Boston Bruins: Two Forwards Who Need a Big Bounce Back Season

 

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David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins and his teammates acknowledge fans after the Ottawa Senators defeat the Bruins 3-2 in overtime of Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 23, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(April 22, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins found themselves in the playoffs after a two-year hiatus from the postseason.  While it was great to see that happen, the Black and Gold only managed to get there in the final week of the regular season, and they found themselves out in the first round.

If the Black and Gold want to find themselves in a deeper run than last year, they’re going to need more of their players playing their ‘A’ game. This includes a big bounce-back season from two of their forwards: David Backes and Matt Beleskey.

The Boston Bruins were looking for a big-bodied power forward before the start of last season. They had hoped they would have gotten that with Jimmy Hayes, but that didn’t go as the B’s had hoped. So, they went out and wooed away David Backes from the St. Louis Blues.

The Boston Bruins were looking for a big-bodied power forward before the start of last season. They had hoped they would have gotten that with Jimmy Hayes, but that didn’t go as the B’s had hoped. So, they went out and wooed away Backes from the St. Louis Blues.

Backes had a semi-disappointing year with the Black and Gold. The 33-year old forward put up just 0.51 points-per-game. While other players did much worse (Hayes again), that marked his lowest average since 2007-08 (0.43), his first full season in the NHL.

To be fair to Backes, he didn’t exactly have things go his way in his first year as a Bruin. Backes was a natural center but played very few games at that position (Mainly because the Bruins are center-heavy, and it’s highly unlikely that Backes would take the center job away from either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron.) Backes spent part of the season on the right wing of the Krejci line but didn’t seem to have much chemistry with the veteran Czech center.

By the end of the year, Backes found some chemistry in the Bruins top line.  He played with Bergeron and Brad Marchand and finished the season with 38 points (17 goals) in 74 games.

If the Bruins want to see points from Backes, then the Bruins should keep him with Bergeron and Marchand at the start of the season.

Why?

Backes did well with Marchand and Bergeron. The chemistry was there last year, so why muck it up? Also, the Bruins know that the ‘Double Czech’ line of Pastrank and Krejci were solid.  It certainly makes sense to keep them together, and it also spreads out the firepower among the B’s top-six forwards.

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Brian Campbell #51 of the Chicago Blackhawks defends Matt Beleskey #39 of the Boston Bruins during the third period at TD Garden on January 20, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blackhawks defeat the Bruins 1-0.
(Jan. 19, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Then there is the case of Matt Beleskey.

 

Beleskey earned himself the respect of the fans for being the kind of player that Jimmy Hayes was supposed to be. In his first season with the B’s, Beleskey played a Milan Lucic type of game (without all the fighting majors). During the 2015-16 season, the former Duck forward put up a respectable 37 points (15 goals), good enough to be tied for sixth in scoring that year.

Last season was certainly rough for Beleskey. The 29-year old forward started out slow, and then was hampered by a knee injury. Beleskey spent the next 24 games on injured reserve while he recuperated. Beleskey continued to struggle after his return to the lineup and found himself as a healthy scratch more times than any player wanted.

Beleskey finished the season with eight points (three goals) over 49 games.

Beleskey desperately needs a serious bounce back year as well. He’ll likely start the season as a middle-six winger. Two years ago, Beleskey found some chemistry with the Double Czech line. He’ll have to fight hard in camp to earn that position again.

If Beleskey can return to his 2015-16 game, then he’ll certainly help the B’s down the stretch as they try to become Stanley Cup Contenders again.

 

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PuckNerd’s Way Too Early 2017-18 Bruin’s Roster

David Pastrnak looks to cash in on a breakout season. Photo courtesy of Greg M. Cooper/ USA TODAY Sports Images

By:  Spencer Fascetta                                          Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

 

With the season right around about 10 corners and 2 months out, I decided to use CapFriendly’s ArmChair GM feature and experiment with what I believe the Bruin’s roster will realistically look like come Opening Night of the 2017-18 season. Ryan Spooner was just resigned to a new 1-year deal, and David Pastrnak is still negotiating his first contract extension, and both of them figure primarily into what I did.

