WILMINGTON — Brett Connolly made his first appearance at Bruins' informal practice on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, and already began fielding questions about who his linemates might be for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
“It starts already, eh?” he joked as the media settled in with recorders and microphones.
There is a greater spotlight on Connolly now than there was on March 1, when Boston acquired the forward from Tampa Bay before the trade deadline.
“You know what, I think we’ll see kind of where I fit,” the right winger answered to the group of reporters gathered around him in the locker room.
“They will trying a bunch of different things at training camp and trying to find guys that work together well and there’s a lot of spots and a lot of places where I could slot in,” said Connolly. “So I’ve got to have a good training camp, have a good start and get the ball rolling.”
WILMINGTON, Mass. - The Bruins will have a younger team this season than they did in 2014-15. General Manager Don Sweeney has had his sights set on that since being hired in May.
Chris Kelly is on board.
“That’s hockey. I think that’s for every team, you know, very rarely do you see a team just keep getting older and older and older,” the alternate captain smiled following an informal practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday.
“Yeah, you have players that get older, but there’s always new young guys that come in and filter in. That’s the great thing about hockey; regardless of the age, you always feel like you’re 24.”
“You know, if you’re  like David [Pastrnak], you’d think he was 24 because he’s way more mature than I think most  year-olds. But if you’re older,” he paused, jokingly lifting his head to glance at 34-year-old defenseman Dennis Seidenberg’s locker room stall. “Like Seids, you know, you’d think Seids is 24.”
“So I think age is such a mindset, a label that is put on players,” said the 34-year-old Kelly. “But I feel good with the young and the old guys that are mixing and gelling.”
WILMINGTON, Mass. - While it has been an offseason of change for the Black and Gold, some things never change - like Tuukka Rask pulling out stops on the ice and his teammates jokingly erupting into cheers during practice when they are able put pucks past him.
Such has been the case at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., where a small group of Bruins have started gathering for informal practices led by Captain Zdeno Chara. The first skate took place on Monday, Aug. 31.
The tone is relaxed, though there is no shortage of competition.
There’s an air of optimism around this time of year. Players start returning and new teammates meet. There are no losses yet, just wins yet to come.
Rask was especially upbeat and smiling after Tuesday’s informal skate, when he spoke with local reporters in the locker room.
Nearly five months have passed since the team’s disappointing end to the season. This Rask was much different than the frustrated one who spoke back in April.
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.
BostonBruins.com - The puck will drop on the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® in about five months at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass, when the Bruins face off against the Montreal Canadiens on New Year’s Day.
In anticipation of the outdoor game between the two longtime rivals, the NHL is hosting a press event at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, July 29.
The event, which is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m. ET, will feature League personnel, as well as representatives from the Bruins and Canadiens.
Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs will be on hand, along with Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs, Bruins President Cam Neely, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, and Bruins players Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug and Jimmy Hayes.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - The Bruins’ ninth annual Development Camp continued on Wednesday with the second day of on-ice sessions at Ristuccia Arena.
Following the first day of camp, Bruins Development Coach Jay Pandolfo stressed the difficulty in judging the players right away, especially with intense off-ice testing affecting their energy on the ice.
As the camp goes along, it presents more of an opportunity for the prospects to showcase their skills on the ice to the Bruins’ management and scouts, fans and media.
Wednesday saw the roster of 37 players separated into two groups, with each spending an hour and a half on the ice. The first half of the session consisted of skills work with forwards and defensemen at opposite ends of the ice. Dynamic Skating’s Kim Brandvold ran the prospects through various power skating drills, while the other coaches set up battling and one-on-one drills and shots from the blueline for the defensemen.
BostonBruins.com - The stories behind jersey numbers vary from player to player.
Some land on numbers because of childhood idols, role models, family members - those whom they looked up to, and wanted to be like. Others simply are given their numbers, or choose based on those available.
New Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes will be wearing No. 11 as a Boston Bruin, and to him, it will represent much more than just a number.
The Dorchester, Mass. native, who was acquired by Boston on July 1 and signed a three-year contract with the team, has worn a few numbers in hockey thus far. He donned the “12” in high school and for the U.S. National Under-18 Team. At Boston College, a “10” graced the back of his jersey. He has worn 12, 17, 22 and 39 on the back of his sweaters in the AHL and NHL.
Now, back home in Boston, Hayes will wear 11.
He wasn’t too worried about his own future in Black and Gold. Boston had acquired him at the trade deadline in March from Tampa Bay. The Bruins had seen potential in the 6th overall pick from 2010. He was a right-shot right winger with a shoot-first mentality, and a 6’2” 181-pound frame that he didn’t mind taking into the corners and going to battle. He knew his abilities, and they did too.
Still, it was reassuring for Connolly to know that he still fit into the team’s plans.
Sweeney announced on Monday that the team signed the restricted free agent to a one-year contract that will keep him a Bruin for the 2015-16 season. The deal is worth a cap hit of $1,025,000.
“You know, you don’t really know what the plan is, but I felt that I had always been in the plans this summer, and that I’m going to get a good opportunity,” Connolly said via phone from Toronto, where he trains in the offseason.
BostonBruins.com - “It’s a business.”
That’s a phrase heard heavily around the trade deadline, again in the offseason from the draft through free agency and training camp, and then into the start of the season.
Rosters need to be pieced together and chemistry needs to be formed. A team needs to take shape. Players will sign elsewhere. Teams will part ways with players. Trades will happen. It’s all a part of the team-building process.
On Wednesday night, following the opening of free agency, General Manager Don Sweeney and his staff continued their approach of creating a more aggressive, hard-working and accountable roster, by saying goodbye to players and welcoming others.
In doing so, the Bruins signed hard-nosed winger and unrestricted free agent Matt Beleskey to a five-year deal. They also acquired 6-foot-6 forward Jimmy Hayes from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard. They wingers, both still young at 25 and 27 years old, combined for 41 goals last season in breakout years with the Ducks and Panthers, respectively.
BostonBruins.com - Technically, Matt Beleskey could have signed anywhere.
As an unrestricted free agent and a commodity on the market, the 6'0'', 204-pound winger had an opportunity during the NHL’s interview period to visit cities and speak with teams about his future.
Beleskey was coming off a torrid 2015 postseason with the Anaheim that saw him net eight goals in 16 games, at one point scoring in five straight contests, as the Ducks took the Chicago Blackhawks to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final before being eliminated.
He preceded that with a 2014-15 season in which he doubled his output, scoring a career-high 22 goals and 32 points through 65 games.
The Bruins weren’t the only team who were targeting Beleskey’s services, but in the end, they were the only team handing out a new five-year contract to the 27-year-old through the 2019-20 season. It is worth an annual cap figure of $3,800,000.
“It was a very hectic day,” Beleskey said via phone on Wednesday night once the deal was finalized. “I couldn’t be happier where me and my family have landed in Boston. That’s been a team that we’ve always liked and we talked about leading up to this and it’s just amazing that it ends up that way.”