They do very well and they just want to do better, and I don't blame them. I can't think there's a person in this room that doesn't want to do better, but their time will come. And if they're great players going forward they will be compensated when they get older in that way, or as they mature into this business."
BOSTON -- Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs believes strongly in educating young athletes to become upstanding members of society.

After participating in the annual "State of the Bruins" on Thursday night at TD Garden, Jacobs, who is also the chairman of the NHL board of governors, was asked how he views the image of the NHL and its players in light of recent controversies that have cropped up in the NFL.

"Professional ownership, professional sports teams have a higher, moral commitment to the community than the average business and I feel that strongly and I believe we have to conduct ourselves differently than the average individual," Jacobs said. "We don't have the privilege to do certain things and I think that's the capacity, I believe, my commissioner believes in and I think that's the way our teams feel.

"There are many obstacles in our way, a lot of human rights issues and legal issues that get in the way of doing that, but we have to recognize that when we go out there we represent, not only our team and our ownership, but our fans and the community we represent. And once we can penetrate the people out there, bear in mind we're taking a lot of young people and putting that responsibility on them and it's incumbent upon us to be able to educate them and how to function. We take it real seriously and I can't get a whole lot deeper than that, but you've got my personal view."

Jacobs is the CEO and chairman of Delaware North Companies. He's been the chairman of the board of the NHL since 2007.

Defensemen prepared for a roster battle

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
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BOSTON -- David Warsofsky is ready for anything. The 24-year-old defenseman has a legitimate chance of earning a roster spot out of training camp this year. But he has some competition.

Barring any trades or injuries, there are eight other defensemen on the Bruins training camp roster: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug (remains unsigned), Kevan Miller, and Matt Bartkowski.

With Krug’s status uncertain, that leaves the total at eight, for now. Normally, the Bruins carry seven on their roster during the season, with one being a healthy scratch, but general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that he could see a scenario with eight defensemen on the roster.

[+] EnlargeDavid Warsofsky
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images"I know I'm ready to play at [the NHL] level," said David Warsofsky. "That's a big step for me mentally."
Chiarelli has said he expects to eventually trade a defenseman, but he wants to see how the internal competition plays out during training camp and the exhibition season. He’s also certain that Warsofsky is ready to play in the NHL.

“I think he is. Again, that's my opinion,” Chiarelli said. “I thought he had a real strong finish last year in Providence. Every time I saw him, he was one of the best players on the ice and he was doing things we were telling him to. He was moving the puck, he was skating, his escape ability is terrific, like turning the net, and real good vision on the power play. So he's a player that I think is ready. Now, will he be ready for our team? Let's see how things sort out, but he's put his time in and he's a guy to watch, too.”

Warsofsky, a product of Boston University, doesn’t want to hear his name mentioned in any possible trade.

“The more I think about it, the more it’s going to aggravate me, so I try not to even think about it,” he said. “No one knows what’s going to happen with all the defensemen here. Management knows what they’re doing, they’ve proven that in the past, so let them do their thing and whatever path that takes me, or whatever path that takes the rest of the defensemen here, it’s part of the business and you have to go with it.”

Warsofsky spent the majority of the 2013-2014 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, scoring six goals and adding 26 assists for 32 points in 56 games. Boston recalled him three times and he played a total of six games for the Bruins, recording one goal and one assist for two points. This will be his fourth pro season, and his confidence is at an all-time high as training camp begins.

“It gives me a little more confidence,” Warsofsky said. “Obviously, when I came into past camps, I wanted to play in the NHL but I didn’t know if I was necessarily ready for it. But coming into this camp and playing a couple of games [for Boston] last year, in my own confidence, I know I’m ready to play at that level. That’s a big step for me mentally, getting over that hump and knowing I can play at the next level.”

Hearing the organization is confident in his ability also helps.

"It’s good,” Warsofsky said. “Obviously, I thought I was ready, but to hear the staff say it, and the coaches here, I think, they show a lot of trust in me. I think I’m ready for that situation, so it was a little re-confirmation from them, [which] definitely feels good.”

[+] EnlargeJohnny Boychuk
AP Photo/Matt SlocumJohnny Boychuk, who has been mentioned in trade rumors, knows he'll have to bring his 'A' game to training camp.
Listed at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Warsofsky still needs to adjust to the NHL level. But Warsofsky believes that if given the opportunity, he will perform.

