Monday marked the first official day of informal practices for the B’s, and nine players were present at Ristuccia Arena for about 80 minutes of drills — including a lengthy small-ice session at the end — led by captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron.
“It’s always exciting to be back,” Chara said afterward. “You see every day, probably, more and more guys coming back, and you’re going to have more quality skates.
“Today, we had nine guys, and I’m sure that number is going to increase with [camp getting] closer.”
Among those nine players present on Monday were new additions Matt Beleskey and Zac Rinaldo, both of whom looked right at home alongside their new teammates.
On the opposite side of the coin, however, there were a few faces missing from the group that Chara has been used to seeing every fall for the last several years. But he said their absences this season, unfortunately, are just a part of the business of professional sports.
“Those [changes] are a part of the sport, or jobs that we have,” Chara said. “It’s something that we’re all used to, and they come with the territory. It’s tough to see guys being gone, but at the same time, we all knew — the management announced that they were going to make changes, and they’re going to try and improve the team.
“Anytime they make changes, you have to go with it. That’s the way it goes.”
And as disappointed as he was to see some of his friends leave during the summer, Chara is also excited to see what the newcomers will bring to the table this season — and he was happy to see a couple of them right off the bat on the first day of captains’ practices.
“It’s nice to see the new faces coming in early, settling down and making sure that they kind of start to fit in,” he said. “Obviously, we try to help them as much as we can to make that transition easier for them.
“But like I said, it’s going to be even nicer to see more guys being back and kind of feeling it again, and get some time to bond and kind of start the season on the right note.”
Though Chara reiterated that he did not want to waste time dwelling on last season’s disappointing ending, he said that there is at least one area he can pinpoint that must be improved heading into the 2015-16 campaign.
“I think the most frequent word that came out of the last season was inconsistency,” he said.
“That’s what we have to work on — make sure that we play with consistency, and don’t have those up and downs like we did last year.”
Chara and his teammates were quick to leave last year behind them. They were quick to determine what went wrong, quick to move on and now that they are all trickling back into Boston for a new campaign, they are eager to see the new iteration of this team take shape.
Adding to Chara’s eagerness is the fact that last year’s injuries, including a torn PCL suffered in October 2014, are completely healed, which means he fully intends on going full throttle to start this season.
“The injuries are things that do happen,” he said, “but we all battle through different things throughout the season, and injuries are part of it. I’m just glad that I’m feeling better, and that’s the most important thing.
“As far as injuries go, they do happen, and you can’t control them. They come, and obviously you have to be dealing with them, and it’s always tough, and it’s not fun to be playing with injuries that are limiting you. I’m just glad to be healthy again to start the season.”
Though Chara said he did not change his offseason conditioning routine because of any lingering injuries — he ended last season with a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula — he did alter his routine a bit.
“You make adjustments, but I wouldn’t say that you make major changes,” he said. “You always try to go back to what’s working for you and what’s been kind of [the] bread and butter, and you make some small changes. “But the biggest thing, I think, was I was just being smarter as far as taking some time off — you know, recovering — and do more quality stuff instead of quantity.
“Sometimes, less is more.”
With one (informal) practice under his belt, Chara is ready to start again. He is ready to avenge last year’s disappointment and get back to doing what he loves: playing hockey.
“I think that we all know that [last year] wasn’t the year that we wanted to have,” he said. “Coming into training camp, I think we all have to improve ourselves and have a better year, starting with training camp, and be really focused and have a good start to the season.”
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Noel Acciari, David Pastrnak, Matt Beleskey, Zac Rinaldo, Brad Marchand
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg
Goalies: Tuukka Rask