WILMINGTON - It's that time of year again. With the passing of Labor Day, schools are in session and the end of summer is well on its way.
For the Bruins and the rest of the NHL, that means it's back to work.
Those who don the Black and Gold have been putting in the work all summer, and now comes to the time to implement that training back in Boston.
On Tuesday, several Bruins and P-Bruins began holding informal practices at Ristuccia Arena in preparation for the start of training camp on September 18.
The group included Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, David Warsofsky, Zach Trotman, Justin Florek, David Pastrnak, Brian Ferlin, Bobby Robins and Tommy Cross.
Bergeron led the drills, and pulled out a stopwatch at the end of the skate to run himself and the group through sprints from goal line to goal line.
"It’s always nice to get back here," Bergeron told media following the skate. "Especially being here early, you know, and seeing the guys and seeing the trainers, and the coaches, and just being here, and enjoying the little bit of the rest of nice weather here in Boston, and getting ready."
It was a welcome sight to see McQuaid, Kelly and Seidenberg on the ice with their teammates after missing time during the regular season and all of the 2014 playoffs with their respective injuries.
McQuaid faced a nagging groin injury in the second half of the season and then had surgery on his right ankle in May. Kelly underwent back surgery at the start of the offseason.
Seidenberg has long been recovered from the ACL/MCL tear he suffered last December. When the BostonBruins.com crew took a trip to see the defenseman in New Jersey in mid-August, his knee was feeling good and he was continuing to build back his muscle strength around the ligaments.
While the Bruins' veterans are prepping for camp, younger players are also getting ready for their crack at roster spots.
Warsofsky has been called "as close to an NHL player as you’re going to get from Providence" by General Manager Peter Chiarelli, and the defenseman no doubt has his sights set on proving that to be true.
Up front, Florek, Robins, Ferlin and Pastrnak are all focused on making strong impressions at camp and will help ramp up the competition for roster spots.
Pastrnak signed his first contract with the Bruins on the last day of the team's development camp in July. The high-energy 2014 first-round draft pick started skating with the group last week before they relocated from Boston University to Ristuccia Arena in advance of camp.
"I saw him last week, he was at BU skating, I've seen him a few times. He's very fast, skilled, he battles hard," said Bergeron, who thought back to when he was a ripe 18-year-old preparing for training camp. "I know it's early, but he seems to be really hard on the puck and wants it, so you know, it's great to have, he seems to be a great player."
"All of the young guys that we have right now are pushing for spots. It's healthy competition, I think you need that, especially in training camp."
The Bruins' informal practices will continue until the start of training camp on September 18, as the rest of the team filters into Boston. Before training camp opens, the team's rookie camp is set to start on September 11. The first preseason game is September 23, while the season officially begins on October 8.
"You know, every time you don’t achieve the ultimate goal, you have to prove something all over again, and that’s for sure, and it’s definitely on our minds this year," said Bergeron, looking ahead to 2014-15. "You have to start all over, start in training camp, have a good camp, and have a strong start of the season, and go from there."
"You definitely can’t look past that, but still, we’re definitely looking forward to the season, and we all know that we’re going to have to bring more."