BLAINE, Minn. – David Backes first hit the ice at Fogerty Arena when he was five years old. It did not end very well.
Backes was not wearing any gear during his inaugural trip around the rink and at one point fell and bashed his head off the ice.
“I don’t know what my parents were thinking,” Backes joked.
Despite that rough start, Backes stuck with it. He received some skating lessons from a friend’s father and, as the years passed, his love and passion for the game grew.
Fogerty Arena became a second home.
It was the rink where he made so many memories, met so many friends, and where he ultimately began to construct the framework for a tremendous career in the National Hockey League.
So each time Backes walks through the doors of his hometown rink – which sits just outside of Minneapolis – the recollections come flooding back, as they did on Thursday afternoon when the new Bruins forward visited the old stomping grounds during #BearTracks, presented by Sal’s Pizza.
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 – The Boston Bruins Foundation’s Pan-Mass Challenge team is recuperating after an arduous, yet successful weekend, raising over $170,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The contingent of 30 riders, relying on supporters and each other, conquered the two-day, 192-mile bicycle ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown, Mass., dropping the gloves to fight cancer in typical Bruins fashion.
Dan Murphy, a member of the Boston Bruins Foundation’s PMC team, celebrated his 10th PMC ride with some special, unexpected guests.
“My wife had invited all our friends from Epping, [New Hampshire] behind my back without me knowing,” Murphy said.
The New Hampshire native couldn’t contain his excitement when speaking of the hometown crew, most of which traveled over three hours to offer their encouragement.
“She’s actually been planning this for five months, and they were all at the finish line in Provincetown,” said Murphy. “They had yellow shirts with my name on it and [they were] cheering me on as I came in. I had no idea it was going to happen.”
While the abundant show of support for the riders willed them to the finish line, Bruins Foundation team member, and now seven-time PMC rider, Rich McDonald was impressed by the unbreakable will and determination of his battalion.
BostonBruins.com – The 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class was announced on Monday evening and it is heavy in Bruins and New England connections.
Former Bruins standout Craig Janney, legendary Rhode Island high school coach Bill Belisle, and the 1996 U.S. World Cup of Hockey team will be inducted later this year in a ceremony (date to be announced).
“This is a truly magnificent class,” Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “Each member of the Class of 2016 has had an extraordinary impact on our sport and is most deserving to take their place among the hockey immortals in the United States.”
Janney played 12 seasons in the NHL after being drafted by the Bruins with the 13th overall pick in 1986. The native of Hartford, Conn., registered 188 goals and 563 assists for 751 points during his career, including 85 goals and 198 points in 262 games over five seasons with the Bruins, with whom he made trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 1988 and 1990.
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.
BOSTON – When David Backes was in college, he wanted an animal or two to have around the house and keep him company. But as a seemingly young and maturing student, taking on such an important responsibility was not quite feasible.
Backes, instead, decided the next best thing would be to volunteer at the local animal shelter. So during his three years at Minnesota State University-Mankato, he spent time scooping out litter boxes and cleaning kennels.
It was the beginning of what has become a vital part of his off-ice life.
Backes is a passionate animal advocate, who after beginning his NHL career wanted to use his voice and influence towards a great cause by founding Athletes for Animals, which rescues and protects the welfare of homeless pets.
So it was fitting that the 32-year-old forward – who has four dogs and two cats at home – made his first official appearance as a member of the Boston Bruins at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain on Wednesday afternoon.
Backes, along with his wife Kelly and young daughter Stella, toured the facility and met with a number of animals and MSPCA employees, before addressing the Boston media for the first time.
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.
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.