The tradition of heading away on a trip prior to the start of the season serves as an opportunity for the group to get away from Boston for a few days, spend time as a team, and get refreshed before the test of 82-plus games.
Some may think it's not more beneficial than being on the ice for the past two days. But the players welcomed the change of scenery, especially given the emotionally tough day on Saturday after they let it sink in that Johnny Boychuk was headed to the Islanders in a trade that brought back three draft picks to Boston. They needed the time to regroup.
"It was an awesome weekend," said Torey Krug, speaking with pool reporters over the phone Monday on the bus ride back from Vermont. He sounded at ease. "I think anytime you go away with your teammates, it's always fun, first and foremost, and we were up at the Vermont Police Academy, hanging out having a good time."
"We went through a bunch of different educational exercises and training. We had a lot of fun with it - it was a great weekend."
"Guys go through a long camp and they come to Boston, they're excited to see everyone - you're thrown onto the ice, you're skating a lot, there's a lot of things thrown at you by the coaching staff," Krug added.
"It can be overwhelming, for sure, so to take the time as a team and to go away together, and maybe get away from the rink a little bit, is definitely beneficial and I think it's important to kind of refresh ourselves."
"We've been skating a lot lately and now everyone's just eager to get this thing going. I think we have a very excited, hungry group and we're just looking forward to Wednesday."
While players in the mix for the Black & Gold's opening night roster aren't necessarily new faces to the organization, the weekend still served as a chance for the newer team dynamic to form off the ice.
Bobby Robins, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, Niklas Svedberg, Craig Cunningham (he and Jordan Caron cleared waivers on Sunday and remain with Boston) and Matt Fraser did not have established roles with Boston last season for various reasons. Pastrnak's first taste of the organization was getting drafted in June. Simon Gagne's first go-round came at the start of training camp when he signed his tryout agreement.
"Every year [the trip is] important, and this year we had a few more guys — you know, new guys that might be part of the team, so it definitely was even more important this year to do it," Patrice Bergeron said to pool reporters, while on the bus ride back as well.
"I think it’s always nice to kind of get to leave as a team and be somewhere where you’re basically here for 48 hours and you can establish some chemistry by doing these activities and working on leadership and trusting each other - it always helps."
It puts the entire team in a comfortable situation where they're away from cameras, away from media, away from everything except the team.
"It's also about making a connection with all the guys, even with the new guys, and trying to make them feel comfortable around the group and not [be afraid of] stepping up or leading the way if need be in our activities," said Bergeron. "And realizing that that’s the way we do things around here — it’s about all the guys and not just individuals."
On the ice, though, is where the team support is most important.
"I think the biggest thing for me is making sure that we all understand the team mindset and mentality, and also even on the ice about making sure that we all understand the systems," said Bergeron, marrying the off-ice and on-ice dynamics. "And Claude does a good job with that, he always does a good job with that during training camp. For all the new players that are with us, like I said, it’s getting used to it for them and establishing chemistry."
Given Saturday's happenings, the trip to end camp was a time to regroup mentally before the season opens on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden.
"You know, it’s a good thing in a way that we don’t start the regular season until Wednesday, because it’s going to to give us a little bit of time to process that like anything else," Head Coach Claude Julien had said following Saturday night's final tune-up against Detroit.
"And we’ll be ready to move forward here by the time the puck drops on Wednesday night."
Saturday's change was still sinking in for the Bruins when they left for Vermont, and Krug thought that the time away helped.
"You know, everything that happened with Johnny, it's tough - he was such a big part of the locker room," said Krug. "There's some room that we're going to have to make up here, guys are going to kind of have to pull their end of the slack and make up for what we lost in Johnny."
"We're very confident with everyone that we have in here, but it was a tough day for sure, and I guess going away for the weekend can kind of help with that and now it's just moving forward. We understand that it was a business thing, and we're just moving forward."
To move forward, Krug and the other younger defensemen on the Bruins' back end will be looking back.
They'll draw on the growing pains they went through the second half of last season and in the playoffs without veteran blueliners like Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid.
"I think going through what we did last year with Seids going down and at different points of the season, other guys going down, McQuaid obviously missed some time as well, I think using that experience that we gained could definitely help us out moving forward," said Krug. "Obviously, this is a permanent thing with Johnny being gone."
"We’ve got to take the same approach - it’s by committee. That’s what we have to do."
Leaders on the back end like Captain Zdeno Chara and Seidenberg will be there to provide support and keep the group in line - though they don't think much direction will need to be given.
"You just have to try to move forward and pick up the slack he left," Seidenberg said on Saturday night, before the group traveled to Vermont.
"The young guys are very advanced and handle themselves very well - they don’t really need a lot of leadership to know what to do and how to play. Where we can help we do, but I think overall they’re all set."
For the team as a whole, the "moving forward" will have to happen quickly. Though uncertainty still remains around the roster and the start of the season may look daunting - beginning with a back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday against Philadelphia and Detroit that morphs into three games in four nights - camp is over, the team is nearly in place and they'll have to deliver results on the ice.
"Everyone as a group just has to do their part," said Krug. "It’s very important that guys don’t try to do too much and try to take on an additional role that they probably they shouldn’t. Some guys are going to play a little bit more now, and I think everyone takes that challenge and runs with it."
"I think everyone’s excited with the opportunity to play and we just have to make sure we stay focused, stay true to our identity, not only as individual players but as a D corps in general. We’ve got to make sure we stay true to that."