 

To begin with, I decided to sign Pastrnak to a 6-year contract, with an AAV of $6.25 million a season. This is based on recent reports that he is looking for a number around $6 million per year over the aforementioned 6-year timeframe. With Pastrnak in the fold, my second move was to deal the recently signed Ryan Spooner. In my opinion, Spooner was only signed because it is easier to trade him while he is under contract than to trade his negotiating rights, and he no longer appears to have a concrete role in the Bruins’ lineup. I found a deal that I think works for both teams. Spooner was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes, giving them a youngish, dynamic offensive centerman to help ease the transition of Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome. In return, Boston received veteran forward Brad Richardson, who is under contract for only the one season at a cap hit barely above $2 million, minor leaguer Mike Sislo, and Minnesota’s 2018 2nd Round Pick, which was previously acquired by the Coyotes in the Martin Hanzal trade. Richardson provides some veteran depth in the bottom 6, something this team is in desperate need of and is only under contract until the end of the season. Sislo is a bit of media fodder, as the former New Jersey Devil and UNH Wildcat would return to New England with a decent shot at pushing for a place on the Bruins’ roster. Sislo can also be veteran depth in the bottom 6, but provides more offensive upside than Richardson, and is an excellent addition to Providence should he not make the NHL club. The pick recoups the remaining value from Spooner.

Former UNH Captain Mike Sislo could be an excellent depth addition. Photo courtesy of Albany Devils Official Website

With my roster moves finally complete, I moved on to the depth chart. The obvious returnees on the front end are Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, Krejci, Pastrnak, Vatrano, Beleskey, and Riley Nash. I have Tim Schaller and the newly acquired Brad Richardson as the 13th and 14th forwards, leaving four spots potentially open. Noel Acciari seems to have the 4th line center role locked down, and Peter Cehlarik showed flashes of brilliance in his brief stint in Boston last season. I have him filling the left wing spot with Krejci and Pastrnak, leaving the Top 6 virtually untouched. That 3rd line is where things get interesting. Ideally, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson would get some time in Providence before being given the shot on the NHL roster, but he is the best option the Bruins have at center on that line. I have given him Frank Vatrano on his left, and Notre Dame alum Anders Bjork on his right, meaning 2/3 of the 3rd line are rookies. While not ideal, this line gives the Bruins’ more offensive firepower in their lineup on a game to game basis and will allow all 3 players to show their talents in a more sheltered role.

Could Anders Bjork be the next Jake Guentzal? Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Official Photography

On the back end, Chara, Carlo, Krug, McQuaid, and Kevan Miller are all returning. I have McQuaid as the 7th defenseman, a role he is much better suited to than the borderline Top 4 minutes he has been receiving in recent years, so newly acquired Paul Postma slots in as the #6 defenseman. This gives Boston a more offensive counterpart to Kevan Miller on the 3rd pairing, and it could reasonably be argued that both players have the ability to dominate in a 3rd pairing role. Calder Trophy frontrunner Charlie McAvoy is slotted with Torey Krug, giving Boston a dangerous offensive pairing, while I chose to keep the Chara/Carlo pairing together, if only for continuity’s sake. Ideally, I’d like Chara paired with McAvoy and Krug with Carlo, so the team has 3 pairings with a defensively minded player and an offensively minded player. This allows the pairings to excel in the facets of the game that may come more difficulty to their partner.

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Charlie McAvoy is already a consensus front runner for the 2017-18 Calder Memorial Trophy. Photo Courtesy of NY Post/Associated Press

In goal, anyone who wants to get rid of Tuukka Rask belongs in some sort of mental institution, so he clearly stays in the starting role. Hopefully, Anton Khudobin can play more like he did in the latter half of the season than his early work to help take some of the pressure off of Rask. Both Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre would benefit from being with the big club as full-time backups, but now that Boston has hired a full time goaltending coach for Providence, and everything does not fall on Bob Essensa, there is a little less pressure to force them into a role they are not 100% comfortable with and ready for.

Tuukka Rask sat out against the Sabres Tuesday. But despite the goalie’s high save percentage, the Bruins haven’t been able to score consistently.

Tuukka Rask – Most underrated and underapreciated goaltender in the NHL? Photo courtesy of Justin K. Aller/ Boston Globe

These were just my predictions. Think I’m crazy? Probably. Glad you have been paying attention. But if you have any counter arguments against this lineup, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I look forward to your feedback!

 

To see the full roster and long-term outlook of the team based on my roster moves, please click the link below:

https://www.capfriendly.com/armchair-gm/embed/433152

 

Please follow my on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey for more content, and subscribe to my YouTube channel, @PuckNerd, for hockey-related videos and analysis. Please like, share, subscribe, etcetera!

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Bruins 2017 First Round Selection Injured

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred                      Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Yesterday at the World Junior Summer Showcase game between Team Finland and Team USA held in Plymouth, Michigan, Boston Bruins 2017 first round selection Urho Vaakanainen left late in the second period after taking an awkward hit.

