SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) - Perhaps no club retooled more than
the Boston Bruins in the offseason. And for good reason.
The once-proud franchise has a new coach, a new general manager
and perhaps the biggest free-agent signee, and begins the
2006-07 campaign against the Florida Panthers on Friday in the
season opener for both clubs.
The Bruins struggled last season, finishing last in the rugged
Northeast Division and missing the playoffs for the third time
in six seasons.
Boston hired former Ottawa assistant general manager Pete
Chiarelli as its GM and former Detroit Red Wings coach Dave
Lewis to be its coach. The Bruins then signed massive
defenseman Zdeno Chara to a five-year, $37.5 million deal and
named him captain.
A 6-9, 260-pound blue-liner, Chara will be looked to log plenty
of ice time and quarterback the power play.
The Panthers, who finished in fourth place in the Southeast
Division, were involved in perhaps the biggest offseason trade,
shipping goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks for
right winger Todd Bertuzzi, whom many felt underachieved with
the Canucks last year.
Florida hopes the change of scenery will rejuvenate Bertuzzi,
who had 25 goals and 46 assists in 82 games.
The Panthers also hope Bertuzzi will bring some zip to the
offense. Only Florida captain Olli Jokinen had more than 60
points last season (89).
To replace Luongo, the Panthers signed Ed Belfour, who had an
injury-shortened campaign with the Toronto Maple Leafs last
season. Belfour went 22-22-4 with a 3.29 goals-against average
in 49 games.
The Panthers have missed the playoffs the last five seasons.