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Bruins welcome Pouliot, Corvo into fold

by Matt Kalman
BOSTON – They're the new kids on the block, but at least publicly they haven't been picked on or hazed by their new teammates in the Bruins' dressing room.

Defenseman Joe Corvo and forward Benoit Pouliot were the only two NHL regulars acquired by the defending Stanley Cup champions during the offseason. Both are expected to crack the lineup and are finding that their teammates are more than welcoming to new additions.

"It was pretty easy joining the guys," Pouliot, who signed with Boston as a free agent in July, said shortly after the first on-ice day of training camp at TD Garden. "A lot of the guys have been good to me, so I can't really complain. The first practice is out of the way. It was good. It was a long one but it feels good."

Just because the Bruins won the Cup doesn't mean they're any less down-to-Earth than your average hockey player.


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"I hung out in Chicago after they won it (in 2010), and hung out with some of those guys, and they don't change at all," said Corvo, who was dealt from Carolina to Boston. "It's not like they become like super-cocky guys. They're great guys, very humble and seem to want to share it with everybody. So it's a good time to be here and just be accepted by all the guys."

Corvo, 34, and Pouliot, who'll turn 25 later this month, are at extremely different points of their careers.

Corvo, a fourth-round pick in 1997, has found his niche in the League, while Pouliot is still trying to either fulfill his potential as a first-round pick (No. 4 by Minnesota, 2005) or at least establish himself as just a full-time NHL contributor as he joins his third organization in as many years.

This past season in Montreal, Pouliot posted just 30 points in 79 games and saw his ice time decrease as the season wound down. He was a healthy scratch for most of the Canadiens' first-round playoff series. Perhaps joining a deep lineup without as much pressure to score 25, 30 goals will ease Pouliot's development into a useful performer.

"I want to [score a lot]," he said. "But, no, they have such a great three, four lines here, it's awesome. It was awesome to play against, so now I get to join them."

For what it's worth, Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been adamant about giving Pouliot a chance to flourish in the Boston system. During the past few seasons, Julien has had success with players like Michael Ryder, Daniel Paille and Dennis Seidenberg blossoming after being cast aside by other organizations.

"His skill level is a high skill level, [he's] a guy with good size, obviously, and he put on some weight even this year," said Julien. "We felt that even last year in Montréal he was one of the guys that was most physical on their hockey club. I think he was third on the team in hits. So having him around the rest of our team we feel he's going to be a good fit.

"We said that about Nathan Horton last year when people questioned the part of his game [wasn't] consistent. I think consistency has been said [as a problem] about Pouliot. And Nathan worked his way through with our hockey club. We really feel Pouliot will do the same. And with the right surroundings I think he's got a great attitude and he's a player that's been liked everywhere he's gone so we just feel like he's going to be a good fit. Now if that's going to happen is going to be up to him to prove that he fit in well and he's going to have training camp to prove that to us."

Defenseman Joe Corvo was one of two off-season acquisitions by the Bruins, and is expected to make an impact on the lineup. (Photo: Getty Images)
Corvo has averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time a night for his career and been a consistent point-producer on the back end. His past two full NHL seasons (he missed time with injury in 2009-10), he put up 38 and 40 points, respectively. As Corvo has gained experience, he's learned how to better "manage" his game, as Julien put it. He's no longer letting pressure from the front office -- or himself -- affect his play.

"Over the years you learn how to calm down and you learn just how to repeat the things that you do," said Corvo. "And you'd be surprised that it takes less energy to do more, so … that's just something I try to do. I try to just relax and just keep things simple.

"As long as I tell myself to just slow down and try to do less, then things tend to work out."

The less-is-more philosophy will probably allow for a smoother transition to Corvo's new team, especially with an entire training camp to get acquainted. But although he had a lot more time off during the summer after the Hurricanes' playoff-less season, Corvo said he's catching up to the Cup-winners in the readiness department.

"You would think [I'd be more ready]," he said. "But I think it's the other way around. They played longer. There's a difference between gym shape and hockey shape. And I'm sure some of these guys probably feel like they just stopped playing and probably don't feel that much out of shape. I didn't feel great today. I feel like I've got more work to do. But it takes about a week to get comfortable."

The on-ice transition is probably going a little quicker than the off-ice one. Although he and his wife have settled in the Back Bay, Corvo said he still needs to use a GPS to find some things. And Pouliot admitted to getting lost in his new environs.

"I'm getting there. I moved into my apartment the other day. But it's a little tough to get around the city. I don't really know where to go. But after a couple weeks, you're good to go," he explained.

If Corvo and Pouliot contribute to the Bruins' title defense the way they're expected, they'll be getting recognized on the street before they know it. Help finding their way will be just a Bruins fan away for Boston's pair of new kids.

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