The Injury occurred at the with 3:31 left in the second session and didn’t return. At the start of today’s matchup against Team Sweden, Vaakanainen remains out of the lineup. At most this could be precaution with his injury in the middle of the offseason and time to rest before rookie camp happens in September. In three games in the Summer Showcase, he has zero points with five shots on goal.

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Bruins Dunham Hire Not A Mystery Anymore

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred                             Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Earlier this week the Boston Bruins held a press conference to announce a few organizational hires with one being the addition of Goaltending Coach Mike Dunham to oversee the netminding situations throughout the organization as a member of the developmental staff. With days of heavy speculation of what Dunham’s actual job is going to entitle and the rumors of the B’s moving on from current Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa who’ll be with the team for his 15th year this upcoming season, CBS Boston Bruins Writer Matt Kalman shed some like many with his explanation of how things are going to work moving forward.

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In Matt’s article which was published yesterday, he said Mike Dunham was announced as the new coach by general manager Don Sweeney on Monday. In a position many teams have created over the past several seasons, Dunham’s going to work with goaltenders throughout the organization in Boston, Providence and beyond”.

Also mentioned in Kalman’s article was the increased hires of Goaltender Development Coaches in the past few seasons and while I believe this is a positive move to get younger netminders the proper tutelage in their progression to the National Hockey League but was disappointed to see the end of the hyper linked quote above with the news that Dunham will help the Boston goalies, Providence and beyond.  What I’m getting at here is he’s not going to be a permanent fixture with the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins where his mentorship on a full-time basis is sorely needed.

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Before the announcement of the new hires, current Goaltending Coach Essensa would spend a majority of his time with the NHL Bruins and when team travel and close proximities to Providence, Rhode Island allowed him to go to Providence to work with the top minor-pro goalies, he would. For myself and many Baby B’s fans, I thought the hire was for him to work completely in the AHL but the sounds of it, he’s going to float around which is a bit concerning to me and those who pay close attention to the pro affiliate on a regular basis.

So does this raise the questions of how the Bruins developing netminders would perform with a full-time coach?  Could’ve Zane McIntyre had a better rookie season in the AHL before his emergence as the top AHL goaltender last season? What about the 2012 first round pick for the B’s Malcolm Subban and his up and down three year’s with the organization? At this point, it’s hard to say how a young player grasps the knowledge from former professional players and how they perform while struggling but I’m going to go out on a line with my unprofessional opinion and say that they could’ve benefited greatly with a trusted coach always around under any circumstances.

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Let the past be the past I guess, but now as B’s fan, we can look forward to the help a man like Dunham can do with a player like Dan Vladar who was selected in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and 2017 fourth round selection Jeremy Swayman. Vladar just finished a decent first year of professional hockey, and with the signings of McIntyre and Subban, the big, athletic netminder will most likely return to the East Coast Hockey League Atlanta Gladiators. Swayman played in the United State Hockey League last year and is committed to play at the University of Maine in the fall.

Between meeting up with Boston, Providence, Atlanta, and now Maine, Dunham is certainly going to get a lot of travel time to prepare the future in the crease for the Boston Bruins but a permanent coaching position should become available in a league that transitions players to the highest level and in my opinion with the limited NHL games played between McIntyre and Subban it’s clear they weren’t ready with neither of them gaining a win in combined efforts.

Posted in AHL, Atlanta Gladiators, Boston Bruins, Bruins Prospects, NHL, Providence Bruins | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

When The Bruins Came To Belfast

( Above Photo Credit:  BBCSports )

By: Cameron Benson                               Follow Me On Twitter @NIBruinsFans 

With the Boston Bruins recently in China as part of Bruins global, it gave us the chance to look back at other times the NHL has traveled outside of North America. Such as when in 2010 six NHL teams played in Europe. This involved the Bruins who played two games against the Coyotes, (splitting the series one a piece) game against HC Liberec of the Czech Republic along with a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland to play a Belfast Giants selects the hockey team.

This was something new for the city of Belfast. A city that throughout history has become known for its trouble. Their local team, the Belfast Giants, thrive on being neutral. So much that they play in the color teal; a cross between blue and green that represents both sides of the country. The arrival of the Bruins showed not only how far the city had developed but how they could host one of the NHL’s biggest teams. Something that hadn’t happened in the UK for three years and never before in Northern Ireland. The city hosting such an event would have seemed impossible just a few years beforehand.

