BostonBruins.com - Let the countdown begin.
The Bruins' home opener for the 2014-15 season is set for Wednesday, October 8 against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET, as announced by the NHL on Saturday.
The Bruins' full 2014-15 regular season schedule will be released on Sunday, June 22 at 4:00 p.m. ET, along with the League's complete 1,230-game schedule.
The Bruins previously announced their official seven-game preseason schedule on June 20. The puck drops for their first preseason game on Tuesday, September 23 in Montreal against the Canadiens. You can see the full preseason schedule here.
BostonBruins.com - On Thursday morning, BostonBruins.com and members of the media received an exclusive hard hat tour of the TD Garden's new two-year $70 million renovation project that is underway.
The project includes a complete overhaul of the concourse areas on the Loge and Balcony levels, along with renovated concessions areas and hospitality zones, digital video walls, updated food and beverage concepts, and a new wifi infrastructure.
The renovations also feature a new Boston Bruins ProShop with 6,000 square feet of space, and a comprehensive renovation of the Legends Club restaurant for season ticket holders.
The wifi is powered by Cisco, with 400 antennas set to be installed around the arena. The TD Garden is even exploring adding the antennas in the dasher boards to ensure that the wireless reaches everyone in the building - that would be an industry first. In case you were wondering how they would withstands a check from 'Big Zee,' they were tested during the playoffs.
As we walked around the Garden, it was clear that this is a massive undertaking. Construction currently spans all areas of the arena, with crews hard at work.
BostonBruins.com - When the 2014-15 season kicks off for the Bruins in October, Geoff Ward will no longer be behind the bench.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced via a team press release on Thursday that Ward has resigned as assistant coach, and is joining the Mannheim Eagles in Germany as head coach.
Ward has had two previous head coaching stints in Germany with Bad Nauheim EC in 2000-01 and the Iserlohn Roosters in 2006-07, amidst a 20-year coaching career in the OHL, AHL and NHL.
Mannheim plays in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). It's the same team that Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg played for during the 2012-13 lockout, and where he first began his pro career in 2000.
Ward spent seven seasons with the Bruins, first joining the organization in August 2007 as part of Head Coach Claude Julien's staff. He was an integral part of the Bruins' resurgence as a Cup contender, helping lead the team to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and a second Final appearance in 2013.
BostonBruins.com has been taking a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the 2013-14 season. Make sure to follow along on the Bruins Blog to view them all.
BostonBruins.com - On an off day in March, Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask made a visit to a sports store in Norwood, Massachusetts to pick out goalie equipment.
Only, it wasn't for him. It was for nine-year-old Maddie Santosuosso, and she had absolutely no idea that he was coming.
Rask walked into the store, found her checking out the gear, and successfully surprised her.
"Madison?" he said, giving her a slight pat on the back to get her attention. She turned around, her eyes widened, and her mouth opened in shock for a good five to ten seconds.
"I'm Tuukka, nice to meet you," he smiled, as he shook her hand. "Need help picking out some goalie gear?"
Once she realized that she was, in fact, meeting her favorite Bruin, the pair spent time outfitting her in head-to-toe new goalie gear, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
BostonBruins.com - Shawn Thornton arrived to Boston for the first time as a Bruin in the summer of 2007.
He wasn't yet a Bostonian. He was fresh off signing a three-year deal with the Spoked-B as an unrestricted free agent. He had just won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim.
On that first trip, he made a community appearance and hosted a kids' street hockey clinic at the YMCA in Franklin, Massachusetts. He didn't leave Boston without taking a trip to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox take on the Orioles.
By the time he left, and before he even laced up his skates for the 2007-08 season, he was a Bostonian.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli had acquired him as a step in making the Bruins tougher, and harder to play against.
"He's a thick, physical player," the GM said on the day of the signing. "He's earned everything he's gotten."
"I'm trying to strive and get some vigorous [players] and he is going to help us in that regard."
In Thornton's first season, he found his way into the hearts of the Boston faithful, working hard and providing energy for the Black & Gold every night.
