MONTREAL — The 2015 #BearTracks tour has come to an end.
This year’s #BearTracks crew traversed five different cities in Ontario and Quebec: We started in Toronto, traveled to Hamilton, then to Barrie, then we crossed Ontario to Ottawa, ending in Montreal.
MONTREAL — Max Talbot knows that being a member of the 2015-16 Bruins is going to be different.
No, he didn’t spend too much time with the B’s after joining the team at the March 1 trade deadline, but he spent enough time in Black & Gold to understand what the 2014-15 Bruins were all about.
Now, after some key personnel changes during the offseason, the team is different. Talbot realizes as much.
But what he doesn’t understand is some of the chatter he has heard about his team over the last few months.
“I heard some words which I hated this summer — ‘reconstruction’ — and you know, this just [ticked] me off because we still have the core. We have a very strong core,” Talbot said in Montreal, during the fifth and final stop of the 2015 #BearTracks tour. “We have great players, and for us, I think we can only use that as motivation. It’s going to be a great season, and the Cup is up for grabs.”
KANATA, ON. — Somehow, even though he’s just 23 years old and even though he has yet to get a full NHL season under his belt, Ryan Spooner is already a veteran among the core of young Bruins players expected to take the reins in the near future.
Last season was Spooner’s coming out party of sorts. He was unhappy with his first stint with the big club at the start of the season, so when he got his second opportunity in February, he made certain to make the most of it.
And he did. Right of the gates, the Spooner we saw in February was different from the one we saw in October. He was more confident. He was defensively sound. And he played the way he knew he could play instead of worrying about the expectations that have seemingly stalked him since the Bruins selected him in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft.
For Spooner, the 2015-16 season will be different from the three pro seasons that preceded it. Now, Spooner’s coaches and teammates know what he is capable of doing on the ice. Now, they know he is worthy of a roster spot on an NHL team.
This year, he will be expected to seize a bigger role and run with it.
BARRIE, ON. — During the first couple of years of Matt Beleskey’s NHL career, you might have found him spending his summer pumping iron — as much iron as possible.
These days, his philosophy has changed.
Sure, he still lifts weights — and a lot of weights, when he does it — but he complements his weight training with a variety of mobility, flexibility and cardiovascular exercises meant to keep him as strong as possible, from September through August, whether he is on the ice or not.
Enter Tom Swales, physiotherapist and strength and conditioning specialist at Concept of Movement in Barrie.
Beleskey was referred to Swales by a former NHLer four summers ago. Beleskey wanted to stay in Barrie for the whole summer, and he needed someone to train with, and after one session with Swales, he never looked back.
BARRIE, ON. — If it were up to Matt Beleskey, the 2015-16 season would start right now.
Enough with the training. Enough with the solo workouts. He’s ready to get to Boston, meet his new teammates and coaches, and get going on another run at the Stanley Cup.
“I could end the summer right now and start camp tomorrow,” Beleskey said, as the BostonBruins.com crew visited his hometown of Barrie, ON., on the third stop of the 2015 #BearTracks tour. “I’m ready to go. This is always the hardest part of the summer, when you’ve been training and you’re kind of sick of that. I just want to get out there and start playing.”
HAMILTON — From the look of Zac Rinaldo’s offseason home in Hamilton, ON., you would never know that the upcoming season will be his first as a member of the Boston Bruins.
The first thing you see when you walk into his basement is a black and gold Adirondack chair adorned with a giant Bruins logo — and Rinaldo’s name and number on the back. It was a chair that raised over $2,000 for Rinaldo’s Fight For A Cause, an annual charity event that raises money to fight pediatric cancer.
Perhaps unexpectedly, that chair says a lot about Rinaldo — more than what meets the eye. Obviously, it says he is excited to be a member of the Bruins. But it is also an emblem of one of his core values: the importance of giving back, which has been ingrained in him ever since he was a kid.
“[My charity] is just a way for me to give back to my community,” Rinaldo said during the second stop of the BostonBruins.com crew’s 2015 #BearTracks tour. “Like I’ve said before, my upbringing was — I have a lot of friends that were not as fortunate sometimes… I always gave back to my buddies that needed it. So it’s just a kind of way to give back to the whole community, not just one single individual.”
TORONTO – Brett Connolly has only spent part of one winter in Boston, but the cold is nothing to new to him.
