Yet here we are, four months later, and it feels like just yesterday that the players were cleaning out their locker stalls at TD Garden.
Of course, the B’s still would have preferred that their summers started a little later.
“It’s never a good thing [to have a long summer], but that being said, when it’s there, you have to make the most of it and try to make sure you’re all rested up and you feel good and you’re ready for a big year,” said Patrice Bergeron before the Bruins teed off on Tuesday at the 11th Annual Bruins Foundation Golf Tournament in Bolton, Mass. “So we’ve had the time this year to do that and to regroup, but it’s always better to have less time and move forward in the playoffs.”
Goaltender Tuukka Rask had a long season in 2013-14, even if he didn’t let it show. He started a career high 58 games in net, posting a 2.04 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage en route to his first Vezina Trophy.
He is one guy who certainly made the most of his long summer, taking advantage of the opportunity to rest while working his way through his full offseason training regimen.
“When you have five weeks, six weeks off of skating, you kind of don’t lose your edge — you just jump right back in it. But when you have double that or triple that, then it kind of takes more time to get back to your rhythm,” he said. “But it’s definitely good to get that mental break and get your mind off of hockey and focus on your workout routine and get your body feeling good.”
One thing is for certain: With training camp kicking off on Thursday morning at TD Garden, the Bruins will be ready to go. They have a full summer and two weeks of captains’ practices under their belts. It’s time to start preparing for October 8: opening night.
“I think 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,” Rask said. “It’s been a long summer for us — longer than we’re used to in past years — and I think that our hunger has been growing during that summer. Everybody looks ready to go and really excited about the new season.”
There are some slight changes on tap for Boston as they head into camp. Head Coach Claude Julien is aiming to implement a more aggressive approach — “maybe turn the puck over a little quicker and spend more time with it,” he said — but nothing major.
Rask is gearing up for a larger adjustment: For the third consecutive year, he will be working with a different backup.
Rask said the adjustment won’t be anything too difficult. Since projected backup Niklas Svedberg has come up through the Bruins' farm system, Rask has some familiarity with him and is confident that he and the Providence product will develop the same chemistry he had with Chad Johnson and, previously, Anton Khudobin.
“I’ve known Sveddy now for a couple of years, just from the camps and stuff, so it’s nothing like it’s a brand new guy there I’ve never met,” he said. “So I think that helps. Every goalie [has] a different style and stuff like that, so that always changes things. Everybody’s been such a great guy, and we’ve gotten along so well that I don’t see that as an issue this year, either.”
Added Julien, “We feel confident every guy we’ve had that’s come in as a secondary goaltender, backup goaltender, has always done a good job. We don’t anticipate that being an issue again this year.”
Svedberg — along with a handful of hopefuls from Providence, as well as camp invites such as Ville Leino and Simon Gagne — enter the next few weeks with one purpose in mind: Show GM Peter Chiarelli, Julien and the coaching staff that they are worthy of spots on an NHL roster.
For veterans like Bergeron, though, camp is still a good measuring stick for where they are now and how much work they have left to do before the season opener.
“[You] just try to from one day to another [to] get better and make sure your feet are underneath you,” Bergeron said. “[It’s about] finding your game back and making sure you feel free with your teammates on the ice, but also with yourself and how you’re skating out there. Take it a day at a time.”
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was ruled out for the 2013-14 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in late December, is looking forward to this camp more than any other.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “Last time I was on the ice with the team for a real practice was December, so I’m looking forward to getting back at it — skating with the guys, starting to get some body contact and just really excited to get going and playing some games.”
Looking ahead to the future is admittedly difficult, particularly given the way last season ended for the Bruins. While the players are eager to drown last year’s disappointment with a hot start to this season, they know it is important for them to keep the focus on the immediate future and nothing else.
“One day at a time” is a credo that served the B's well throughout last year’s regular season, so it only makes sense that the B’s would adopt it once again heading into 2014-15.
“I think we had a great regular season, and what happened in the playoffs — that’s how it goes,” said David Krejci. “Sometimes you get a little luck and you go to the next round, but [we] didn’t. We didn’t live up to our own expectations, and we know it, so this year, just go into the season, have a good start and go from there.
"Don’t move too much ahead; just take game by game.”