BOLTON, Mass. - Every September, the Boston Bruins Foundation Golf Tournament marks the unofficial start to the new season.
On Monday at The International Golf Course, Bruins past and present gathered for the 12th annual charity tournament, with alumni like Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton sharing the course with the current roster.
“It’s nice to have everybody back,” said Captain Zdeno Chara. “It’s a week where we’re all going to start and obviously Thursday’s a big day, but before you know it, we’re going to play the first preseason game on Sunday, so it’s right around the corner.”
On Thursday, players will report to TD Garden for off-ice testing and the intensity will ramp up with the opening of training camp. But first, a relaxing day on the golf course was in order.
“This is great for the community, great for everybody,” Chara said of the tournament. “We all enjoy participating in events like this, where it’s kind of a last chance to relax before training camp starts and it’s a part of bonding I would say - interacting with the fans and people participating in this golf tournament. I think it’s just a great event.”
“I’m sure the guys are anxious to get back on the ice,” said Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation Bob Sweeney. “It’s been a long offseason and this is kind of the kickoff to the hockey season — and I appreciate all of the guys and the alumni donating their time and helping us raise a lot of money for the Foundation.”
The event, complete with an 18-hole golf scramble, contests, live auction and raffle, raised more than $300,000. The Boston Bruins Foundation also presented Travis Roy with a $50,000 donation to his Travis Roy Foundation. This October marks the 20th anniversary of Travis’ accident, and the B’s Foundation paid tribute to Roy during the tournament and thanked him for his dedication to enhancing the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families.
“Any time we come here, it’s always for a great reason - to give back and to help out, and a guy like Travis obviously is someone that we all look up to,” said Patrice Bergeron. “The way that he’s handled himself and the way that everything happened, he always wanted to make a difference in the community and it’s definitely nice to be out here and be able to help out and be part of it.”
“I live on hope,” said Roy. “Hope gets me out of bed in the morning.”
The Bruins have plenty of hope as they get set to being their 2015-16 campaign.
With the golf tournament wrapped, the players have a couple more days of informal practices at Ristuccia Arena before the real work begins.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Bergeron. “This year is definitely different, having a lot of new faces and new guys coming in so you know camp’s going to be a great chance for us to get to know each other and find a way to have some good chemistry right away and be a good hockey team.”
With changes in the offseason, the likes of Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zac Rinaldo have joined the locker room. Brett Connolly and Max Talbot are also two newer faces, having been acquired at March’s trade deadline. Spots are open at camp. Competition will be intense.
“It’s probably a great impulse to have with the new guys, new faces in the locker room - that always brings more energy and I think all of us are looking forward to it,” said Chara.
As new chemistry forms, the Bruins’ leaders will be mindful of getting this team back to where it should be — in the playoffs.
“Absolutely we have to be more involved with new faces, new players coming in — you’ve got to make sure that everybody’s going to be pulling in the same direction and towards the same goal,” Chara said.
“Motivation is definitely there,” said Bergeron. “Just for the fact of how things ended last year and I think everyone wants to redeem themselves and be a better hockey team, making sure that we’re off on a good start.”
“And I think we can definitely feed from the things that happened last year, ending in disappointment, and try our best to erase that and start fresh and have a good year.”
The time for relaxation is over. The countdown is on. It has been five long months, and hockey will soon be back at TD Garden.
“We’re obviously going to focus on our training camp, have a good, solid training camp, prepare for the beginning of the season, and have a good start to the season,” said Chara. “And I’m sure that if we continue to make steps forward, we’re going to be in the playoffs, for sure.”
“That’s the definitely the goal and that’s our expectations,” said Bergeron. “There’s no other way that we look at it, that I look at it.”