Wides is Working Out
“Well, I just got back from my cottage up north,” said a relaxed Dennis Wideman from his home in Ontario. “And I’m just putting the finishing touches on the summer.
“Starting Monday, I’ll be skating everyday. So, I’m just trying to shake the rust off and get ready for training camp.”
But that doesn’t mean the Boston Bruins defenseman has been sleeping off the summer. All of the B’s have their marching orders from the Black & Gold strength and conditioning staff.
“Well, right now I’m doing two-a-days,” explained Wideman. “I’m doing sprints and running -- cardio stuff -- in the morning and then I go to the gym in the afternoon four days a week and then two days a week I go for long bike rides.
“So I’m in the gym six days a week,” he said.
Wideman echoed most of his teammates when he said that he was enjoying the summer, but was also excited to return to Boston.
“Ya, its definitely two different things,” he said. “Being at home, enjoying the summer, and being up at the lake and being able to golf and do whatever you please whenever you please is appealing.
“But to get back in the room and the swing of things [is] pretty exciting and I’ve started to look forward to getting back to work.”
Now, with two-plus seasons wearing the spoked-B, Wideman said he has enjoyed the progression he has seen in the Garden.
“To be a part of an organization for three years, and hopefully a lot longer, is definitely quite exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing the franchise keep moving in the right direction,” said Dennis who admitted to a fair amount of personal progression, as well.
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, right, is congratulated by defenseman Dennis Wideman after the Bruins defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-0 in an NHL hockey game in Boston Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) |
“As far as the position of defense, it takes a long time to learn,” said Dennis, who pointed the emphasis on physical conditioning in the B’s locker room. “I think obviously the workouts and stuff from Whitey [B’s strength coach John Whitesides], has a lot to do with it.
“I think its just as you get older and start playing more seasons I think you just learn what kind of shape [you need to be in] and how you have to be to perform at your best for a full season and playoffs.
“When you first go in the league…you think you know or you think you can get into shape and when the season comes or late into the playoffs, you’re like, ‘Wow, I need to pick up my game a little bit.”
Wideman said that B’s head coach Claude Julien and his staffs have high expectations for their club and that is an additional motivation.
“They expect you to be sharp and ready to work,” said Wideman. “We practice for hour or an hour a half a day. And if you cant keep focus on your game for an hour a half there is something wrong.
“If you aren’t mentally there then the coaches will come down on you.”
Wideman said that the B’s coaching staff influence reaches beyond Boston.
“When you’re getting pretty tired and have one more set to go and think, ‘Maybe I’ve had enough.’ But then you start thinking of the season and make yourself do an extra set,” he said.
-- John Bishop
Visions of Vancouver: Milan Lucic
TourismVancouver.com says that Vancouver "was voted the ‘Best City in the Americas’ for 2004, 2005 and 2006 by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, based on the categories of ambience, friendliness, culture and sites, restaurants, lodging, and shopping."
And while Vancouver's favorite son makes sure that nobody on the opposing NHL team feels comfortable when they visit Boston during the fall and winter, Tourism Vancouver should hire Milan Lucic
to be a spokesman, because he has no qualms about recommending his hometown to visitors year round.
“Well, I mean the weathers been really good here in Vancouver,” said Lucic via cell phone. “It’s been in the mid- to-high-30’s in the Celsius range in July.
“So, we’ve actually had really good weather and not much rain, which has made this summer much more enjoyable.”
But, according to Milan, nice weather is not unusual for Vancouver.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It’s usually a place that doesn’t get too hot.
“You can pretty much do anything here. You can walk along the sea wall -- an ocean walk with great views. Or you can go up to the mountains. Whistler is only an hour drive away…and I [recently] checked it out with my friends.
“There are nice golf courses and there are definitely a lot of outdoor activities you can do,” added Lucic of his home province of British Columbia.
However, Milan hasn't stayed home in Canada, instead traveling all over the North America this offseason. Even before a trip to Boston in July, Mexico was on the itinerary.