“I think every young player from Bobby Orr to Ray Bourque made mistakes when they were coming up, so it’s one of those things that are going to happen and you just try to limit those as much as you can,” Warsofsky said.

The depth on Boston’s blue line -- and how Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien make it work to the team’s advantage -- will play itself out during training camp.

“That’s a good problem to have,” Chara said. “No matter how you look at it, to have that many players capable of playing gives you an advantage. It would obviously be a different situation if we were on the other side of it. So sometimes things are out of your control, as far as trades and other things, but as player you can’t control them and you have to do your best to make the team, the lineup, and the rest of it is up to management.”

Since he has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent, Boychuk’s name has been front and center on the trade rumor list. He understands it’s a possibility since the Bruins are up against the salary cap, and Chiarelli still needs to sign both Krug and forward Reilly Smith, but Boychuk wants to remain in Boston.

“We have so many good defensemen, you have to be on your ‘A’ game or else somebody can take your spot. You have to be prepared to work your behind off. So it’s going to be fun and it’s always a healthy competition in training camp,” he said.

Earlier in his career, Boychuk was that prospect battling for a roster spot. He eventually earned it, and has been an important part of Boston’s blue line.

“I was in that position a little while ago,” he said. “Every year there’s new, young great defensemen, or great forwards pushing the envelope and working for the spots, and that’s what you need. Everybody wants to play in the NHL, but you have to take it away from somebody to accomplish it. It’s a hard feat, but it makes for a healthy competition."

Gagne looks to reignite career with B's

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
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BOSTON -- Simon Gagne broke the hearts of Bruins fans during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

As a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Gagne scored the game-winning goal in Philly's 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series on May 14 at TD Garden. It was a monumental implosion by the Bruins, who had a 3-0 series lead, and a 3-1 lead in Game 7, before the Flyers finished the historic comeback.

[+] EnlargeSimon Gagne, Mike Richards
AP Photo/Charles KrupaGagne hopes there are no hard feelings from when he scored the game-winner for the Flyers in Game 7 of the playoffs against Boston in 2010.
Gagne remembers it well.

Now, the 34-year-old forward is in Boston after the Bruins invited Gagne to training camp on a tryout agreement.

“I hope fans aren’t going to be too bad,” he said with a smile. “After [2010] they ended up winning the Cup the year after that, so maybe I was part of the learning situation at that time to make them better the year after that.”

On Thursday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said there are four open forward spots available on the roster and Gagne will be given every opportunity to win one. Gagne missed the entire 2013-2014 season due to injury.

“Well, obviously he's been a very good player, on all levels -- clutch player, fast player, smart player, so if he can recover and gain some of that -- he's hasn't played in a year -- then you know, there's the speed element and there's the veteran and he plays both wings, so he's one of those candidates I talk about,” Chiarelli said.

Gagne spent the majority of his career with the Flyers, but won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-2012. He returned to Philadelphia for the lockout-shortened, 48-game season in 2012-2013. While sidelined all of last season, it was an opportunity for him to spend time with his family, but it also refreshed his desire to keep playing in the NHL.

“Yeah, it was tough. During the season, I’m not going to lie, I really didn’t miss the season because it’s 82 games and it’s a long season,” he said. “But when playoffs started it was pretty hard to watch. That’s the time, if you look at my career, that’s the time I had the most success and most fun to play the game.

“I feel really energized, healthy and excited about coming back, hoping to make the team.”

At the start of the offseason, Gagne wasn’t gaining too much attention from NHL organizations.

“It was pretty quiet on that side. I had a good talk with my agent before summer. I was back in the gym, making sure I was energized, feeling good and stuff like that at first before telling my agent, ‘OK, let’s go and make a couple of calls.’ ”

Gagne spoke with Bruins assistant captain and fellow Quebec native Patrice Bergeron, who then talked with Chiarelli.

“From that, everything went really good with my agent and the team. By August I was ready to sign a tryout contract,” explained Gagne.

A left-winger by trade, Gagne will work on the right side during training camp.

Chara is still B's pull-up king

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
3:02
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BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins completed their off-ice testing and physicals Thursday at TD Garden, with no surprises.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara owns the training camp pullup competition with 31, but last season fellow defenseman Kevan Miller tied Chara. This year, Chara beat Miller by only two, 35-33.

When the team takes the ice Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, two players will not participate -- forward Gregory Campbell and defenseman Linus Arnesson. According to general manager Peter Chiarelli, Campbell is dealing with a minor mid-core injury and Arnesson tweaked his groin.

