BOSTON - While the ice is still months away from being a fixture at TD Garden, the voice of Bruins' radio play-by-play announcer Dave Goucher boomed from inside the arena on Tuesday afternoon.
Instead of calling out passes, goals and hits, though, he was bringing life to a backpack stuffing competition on the arena floor.
Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh were helping each other fill new backpacks with notebooks, pencils, other school supplies and notes of encouragement for young Boston students, all with a timer on the clock, in the spirit of competition.
"Oh, we have a fumble!" Goucher jokingly called out, as an errant pencil fell to the floor amidst the challenge. "Colored pencils, don't forget the colored pencils!"
The challenge helped kick off the Backpack Stuff-A-Thon at TD Garden, which saw volunteers pack more than 4,000 new backpacks with school supplies for Boston-area students in need.
The backpacks will be distributed at the 3rd Annual Back-to-School Celebration later this August, an event organized by Garden Neighborhood Charities - the philanthropic arm of TD Garden - The Salvation Army and the City of Boston.
Jacobs and the Mayor teamed up against TD Garden President Amy Latimer and Major Ivan Rock from The Salvation Army for the competition.
BostonBruins.com - When Gregory Campbell accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge sweeping social media last Friday, he voiced support for Pete Frates and ALS awareness, then doused himself with a large bucket of ice water.
Campbell then naturally passed the challenge on to his Bruins' teammate, Brad Marchand, giving him 24 hours to complete the challenge. Marchand then challenged Torey Krug, who kept it going, and it's still making its way through the team and beyond.
The #IceBucketChallenge has been spreading on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and across the Internet to help raise awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Pete Frates, a Beverly, Mass. native and former captain of the Boston College baseball team, was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. There is currently no cure for the disease.
Since then, along with family, friends and supporters, Frates has made it his mission to help raise awareness and fight for a cure.
While it appears that ice bucket challenges have been implemented in a variety of ways for various charities (pro golfers like Rickie Fowler began doing the challenge in late June, daring others to accept the challenge or donate $100 to their charities), the one honoring Frates is to inspire others to learn more about ALS and make donations to aid in the fight to find a cure for ALS.
BostonBruins.com - Eight years ago, Brian Hussey was diagnosed with cancer.
Now, every year when he makes the 192-mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown for the Pan-Mass Challenge as a member of the Boston Bruins Foundation bike team, he's living proof that it can be beat.
The PMC brings together thousands of cyclists riding together for a bike-a-thon every summer to raise funds for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Since being founded in 1980, the Challenge has become an event that raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country.
The Bruins became involved years ago when Bob Sweeney, former Bruin and Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, participated in the event to honor a friend. They then began to ride in honor of their 'pedal partner,' young boy named Jeff Hayes who has since passed away from Ewing's sarcoma.
VALENCIA, CA - You could count on two hands the amount of California-born players to suit up in an NHL game in 2013-14.
You could count on three fingers the number who played half or more of last season in the NHL.
Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller, a native of Santa Clarita, California, gets to be part of the latter.
Miller wore the Spoked-B for 47 games in 2013-14, making the jump from the Providence Bruins to a full-time role after Dennis Seidenberg suffered his season-ending ACL/MCL tear and Adam McQuaid had to deal with nagging injuries.
With Miller's two-year, one-way deal kicking in for 2014-15, he's cemented himself in the NHL.
He's a rarity in the League these days: a born and bred Californian. He was born there, grew up there, now trains there, and gets to proudly say he's from there.
LOS ANGELES - When Kevan Miller signed a two-year, one-way contract extension with the Bruins on January 21, 2014, the defenseman was finally starting to cement his dream of playing in the NHL.
After being with the team for a month following Dennis Seidenberg's season-ending injury, he hadn't been able to reflect right away on the changes in his career, going from making his debut with Boston in November, to becoming a fixture on the blueline for the rest of the season.
"It's been a good journey, but it's not done yet," the 26-year-old had said.
Seven months later, Miller has 58 NHL regular season and playoff games with Boston next to his name, and he's putting in all of the offseason work to make sure that his progress doesn't stop there.
A native of Santa Clarita, California, in greater Los Angeles, Miller heads home every summer to train. It's there to he first started dreaming of playing in the NHL, even if it wasn't the norm for most kids his age, being in sunny, warm SoCal.
In LA now, he's surrounded by friends he grew up playing with (and are still working towards their dream of playing in the NHL) and other local players.
When our BostonBruins.com crew caught up with him Wednesday in Los Angeles for a #BearTracks summer road trip, he had the chance to look back at his year and being able to share the experiences with his friends back in Cali.