“When the season was over, I went to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico for two weeks,” said Milan. “I went there and learned about the Mayans and saw Chichén Itzá -- I thought that was really cool.
“I also swam with dolphins, which was pretty cool, too.”
All of that jumping around hasn't put a damper on the winger's workouts. Lucic says that he is right on track for September.
“It’s just a part of your routine. I think…you look forward to it every day,” he said. “It gives you something to do and it gets you out of bed.
“It’s not a good thing when you’re sleeping in everyday and you have nothing to do.”
The workouts keep 'Luch' from hearing the voice of Bruins strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides in his head.
“I’ve got my own [Vancouver-based] trainer in my head telling me what to do,” said Lucic. “But you always have that loud voice in the back of your head for sure.”
Those workouts might also help this Canadian make Vancouver a less-than-hospitable place for opposing hockey players from around the world. Lucic caught the eye of Hockey Canada and will attend Team Canada's Olympic Orientation Camp later this month.
“Well I think you've got to keep it in the back of your head, because the most important thing going into the season is your NHL team,” said Lucic. “But, obviously, when I got the call I was really, really excited.
“I had a big smile on my face, especially considering the dream of being in the Olympics and [having it hosted by] your hometown.
“It’s a huge honor for me…and I’m going to make the most of it and have some fun.”
For now, however, Lucic is enjoying the time (and the food) at home.
“It’s so nice to be around your family during the summer,” he said. “Growing up around your mom and dad all the time and they’ve done so much to help you out throughout the years and help you get you where you want to be and achieving your goals and making the NHL.
“When you come home it’s nice to be around them and hang around them.
“It’s important to spend time with them and make the most of it ‘cause it really is a really short off season,” he said. -- John Bishop
Timmy's Ghostly Encounter
With the season rapidly approaching, Tim Thomas
is trying to catch a few more fish before heading back to Boston for Bruins Training Camp ‘09.
“I’m up in Vermont,” said a cheerful sounding Thomas from The Green Mountain State. “I’m on the Lake [Champlain] and I plan on doing a lot of fishing.
“I have done some but the weather hasn’t cooperated 100%. But I’ve had a lot of family and friends come visit and in a certain way I’ve had a busy summer.
“So, I’m trying to fit in as much relaxation as I can,” he said.
Thomas is staying up north while he runs his annual hockey camp.
“It’s third week of hockey camp here in Vermont,” said Thomas, who is well into his preseason training after starting his program shortly after the NHL Awards Ceremony - the ceremony where he was awarded the Vezina Trophy. “I usually start that around 10 or 10:30 a.m...and I’ll be at hockey camp until 2:00 p.m.”
That’s where hockey’s famous afternoon nap comes in.
“And with the workouts [Bruins Strength & Conditioning Coach] John Whitesides gives us I definitely need an afternoon nap as often as possible,” said Thomas with a big laugh.
Thomas, who has helped the B’s take on the Forum Ghosts who've taken residence in the Bell Centre up in Montreal, had another ghostly encounter at the end of July.
|Rhode Island's own Jason & Grant (SyFy.com) |
“On my way back from Atlantic City at the airport in Philadelphia my plane got delayed for three-hours,” said Thomas. “When I was walking back from getting some food I saw Jason [Hawes] and Grant [Wilson] from [SyFy Channel's] Ghost Hunters
is a show I watched quite a bit over the past couple of years…so I thought to myself, ‘Should I go say hi?’ But I had to go back to my gate and check If the plane wasn’t leaving and it wasn’t so I went back to introduce myself.
“They were very nice and cordial, both of them, and I talked to them for a few minutes. But then I had to go catch my flight. I gave Jason my number and he gave me his -- he owns a hotel in NH that he invited me up to sometime – and we texted a few times.
“He texted that he just put on Twitter that he met me. And said, ‘You have a huge fan base!’ And I texted him back, “Thanks, so do you.’”