The match was played at the Odyssey Arena, (now SSE Arena) home of the Belfast Giants since their formation in the year 2000. The Belfast Giants Select team were made up of players from the Elite Ice Hockey League (the highest form of competitive hockey in the UK). The home team was captained by Giants’ own Colin Shields, a native of Scotland. He lined up against Zdeno Chara of Boston while Stephen Murphy battled Tuukka Rask in goal. Jade Galbraith put the Giants into the lead by shooting top shelf in the second period. However, the Bruins fought back, taking a 2-1 lead moment later with goals from then-rookie Tyler Seguin and Captain Zdeno Chara. 20 seconds later Marchand put the visitors up by two. The second period finished with Boston leading 3-1. Eight minutes into the third Lucic made it four, showing the difference between the two sides. Before the buzzer, Seguin was hooked and awarded a penalty shot. It was converted for the final goal of the night and a 5-1 win for the boys in black and gold.

( Above Photo Credit:   belfastgiants.com )

So why was this 5-1 pre season friendly important?

For the Bruins, it was another in a long list of preparation for the upcoming NHL season. They had been eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup the season before. And of course, would eventually go on to win the cup in 2011. The European tour provided a unique experience for the players, especially Shawn Thornton, whose mother was from Belfast and moved to Canada at a young age. The chance to play in the city gave him the opportunity to not only bring his mother back to see her family but a chance to see where his grandparents grew up while creating some new, modern memories in Northern Ireland.

Today, the legacy of the Bruins still lives in the SSE Arena. Jerseys presented by the Bruins to the Giants are on display, while huge images painted into the arena screen moments from the match. Hockey has become more popular in the city, and average crowds have risen to over 4,000 a game. Since 2016 the Belfast Giants have hosted the Friendship Four, a NCAA event which invites universities (mainly those near Boston) to compete over Thanksgiving weekend. Meanwhile, many fans ask “Will we ever see an NHL team in Belfast again.” While we may not know the answer, Stanley Cup winners such as Kevin Westgarth and Jim Vandermeer have called Belfast home in recent years. All part of the legacy created by a visit from the Boston Bruins.

Posted in Boston Bruins, Bruins History, NCAA Mens Hockey, NHL | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Boston Bruins Lineup Outlook Heading Into August

By Mike Cratty                                                                    Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

The Boston Bruins lineup has plenty of opportunities for change, mostly in the forward core. A fairly quiet offseason may end up being the proper course of action for this Bruins team, as they have pieces within the organization trying to burst onto the NHL scene or further their cases as legitimate NHLers.

This lineup isn’t set in stone, but it contains where I think players should be slotted into the lineup at this point.

Forwards

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak (RFA)

Anders Bjork – David Krejci – David Backes

Peter Cehalrik* – Ryan Spooner – Jake DeBrusk

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Tim Schaller

Forwards that will compete for ice time: Danton Heinen, Frank Vatrano, Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Zachary Senyshyn, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson.

*Peter Cehlarik will be recovering from surgery to start the season.

Three spots are up-for-grabs in the top-six, first line right-wing and the second line wings. David Pastrnak is a lock for one of the right wing spots. There is a very slight possibility that David Backes gets a shot at third line center. But a top-six right wing spot is more likely based on last season. The third-line wing spots are up-for-grabs as well. Players that could end up playing on the third line are Danton Heinen, Frank Vatrano, Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, Zachary Senyshyn and David Backes. Long story short, there are a lot of players competing for ice time, especially on the second and third lines.

The third-line wing spots are up-for-grabs as well. Players that could end up playing on the third line are Danton Heinen, Frank Vatrano, Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, Zachary Senyshyn and David Backes. Long story short, there are a lot of players competing for ice time, especially on the second and third lines.

Spooner has looked better at the center position throughout his career, so making him the third-line center from the start makes the most sense.

It sounds as though Ryan Spooner may actually start the season as a Bruin.

Don Sweeney mentioned how he expects to see Ryan Spooner develop into a more productive two-way player:

Many people thought he wouldn’t before he avoided salary arbitration by signing a one-year/$2.825 million deal. This doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of Spooner being traded though. The quote above makes it sound like Don Sweeney wants to see Ryan Spooner get another shot.

As much as I’d love to see Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson in the lineup, I think Spooner gets first dibs, and if he slips, Forsbacka-Karlsson takes his place.

Although Spooner gets flack from some hockey fans, he is more established in the Bruins lineup. This is partly because JFK has played one regular season game as a Bruin, but the point still stands. JFK could play on the wing, but right now that just seems unlikely.

Frank Vatrano is a guy that could very well start the season outside of the lineup. With plenty of young left-handed players rising, he will really have to prove himself to earn the ice time, like Matt Beleskey, although Vatrano and Beleskey are very different players. Sean Kuraly is one of the left-handed forwards competing for ice time.