BostonBruins.com - #BearTracks is back! For the past few summers, the BostonBruins.com crew has driven and flown across the country, and up north to Canada to visit the Bruins in their hometowns during the offseason.
The trips have taken us to see Patrice Bergeron in Quebec City, Brad Marchand in Halifax, Gregory Campebll in Tillsonburg, Adam McQuaid in P.E.I., and Milan Lucic in Vancouver, among other players and stops along the way.
Along the way, the players have shared their hometowns and their stories with fans, of who they were when they were younger and the places that shaped them, long before they became Bruins.
The visits have helped fill the time during those long summer, offseason months, when all of the training is done away from cameras and away from Boston.
In the summer of 2014, #BearTracks is taking us to a place where we usually only see the inside of the Staples Center: Los Angeles.
Defenseman Kevan Miller grew up in Santa Clarita, California and lived in LA until he was 16, when he left to attend Berkshire School in Western Massachusetts.
The 26-year-old Miller saw his NHL dream realized just this past season, when he made his debut with the Bruins on November 21, 2013 against St. Louis.
BostonBruins.com - On July 18, the Bruins announced that they had signed restricted free agent Zach Trotman to a two-year contract that becomes one-way in the second year.
If you're a defenseman on the Bruins' lengthy depth chart like Trotman, that's the vote of confidence you're looking for from the Black & Gold.
Entering his third year pro in 2014-15, the blueliner who was once the final pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (the Bruins traded with Chicago for the pick in order to nab him) will earn an NHL salary in 2015-16.
"I'm really excited to have another two years with the Bruins and I'm really looking forward to continuing to work hard and move my way up the ladder," Trotman said over the phone.
"It's great to be a part of something like that where excellence is almost expected every year, so coming in, you have high expectations for yourself, knowing everyone around you is going to be working just as hard, trying to achieve the same goal."
He'll continue following steadily behind home-grown defensemen in Providence like Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid. Even Torey Krug spent a year developing with the P-Bruins before his NHL transition.
BostonBruins.com - On Friday, the Bruins announced that a host of restricted free agents, including Jordan Caron, had been re-signed.
Caron's deal is a one-year, one-way contract worth an annual cap hit of of $600,000.
Entering his fifth year pro after being drafted 25th overall in 2009, the 23-year-old winger has appeared in 123 NHL games with Boston, along with nine Stanley Cup Playoff games, and 111 games with Providence.
The 2013-14 season marked the first time he spent the entire season with the big club, filling the role of the thirteenth forward. He suited up in 35 games during the season, recording a goal and two assists, and stepped in during the postseason, scoring his first career NHL playoff goal in the first round against Detroit.
Caron looks back at 2013-14 as an up-and-down season, adjusting to his role being in and out of the lineup.
BostonBruins.com - David Pastrnak made his way towards the bow of the boat, as it eased through the Boston Harbor.
He was on his way back from Thompson Island following a day of team-building activities with 22 other prospects he had befriended during the past week at Bruins Development Camp.
As he stared off into the distance, with his Bruins' draft hat backwards on his head, the skyline of downtown Boston stretched out before him. There had just been a downpour and the clouds were beginning to open right over the city.
Two weeks ago, the 2014 first-round draft pick was in Philadelphia, hearing his name announced as the Bruins selected him 25th overall.
Just a week after that, the 18-year-old Czech was arriving to Boston for the first time in his life to attend the club's development camp.
Much can happen in a two-week span.
BostonBruins.com - Matt Bartkowski has been a Bruin for four years.
On July 15, after the restricted free agent was signed by the Bruins to a one-year deal, he's headed for his fifth.
"I'm grateful to be able to sign with the Bruins' organization because I know we have a chance to win every year," said Bartkowski, speaking with media on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
"It's been nothing short of just spectacular, awesome, whatever adjective you want to use for it, but we have a great group from the top down, from the management down to the teammates and everyone, just a great group of hockey people."
"I was lucky enough to be here as a Black Ace when they won the Cup and the past few years, we've fallen a little short, but every year we have a chance to win, so there's nothing more you can really ask for."
With the contract (worth an annual cap figure of $1.25 million), the defenseman and the Bruins avoided the arbitration process. Bartkowski was Boston's only RFA to file.
"There wasn't any hesitation to file for it, but there wasn't any doubt in my mind that we weren't going to have a deal before we got to that stage [with the hearing]," he said. "I didn't want to go to arbitration. I filed for it just as a protective measure, but I think it was mutual that we knew that something was going to get done."