So, is there any chance that Tim will take a break before the summer is over to trade catching ghosts instead of catching pucks?"
“They looked tired, like they’ve been doing shows,” said a hopeful-sounding Thomas. “They were on their way for rest and relaxation in New Hampshire and I was going for some rest and relaxation in Vermont, so I haven’t bothered them.
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas skates onto the ice during hockey practice in Wilmington, Mass.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
And while it would be fun to watch Tim try and hunt ghosts, the specter of the season creeps nearer and nearer. However, Tim thinks that you have to keep the excitement about the new campaign at a manageable level for a while. After all, it's a long season
“Preseason is a tough time period cause u have to approach it the right way,” explained Thomas. “You have to realize it’s the time you have to get your game back to the level you need it to be by the time of the regular season.
“The hard part is when it doesn’t come back quick enough. Over the past few years, experience helps me knowing that its going to take a little while, but you’ll be ready by the time the season starts. So I don’t get overly excited [when pucks go in early]. I’ve just got to keep in mind to be patient and work on the things I need to work on.”
Until then, however, Thomas is concentrating on getting some rest, catching some fish and avoiding his favorite diner – Al’s French Frys
“Yup, no doubt about it,” said Thomas of the difficulty of fighting the temptation – a temptation he has dodged admirably during the offseason. “The cheeseburgers are excellent.”
An while Coach Whitesides may not like any of his players ever hitting a burger joint, during the season Thomas has his “lucky cheeseburger” the day before every game, so maybe it’s okay if he enjoys a couple before September.
-- John Bishop
Sturm: Ready for 2009-10
Most people are thrilled to be on vacation -- the Boston Bruins Marco Sturm is not one of them.
Sure, he is happy to be home with friends and family in Germany, but after a star-crossed season that saw Sturm watch much of the B's success from the skyboxes, Marco is ready to return to Massachusetts.
"Obviously, it's been a long year for me and, you know, for me it was a little change," said Sturm. ""The knee is doing fine and I'm still on program. I'm doing workouts and rehab...I'm still not 100% but I'm getting there.
"I should be fine for training camp."
"I mean, you never know, but for right now, I'm doing pretty good," expanded Sturm. "But I also know that there's still a lot of work to do, but I still have time so hopefully I'm going to be ready."
Sturm is staying off the ice for the time being.
"I'm not skating right now," said Sturm. "The plan is to go to Boston in the next couple of weeks and spend a week there and skate and see the doctors.
"I'm just coming on my own to skate with John Whitesides and see the doctors who will just check on my knee again.
"And probably at the start of August I will probably practice with my old team," he said.
Sturm also thinks that he will stay in Germany for most of the rest of the summer instead of traveling.
"I took a little break [from rehab] in March and we went away...for a week," said Sturm. "And we stayed longer than usual in Boston this year when the season was done."
And it's festival season in Sturm's native Germany, too.
"Where we live there is a huge festival going on -- it happens every four years and it goes on for four weeks," said the winger. "It's like a festival from the 1800's. The people dress like that and look like that...on the weekends, especially, there is always a big parade.
"It's just a big thing...everything is outside [and looks like it did] in the 1800's.
"So we decided just to stay here and enjoy that..and if we want to [go], Italy is not too far," he said.
Despite Marco's knee, the Sturm's are making sure to enjoy their time together.
"Everyone is doing really good and they love being at home -- especially to see the family -- so, so far, so good," he said.
So far, so good -- besides the weather, which has resembled Boston's cooler than usual summertime climate.
"The weather has been terrible, so far," said Sturm. "So hopefully July and August are going to be better.
As far as the upcoming season, Sturm explained that his mindset has not changed beyond striving for good health.
"Right now it's just about getting healthy right now and getting ready [for the season]," he said. "It's the same goal. Nothing really changed.
"I'm still in that age where I can do a lot more. I just want to stay healthy this year and be a part of it."
And a view from the ice is top priority.