Also, Bruins veteran forward Milan Lucic, who underwent wrist surgery last May, will take it slow during camp in order to continue his rehab.

B's begin without Krug and Smith

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
1:37
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BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had no update Thursday on the contract situations for defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith.

The entry-level free agents remain unsigned.

The Bruins completed their off-ice testing and physicals Thursday at TD Garden and will begin on-ice sessions Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

“Won’t comment on negotiations,” Chiarelli said. “We want them in our mix. As it’s been chronicled, we’ve never had that type of player not signed and not come to camp. I’ve been through a few of them in my time, so they’re not very pleasant, but that’s what we have right now.”

Due to salary-cap constraints, the two players may have to settle for one-year deals. But since neither player is signed at this point, it’s likely both are asking for multi-year contracts.

“In an ideal world, to have all your players healthy and present, that would be ideal,” Chiarelli said. “Younger players, older players, if they miss time they’re going to fall behind. It’s unfortunate they’re not here; they’re both good players and both contributed to our success last year and previous. I hope something gets done at some point.”

Chiarelli has made it no secret he will likely trade a defenseman at some point in order to make cap space. He also admitted that the trade talk has been increasing.

“It’s pretty good. It’s been pretty good all summer,” Chiarelli said.

“I’ve said that I’m looking to trade a defenseman, but I’m very eager to see the competition. There are spots. If I had to open with eight D, I can, so there’s no real pressing need to [make a trade] other than it’s not ideal.”

Johnny Boychuk’s name continues to spin the speculation rumor mill, since he has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contact before becoming an unrestricted free agent. On Thursday, he said he hopes to remain in the “family” and he won’t let any outside distractions affect his play during training camp and the preseason exhibition schedule.

“You just go out there and play your game,” he said. “You can’t let anything on the outside world affect you. You have to play your game, come to camp prepared, and to start the season we’ll be prepared. We have to do our best and hopefully win another Cup.”

An interesting moment of Thursday’s media availability with Chiarelli was when he mentioned there are four open forward spots. Without Smith in the mix, most would think there would be three open positions, but the GM added one more to the scenario.

Ideally, the Bruins would carry seven defensemen on the roster, but Chiarelli has said he would be fine with carrying eight, which would mean one less forward.

Either way, Chiarelli loves the internal competition and he’s looking forward to how it plays out.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The competition, with it comes uncertainty and we’d all like things to be certain, but the cream will rise to the top and I’m looking forward to it. On a smaller level, we had competition last year on a couple of forward spots and we did OK. We’ve got some invites; we’ve got some young players pushing. I look forward to it.”

10 things to watch with camp set to open

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
9:00
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BOSTON -- Training camp for the 2014-15 season officially begins Thursday for the Boston Bruins with off-ice testing and physicals at TD Garden.

The first on-ice session will take place Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, and the Bruins will have only four days of practice before their first exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 23 at Bell Centre in Montreal.

It was those pesky Habs who ended the Bruins’ season in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. The Bruins had a long summer to digest why their season ended sooner than they’d hoped and now they’re ready to right the wrong.

“Absolutely,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. “You always get that bad taste in your mouth when you finish your season like we did last year and you want to change that ending. It’s been a long summer for us, longer than we’re used to in past years and I think our hunger has been growing during the summer and everybody looks ready to go. We’re really excited about the new season.”

As training camp begins, here are 10 things to watch for:

[+] EnlargeJohnny Boychuk
AP Photo/Matt SlocumWith the Bruins having a logjam on defense and a tight salary cap, Johnny Boychuk could be on the move.
• It appears the Bruins will start camp without defenseman Torey Krug or forward Reilly Smith, who are both entry-level free agents and remain unsigned. Due to salary-cap constraints, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s creativity will be tested in order to sign both players. While both likely want a multiyear deal, they may have to settle for one-year contracts in order to keep the entire roster intact and avoid any early-season trades to create cap space. Because of their status, Krug and Smith are not allowed to negotiate with other organizations. Both are important to the team’s success, but Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday he believes there are other players in camp who can fill the void if Krug and/or Smith do not sign. During Chiarelli’s tenure as GM in Boston, no player has missed the start of training camp for contractual issues.

