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Yelle Visits TD Banknorth Garden

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA – There was a little excitement in the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday as the newest member of the Boston Bruins brought along his Stanley Cup credentials to the West End when he visited his new home rink.

But even before Stephane Yelle hit the hallways on Causeway, there was quite a bit of buzz in the building after the news hit the Hub of Hockey.

Moments after the signing was announced a quick search of the web for the words “Stephane  Yelle” yielded the following thoughts from the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater in his July 22nd blog entitled Why is Stephane  Yelle still out there?:

Stephane Yelle, who remains unsigned and is out there wanting to be signed by somebody, is a guy who might not score many goals either. But he’s not going to get scored on much, and he’s a great penalty killer…Yelle’s teams have a funny way of always being winners, and nobody disputes his PK credentials.

After all the paperwork was done and Yelle had left the building to find a real estate agent, General Manager Peter Chiarelli seconded Dater when he was asked about the signing.

“He’s won some Cups. He’s been an integral part on Cup winning teams and successful teams,” said the GM while sitting in his office overlooking I-93 and the harbor.

“He’s a tremendous defensive player, very good on faceoffs and very good on the penalty kill. He’s got experience and he’s a guy we wanted in the mix.”

For his part, Yelle looked happy to be a Bostonian and seemed excited to acclimate to his new surroundings. But a pair of former teammates from Calgary, Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ference, made the prospect of walking into a new locker room less daunting for the 12-year veteran.

“I’ve played with, and was neighbors to, Andy and Chuck,” said Yelle. “For us it’ll be nice to be back together.

“But I’ve been around for while and I’ve been on different teams. And with their help I don’t think it will be a problem (fitting in).”

Based on descriptions and video, Yelle was born to wear Black & Gold and should fit into this incarnation of the Boston Bruins quite well.

“He excels on the penalty kill and if you look at his PK time and the success of his penalty kill units over the course of his career, it’s been outstanding,” explained Chiarelli. “And what that does – and obviously we’d like to improve our penalty kill – it allows you to play the style of game (we) play knowing you have a successful penalty kill.”

In other words, the addition of Yelle should allow the Bruins to play “Bruins Hockey” despite the possibility of being sent to the box.

“We try and play hard, in peoples’ faces and ultimately you are going to get penalties,” said Chiarelli. “That’s especially so with the new rules.

“Yelle is defensively aware, and that is not to say that he won’t contribute offensively, but we got him primarily for his defensive awareness and his experience.”

Yelle also has the versatility to play various roles in the lineup.

“He’s played as high as the second line and he plays on the third and fourth line,” said Chiarelli. “He can slide up and down the lineup, too.”

With scant days left before training camp, Yelle was not sure when he would arrive in Boston permanently and join in on the informal skates which take place daily in Wilmington. However, the forward clearly relished an opportunity to join an Original Six franchise.

“I’m excited,” said Yelle. “It’s a great organization that’s been here forever. It’s a good young team with a good coach and I am really pumped.

“Growing up, just east of Ottawa, you had Toronto and Montreal. After watching those teams for years, as well as the Boston Bruins, it’s like a dream come true to play for an Original Six team.”

Perhaps by allowing Yelle to fulfill a childhood dream, the Bruins have taken yet another step towards fulfilling the dreams of hockey fans across New England.

Notes: Previous to the big news of the day, several members continued their Captain’s Practices in Wilmington. On Wednesday, Zdeno Chara joined a group that included Andrew Alberts, Andrew Bodnarchuk,  P. J. Axelsson, Manny Fernandez, Shane Hnidy, Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Kevin Regan, Jeremy Reich, Marc Savard, Mark Stuart, Marco Sturm, Nate Thompson, Shawn Thornton, Aaron Ward and Dennis Wideman, The players split into two teams to have a very informal scrimmage and then some high-paced three-on-three games highlighted by a breakaway goal for Lucic and several terrific saves by Regan.
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