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Captain's Practice Notebook: Beleskey is Raring to Go

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins

BOSTON – Playing in Boston can take some getting used to. The intensity and passion of the fan base can be overwhelming for some professional athletes coming to the city from smaller markets.

Matt Beleskey, however, has embraced it all from the beginning.

After arriving as a free agent from Anaheim last offseason, Beleskey immediately took a liking to the city and its fans. His comfort level with Boston translated to the ice, with the winger collecting 15 goals and 22 assists for a career-high 37 points in 2015-16.

“It’s intense, but it’s fun. Boston, in general, is intense about all of their sports,” said Beleskey, who joined Noel Acciari, Jimmy Hayes, David Krejci, Torey Krug, John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, and Frank Vatrano at a captain’s practice Tuesday morning.

“It’s passionate and that’s a fun thing. I’d love to be in the playoffs this year and be able to see the fans rally behind us. I got to see a couple [Boston] Celtics games in the playoffs and the Garden’s a crazy place in that atmosphere, so it really shows how much they love their sports here.”

Beleskey also credited his teammates for helping to ease his transition from the Western Conference to an Original Six franchise.

“It’s a very welcoming group,” said Beleskey. “I think just coming to the rink every day, not knowing where you’re going, driving around town, just everything kind of adds up to a point where you don’t really notice it, but it might effect you a little bit. But I think the transition went pretty well last year.”

While the adjustment was smooth, the 28-year-old knows there is still more room for improvement – both personally and as a group.

“Me and my wife drove back yesterday, [I was] super excited to pull into town,” he said. “I think this season is going to be a great year for our team. I think we had a lot of guys that had some learning curves last year, me included, and, obviously, we’re looking at bigger and better things.”

It was an eventful offseason for Beleskey, who underwent surgery to clean up a bone in his left hand in late April and also accompanied the Bruins to China during a trip to help spread the game of hockey in July.

“You don’t make the playoffs, so you have more time to kind of take off and reflect on the year and I got to do some traveling this year,” said Beleskey, who confirmed he is feeling good and expects to be ready to go Opening Night.

“I don’t think there’s a certain amount of time where you feel good and you feel ready, but you start to get that itch and the next thing you know, it’s the beginning of the year again.

“I always try to take my time off and make sure I’m fully ready to get back out there.”

Bruin Sign Four Players

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced on Tuesday that the team has signed forwards Dominic Moore and Brian Ferlin and defensemen Chris Casto and Alex Grant.

Moore, 36, was signed to a one-year contract worth $900,000. The veteran spent the last three seasons with the New York Rangers and last year tallied six goals and nine assists. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder played his college hockey at Harvard from 1999-2003 and ranks 11th in school history with 147 points (64 goals, 73 assists).

Casto was inked to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000 at the NHL level. The 24-year-old is coming off his third season with the Providence Bruins, for whom he notched a career-high seven goals and 16 assists in 2015-16.

Ferlin, a 2011 fourth-round pick of the Bruins, was signed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $725,000 at the NHL level. In his second season with Providence in 2015-16, the Jacksonville, Florida, native collected six goals and eight assists.

Grant was signed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the NHL level. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound blue liner split time between the Arizona Coyotes and their AHL affiliate (Springfield Falcons) last season.

He recorded seven penalty minutes in five games with Arizona, while accumulating 11 goals and 31 assists in 69 games in the AHL. Grant also skated in two games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2013-14, recording a goal in each game.

Hayes Looking Forward

Hayes is looking forward to contributing for a full 82 games in 2016-17. The Dorchester native tallied 13 goals in his first season with the Bruins, but just five after the New Year.

As a result, he feels he has plenty more to give.

“My mindset is to be there and be a contributor for the whole entire season,” said Hayes. “You never want to go on those scoring droughts and I’ve got to continue to find a way to be able to produce throughout the entire season. My mindset is being focused and ready to go for the entire season.”

Hayes believes staying fully engaged physically, even when the goals aren’t coming, will be vital to him remaining an effective player for the duration of the season.

“You’ve just got to work and continue to find a way to get those pucks off quick and continue to get to those hard areas, you know?” said the 26-year-old winger. “You get into a drought…you get to the hard areas. That’s where the puck’s got to go to get in the net, so sometimes you get there and confidence starts to come back very quickly and you can just start scoring goals in those tougher areas.”

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