BOSTON - Labor Day always signals that the summer is starting to wind down.
For the Bruins, the day meant one last breather before diving back into hockey season. With Boston Bruins Training Camp, presented by AT&T, on the horizon, more than 30 Bruins returned to the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday morning.
Training Camp officially opens on Sept. 14, and Rookie Camp opens this Thursday, Sept. 7. By all accounts, summer is over for those in Black & Gold.
The group spent more than a hour working their way through drills and a lengthy scrimmage.
Players had been trickling back into the Boston area for the past few weeks, but Tuesday marked the largest number of skaters at captain's practice.
The newest arrivals included Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Backes, and the Captain himself, Zdeno Chara.
"You're always looking forward to being back and seeing the guys that you haven't seen for a couple of months and some new faces," Chara said after the skate. "It's always nice to get back and be together as a team."
"Everybody feels that excitement and anticipation to start the training and the action," Chara smiled.
Chara has certainly been to his fair share of captain's practices and training camps through his 20 years in the NHL, but he has never lost his fervor for the game and that excitement that each new season brings.
"I love the game. I love everything about it," smiled Chara. "I love the sacrifice. I love the training. I love everything about it. It's so magical to me that you can come to an environment that you are always professional, you have to act that way, you have to play that way, you have to be a leader - so many things are so positive, everything about it."
"So I don't look really at my age; I look really at what I can still do and I still enjoy it and I continue to want to improve and play as long as I can," said Chara.
With nearly a week until training camp, Big Zee is looking for his teammates to use the time wisely and get themselves set up for a successful start to the season.
"We should really focus on how we work in hard in training camp, get to know each other, and have a good preseason, and I think everybody wants to have a good start to the season," said Chara. "It's so important to have the good starts and to build on good games and have some consistency."
The Bruins' season officially opens on Oct. 5 at TD Garden against the Nashville Predators.
As the B's begin to arrive back in Boston, the excitement continues to build.
In addition to Marchand, Krejci, Backes, and Chara, Tuesday's skate saw the following forwards hit the ice: Noel Acciari, Kenny Agostino, Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jesse Gabrielle, Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller, Zach Senyshyn, and Frank Vatrano.
The defensemen on the ice along with Chara were Brandon Carlo, Tommy Cross, Matt Grzelcyk, Emil Johansson, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Rob O'Gara, Paul Postma, and Jakub Zboril. The goalies were Anton Khudobin and Malcolm Subban.
Having nearly everyone back also meant quite a bit of catching up.
"That's part of the summer, getting away and getting some time to have that new feeling when you get back, that excitement that you're back at the rink, back with your teammates and that opportunity to do something special again," said Backes. "The way that everyone's flying out here already, a couple weeks before camp starts, just over a week before camp starts, it's a a good sign."
"We all had fun out there giving each other a hard time and working our butts off and trying to get better and hit the ground running once camp starts."