This is someone who spent his childhood in Prince George, B.C., where it was so cold in the winter that his backyard outdoor rink used to freeze over in what seemed like seconds.
“[Where] I grew up, it was so cold -- kind of like the winter we had in Boston last winter -- that [my dad] could flood [the rink], and five minutes later, it would be [frozen],” Connolly said during BostonBruins.com’s #BearTracks visit to Toronto, where he makes his offseason home.
But when Connolly was a kid, he didn’t consider the cold to be a bad thing. In fact, the colder, the better. The longer it stayed cold, the longer the backyard rink could flourish, and the more time he could spend out on the ice with his buddies.
“Growing up in Canada, obviously, everybody loves hockey so much, and it’s kind of a religion and culture,” Connolly said. “It’s kind of what everybody does.
“Every winter, my dad would make [that] rink in our backyard, and he would be out there every morning, shoveling it off and flooding it. It was a lot of hard work for him to do that, and me and my brother would spend hours and hours out there playing.”
That rink is where Connolly’s NHL dreams were born.
TORONTO — When Brett Connolly arrived in Boston at the March 2 trade deadline this past season, he was the very newest member of the team.
Now, just a few months later, he’s nearly one of the Bruins’ veterans. Nearly.
During an offseason that has seen a plethora of roster changes, Connolly — who was acquired from Tampa Bay at the 2015 trade deadline — remains one of the constants. And this year, he is excited to see how he can make an impact.
“It’s going to be different, obviously,” Connolly said on Thursday, as he gave the 2015 #BearTracks crew a tour of scenic Bloor Avenue in downtown Toronto, close to where he makes his offseason home. “When you lose two pieces like [Milan Lucic] and Dougie [Hamilton], and [Gregory Campbell] and [Daniel Paille], and guys that have won — it’ll be a lot different.
“So it’s a good opportunity for guys like me and some of the younger guys to step up and fill a void and be a part of it for a long time, and that’s what everyone’s planning to do. So it’s exciting, and I can’t wait to get down to Boston.”
BostonBruins.com — It’s that time again — #BearTracks is back!
It has become a staple of the last few summers: heading north, south, east, west and beyond to visit members of the Boston Bruins as they prepare for another campaign on the ice (and as they enjoy what’s left of their summers, too). There have been trips abroad to visit the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid; there have been trips closer to Boston to visit the likes of Torey Krug and more.
Last summer, #BearTracks took the BostonBruins.com crew to Los Angeles to visit defenseman Kevan Miller, where he offered us a glimpse of what it is like to grow up playing hockey in Southern California. We also trekked down the East Coast to visit Germany native Dennis Seidenberg, who spends his offseasons with his family in New Jersey.
This time around, the BostonBruins.com crew will be making five stops, and they all have one thing in common: They are all in Canada.
Though the final four stops of this year’s trip have yet to be revealed and will be announced throughout the course of the next seven days (August 13 through August 20), we announced earlier on Wednesday that the first stop of the 2015 #BearTracks tour will take us to Toronto to check in with forward Brett Connolly.
Though there was plenty of excitement surrounding Connolly’s arrival in Boston in the (very early) hours of the March 2 Trade Deadline, it was quite a while before the Bruins were able to see what he could do on the ice. Connolly suffered a fractured right index finger two days after being acquired by Boston, before he could get into a single game.
The injury was obviously a huge disappointment to Connolly, who was eager to help his new team make a playoff push. He dedicated himself to his training and his rehabilitation, and finally, on April 2 — with just over a week remaining in the 2014-15 season — he made his Bruins debut, registering two assists in a thrilling comeback road win over the Red Wings.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Five months from now, the field at Gillette Stadium will be transformed into an ice rink, with close to 70,000 fans in attendance on Jan. 1, 2016 for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
On July 29, with the scorching summer heat in full effect, the NHL held a press event at Gillette Stadium featuring Bruins, Canadiens and League personnel, along with New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.
Even with the 90-degree temperatures on the field, it was not hard to imagine how historic New Year’s Day will be, with the two historic franchises meeting for what will be the 910th time.
The very first meeting between the rivals came on Dec. 8, 1924 at the old Boston Arena. Even amidst endless regular season and playoff games, the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the first time the teams are playing each other outdoors.