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Development Camp Lays Foundation for Future B's

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins sixth annual Development Camp kicked off on Thursday from the familiar confines of Ristuccia Arena.

As fans piled into the stands, the B’s pipeline filed onto the ice to a roar from the Boston faithful. Forward Justin Courtnall hit the ice first, followed by a string of black and white jerseys before the Bruins’ 2012 first-round draft pick Malcolm Subban took his first strides in the spoked-B.

Subban may have been donning his Belleville Bulls pads and goaltender Niklas Svedberg (who was signed to an entry-level contract on May 29) outfitted in his red pads, but with the fans’ warm welcome, only Black & Gold were top of mind.

(View the full breakdown of who is donning a white or black jersey during camp here, and the full roster here.)

After an initial team huddle at center ice, Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney led the players through a number of on-ice drills and conditioning. Joining him on the ice were Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward, goaltending coach Bob Essensa, P-Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and assistant coach Kevin Dean.

Sweeney ran the Bruins first Development Camp back in July of 2007, and said the B’s staff is constantly fine-tuning camp details, building on the success they’ve had through the years.

“I don’t think our general approach and philosophy has changed much,” said Sweeney. “I think we’ve certainly tried to improve and tweak and find areas that we can do things better at both on and off the ice.”

“I’ve talked to Milan Lucic a number of times about how hard the first one was, and we certainly didn’t have a blueprint or anything to go off of. We were just trying to see, ‘Okay, how far can you push these kids and get them ready for what they’re going to face in September?’”

The prospects’ first on-ice practice began with end-to-end shooting drills, with six goalies rotating in and out of goal, and segued into give-and-go passing and cross-ice battles – all with an intensity that never subsided.

A packed Ristuccia looked on as B’s prospects quickly transitioned from drill to drill, watching Development Camp familiars faces Tommy Cross – wearing his usual No. 82 – Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, and getting to know the newest faces in the Black & Gold, such as recent draft picks Matt Grzelcyk and Seth Griffith, as well as camp invites Darik Angeli and Parker Milner.

The attendees were led through on-ice work, interlaced with time at the glass near the home bench for Providence Bruins’ head coach Bruce Cassidy to teach new drills and outline the specifics.

The learning process is a significant part of camp, and the week is built to help the players get accustomed to the B’s organization. Sweeney stressed that it's also an ideal time to “get to know the kids on a personal level.”

“And hopefully they get to know us,” he added. “Because we’re resources for these guys, and I want them to utilize and I want them to feel comfortable to ask each and every one of our staff that may be around because the questions that they may have should be answered.”

With the first on-ice conditioning wrapped up, the B's assistant GM reflected on what lies ahead for prospects over the course of camp - both on and off the ice - and what it could mean for their futures.

“The result of some of these camps is that some of these kids have emerged ready and have competed and have won jobs as a result of that, and I think that’s the ultimate goal.”

The sixth annual Boston Bruins Development Camp will be held June 28 – July 2 at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, MA. On-ice practices are open to the public, Click her e for the full schedule.

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