It seems like Sean Kuraly may be a perfect fit for the fourth line and he very much could be. Matt Beleskey will likely start in hopes for a bounce back season after tallying a career high in points two seasons ago. Riley Nash and Noel Acciari, on the other hand, seem to have solidified their positions on the fourth line.

Tim Schaller proved to be a solid bottom-six forward, so the 13th forward spot makes sense to start.

Defense

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Charlie McAvoy

Kevan Miller – Adam McQuaid

Paul Postma

Defensemen that will compete for ice time: Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk.

The defensive core is made up of players who have already proven themselves to some degree. Where these defensemen will play is a toss up.

Zdeno Chara will hold down the first pair with Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo to start. Whoever of McAvoy and Carlo don’t end up with Chara will end up on the second pair with Torey Krug or Kevan Miller

Whoever of McAvoy and Carlo don’t end up with Chara will end up on the second pair with Torey Krug or Kevan Miller.

The third pair is a toss up, with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Paul Postma, Rob O’Gara and Matt Grzelcyk vouching for a spot. Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy could be included in that group of players, but it seems more plausible to play them in the top-four to help them develop. Both players have shown flashes that they can be top-four defensemen.

Goalies

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Goalies that will compete for ice time: Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban.

There isn’t much to say for the goaltenders. The one main storyline is the backup position because Tuukka Rask has the starter position locked up.

Anton Khudobin turned things around towards the end of last season. If he struggles like he did at times last season, he could be sent down again, or maybe even traded to a team looking for goaltender depth due to injury or necessity. If any of those things happen, Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban will get the next shot at the backup position.

Posted in Boston Bruins, NHL | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Conversation With Bruins Writer Mick Colageo

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By Court Lalonde               Follow me on Twitter @courtlalonde

We all read every article we can about our favorite team the Boston Bruins but rarely do we get to know the person who is writing the article. I was lucky enough to sit down with long time Bruins writer Mick Colageo the other day and pick his brain. At age 60, Mick has been covering the Bruins for nearly half his life either in print, on the radio, or on the internet. “It was during my radio era and in the 1991-92 season that I began covering the Bruins, credentialed by a nationally based overnight radio show called The Sports Final,” Mick told me. He did it for free but did get to go to Bruins games and cover it. “I would make short radio reports that I recorded or gave live over the pay phone at Boston Garden’s press room door,” said Mick.

He began writing Bruins columns regularly for The Standard-Times in 95-96. During the year the Bruins opened the Fleet Center (TD Garden as we know now). “For a season or two, I wrote my column for the small daily papers owned by my full-time employer’s parent company, but returned to the first arrangement with the Standard-Times in 2000.” He became their full-time writer for the sports department and as a staff writer. He was able to cover the Bruins on a more consistent basis during the Bruins playoff runs in 2011 and 2013 and was able to travel for some away games. Mick was lucky enough to be able to cover Game 7 in Vancouver on June 15, 2011, and see the Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup.

He considers himself a hockey geek even though now covering the Bruins is a part time thing with his paper. “I have a passion for hockey and have always intensely followed the Bruins. It’s the most fun I could ever have at a job being able to structure my thoughts on the team and players and fans interact with them about it” said Mick. When I asked him what his biggest moment was covering the Bruins, he couldn’t give me just one, and I didn’t expect him to. Speaking to me about the time he was at Boston Garden for the Last Hurrah night. It was against the Montreal Canadians which be a fitting end to once hallow halls of the Boston Garden. He grew up a fan of the Boston Bruins, and now he was allowed to watch them for work. Which brings us to June 15, 2011, and being able to see the Bruins become team number one in Boston sports again. “The Cup was on the first float; the fans had wait long enough, and the news of confirmation moments before the parade began that it was the largest gathering in Boston’s history gave me a tremendous satisfaction proving what I’d been telling people for years, that the Bruins had fans just like all of Boston’s previously more successful teams” Mick said to me.

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(Above Photo Credit: Bob Frid/Icon Sportwire)

I asked him if he finds it hard to be objective when he is writing about the team because I know it is one of the toughest things I have to do when I write. His answer was “Yes, the biggest change from now as opposed to 20 years ago is I don’t write the angry fan letter anymore.” Over the years he has learned to appreciate the challenges each management team has faced while covering the Bruins and began to empathize with them. He tries to remember when he is writing about the Bruins that it’s a person he is writing about. He enjoys writing about the present players, and they’re a nice group of guys he says, from Zdeno Chara on down. “Patrice Bergeron is as nice a guy as I’ve ever met. I also enjoyed talking with Tim Thomas, and Tuukka Rask is always engaging.” He has found it harder lately because he has been spending less time with the club. “Suddenly Bergy’s an old guy, which means I’m a very old guy” Mick was telling me.