"You know, I saw last year and I was painful enough to watch it from upstairs [in the pressbox]," said Sturm. "But from the outside it was great to see the way be played.
"[I want to help the club to not] make the same exit like this year in the playoffs and go a 'little bit' farther."-- John Bishop
Stuart: Friends, Family and Fish
For usually intense Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart summer has started off at a very relaxing pace, and thanks to a successful season with the B’s, this Minnesota native is truly enjoying the fresh air.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Stuart of the 2008-2009 season. “Overall, I’d say it was a good season.”
It was indeed, a very good season for the blueliner as his 95 hits, 105 blocked shots, and four fighting majors, solidified his place with the Black & Gold. However, with his hockey responsibilities suspended for the summer, Stuart has made sure to stay close to home in order to reacquaint himself the friends, family and the fish.
“The only traveling I’ve done so far is I’ve gone up to Northern Minnesota a couple of times to go fishing,” said a satisfied Stuart of his summer.
Sure, like most of his fellow Bruins teammates, Stuart loves to play golf. But unlike many who hit the links during the summer, he admits he is not very good at it.
Instead, Stuart would rather trade his clubs for a fishing pole.
“I don’t catch the most fish,” explained the honest young defenseman. “I am probably not considered to be too good at it [fishing]...but I like to do it just for fun,”
|Mark Stuart. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) |
In addition to his time at the lake, Stuart assured everyone that his off-season training has not come to a halt.
Not even close, in fact.
“I started training a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “ I live with my oldest brother Mike and some friends from college and every few days we play hockey together for fun.”
Of course, like many of the Bruins, the Minnesota native has already begun thinking about the upcoming 2009-10 season.
“I am excited for it already,” said Stuart
And with a successful defensive season out of the way, Stuart is already working hard to improve his offensive skills, too.
“I want to try and work on my offensive game to become a more complete player,” he said. “I just have to continue to train and get myself ready for camp.”
-- Hailee Lange
Wheeler: Dog Days Came Early
Blake Wheeler is getting plenty of R&R, but his new miniature bulldog puppy is making sure that the B's big winger and his girlfriend Sam aren't getting too much rest this summer.
“He’s been occupying a lot of our time...and he’s a big responsibility” an excited Wheeler said of Toby, his new dog. “But it’s a 50/50 deal, whoever is around is the person in charge at that time.”
But even with all of the attention required from Toby, Wheeler hasn’t put aside all of his summer plans. A trip with Sam to her cabin in Minnesota is on the docket and the 22-year old forward will also spend some time with his Boston teammate, defenseman Matt Hunwick, as well.
Of course, like many of the Bruins, the Minnesota native also plans on hitting the links and enjoying all the sunshine that the summer has to offer.
“I’m a big time golfer,” said Wheeler. “I’ve been playing a lot and trying to get out as much as possible.
“And I’ve been laying out, catching up on the sunshine, and taking it easy."
Beyond minding his new puppy, Wheeler's summer sounds pretty relaxing, but the former Minnesota Golden Gopher assured everyone that there will be plenty of time set aside for off-season training.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve started to do some stuff...nothing too crazy though,” said Wheeler, who had a breakout rookie campaign that saw him earn a 21-24-45 line. "I will probably step it up in a month or so."
Post playoffs, and perhaps with the memory of Game 7 versus Carolina in mind, Wheeler is definitely enjoying his time off.
“I’m trying to stay away from the game a little bit,” he said. “It’s a long season, and when you are involved in the season you want to be completely wrapped up in it.
"During the summer I try to stay away a bit and relax."
However, with a solid year of learning experiences out of the way, come September Wheeler plans on taking his game to the next level.
“Going out there with all the guys and putting it all on the line every night is what makes this game so fun” he said. “I’m excited to get back at it; and it can’t come soon enough.”
-- Hailee Lange
Chara: Family First (Then Workouts)
In between working out (always a given), being a father to a newborn (Elliz Victoria), healing up from the 2008-09 season and preparing to leave for Las Vegas to vie for two prestigious trophies (Norris, Messier), Zdeno Chara
is on vacation in the warm weather of Florida.
