BostonBruins.com – There are few people as familiar with the Bruins’ bevy of prospects than Kevin Dean.
He has worked closely with many of the organization’s young players in recent years, having spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach of the Providence Bruins.
Last week, Dean was on the ice for all four days of Bruins Development Camp.
His experience in helping to shape players who could become vital pieces to Boston's future made him a natural fit to take on a larger role – which he did on Monday.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced Dean as the 11th head coach in Providence Bruins history. Dean takes over for Bruce Cassidy, who was promoted to Boston earlier this offseason to become an assistant to Claude Julien.
“We had an extended search for the head coach position,” Sweeney said during a conference call Monday afternoon. “[Director of Player Personnel] John Ferguson and myself spoke and met with several candidates. However, we always considered Kevin a very strong internal candidate.
“Developing young players was always at the forefront of our search and Kevin has institutional knowledge of our current players. He is totally invested with the process of helping players get to the National Hockey League.
“He sees across the spectrum. I think that his personality lends to teaching every day and communicating every day.”
LOUDON, N.H. – Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano both grew up in New England. They were raised as members of the region’s rabid sports fan base, which never fails to deliver passion for its favorite teams.
Now, as members of the Boston Bruins, they get to experience that devotion from the other side.
They witness it firsthand every day, both on and off the ice.
So it really wasn’t much of a surprise for Acciari and Vatrano to see the passion of New England’s NASCAR fans when the duo arrived at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday morning for the New Hampshire 301.
“Driving up to the speedway I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Vatrano, a native of East Longmeadow, Mass. “It’s crazy to see everyone tailgating at 8 in the morning and having a good time. It’s cool to see that kind of support for NASCAR, especially in the New England area.
“I didn’t really know how big of fans the people are of NASCAR. But you can see the huge support that they have here in New Hampshire. It’s awesome.”
Acciari and Vatrano – guests of Roush Fenway Racing – were both attending their first NASCAR event. Roush Fenway driver Greg Biffle was driving a special NESN Fuel-themed car, which was emblazoned with the logos of the Bruins and Red Sox.
WILMINGTON – Prior to the start of this week’s Boston Bruins Development Camp, General Manager Don Sweeney was eager to get a look at the organization’s bevy of prospects.
He was looking forward to being back in the rink and observing the progress the players have made since this time last year.
After four days off rigorous on-ice practices and off-ice conditioning, Sweeney is coming away from the week with extremely high hopes for the future.
“It’s always an exciting week for all of us,” said Sweeney. “But it’s been a process here for the last couple of years in particular, with players that are now at the forefront of where this organization is headed and we feel good about that.
“They’re a big, big part of our future – they know it, we’ve acknowledged it to them. And now they recognize the opportunity in front of them to take advantage of it.”
The players went through multiple on-ice skills and practice sessions each day, before concluding on Friday with a three-on-three tournament. They also took part in off-ice training and seminars at various points during the week, while getting the chance to tour Fenway Park and attend community events in Wakefield, Stoneham, and Charlestown.
Sweeney credited new Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo – who previously had been the team’s Director of Player Development – and skating and skills coach Kim Brandvold for putting the week together.
WILMINGTON – Malcolm Subban is used to getting peppered with pucks. He has been struck in most parts of his body.
It's just that most of the time, those part are covered in armor. Unfortunately for Subban, that was not the case last February.
Subban was taking shots in warmups before the Providence Bruins game against the Albany Devils at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center when he was pelted in the throat, an area that was not protected by his mask or padding.
At first, Subban felt fine. He though it was just another bruise.
But he quickly realized something wasn’t quite right. After skating over to the bench, Subban had trouble breathing and swallowing water. It was at that point that the Providence trainers examined him and determined he needed to get to the hospital.
The diagnosis was a fractured larynx, which required surgery and four to eight weeks of recovery, causing him to miss the remainder of the P-Bruins' season.
“I honestly thought that I just got hit and I was swollen and I was going to have to come back up on the bench and be freezing cold,” Subban said at this week’s Bruins Development Camp.
WILMINGTON – At the end of last season, Brandon Carlo got a taste of what it’s like to be a professional hockey player.
The defenseman suited up for seven games – plus one playoff game – with the Providence Bruins, tallying one assist and a plus-3 rating.
Carlo, a 2015 second-round pick, hopes that experience – albeit abbreviated – helps him this season during his first full pro campaign.
“It was great,” Carlo said at this week’s Development Camp. “Coming in and using my speed against those bigger guys was a lot more fun. I felt like I handled myself pretty well against a lot more heavy men. I had a lot of fun experiencing that and I feel like I did pretty well.”
Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was in charge of player development last season, noticed how at ease Carlo looked during his short time with the P-Bruins.
WILMINGTON – Ryan Lindgren was not on the ice when Bruins Development Camp kicked off on Tuesday morning. But there was a pretty good reason for his absence.
The newly drafted defenseman was at the University of Minnesota partaking in his freshman writing and student athlete summer courses. Lindgren completed his necessary commitments and flew to Boston in time for Day 2 of the camp on Wednesday, joining the rest of the group for a long day of on-ice sessions.
It is just the beginning of a careful balancing act for the 18-year-old native of Minneapolis.
Juggling his academic duties with his hockey career is something he will have to get used as he approaches his first fall as a member of the Golden Gophers.
“I think they do a great job there at the University of Minnesota of keeping us balanced between hockey and school,” said Lindgren, who was selected by the Bruins in the second round of last month’s NHL Entry Draft.
“I came there to play hockey. I’ve got to have good grades as well, though, that’s important.”
Lindgren played the last two seasons for the U.S. National Development Team Program, for which he tallied nine goals and 44 points, to go along with 145 penalty minutes, in 116 games.
WILMINGTON – Cam Clarke was drafted by the Bruins just three weeks ago. But his family’s history with the team goes back much further than that.
Clarke’s father grew up a huge Bruins fan and adored B's legend Rick Middleton. Over the years, his Black & Gold fandom faded as his hometown of Ottawa got a team of its own.
But he always hung on to one special piece of Bruins memorabilia: a vintage Bruins jersey, personalized with the last name Clarke and the No. 16, in honor of Middleton.
After Cam Clarke was drafted by the B’s in the fifth round of last month’s draft, his mother made sure to pull the jersey out of the closet.
“Maybe the weirdest story I’ve ever been a part of,” Clarke said after Day 2 of Bruins Development Camp. “My dad when he was super young was a big Boston Bruins fan and his favorite player was Rick Middleton.
“I wasn’t at the draft – I was at home – so my mom pulled out the jersey and it was just unbelievable to see the No. 16 [for his draft year] and my last name on it. It was a cool experience.”
Clarke’s dad was more than thrilled to see his son picked by the team he grew up rooting for.
WILMINGTON – It did not take long for Matt Grzelcyk to notice the talent.
He had heard all about the young, gifted defenseman that was on his way to Boston University. So when Charlie McAvoy stepped onto the Agganis Arena ice last fall as a member of the Terriers, Grzelcyk was not surprised at the freshman’s immediate impact.
“Right away, honestly,” said Grzelcyk of when he realized McAvoy had that special something.
“He was pretty heralded coming into college. With him only being 17, he really didn’t show any signs of [inexperience] right off the bat. I knew he was going to be a fun player to play with.”
And so a bond was formed.
Boston University coach David Quinn paired McAvoy with Grzelcyk – the two-year captain of the Terriers – to form one of the best blue line duos in college hockey. The two instantly connected, combining for 13 goals, 48 assists, and a plus-27 rating, while helping to pace BU to a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
McAvoy’s 25 points led all Terrier defensemen, while Grzelcyk’s 23 points ranked second.
WILMINGTON – Trent Frederic hasn’t had much time to breathe in recent weeks.
The 18-year-old was drafted by the Bruins with the 29th overall pick in last month’s NHL Entry Draft and has since been taking summer classes at the University of Wisconsin, where he will suit up as a freshman this fall.
The whirlwind continues this week at the 10th Annual Boston Bruins Development Camp. But being on the ice is also allowing Frederic to return to his comfort zone.
“I’m super excited,” Frederic said Tuesday afternoon, following the first day of Development Camp at Ristuccia Arena.
“I was a little bit nervous, but when I got here all the nerves went away and I just started playing and doing the testing. The staff’s great and the other prospects are great, so it’s pretty awesome.”
Frederic has been touted as a strong defensive center, who plays a heavy style. He sees himself the same way, but is also looking to add more to the offensive side of his game.
BOSTON – For the last few weeks, Don Sweeney has been focused on the future of the Bruins organization.
The B’s general manager – and the rest of the hockey operations staff – have spent countless hours identifying the players they best believe will make Boston a team to be reckoned with for years to come.
But much of the work at the Scouting Combine, NHL Draft, and during the opening days of free agency is done from offices and conference rooms. The executives and scouts have not seen ice – outside of the occasional beach cooler – in quite some time.
As a result, Sweeney is very much excited about being back at the rink for the 10th Annual Boston Bruins Development Camp, which runs Tuesday-Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.
Twenty-six players, including all six 2016 Draft picks, will participate in the camp, where all on-ice sessions will be open to the public.