We talked about the current Bruins players move, and he said to me that he thinks that Danton Heinen will be their most improved player next year and I hope he is right. When I asked him what he is most looking forward to about the Bruins next year, he said development. The Bruins are a team full of youth on their roster next year and have some young piece of their defense core that is maturing into everyday defensemen sooner rather than later. “McAvoy was a small sample, but we saw a guy that could make a spectacular blunder but could recover quickly because he had a physical commitment and the save to understand how to get better.” He feels that it looks Charlie McAvoy will climb the depth charts quickly and reminds him a lot of Dennis Potvin because he is fast on his feet and gets where he needs to go.

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(Above Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

We spoke about how sometimes players and management get a bad rap. He said to me that “Krejci doesn’t have a bad contract, just bad support” and I couldn’t agree with him more. Next season hopefully with David Pastrnak returning to David Krejci’s line he will have constancy that he hasn’t had since the days of Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Mick even suggested to me that the Bruins try David Backes on his off wing on the second line with Pasta and Krejci. He did say that they will probably have a look of Bjork on that line as well along with trying the kid on the line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. I shared my opinion that Pastrnak should be on the second line because it balances the scoring, but Mick suggested that also it’s a good idea because Marchand now is a player that likes to have the puck and Pastrnak is that type of player too. At this point in Bergeron’s career, it would be a waste of his talent just to have him be the guy that covers for the defense and has a support role on the line. I had never thought of it that way before, but after Mick told me this, I won’t look at it any other way. He said that one of the times Peter Chiarelli deserved the biggest slack from the fans was in 2014. Dennis Seidenberg goes down with an injury, and he replaces him with Andrej Meszaros, and Claude Julien doesn’t even play him and instead goes with Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller. This team won the president trophy that year and should have beat the Montreal Canadians, but the loss of Seidenberg was too big of a hill to climb. The rumor at the time was that Chiarelli wasn’t able to acquire a higher caliber defenseman at the time because he wasn’t willing to part with Ryan Spooner.

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(Above Photo Credit: Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire)

We talked about the Bruins defense core and what the future holds, and he said something to me that rings true “Chara should get some of that Tom Brady love for being so good at his age, and he gets none.” He said to me that it was a hard choice for Don Sweeney to chose Kevan over Colin Miller during the expansion draft. Kevan had been one of the Bruins best defensemen near the end of the season and during the playoffs stepped up and became more reliable than Colin and learned from his mistakes. Sweeney was able to have the guts to walk away from Colin who he acquired in the Milan Lucic deal that he projected high on but it just didn’t work out the way he thought it would. With the increasingly good play we have seen from Torey Krug and from what we saw from Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy the defense is something we shouldn’t have to worry about anymore and in the future. Him and I both agree that it does look like the Bruins are poised to make the playoff’s once again this season but will have some competition from the other clubs in their division.

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(Above Photo Credit: Jason Kopinski/Icon Sportswire)

I feel like I could have talked with Mick for hours and never get bored with the conversation and his knowledge of the game was astounding. I do know some of the people reading this may want to become a writer someday and Mick gave me some advice that I want to share with everyone. He said to me that any young writer, especially in today’s atmosphere of white noise, when you finally know something, ask yourself some more-or-less questions like “why report it?”.  If the primary answer is for your career, it might be worth more to sit on it, learn how to keep something under your hat and become a reporter a GM doesn’t mind talking to. Don’t predicate that on some golden nugget but on how much more you’re likely to learn and grow from the conversations hockey people will be willing to have with you.

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Boston Bruins and Ryan Spooner Come To Terms On One-Year Deal

 

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Ryan Spooner #51 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 15, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                   Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins found a way to avoid arbitration with forward Ryan Spooner today, signing him to a one-year, $2.825 million dollar contract.  The contract is a near split down the middle from what the Bruins ($2 million) and Spooner ($3.85 million) wanted.

In the short term, both sides walked away with a win. Spooner got nearly a $ 2 million dollar raise. As for the Bruins, they now have all but one player (forward David Pastrnak) locked up going into camp in September.

Even with a contract, Spooner’s place in the lineup isn’t a lock.  He’ll be facing stiff competition from Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson in battling for the B’s third-line center position at training camp.

Spooner had some issues with Boston last season. He wasn’t the favorite of either head coach in Boston last year. Claude Julien had issues with his defensive game, and Bruce Cassidy had problems with his offensive game. Those issues caused him to be scratched in the final two playoff games against Ottawa last season.

