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Boston Bruins Media Day Marksthe Beginning of the End of Training Camp

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Late Evening Update...

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Here are some transcripts from today's activities. JB

 Media Day 2008: Bruins Management Press Conference 

Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien

On how he has seen progression from year one...
There’s a lot of good things that we see.  First of all, our young players developed probably above expectations because of the circumstances that we had last year, because of the injuries.  They were able to progress at a quicker rate, that's encouraging for us.  We’ve made some acquisitions this summer that have made our team better and at the same time you can put [Manny] Fernandez in there. You can put [Patrice] Bergeron there as well, as we’ve mentioned many times they’re just as good as free agent signings.

On Blake Wheeler performing above expectations...
To be honest with you guys I don’t think I had seen him play before. I met him this summer obviously before we signed him and had an opportunity to get to know him a little better but at the same time am I impressed absolutely. What he’s brought to our team right now is very impressive, as Peter mentioned, he’s a fifth overall pick, if anything we should give our organization a lot of credit to be able to get a guy like that in the draft who’s fifth overall. I think it shows that a lot of people wanted Blake and what we’ve seen from a player whose living up to the expectation that was put upon him in terms of being fifth overall.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli
On what Claude has done since becoming head coach and bringing stability...
Yeah he’s done a number of things, he’s helped bring structure into the team play. When we were interviewing Claude, as I said before, we wanted to shore up our defensive side of the game and he’s done that, he’s showed that he can change in mid-stream and I expect him to be able to do that going forward. He’s been very good here, we all have goals and objectives and I know he has goals and objectives and he said that we have to be better. And that's my goal and objective and we’re on the same page with a lot of things. He’s been good while he’s here.

On cutting players to make the cap...
Yesterday we met, the management met, we went over about fifty different combinations and permutations for this line up, so we’re looking at a bunch of different things. I know there’s been talk about [Blake] Wheeler, he’s had a strong camp and he’s a big body. He’s got some skill and he’s certainly been playing at or above expectations. He’s a player of high pedigree for being drafted 5th overall, so we’ve got some interesting decisions, I can’t tell you them, I have a bunch of them in my head, but I'm not going to tell you them right now, but over the course of the next couple days.

Bruins Executive Vice President Charlie Jacobs
On the home opener falling on the same day as a Patriots Monday Night Football game...
That’s really out of our control, when we submit our dates to the National Hockey League, the dates that are available they slot teams and our opponents according to their availability and schedule. Of course it’s not an optimum situation to be playing the same night as the Patriots are, although I was just looking at some numbers and our box office is very strong for our opening night against Pittsburgh on the 20th.

On how the economy will affect the Bruins in the long run...
I had mentioned earlier, our group sales and ticket sales have been very strong to date, I do believe that if we see a further pullback in the markets and we see a further crunch in our credit markets- we’re under siege at this moment- I do think that we’re in for some hard times. However having said that, the projections for our season ticket base haven’t really been this high since I came to this franchise in ’01. We’re at a 92% season ticket renewal base coming into this year, which frankly was unheard of back in 2002 when I came aboard. There are a lot of messages that are very positive. Certainly coming into our season the ticket base and the enthusiasm around the club, I'd hate to have that clouded by our market conditions today.

Bruins Vice President Cam Neely
On his personal contributions since becoming VP...
I think working with Peter [Chiarelli] and Jim [Benning] and Don [Sweeney] and the hockey operations side, it’s something I feel like I can help in that area. Obviously what I’m passionate [about] is the team and the way they play on the ice and how we can improve, I think it’s helpful for some of our younger guys just having the experience having been there and done that and give them some insight from a player perspective so those are a couple areas. From the business side, with regards to the community and I think with regards to how people feel about the organization, has taken a turn in the right direction with what we do have in place from the coaching staff and the management and those things combined, I really do have an interest in helping as much as I can with Peter, Jim, and Don.

