DENVER — For Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles, the offseason is non-stop movement.
That doesn’t just come from training for the upcoming season; it comes from chasing around his one-year-old daughter, Ava.
“It’s 100 miles per hour. It’s go, go, go,” smiled Liles.
The 35-year-old veteran blueliner re-signed with Boston on a one-year deal as a free agent in July. He was acquired by the Bruins at the trade deadline from the Carolina Hurricanes.
As part of BostonBruins.com’s annual #BearTracks summer trip this August, Liles opened up his Denver, Colo. home in order to give fans a glimpse at his life off the ice and in the offseason, with Ava and his wife, Erin.
“It’s been great,” Liles beamed, of being a father. “My daughter is just over a year now and it’s been a lot of fun, especially these last two months. Her personality is really coming out. She’s a goof, and it’s been a lot of fun, especially being able to have the summer to kind of share those moments that maybe you don’t have every day during the season just because you’re traveling constantly and working.”
BostonBruins.com — Since the summer of 2012, the Bruins have opened up their offseason homes for fans to get an inside look into their summer routines.
The #BearTracks crew is at it again in 2016, with four more stops on tap from Aug. 17 through Aug. 23.
BostonBruins.com — Six Bruins prospects will be competing for their respective countries this week during summer National Junior Team evaluation camps.
The camps serve as auditions for players seeking to make their respective squads that will strive for gold at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto, Canada, from Dec. 26, 2016 through Jan. 5, 2017.
Three of Boston’s 2016 draft picks, defenseman Charlie McAvoy, forward Trent Frederic and defenseman Ryan Lindgren, are among the 42 players at USA Hockey’s camp, which takes place through Aug. 6 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
The week includes daily practices, as well as exhibition games. For the first part of camp, the U.S. camp will be separated into two squads, with McAvoy on USA Blue, and Frederic and Lindgren on USA White. On Aug. 2, the roster will be trimmed and a single U.S. squad will finish the camp with practices and games against Canada, Finland and Sweden at USA Hockey Arena.
BEIJING — Hockey is hockey.
That’s one of the immediate realizations, upon first arriving at Xiaolang International Ice Rink in Beijing, China.
The rink is nearly 7,000 miles away from Boston. It has two sheets of ice, with overlooks for spectator viewing. There are signs lining the walls, with one that projects the motivational motto: “Be Hungry. Be Crazy.”
It is the home rink of the Little Wolf hockey family, but it served as the Bruins’ home away from home for a week of youth hockey clinics.
The mission? To help grow the game.
Current Bruins Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak made the trek across the world to help host the clinics, along with alumni Andrew Raycroft and Bob Sweeney, and the Bruins Youth Hockey Development Team.
The trip — “Bruins Global: China 2016” — was made possible through a partnership with Beijing-based company O.R.G. Packaging and the Chairman of O.R.G., Mr. Zhou Yunjie. It represents a joint initiative to help introduce the Bruins to hockey and culture in China, while they help grow the sport of hockey abroad with their knowledge and skills.
BEIJING — Ni hao! Greetings from the other side of the world.
The Bruins’ first-ever official visit to China kicked off in Beijing on July 13, with current Bruins Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak joining Bruins alumni Andrew Raycroft and Bob Sweeney, and members of the Boston Bruins Youth Hockey Development Team for “Bruins Global: China 2016.”
The crew will be in China from July 13-July 23, hosting several youth hockey clinics in Beijing and Shanghai for more than 150 Chinese youth hockey players. The clinics will consist of both on and off-ice training.
The trip came about through a partnership with Beijing-based company O.R.G. Packaging to help grow the sport of hockey in China, while also strengthening the connection between the Bruins and the local Chinese community in New England and educating North American residents about the growth of hockey in China.
O.R.G. Packaging Chairman Zhou Yunjie grew up playing hockey in Beijing and is passionate about working with the Bruins to cultivate the sport in China.
The trip is unique on a number of different levels, mainly because the players have never been that far overseas, and also because of the cultural experiences the group will encounter. There is something about hockey, though, that transcends. The Black & Gold work to grow hockey around New England, and now that approach is being taken abroad.