The 25-year old Spooner had some issues last season with Boston . Spooner wasn’t the favorite of either head coach in Boston last year. Claude Julien had issues with his defensive game, and Bruce Cassidy had problems with his offensive game. Those issues caused him to be scratched in the final two playoff games against Ottawa last season.

At the end of the season, Cassidy called out Spooner for his liabilites on local media.

“Listen, we all know he’s not that guy that’s going to be planting himself in front of the net and absorbing hits every shift, but he still needs to attack with the puck when there is some open ice,” said Cassidy about Spooner. “And like I said, there wasn’t a lot, but there were creases out there where he could have used his foot speed, and that was the conversation with him. When those situations arose, we needed him to make his plays and attack. It didn’t happen, so we moved on to the next player. We’re here to win; we were kind of leaving it all out there and I thought our guys played hard, the guys that went in, so you kind of look at it as more give them credit for going in and doing their job and we’ll continue to work with Ryan.

“Listen, he’s a special talent. We’ve just got to continue to try to pull it out of him and see where it leads us.”

Spooner had 39 points (11 goals) last year for the Black and Gold. Those 39 points were good enough for sixth overall on the team, but it was a 10 point (2 goal) backslide from the year before.

While Spooner will have some place on the team this year, he’s going to have to prove he wants to be in Boston if he has any hope of staying with the team at the end of the upcoming season.

 

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Hockey Hall Of Fame: Plea For O’Ree

25-year-old left wing Willie O’Ree, the first black player of the National Hockey League, warms up in his Boston Bruins uniform, prior to the game with the New York Rangers, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, on November 23, 1960. (AP Photo)

By: Mark Allred                     Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

On June 25, 2017, The Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Committee made the call to several great players deserving the honor to have their plaque stored at the famous location in the hockey hotbed of Toronto, Ontario. This year’s class will include two former Bruins that played for the team in Boston and were instrumental pieces in B’s history. Long-time National Hockey League players Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi will receive the honor at the 2017 Induction Ceremony on Monday Night, November, 13th.  Also from the Bruins being inducted into the Hall of Fame is Owner Jeremy Jacobs who’s accepting the nomination in the builder’s category.  An article about the unpopular Bruins owner can be read HERE from Black N’ Gold Productions team member Andrew Thompson, who wrote this article shortly after hearing about the 2017 Class.

Regardless if you agree with the inductions and the roles they played or didn’t play for that matter, I can’t get over the fact that former Bruins forward Willie O’Ree continues to be overlooked for his role in the National Hockey League when he entered the league in 1958.  In a world of Hall of Famer’s inducted on lavish careers and Stanley Cup success, I believe Mr. O’Ree should be inducted into the hall, not for his limited time in the NHL but as a builder of something great and a pathway for many talented players of color during a tough time in American History when it comes to race.

For those who don’t know, Willie O’Ree is well known through the hockey community as being compared to baseball’s Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier in their respected sports. Now I understand all the intangibles that come with being considered for the hall but when are break throughs in sports history going to take a stand over stats and championship notoriety?

As mentioned Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi were former Bruins players and both won championships with their respected teams at those times but when considering O’ree’s career and limited time in the NHL he might be better suited as an inductee in the builder’s category.  If an inductee like Jeremy Jacobs can get into the hall as a builder and one of the proprietors of the often league lockouts and don’t forget the league mandated salary cap, how can a man like that get the call over a person like Willie?. With the recent news of the Jacobs family and their negligence to honor a deal, they had with the city of Boston and the continued hockey growth fundraising in the area for a better part of 24 years, I just don’t understand the pecking order when it comes to consideration.

As a player category when the hall gets together, as a long-time Bruins fan myself I would have to go along with Kevin M. Flanagan and his effort to get former Bruins player Rick “Nifty” Middleton consideration as he appeared in over one thousand NHL games and posting 988 points in his 14-year career. With the Bruins Middleton in twelve seasons, the Toronto native posted 402-496-898 numbers in 881 games. As a player, yes I can Agree with Kevin M, Flanagan’s article that can be read HERE but I still want to advocate for O’Ree’s career and how much he’s been an ambassador to so many hockey players of color that have seen a severe increase in the past not only in the NHL but in all areas that hockey’s played worldwide.