On comparing Milan Lucic to his own career...
I certainly don’t want to, I was in a different situation than Milan so it’s really unfair to kind of compare what I went through my second year to what he went through or what he’s going to go through the second year. I think as far as Milan goes, he’s just got to go out there and play his game, [and do] what made him successful last year. I think his game will evolve because of it so that I don’t think there should be any expectations of him...I don’t think people should get too far ahead of themselves...he’s a huge asset to the team because of the way he plays and the style that he plays and over time- and I shared this with Milan- over time his game will be able to evolve because the respect that he’ll get on the ice because of the way he plays. One of the things when I was younger that was always brought up to me by coaching staffs was don’t get away from your game, because if you try to be someone you’re not, you’re not going to be successful. I think with Milan I think we all need to be patient and understand that the way he plays the game is an asset to this organization and this hockey club, and he’s going to have to just realize that he just has to play the simple game and take the body and bang and create room for his line mates and because of that he’s going to be a successful hockey player.

Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs
On his expectations for the Bruins as both an owner and as a fan...
I see this team growing, youth has been terrific, what I see on the ice this year is surprising how much youth has come into the lineup. I think a lot of that has been caused by the attitude that the coaching brings to it. nobody really owns a position on this team, everything is up for grabs and is available for the most capable player. The fact that our scouting was able to bring in the Wheeler’s and the people like that speaks well for the organization and I think Peter as well. So as an owner I’ve been extremely, I shouldn’t say that, I’m cautiously optimistic, that can get away from you a little bit. As a fan I have every reason to believe this is going to be an exciting year, you’ve got cohesiveness in the coaching and the direction for the coaching, you have the whole group of players who have experienced this coach and the way he wants to run this team, so they come in knowledgeable and forward. You mentioned the core, that starts with the fact that there aren't the silos that existed before [and were] and the separateness, this whole room has got a different attitude about it, I think that attitude starts at the top, it starts with Peter, through the coaches and on down, so if I were a fan I'd say this is going to be a very exciting year.

On whether he thinks the CBA was a good fit for the NHL...
First, yes it was correct. We have a league wide cap, we don't have the variation between them and us so far as payroll’s concerned. Payrolls are balanced based on the money. What existed again is a very changing situation if you think about it. Our number one grossing teams back then were New York, Detroit, and today I think five out of the top six are all Canadian teams and we’re at the bottom so the mix has changed dramatically. I guess what I'm trying to focus on is the amount of predictable feature, you don't have the variance in our sport that you see in baseball in so far as like Yanks, Red Sox have $130/140 million dollar payroll, you have $30/40 million payrolls in Florida, so there's a drastic difference, three fold, you don't have that here in our sport...So there is some continuity and I think we achieved that through the cap and we had something that...when you think about the players get 56% of what we take in right now relatively speaking, if for every dollar we don't take in, 56% of it is theirs or 56 cents of every dollar is theirs, so there's a real reason for us to work together and move forward that didn't exist before.

Bruins Forward Patrice Bergeron
On meeting or exceeding his expectations of himself…
I think I met them.  I’ve had all summer to work out and to skate and to feel better, but obviously there’s nothing like playing a real game, and those exhibition games gave me the chance to adjust and get the timing back. I knew I needed some time to get my rhythm back, and I’m taking this time, and it’s good that I’m starting in training camp, and I do have that time to make sure that I’m ready.  And I do feel good, I think that I met my expectations.  I think that I’m playing the way I want to play, but I know I can be better, and it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.

On learning things from watching the team last season while being unable to play…
The first thing that comes to my mind is that not being able to play for eleven months, just having to watch the game, it just made me appreciate the game even more, and being thankful for what I’m doing right now.  I’m just happy to be here right now, happy to step on the ice during practice or a game or whatever, so I guess the main thing other than that, when you’re looking at a whole season in the press box, it’s more a matter of appreciating the game.

