BostonBruins.com - Throughout the past week, we saw the next crop of B's hopefuls make their way through Development Camp, ending with a team-building day off the ice and out of their element on Thompson Island in the Boston Harbor.
During the six long days at camp, some prospects were experiencing the Bruins' culture for the first time; others had been through several camps before and had been exposed to the organization's core values, and the emphasis of both on and off ice professionalism.
Seeing the way the prospects carried themselves, and even improved throughout the week, it's easy to see how the Bruins' "team-mentality" trickles from the top down.
"We talk about, during the first part of the week, the culture of the Boston Bruins and being a family," said Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney.
"I think you should feel that as part of our group, now, whether it’s by invitation or whether or not you’ve been drafted and have returned here four times over."
"I think the core group of our guys, you see [Patrice] Bergeron, [Tuukka] Rask, and [Zdeno] Chara long term, but [Milan] Lucic, [David] Krejci, [Brad] Marchand, [Daniel] Paille, [Gregory] Campbell, I can go right down the list of every one of our guys that epitomizes what really the team aspect of the Boston Bruins is all about and the culture."
"They’re the ones that carry it forward, but our guys, these new kids coming in, I think they realize everything from the get-go."
Whether the prospects make it to the next level with Boston or not, they've been shown what it takes, and how to get there.
After the 2013 group had gone through a series of challenges off the ice during team-building day at Develpoment Camp, goaltender Malcolm Subban - who is expected to turn pro this Fall with Providence - saw the immediate connection between the newfound team's "family" attitude and how it would translate onto the ice.
"The teamwork, team building, and perseverance," said Subban, offering his thoughts on how working together off the ice would translate. "It showed who the leaders were and they performed today as they would all the time, and that obviously is what helped us find success out there."
Patrice Bergeron, a leader who has already donned - and represented - the spoked-B for a decade, voiced the organization's "team" approach when his eight-year contract extension was announced on July 12.
"It’s the mentality in the organization. It’s team first and to me it means a lot," the alternate captain had said.
"That’s the only way you can win and, to me, it exemplifies exactly the values that I have."
"You can tell what it means to be a Bruin and I just want to do it every time I step on the ice and for over the past five years we have a great core of players that are working towards the same goal."
Two days prior, the backbone of the B's in Tuukka Rask had also signed an eight-year extension.
Both signings solidified the core players' commitment to the Bruin mindset, as well as the team's loyalty to those who buy in to that mentality.
Prospects see that, and take notice. They also drew from the Bruins' playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final.
"Just taking a little bit of that leap of faith and knowing that that guy’s got your back as well as the guy behind him has his back," said goalie Adam Morrison, who emerged as one of the leaders during Development Camp.
"I think you saw that in the postseason run here in Boston this year. It wasn’t just one individual guy that stepped up. It was numerous players, one after the other, backing each other and stepping up and playing the roles that they had to."
Though players enter the organization a variety of ways, and not just by way of drafting or attending Development Camps like Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic and Adam McQuaid, "being a Bruin" involves no magic potion. And it's certainly not about just one week with the organization.
"I just think that the culture we’ve tried to create here at times takes care of itself if the sum of the parts is working and pulling in the right direction," said Sweeney.
"We’ve really tried to makes sure our kids understand that you’re either going to be in the interior of that or you’re going to stand on the outside looking in and wondering, 'I think I want to be inside that.'"
"That might be as simple as not stepping on an emblem in the middle of a room and having the respect for each other, getting to know your teammates and willing to go to battle and learn and embrace what were trying to do here, because it’s all about winning."
"It’s all about getting better and winning."