BostonBruins.com - On Tuesday, I ventured on my usual walk onto the arena level at TD Garden, down the corridor and past the B's locker room, out to where a full sheet of ice usually awaits.
Though, on this Tuesday, pregame skate wasn't finishing up; the arena instead was becoming filled with hundreds - and soon, thousands - of kids from Boston-area schools.
It was part of the second annual "Back-to-School Celebration," which brings in more than 4,000 Greater Boston students in need, who receive proper academic supplies, along the with unique opportunity to participate in activities with their families on the TD Garden floor.
"This is really the doing of Garden Neighborhood Charities, the Bruins Foundation in collaboration with the Salvation Army and the city," said Bruins Principal and Alternate Governor Charlie Jacobs, who helped kick off the event with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and other members of the Boston community. The event was sponsored by the Boston Bruins Foundation, which Jacobs and his family founded in 2003.
BostonBruins.com - P.J. Axelsson is back with the Black & Gold. Though the 38-year-old will not be hitting the ice to skate through the spoked-B anytime soon (sorry, B's fans), the former longtime Bruin has joined the organization as an amateur scout. GM Peter Chiarelli made the announcement on Tuesday, via an official team press release. Axelsson will be based out of Sweden and responsible for scouting European amateur prospects.
The native of Kungalv, Sweden announced his retirement from professional hockey this past spring on April 10, following three seasons with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Elite League from 2010-13. His tenure as a Bruin lasted 11 seasons from 1997-2009, when the defensive forward established himself among the Boston faithful as a selfless act on and off the ice. 'Axie' never played for another NHL team.
He earned 287 points off 103 goals and 184 assists over his 797 games in the spoked-B, and added 4-3=7 totals in 54 playoff games. But it was his demeanor and leadership off the ice that made him respected and appreciated around the locker room and by the fans.
Axelsson was active in the Greater Boston community, most notably starting the annual "PJ Drive," where fans are encouraged to donate new pajamas at Bruins' home games for charity. The drive is now heading into its seventh year.
BostonBruins.com - Training Camp is less than a month away. As I wrote in Part One of "Counting Down the Days," mid-August is one of the toughest months for a hockey fan. It's close enough to ramp up the countdowns until the preseason, home opener, and so forth. But just far enough away to feel like an eternity to the fan waiting for the first glimpse of ice.
Among all of the countdowns, there is one date I look forward to the most - the start of camp. This year, the Bruins' 22-day preseason consisting of a full Training Camp and slate of seven exhibition games, kicks off on Wednesday, September 11.
The previous blog post highlights how the absence of a lockout, and the Black & Gold's clear focus heading into camp this year will help this new-look B's roster (and you as hockey fans) get ready for 2013-14.
I also gave [pretty obvious] reasons why I look forward to camp, and why it's a significant time for the team -- teammates get acclimated into the locker room, different linemates begin to develop chemistry, coaches try various line and defensive pairing combinations to find a player's best fit and healthy competition breaks out among those vying for a spot on the opening night roster.
BostonBruins.com - Mid-August for a hockey fan is the biggest teaser. You start counting down the days, but the end date still seems so far away. You may check off the days until the season opener, the first preseason game when the new-look roster first steps into action, or the date of a game you'll see in-person... The numbers float around on social media and various websites.
For me, there's one date I zero in on the most. All of the above are important dates, no doubt, and there are others that will emerge - the start of informal captain's practices which get the B's back together, the team's annual golf tournament, etc.
But the beginning of Training Camp on September 11 marks the first official date where the players have to report for the 2013-14 season. It's an important time, for several obvious reasons. New teammates get acclimated into the locker room, different linemates begin to develop chemistry, coaches try various line and defensive pairing combinations to find a player's best fit, and healthy competition breaks out among those vying for a spot on the opening night roster.
BostonBruins.com - Patrice Bergeron recently checked in from Quebec City, near where he spends his time in the offseason. According to the Bruins' alternate captain, he's set to be ready for Training Camp, which kicks off on Wednesday, September 11.
"I'm feeling pretty good. Recovery's going well," said Bergeron. "I'd say I'm pretty much 95 percent back to where I'd like to be and I'm feeling pretty good."