Bruins Forward Blake Wheeler
On his role as a rookie this season…
I think I need to, they’re looking for size, and so I need to go out there and be a physical presence out there, create space for my linemates.  I think that’s my biggest asset is be strong on the forecheck and protect the puck.

On if he’s surprised that he’s still here…
I guess I haven’t really gotten out of the moment too much to really think about that.  I’m just trying to take it day by day, and if my name doesn’t get cut, that’s a good thing, but I’m not really worried about it too much.  I’m just trying to go out and play my game and play hard and work hard, and that’s out of my control, so I don’t really put much effort into thinking about it.

Bruins Defenseman Zdeno Chara
On the team bonding through training camp…
We have pretty much the same team as last year, only a few changes.  It’s going to be very important for us to answer the bell again and make sure we have a good start of the season and continue to play well and establish things we accomplished last season.  Really, it’s pretty much the same group of guys, and training camp is almost over, and we feel good about it.  We know it’s going to be tough, but we’re up to the challenge.

On the team having more to accomplish with their skill level…
I think so.  I think, like I said, we have pretty much the same team, but even small changes we made, like Michael Ryder, we’ll see how Blake Wheeler’s going to do, and obviously having Patrice [Bergeron] back, Andrew Alberts back, guys are healthy, Manny Fernandez is back.  So just adding those guys that we missed last year for most of the season, to have them be here, it’s a big plus, and I think that’s only going to make us better.

Bruins Defenseman Andrew Ference
On what to work on before opening day…
I think the main thing right now is just to get the real sharpness in the game.  A lot of it is, like today for instance, just getting sharp passes and the power play, getting out of the mode where, the first couple preseason games, you just want to get the rust off and get the feeling again.  Now, I think the feeling is that we should all be past that point, we really should be at regular season form by now.  The main thing is, almost mentally, getting yourself so you don’t accept bad passes.

On improvements in the power play…
Especially this year, I think you see the greatest improvements, because you do come off a long time off in the summer, so I think every day you work on it here, you see leaps and bounds, and as the season goes on, it gets a lot more fine-tuned, but right now, that’s why we practice so much right now because you see such improvements.  We’re definitely headed in the right direction.

Bruins Forward Marc Savard
On the expectations for the upcoming year...
I think we are a step forward already going into this year. And we expect to do better than we did last year. Our main focus is to go farther, and our ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. So I think coming back here, we are in a more comfortable situation with knowing the systems and just being ready from day one, to put it on the ice, and have a good start.

On trade rumors involving his name despite confidence from organization...
Well, that’s part of the business. It’s the nature of the business. It’s not going to change the way I play. I am going to work and play as hard as I can, and I love this city, love the fans and I don’t really want to go anywhere else at the end of the day because I am happy here. We will have to see what happens and let it play itself out.  I am excited about the season and that’s my focus.

Bruins Forward Milan Lucic
On if making the playoffs last year adds extra pressure to the team this year...
I think it does put more expectations on us because last year some teams may have taken us lightly throughout the year because of years past, and now they know more of what to expect from us going into games. I think it’s going to make us have to work harder. In the end I think it is a good thing for us.

On if he feels any personal pressure...
Yeah, a little bit. I have had a lot of feedback from the fans. It’s all been good feedback. So it’s great to be appreciated by all the Bostonian fans here and I’m really looking forward start up the season here in Boston.

Bruins Forward Michael Ryder
On training camp with his new team...
It’s good. I am definitely excited about getting the season started. We have two weeks left of exhibition games, and to me there is still more of an adjustment, and a couple minor things I have to try and get used to system, position wise. But things are going good. The main thing for me, is to make sure I just get everything in my head, how to change from Montreal to here, and getting to know the guys and try to get some chemistry with the guys I play with, and I think it is going pretty good so far.