O’Ree was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada in October of 1935 and played his local hockey growing up with the associated minor leagues from the 1950-51 season to 1953-54 when he left home at the age of 19 to join the upper levels of developmental hockey westward making stops in Quebec with the Frontenacs and Aces to have his Junior Hockey career year with the Kitchener Canucks where he got 58 points in 58 games before joining the NHL’s Boston Bruins in the 1957-58 season playing in two games making him the first black player to ever skate in the NHL. O’Ree’s first official game was on January 18, 1958, against the Montreal Canadiens as he was the best player in the area playing for the Quebec Aces because the Bruins had an injured player and called for emergency relief.

After playing his first two professional games in 1958. O’Ree would be sent down to continue to play and develop in the Candian Minor Leagues until Boston came calling again with a contract audition in the 1960-61 season where he’d play his last National Hockey League games appearing in 43 games and posting 4-10-14 numbers which were career highs.  The now 81-year-old had a successful minor-pro stint to end his professional career out in California starting in the 1961-62 season with the Los Angles Blades of the Western Hockey League (Senior League) and the San Diego Gulls. He would end his playing career in 1978-79 playing in a Southern California Senior League.

His time growing up and working hard to get noticed playing the game didn’t come as an easy task in a sport  populated with white athletes as O’Ree heard his fair share of  racial slurs but said according to Wikipedia saying “Racist remarks were much worse in the U.S. cities than in Toronto and Montreal,” the two Canadian cities hosting NHL teams at the time, and that “Fans would yell, ‘Go back to the South‘ and ‘How come you’re not picking cotton?’ Things like that. It didn’t bother me. I just wanted to be a hockey player, and if they couldn’t accept that fact, that was their problem, not mine.

My point of this article and push is for people and players like Mr. O’Ree that might not get consideration as a player for the Hall, but a look into other areas of nominations that shouldn’t be ignored in my opinion.

Below are some conversations on Twitter who also feel the same way about Willie getting his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Bruins Khudobin Has A Lot To Prove

 

26 September 2016: Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Sonny Milano (22) tries to get the tip on Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35). The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 (SO) in a pre-season NHL game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

By: Mark Allred                         Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin has one-year remaining on his contract, and if he can keep his backup job after this falls National Hockey League training camp, he’ll be under tremendous pressure to be better in the 2017-18 campaign than he was last season in his return to Boston for a second tour of duty. That pressure will consist of his previous season record of 7-6-1 in 16 games played and the fact that recent two-year two-way signings of Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban will be in the mix at camp jockeying to knock the 31-year-old Khudobin out of the Bruins goaltending scenario.

Although the Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan native was an instrumental piece in earning the Bruins an appearance in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the later part of last season, he needs to be a better supporting teammate to give starter Tuukka Rask adequate rest. Out of the 328 games, the B’s have played in the last four seasons, Rask’s been heavily relied on appearing in 257 of those games leaving 71 games to the backup netminders such as Jonas Gustavsson, Chad Johnson, and Niklas Svedberg who’ve earned a record together of 42-24-6 with a combined goals-against-average of 2.44 and combined .913 save percentage. Now those numbers don’t seem bad for four goaltenders in the limited role during the past four seasons but the only net minder that’s actually done well out of the group and set the tone to these averages was the effort of Johnson during the 2013-14 campaign where he earned a 17-4-3 record and 2.10 GAA and .925 Save%. After Johnson walked to free agency before the 2014-15 season, the Bruins backup role has only produced a 25-20-3 record and 2.56 GAA and .909 Save% numbers which are entirely unacceptable.

Khudobin’s 2017-18 Season Expectations

Considering all the intangibles and the fact that this article is being published in July, I can see Anton winning the job next season over the severely inexperienced McIntyre and Subban. In an effort to lower the playing time of Rask I can see Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy giving Khudobin the opportunity to start at least 30 games and if he’s on top of his offseason workouts and has a strong camp and forget about the beginning of last year, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that the veteran can earn a 20-10 record with both sides being happy with that production. Another key factor that the Bruins will look at during the upcoming schedule is the 14 back-to-back games the B’s are set to play and what scenario to use him in as it’s almost impossible to start one netminder two straight games.

Bruins Goaltending Future

( Above Photo Credit: Boston Bruins Official Twitter Account @NHLBruins )

Now, this article can’t go any further with mentioning the role of McIntyre and Subban after next season when the Bruins could and most likely will move on from the services of Khudobin after his contractual obligation is over. As mentioned above, with the signing of the young goaltenders recently for two more seasons, the timing of the 2018-19 season will be important to them as that could be the Bruins NHL goaltending tandem for that particular season while auditioning for more games at the highest level. This is all pure speculation on my part but with the way things are lining up with the developing depth the landscape isn’t hard to figure out when you consider the Bruins team is always up against the ceiling of the league mandated salary cap.

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