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Hail, Hail, the Gang's Almost Here!

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
Here's hoping that you had a nice a Labor Day Weekend!

Our Boys certainly seemed rested this morning and several of them, mostly defensemen, as well as new arrivals Jonathan Sigalet, David Krejci and Martins Karsums, worked out with Bruins assistant coach Doug Houda for most of an hour before the rest of the group joined them at 10:30.

So, for those of you scoring at home, now skating for your Wilmington Pre-preseason Squad:

Bobby Allen
Andrew Alberts
Brandon Bochenski
Zdeno Chara
Andrew Ference
Matt Hunwick
Martins Karsums
Phil Kessel
David Krejci
Matt Lashoff
Mark Mowers
Marc Savard
Jonathan Sigalet
Jordan Sigalet
Mark Stuart
Marco Sturm
Tim Thomas
Nate Thompson
Dennis Wideman

The beginning of today's main session consisted of several shooting drills, seemingly designed to give everyone a bunch of warm-up wind-ups and give the goalies an opportunity to get stretched out.

Obviously, none of the shooters could be expected to be in mid-season form immediately, but I was definitely surprised at the way the squad got right down to business and how quickly the shots began to hit the net. The number of skaters who were in Wilmington was a welcome surprise as well -- and word has it that a couple more are expected, soon.

The captain's practice then shifted to a five-on-five scrimmage format, albeit with very little contact. Here the emphasis looked to be on passing and puck movement and the proverbial getting-your-skating-legs-under-you. As always, the imposing form of Z at the blue line dominated the Ristuccia landscape during the game, as the rest of the players worked on their moves and attempted to gain access to one of the two goalies around the wingspan of the big defenseman and his formidable poke check.

Sigalet and Alberts
The goalies, as you might have predicted, looked pretty sharp early on, but as the hour moved forward, the shooters began to hit their marks consistently. As a result, the scrimmage was a pretty interesting hors d'oeuvre for what we should see next week, with skill, shot and save coming furiously.

In the Our Boys will be boys category, some lighthearted contact did develop as the game wore on and the players were reacquainted. Nothing came of this besides some smiles.

Best moment of the day: Zdeno Chara "cherry picking," just outside the blue line, tapping his stick looking for a pass from Nate Thompson. Z was wide open. Then, having not received the pass, the captain looked as if he was saying to Thompson, "How did you not see ME?"

Nate just smiled.

Worst moment of the day: Watching Bobby Allen and Mark Mowers skate endless circles around mid ice after practice, looking for an extra burn in their legs. After a while, a gassed Bobby said, "It hurts when you aren't even going fast."

Sounds like fun, Bob. Ouch!

Before I forget…
Savard, Kessel & Friends
On Tuesday August 28th, following their participation in the Deutsche Bank Classic Celebrity Pro-Am, the Boston Bruins Foundation and Black & Gold stars Marc Savard and Phil Kessel were proud to donate $6,000 to the Massachusetts First Tee program.

"I had a lot of fun out there," said Kessel after the tourney.

More importantly, he said that he was happy to be able to help a worthy cause.

"Obviously, with anything that helps kids out, its good to be a part of it," added Kessel.

His golf partner, Savard, echoed his sentiments.

"Anytime you can do anything to help kids, it's an honor and a pleasure," said Savard. "We had fun and it was a great day for a great cause."

The Massachusetts First Tee Program was established in 2003 in hopes of bringing the game of golf and it’s inherent values to the Bay State’s underprivileged and at-risk youth. For more information on the Massachusetts First Tee Program please visit

Chara Speaks
On Friday night I was pleased to see that Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was a guest on NESN's pre-game Red Sox programming. In front of a huge live audience from all over New England, the B's captain gave his assessment of what the Bruins need in order to put last season behind the club and put some punch into the preseason.

"We want to make sure we get off to a really good start," said Chara to host Tom Caron. "And we want to make sure, from the first day of training camp, that everyone is on the same page."

"We understand that we have to have a better season.

"We know that it was really disappointing and we want to be really hard to play against and competing every night," he said.

Even thought preseason does not start until next week, from what we've seen thus far in Wilmington, things are happening as prescribed.

Last, but not least
I just wanted to say thank you to Tom and Hannah, the media relations interns who just finished their tour of duty with the Boston Bruins. Tom returns to Ithaca College while Hannah will return to the University of Michigan. I miss you already, guys. Thanks for all of your hard work.
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