That being said, what “Big Zee” calls vacation is really much more like what most of us call work.
"I've started working out already," said Chara via phone (as if the news were a bombshell).
"Basically, I am just preparing for next season," continued the Bruins captain. "I am a huge fan of workouts and I enjoy…getting stronger and better."
Chara is one of the Bruins who will continue to watch hockey until “The Jug” is raised. It gives him extra motivation to – you guessed it – work out.
"Watching the Stanley Cup, I am still feeling a lot of [excitement] when I see the Finals, and I can't wait until next year," said Chara.
Being healthy helps, too.
Like many of his teammates, the big B's blueliner played through pain to get through the campaign. However, as the summer moves on, Chara feels better and better.
"Obviously, from the end of the season until now has been a few weeks," said Chara. "The body is feeling recharged...and so much better.
"With little injuries, you try and take care of them as best you can during the season, but there's only so much you can do [especially during] the playoffs when you only have a day in between games.
"Now, I am feeling so much better."
That is particularly so when he compares his present physical condition to what he was feeling last June.
"This time [last] year I was still in a sling and it was very painful," he said. "And it was very frustrating because I was very limited in terms of workouts.
"This year is much better. I can go outside. I can swim. I can play tennis. I can run. I can bike.
"I can really do a variety of workouts," said Chara.
But don't expect any trips up world-class mountains (like last year’s trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro) this summer.
Right now, Chara has smaller challenges to face, like taking care of his newborn daughter.
"Family comes first," said Chara of Elliz and his wife Tatiana. "Obviously, you have to look after the most important thing…and right now the workouts are scheduled around the baby."
Chara gushed about being a dad.
"It's really busy, but it's really nice," he said. "I am very proud to be a father.
“She is a very alert baby and likes a lot of attention. She’s noticing things and is starting to make her first sounds.
“It’s very overwhelming when she does little things like making eye contact or smiling – it’s beautiful.”-- John Bishop
Thornton: Unclenching the Fists
After a successful second season as the Bruins enforcer, Boston’s Shawn Thornton
continues to be a true leader of the Black & Gold on the ice.
During the 2008-09 campaign Thornton, also proved, yet again, that his worth to the club goes beyond the sweet science, as he set career season-highs in goals and points with 6-5-11 totals.
He also, of course, had highs in penalty minutes (123) and games played (79)
Like the rest of his teammates, the Ontario native is certainly enjoying his time off by playing some golf, vacationing with his wife and visiting family.
“It went by pretty quick so far,” said Thornton of the summer. “It’s been good though, I’ve been checking out a couple of Red Sox games and playing some golf.”
Golf seems to be a common summer hobby for many of the Bruins players and that is no different for Thornton.
“I am not very good at it, but I enjoy it,” Thornton admitted of his abilities on the links. “I like just getting out of the house and going out there, being with a few of the guys and having fun.”
Travel is, of course, on the to-do list for a relaxed and well-rested Thornton and a short trip with his wife to Niagara Falls and another trip home to Ontario are in order.
But Thornton’s time off will not only be made up of golfing and vacations.
In an effort that shows his off-ice leadership, he’s already working hard to prepare for the 2009-10 season. Last week, not even a month after the B’s fell in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the power forward began his off-season hockey training.
“This is my first real week in the gym,” he said of his tough summer workouts. “It stinks; the first week is always the worst.
“You’re sore the next day after everything.”
Thornton is slowly getting back into the swing of things as his preparation for another successful season with the B’s accelerates throughout the Dog Days.
“I probably won’t start skating till the middle to end of August,” said Thornton. “I want to try and take a mental break to refresh myself.”
But by the time August rolls around the B’s beat cop will have had time to reflect on last season and will certainly be ready for another outstanding season.
“I’m excited already for next year,” said Thornton. “It looks like we’ll have our young core back and hopefully I can just help [the Bruins] continue to go in the right direction.”
