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Learning the Ropes

by Evan Sporer / Boston Bruins

MARLBOROUGH, MA — Trent Whitfield knows a thing or two about what it means to be a Providence Bruin.

The rugged 35-year-old forward (who began his pro career in 1988 and has made nine different stops in the NHL) has been a part of the Bruins organization since 2009 and is currently the Providence captain.

As his Providence club continues to progress closer to the start of its season, set to begin October 12, Whitfield, and the other veterans on the P-Bruins, are doing what they can to prepare a group of new professional hockey players for what’s to come during the regular season.

Whitfield got his first chance to skate alongside one of his new, young teammates in a game Thursday night, as Providence took on Bridgeport in an exhibition on "neutral" ice in central Massachusetts.

For Whitfield, and Providence rookie Torey Krug, it was their first taste of preseason action.

"You’ve just got to teach them to be professional and play every night," Whitfield said after the Bridgeport game of his role in helping younger players.

"It’s not once a week or that type of thing," added Whitfield. "It’s an everyday kind of thing."

For Krug, while it may have been his first night skating in a game for Providence — even if it was only an exhibition — there appeared to be no first-game jitters. The Michigan State product, who actually played two NHL games with the Boston Bruins at the end of last season, showed the skills that caught the eye of the Black & Gold and made him a Hobey Baker finalist last season.

The young blueliner saw time on the Providence power play and, looked poised on the puck as he buzzed around the ice firing sharp passes to forwards to start the P-Bruins attack.

In his own zone, Krug looked comfortable on the boards, and showed a physical side, which may have come to a shock to those watching the 5-foot-9 defenseman. At one point in the third, Krug stood up a Bridgeport player at his own blueline, causing a roar from the crowd.

"He’s obviously a great skater," Whitfield said. "He moves the puck well, he sees the ice really well.

"He’s only going to get better."

But postgame, Krug acknowledged having to makes adjustments.

"It’s just a different style," Krug said of professional hockey. "More guys chipping pucks, taking the body, while in the NHL, more guys are controlling the pucks, making plays."

The 21-year-old defenseman said he’s getting closer to becoming accustomed to AHL play, while still learning the nuances of the pro game.

"There were definitely plays out there that I felt I was in midseason form, but there were also plays out there that I felt like I was stuck in summer," explained Krug with a smile. "But there’s definitely little things like that you have to take [note of] as they come.

"That’s the reason there’s exhibition games."

However, Providence Head Coach Bruce Cassidy held high praise for his young player after the final horn, saying he was good on both ends of the ice.

"He’s creative, does a good job on the offensive blue line, good job breaking pucks out," Cassidy said. "He sees the ice well.

"So he’s going to be good in transition for us. I think he defends well, too."

But as Krug and his young teammates continue to prepare for his official AHL debut next week, throughout the regular season they'll also stand to benefit from the wealth of pro-level experience boasted by Providence.

"When you get up, even in the American League, it’s one of the best leagues in the world," Whitfield said as he went through a veteran's mental checklist. "It’s just good young talent; keep them focused, keeping them upbeat, and get them to play hard every night together."

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