|Boston Bruins' Mark Stuart, right, checks Calgary Flames' David Moss, left, as Bruins goalie Tim Thomas clears the puck the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 27, 2010, in Boston. The Bruins won 5-0. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) |
Where was he? The beach? Running through an airport? Fishing?
No, explained one Bruins staffer, Mark Stuart likely did his "welcome back" conference call from the comfort of his treadmill and his home gym.
"That makes sense" was the concensus from the gathered media and Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli's comments seemed to second the notion that Stuart is special player.
"Stuey is a high character player and he had a few injuries this year but he came back after that hand infection," said Chiarelli. "He added to our lineup then, even before going back when he first hurt his hand it was coming off a great hit and he had to answer the call against L.A.
"His injuries even speak to his character. So we’re happy to have him in the mix."
And Stuart is happy to be back.
"Yeah I'm very excited about the deal," said Stuart. "I expected after the season I had that if I was going to get a deal it was probably going to be a one-year deal and see how I played.
"Hopefully I can have a great year this year and hopefully a long-term deal is in the future."
Chiarelli said that the B's are certainly open to that possibility.
"That’s just the number that we came up with," said the GM of the contract. "We gave him a little bit of a bump...and I look at it as a bridge contract to something more.
"He’s UFA (unrestricted free agent) next year so we’ll evaluate during the year and we may extend him during the year.
"He was okay with the one year...building onto something more if we have a little more flexibility next year," said Chiarelli.
Stuart looks forward to the challenge.
"If you're going to get a long-term deal you have to earn it and play as close to a complete year as you can," said the defenseman. "But you know what, our team is different.
"You guys know as well as I do the makeup of our team with our cap issues and stuff like that. I definitely wasn’t expecting anything long-term this year, but like I said if I can earn a long-term deal by playing really well this year then I’ll be really happy with it."
There's no reason to believe that Stuart -- now feeling healthy -- won't do exactly that.
"Yeah, everything’s been great," he said. "I got off the antibiotics a couple weeks after the season ended and I was just taking the oral (medication), so obviously that was great to get done with those. It was a big weight off my shoulders and the finger has been great.
"I've been working out with it and not having any problems. I've skated, as far as that goes it’s very good and I'm very happy with that. I'm going to have to do some follow up appointments six weeks from the time I ended antibiotics, so that’s coming up here pretty quick but I should pass with flying colors."
Stuart looks forward to being a big part of a squad that he believes has a solid chance to contend.
"I'm very excited about our team," said Stuart. "I've been excited about our team the last few years here. We’re moving in the right direction.
"Last year was very disappointing, how it ended for everybody, players the fans, the media, but I think we have the right guys in place the right staff the right management to make a really good push.
"I think the moves we made over the offseason have been great and the guys we already have in place are going to get the job done. Every summer you always get excited for the season but I think the direction we’ve been going in the last few years is, I think, going to be special."