On and off the ice, he appreciated the organization and the community - and they appreciated him right back.
BOSTON - On Monday afternoon, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli met with Shawn Thornton in his office at TD Garden.
As the GM told BostonBruins.com, the conversation involved a tough goodbye.
"Today I met with Shawn and we had a good meeting, and I informed him that we wouldn't be re-signing him," said Chiarelli.
"It was good in the sense that we talked about the time Shawn has spent here, and he came here and we were talking about it - seven years - so he was here from almost the beginning and I told him that he was one of the most significant acquisitions we made because, one, for the role that he played, two, for the person that he is."
Thornton was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. When Thornton and Chiarelli met before parting ways for the offseason, the GM's message was that he needed to take a few weeks to digest everything, and then go from there.
"It was, you know, it was nice to rehash his time, it was sad to tell him that he wasn't coming back, but I wished him well," said Chiarelli. "And Shawn was real upfront about it, so I wished him luck, and I'm sure he'll have success with his next team."
BostonBruins.com - The Stanley Cup is the only goal for the Bruins. It's the be-all and end-all of what drives them every season.
So, after a season in which that failed to happen, the entire group is rightfully unfulfilled.
But if we look back at two weeks in February during the 2013-14 season, which didn't actually involve working towards that goal, something pretty special happened for a handful of Bruins players and staff who were called upon to represent their home countries at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
That brings us to another memorable moment from the season: the Olympic Trifecta.
BostonBruins.com - As we look back at the 2013-14 season, there were many memorable on-ice moments that we can revisit. But perhaps the best memory, the one that sticks out the most, came away from the game.
On November 9, 2013, the Bruins welcomed friend Sam Berns to drop the ceremonial puck and serve as Assistant Equipment Manager for the team.
It was part of the first Progeria Awareness Night at TD Garden. Sam led the charge, as he had several times before, in raising awareness of the rare genetic condition that affected not only him, but hundreds of other children and teens. The Boston faithful chipped in with a hefty amount of donations to the Progeria Research Foundation.
That night, he was beaming in Black & Gold. Along with having his own stall and jersey in the locker room, Sam helped out on the bench during warmups and dropped the puck to a roar from the thousands of fans on hand.
Afterwards, Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara escorted him down the carpet to the bench, holding his hand every step of the way.
The best part of the night, though, didn't come from Boston's 3-1 win over Toronto in which Chara scored the game's first goal.
Over the course of the next week, BostonBruins.com will be taking a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the 2013-14 season. Make sure to follow along on the Bruins Blog.
BostonBruins.com - "IGG-Y, IGG-Y, IGG-Y." At first, the chant started low.
The chant came back when Iginla lined up alongside David Krejci on the blueline pregame. And then again before puck drop.
December 10, 2013 was just another ordinary day for many - but not for Iginla.
On this December night, the future Hall of Famer and longtime Flames captain played in Calgary for the first time since he was traded in 2013. His homecoming to the Saddledome was a highlight of the 2013-14 season for not only the Bruin, but also his teammates, the Calgary faithful, and hockey fans overall.
Every fan could appreciate what happened that night, and it was a privilege to witness, from start to finish.
BostonBruins.com - There was a time when ACL/MCL injuries were career-ending.
Luckily for Dennis Seidenberg, that time no longer exists. With improvements in surgical procedures and rehab techniques, athletes like Seidenberg can come back even stronger than before.
That's what the Bruins' defenseman has his sights on, as he continues on the road to full recovery from his season-ending ACL/MCL tear in his right knee back on December 27.
While most Bruins have traveled to their hometowns for the summer or wherever they're training, Seidenberg was still in Boston this week, and helped to present a $30,000 donation from the team's Pucks & Pups Calendar to the MSPCA, which cares for animals awaiting homes.
At the event, Seidenberg also recounted the season and gave an update on his rehab.
"I mean, it's not 100 percent, but that's expected," said the blueliner, who is five months and one week into his recovery, which was originally estimated at the six to eight months timetable.
"It would have been probably good enough to play eventually, but still working to get it where it should be, and I'm confident it will be by the time we get started."