-- Hailee Lange
June 5Hunwick: Back to Michigan
In just his rookie season, Michigan native Matt Hunwick made quite an impression on the Bruins organization during 2008-09.
But after an outstanding regular season that drew rave reviews, Hunwick’s run in the playoffs was cut short by a ruptured spleen that required surgery after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Now the 24-year old Bruins defenseman is back home in the state of Michigan where he grew up and attended college to rest and recover.
A 2007 graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in economics, Hunwick may not be your typical hockey player off the ice, but on the rink he shows the same dedication and determination of some of the best players in the NHL.
In fact, less than a month into the offseason, Hunwick says he is working hard to get back to full strength before the start of training camp.
“I’m doing much better,” said Hunwick. “I’ve been working out and training.
“I’m still not 100%, but I feel very good.”
While surgery may have been difficult, Hunwick admitted that not being able to play with his team during the playoffs was equally challenging.
“I think that’s one of the toughest things to do, to be up in the press box and have no effect on the outcome of the game. It’s very difficult,” he said.
But the 24-year old took full advantage of his time off the ice and Hunwick said that observing the games gave him a real sense of playoff hockey.
“I had a chance to see our team play and kind of see what playoff hockey was like and what the atmosphere was like, and see how a team reacts in a seven game series,” said Hunwick.
Back home in the heart of Red Wing country, Hunwick says it is hard to watch another team play for something he wants so bad, even if he did follow the Red Wings as a kid. But don’t feel too bad for the young B’s blueliner. He has been taking advantage of all his home state has to offer.
With one trip to lake Michigan in the books, Hunwick plans on taking more throughout the summer.
“I have a couple trips coming up, one out to see my buddy Blake Wheeler out at the lake house in Minnesota,” said Hunwick. “And there’s other little things.
“I have a mountain bike trip planned too.”
But don’t think vacation will distract Hunwick, a restricted free agent, from returning to his pre-surgery form.
“By the end of the summer, I’ll be in top shape,” he said.
-- Kate Ready
Bitz: Off to Saskatoon
At just 24 years old, Saskatoon native Byron Bitz proved to be a key addition to the Bruins lineup during the 2008-09 campaign.
From his high level performance on AHL ice as a Providence Bruin, to becoming a key Boston Bruins forward by working the boards and battling for pucks in true Black & Gold fashion, Bitz was a big part of the B’s plans.
But now that the season is over, Bitz gets to put some “work” into his summer plans, which have the big Cornell graduate enjoying his time off by playing golf, listening to country music and spending some time on the family farm back in Saskatoon.
Admittedly, he is not as good a golfer as teammates Marc Savard
and Michael Ryder, but the ever-humble Bitz explained, “I enjoy golf and I try to get out as much as I can, especially when the weather is nice.”
Golf is not Bitz’s only summer hobby, and although he missed a lot of the growing season this year, he also loves to be at home and spend time on the family farm. So much so, that he seemed to very much enjoy the two-day, 2400-mile long drive back to Saskatoon from New England.
“It is a change from the everyday,” said Bitz while describing his passion for farming. “There is so much open space, you are just by yourself and you can work.”
|(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) |
Even amongst his summer diversions, there is one extremely important event that Byron has planned for the summer -- he is getting married to his fiancée, Christina, in mid-July.
“The ceremony will be back home in Saskatoon,” said a happy Bitz about the wedding. “That is taking up a lot of my time and I have been keeping busy (in preparation).”
Even though Bitz has a lot planned for the summer, the offseason is not all fun and games for the big power forward. He is still working hard to get ready for next year and the upcoming season.
“I am putting in a hard summer of work and getting ready to be prepared as I can for next season,” said the man his teammates called Bitzy-Cat.
Bitz, who is a restricted free agent this summer, is ready to contribute to the B's in 2009-10.
"I want to try and pick up where I left off and try to get better,” he said.-- Hailee Lange