"So I guess everything’s going well and I’ve been cranking up the workouts as well so, so far so good."
After the playoffs, Bergeron revealed that he played through a broken rib and torn cartilage during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, along with a separated shoulder sustained in-game and a collapsed lung that was later discovered at the hospital, where he stayed for three days to recover. His "warrior" mentality epitomized the spoked-B, inspired his teammates, coaches and fans, and resonated beyond the sport.
BostonBruins.com - Gregory Campbell powered his way - if he hadn't already - into the hearts of Bruins and hockey fans everywhere when he showcased the "do whatever it takes" mentality representative of the spoked-B and the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past June.
On June 5, the B's forward broke his leg (right fibula) while blocking an Evgeni Malkin slap shot during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He missed the rest of the postseason.
It's been just over two months since he underwent successful surgery to repair the break on June 10, and it appears that he's on track for Training Camp next month.
When media gathered at Shawn Thornton's annual Putts & Punches for Parkinson's charity golf tournament on Monday at Ferncroft Country Club in Middelton, MA, the B's forward divulged that he had seen fellow Merlot liner Campbell a couple of weeks ago in Boston.
MIDDELTON, MA - Good afternoon, Bruins fans! Hope you're enjoying your summers, wherever that may be.
When waking up earlier on this beautiful summer Monday in Boston, it seemed like a perfect day for hitting the links. Sun beaming down, no rain in the forecast, a slight breeze.
Lucky for Shawn Thornton, it marked the day of his annual charity golf tournament - Putts & Punches for Parkinson's - at Ferncroft Country Club in Middelton, Massachusetts.
"This is a pretty fun one for me - get to come out on a nice day and golf and, see a lot of good people," said Thornton.
"I’m here year round, so it’s pretty easy for me to give back."
It's the fourth year of the tournament, which Shawn began in honor of his late grandmother who went through a 14-year bout with the Parkinson's disease.
It's always a pleasure to cover an event like this, when it's a cause so close to 22's heart.
BOSTON, MA - Tuukka Rask recently arrived back to Boston. One of his first stops? The Bruins' offices at TD Garden, a place he'll likely be frequenting for at least the next eight years.
Rask joins the group of B's already in Boston training locally before Training Camp next month, including Daniel Paille and David Krejci, who we caught up with on Thursday during one of their workouts.
Following a short time off in Tuukka's native Finland, of which included plenty of golf and tennis, the Bruins goalie was freshly tanned and cooly sporting his usual backwards hat. As cool, calm and collected as ever.
"Summer was great - the weather was awesome, I got to see my family and friends, a lot of golfing and a lot of working out. It was just relaxing in general, so it was awesome," said Rask.
We hadn't seen him since his new eight-year contract with the Black & Gold, that sets the 26-year-old up to be in the spoked-B until at least the 2020-21 season. It's the longest deal a team can give a current player. It was announced by the B's on July 10, when Rask was already overseas, enjoying some time relaxing in Finland.
BOSTON, MA - Missing hockey season? Well, we're at that point of the summer where the countdown starts picking up steam...
With Training Camp set to kick off in just over a month on September 11, the Bruins are already beginning to return to Boston.
I recently caught up with the pair of B's forwards, who are working out together to prepare for camp.
It actually isn't too often you see players training together in the offseason. The B's usually work out around their summer homes (often near their hometowns) until the end of August. With the shorter offseason this year (just about two months for the Bruins), some are returning to Boston sooner to get ready.
BostonBruins.com - Milan Lucic is one tough Boston Bruin.
In fact, he was once voted by his peers in an NHLPA poll in 2012 as "the toughest player in the league."
That "rough and tough" persona has been engrained in the now 6-foot-4, 235-pound power forward since he entered the league in 2007. It's the reason his checks and hard hits excite the TD Garden crowd and cause fans to chant "Loooooooch" game after game.
Recently, I had the chance to visit Milan in Vancouver with our #BearTracks crew to bring you offseason updates. For me, the most interesting part of these summer trips is discovering connections between the person away from the rink and the Boston Bruin on the ice.