• At some point this season, Chiarelli will need to make a trade in order to free up some cap space. If that decision comes during camp, defenseman Johnny Boychuk, whose name has been the one spinning the rumor mill, could be the one to go. The veteran blueliner has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Losing Boychuk and his relentless style of play would impact Boston’s blue line, but Chiarelli and Julien are confident in the team’s defensive depth.

• Speaking of defensive depth, if everyone remains healthy and no trades are made, the Bruins will have a logjam on the blue line. It’s actually a good problem to have. With Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Krug, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky, the Bruins will use training camp and the entire preseason schedule to figure out which pairings work best. The Bruins were uncharacteristically inconsistent defensively during the 2013-14 season. After the Bruins lost to the Canadiens, Boston could blame its inexperience on defense as one reason for the series loss. Moving forward, the Bruins can’t make that excuse. Depending on Boychuk’s status, the top four will include Chara, Seidenberg and Hamilton. Presuming Krug’s status and McQuaid’s health won’t be issues, there should be a lively competition for the remaining spots.

• David Pastrnak, the Bruins’ first-round selection (No. 25 overall) in June’s draft, will be given every opportunity to earn a roster spot out of training camp. The 18-year-old forward impressed the organization during rookie development camp in July and during the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville. But now he’ll be playing against the big boys and his skills will be tested. So far, there’s a lot to like about Pastrnak. For starters, he genuinely loves the game. He seems mature and ready for the challenges of playing in the NHL and in Boston. His progress will be a major storyline during camp, and if he makes the team, he could quickly become a fan favorite.

• Other than Pastrnak, there is a host of homegrown talent that will battle for roster spots. If Smith remains unsigned, there would be three forward positions vacant. Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Jordan Caron, Justin Florek, Bobby Robins, Alexander Khokhlachev and Matt Lindblad, along with camp invitees and veterans Ville Leino and Simon Gagne, all are in the mix. If the offseason plan of having Loui Eriksson on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic works out, and Smith does sign and remains on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, then the bottom two lines could see several different combinations during camp.

[+] EnlargeHamilton
Getty ImagesDougie Hamilton could be poised to have a breakout season on the Bruins' blue line.
• Recently, Julien revealed that he would make a small adjustment to the team’s systems play and wants to be “a tad” more aggressive in the neutral zone. He half-jokingly said he didn’t want the media -- or the fans -- to make a big deal about the new philosophy, but we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t. Julien will use training camp and the preseason schedule to apply the new system, which will give his defensemen the green light to step up more in the neutral zone if there’s a possibility to create a turnover, and if the forwards are strong on the backcheck and are in a position to gain possession in transition. The key is puck possession time and it could work well for the Bruins.

• Expect Hamilton to have a big season. He made major strides during his first full season with the Bruins in 2013-14. He no longer carries that “inexperienced” tag and there’s no reason to think he won’t be a top-four defender again this season. The 21-year-old blueliner is strong and smooth with his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame. If he makes the most of his physical presence and combines that with his hockey sense, he could be a dangerous player.

• Another topic this offseason was the departure of veteran leaders Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla. Thornton spent seven seasons with the Bruins, but the team decided not to re-sign him, and he landed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers. Iginla spent one season in Boston and signed as a free agent with the Colorado Avalanche. Their absences will leave a small void in the leadership department, but the Bruins are loaded with leaders, both on and off the ice. From Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Rask and Chris Kelly, there’s plenty of leadership.

• At the start of the 2013-14 season, Julien and Chiarelli discussed the concept of finding ways to preserve Chara and keep him fresh for the entire season and into the playoffs. But due to a number of key injuries on the blue line, along with the reinforcements’ inexperience, Chara was forced to log his normal ice time and played nearly 25 minutes per game. At 37, there’s no doubt the team’s captain is still a machine. He’s in incredible shape, but his 6-foot-9, 255-pound frame isn’t getting any younger and he still has four years remaining on his contract. Julien likely will attempt to manage Chara’s minutes again this season and it will be interesting to see how it plays out and how much he has remaining in his tank come playoff time.

• With Rask settled into the No. 1 goalie spot for the foreseeable future, he will again have a new partner this season. Since he’s established himself as a true No. 1, he’s had different backups each of the last two seasons with Anton Khudobin and Chad Johnson, respectively. While it appears Niklas Svedberg will serve in the capacity this season, fellow goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban wants to battle for that spot during training camp. Svedberg signed a one-year, one-way contract this summer worth $600,000, but the Bruins haven’t handed him the backup role; he’ll have to earn it.

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