BostonBruins.com — The opening of free agency came and went on Friday, and as a result, the Bruins bolstered their team for the 2016-17 season and beyond.
In signing free agent David Backes to a five-year deal, the Black & Gold brought in a 10-year NHL veteran with the St. Louis Blues and a long-time captain whose scoring, grit and physicality are only surpassed by his leadership.
“Obviously the Bruins are very excited about several additions that we added to our roster and organization,” Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney told media on a conference call the evening of July 1. “We went out to identify a primary target in David Backes as a center, right wing candidate.”
“[The Blues] went for a real deep run. He’s hungry to have another opportunity to win,” said Sweeney.
Backes has 49 games of playoff experience, and he’s fresh off 20 of them with St. Louis’ 2016 push.
“During our conversations, he spoke about knowing our team and how hard they are to play against, respecting our leaders and our club,” said Sweeney. “He’s done his due diligence with a number of players that we have on the horizon. He knows this was a full commitment from the ownership, you know, with Cam [Neely], Claude [Julien] involved, players involved.”
BostonBruins.com — The Bruins will enter the NHL’s Free Agency period on Friday with a key defenseman re-signed for four more years.
While the timing was not a priority, Boston now has Torey Krug in Black & Gold through the 2019-20 season. He would have become a restricted free agent on July 1.
The 25-year-old signed his new contract on Thursday in Boston, at an average annual value of $5.25 million. The cap for the 2016-17 season has been set by the NHL at $73 million.
“We’ve had significant talks for an extended period of time with Torey and his agent Lewis [Gross] — I want to thank them both,” Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said on a conference call with media Thursday evening. “The timing, I don’t think it was that paramount, but it’s great to be able to come to an agreement. Both parties feel very comfortable and fair in how things were approached.”
BostonBruins.com — The Bruins welcomed six new prospects this past weekend at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, N.Y., including two in the first round and a second round selection.
Combined with the 2015 draft in Florida, the Bruins have added 16 new prospects to their system in the span of a year.
“We’re really excited about the depth now, where we’re at,” General Manager Don Sweeney said following the draft in Buffalo. “So we’re excited about where we’re at with where we come out of the draft. We’ll move forward [to free agency] and address some of the other things that we’ve spoken about previously.”
NHL Free Agency begins on Friday, July 1 at noon ET, with Sweeney and his staff pursuing all options to improve the club. BostonBruins.com will certainly provide full coverage of any news that comes up.
But, first, let’s recap the draft and take a look at the new members of the Black & Gold.
LAS VEGAS — The NHL is expanding to Las Vegas.
The announcement came from Commissioner Gary Bettman during a press conference prior to the 2016 NHL Awards on Wednesday, June 22.
The decision to award an NHL franchise to Las Vegas beginning with the 2017-18 season came at the Board of Governors Meeting, where it was approved in a unanimous vote. It makes the NHL the first of the four major North American professional sports leagues to put a team in Las Vegas.
This marks the NHL’s first expansion since Columbus and Minnesota entered the League during the 2000-01 season.
Boston Bruins Owner and Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs was on hand to introduce the NHL’s newest owner, Bill Foley, who spearheaded the expansion effort to bring the League to the 2.3 million residents of Las Vegas.
“The executive committee had four objectives in considering a League expansion,” Jacobs said in his remarks. “First, to evaluate the viabilities of a respective franchise owner. Secondly, to determine the quality and suitability of the respective market. And third, to certify the NHL’s readiness in the arena and respective market. Most importantly, to determine the franchise that had all three attributes would also enhance the National Hockey League and make it stronger.”
LAS VEGAS — The 2016 NHL Awards came and went on Wednesday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Patrice Bergeron was nominated for the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the fifth straight time, given to the NHL’s top defensive forward. Instead of Bergeron earning his fourth straight tropy, LA’s Anze Kopitar took the win for his first-ever Selke.
Kopitar garnered 1,145 voting points, including 77 first-place votes, while Bergeron received 996 points with 46 first-place votes. The other finalist, Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, had 424 points and nine first-place votes.
“Obviously you’re up against amazing players and it’s just the nature of it,” said Bergeron. “It’s one of those things where I’ve always said, win or lose, I would play the same way and I still feel the same. That’s still how I feel.”