On his sniper reputation and what Claude Julien wants...
I think that being a two-way player is one of things that is important to me. I didn’t just want to be a one-way player, I wanted to try to be a good two-way player and I think I can improve on that. Working with the coaching staff. I think a couple of these games I have been trying to get used to the system and how its style is.  I think it is going pretty good so far. I never really had too much opportunity in Montreal to try and play both ways and never really new plans I guess. I am glad to be here and especially glad that the coaching staff has been talking to me and trying to teach me things that the team here does and the style they play defensively and offensively.

2:10 p.m.

We just got through the two question and answer periods (one from management, one from the players). Look for some audio from that, soon.

Interesting sight of the day -- each of the 27 Bruins in their away jerseys, sitting in front of their locker stalls, waiting for the media to ask questions. Not quite comical, but certainly a juxtaposition.

Also interesting were comments from Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely and Claude Julien. I hope to have some of those posted soon.

1:54 p.m.
The desperation to earn a roster spot was apparent in this morning’s high-intensity practice, featuring power-play and penalty-kill drills, as well as some two-on-one and scrimmage-style practice.

Some quick highlights:
  • A battle in the corner between four players included a strange sight – Milan Lucic, usually the one winning the fights, found himself in a headlock.  Even still, he kept working for the puck until it was batted away by a stick outside the scrum.
  • Using his stick as a baseball bat, Petteri Nokelainen slapped a rebound out of the air and straight past Tim Thomas into the goal. One wonders if Tank wished he had his fielder's glove on that one.
  • Boston College alumni Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Alberts got into a bit of a “BC v. BC” shoving match after a particularly brutal battle drill to the left of the goal. Eagle on Eagle crime? Not really. Everything was cool after a couple of seconds -- just a run of the mill occurance at hockey practice.
  • Vladimir Sobotka flipped a puck past one of the goalies to end the practice session, and the sophomore forward raised his hands in the air to celebrate.

10:47 a.m.

A little scene setting:

It's crunch time, not only for the Boston Bruins players, but for the management staff, as well.

As Training Camp 2008 wanes, not only do some of the Black & Gold skaters find themselves in a position of do or die, but so do the men who have to make the decisions about who stays and who goes.

"We do," said Claude Julien when asked if the Bruins had some big choices coming. "We do, because even with the surplus of players that we have there are not that many that don't require waivers, so I think that everybody can make the calculations."

With 27 players remaining (after the departure of Lashoff, Rask, St. Pierre and Penner) the Bruins are at least four players away from the 23 player max.

"We have some tough decisions," said head coach Claude Julien. "Some of it involves upper management and some of it involves us as coaches."

Stay tuned...

10:15 a.m.
Babineau's Book
Good Day! Today, Boston Bruins Media Day, begins the last weekend of Training Camp.

The Boston Bruins will be in the TD Banknorth Garden all day on Friday, but the short on-ice portion of the activities will begin with an hour long open practice from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30.

Doors open at 10:25 at the West Premium entrance (Pro Shop side) of North Station. The rest of the day's activities are for the working press.

Speaking of the Pro Shop, for those of you who haven’t heard, long time Bruins photographer Steve Babineau has a beautiful new book out detailing his years with the Boston Bruins.

Black and Gold: Four Decades of the Boston Bruins in Photographs (written by former NESN reporter Rob Simpson and with a forward by Don Cherry) is an amazing coffee table type book detailing the B’s modern history.

From 1973 (the year ‘Babs’ started) through 2008, Black and Gold presents the Bruins story through photographs and anecdotes. It is a must have for ANY Bruins fan, so make sure to stop by the Bruins Pro Shop to pick up your copy.

As an added bonus, on Saturday, October 4th, from 2:30 p.m. until game time, Simpson and Babs will be on hand in the Pro Shop to sign your copy.

You can learn more about Steve Babineau here and you can contact the Bruins Pro Shop...

General Info: 617.624.1500
Call: 877.5BRUINS (527.8467) Toll Free or 617.742.0202 mail order
Fax: 617.227.9786
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