BostonBruins.com - Boston doesn't yet know Jarome Iginla that well - and I'm not even just referring to the fans. Many of the players and staff have yet to meet the 16-season NHL veteran, until he uproots and moves into town before Training Camp in early September.
Of course, it's not too difficult to know the player that he is, having played an already illustrious Hall of Fame career. He's won at nearly every level of both professional and international hockey, aside from the ultimate prize, which he's still striving towards as he begins to suit up in the spoked-B in 2013-14.
So it was a unique opportunity to spend two days out near Kelowna, British Columbia in what's referred to as "The Okanagan," having Jarome give us a glimpse into his life and his offseason routine.
After he signed his one-year deal on July 5 as an unrestricted free agent, Iginla had addressed Boston media via conference call. He has yet to meet the B's reporters in person as a Bruin, but you could easily hear his excitement through the phone.
VERNON, BC - When we met up with Jarome Iginla this morning for the second day of our #BearTracks trip with him in British Columbia, the forward was hitting the ice for a skating session.
This morning, the competitor was just as hard on himself - if not harder - as he worked on the intricate details of the game, with only a goalie and his skating coach, Tomas Pacina, on the ice.
"During the summer, I like to get on the ice definitely starting in July and make sure the rust doesn't build up, and also work on things to improve," said Iginla.
As he laced up his skates and made his way onto the ice, without pads and with his set of four sticks, the forward maneuvered his way through a series of stickhandling and skating drills.
OKANAGAN VALLEY, BC - On Thursday morning, the #BearTracks crew wound through the roads of The Okanagan, not far from the city of Kelowna in British Columbia.
It marked the second leg of our trip, after visiting with Milan Lucic where he grew up in Vancouver to kick off the journey.
As we navigated through mountains and hills, with lakes in full view, our jaws just about dropped. The scenery was breathtaking. It would serve as the backdrop for our first time meeting the newest Bruin, Jarome Iginla, who was signed as a free agent just under a month ago, on July 5. And just about a month from now, he'll be gearing up to move his family East to Boston.
From when he first arrived at the park to meet us, through the duration of his two-hour outdoor workout, Jarome was all smiles, and unequivocally inviting.
"I'm very fortunate to be able to come out here in The Okanagan," he said, of the amazing views that surround his summer home (Jarome is originally from Edmonton, about eight hours to the Northeast, but has spent offseasons near Kelowna). "It makes it a lot easier and a lot more of enjoyable to be in an atmosphere like this"
He ran through sprints after sprints, racing with his younger brother, 23-year-old Stephen, who lives just down the road from the power forward and has been training with him all summer.
VANCOUVER, BC - On June 15, 2011, Milan Lucic hoisted Lord Stanley on the ice in Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver.
This city is very special to him. But it's not just because of that day, and the memories the Bruin will carry with him for the rest of his life.
This is his hometown, where he grew up a short drive from downtown, where he began his junior career with the Vancouver Giants, and where he now spends summers with his family.
"I'm fortunate to be able to come back out here to where it's such a beautiful spot," Lucic said, as he took the #BearTracks crew into his home for a few days.
"It's always nice to get to come home and see your family, get back to your roots and see all of your friends that you grew up with."
VANCOUVER, BC - So, you know how great you always feel after a run? Or a hard weight-lifting workout? Or even the fact that you decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator?
Yeah, Milan Lucic put us all to shame this morning in Vancouver, as we kicked off Day 2 of #BearTracks with his morning workout at Pro 4 Sports to get a glimpse of his offseason training.
After his warm-up routine (that could serve as a whole workout for most people, quite frankly) full of hurdles and quick footwork and clapping push-ups, the main bulk of the workout began. And 'Looch' ended up covered in sweat as a result.
With other hockey players in his training facility, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound power forward, apologized at one point to a few athletes who were about to hit the machine right after him. There was a stream of sweat covering the bench and a little pool underneath. Further evidence of the effort put into the morning, if we even needed it.
DELTA, BC - When Milan Lucic packs up his hockey bag from the Bruins' TD Garden locker room and heads out for the summer, he may not head overseas like his centerman David Krejci, but he certainly travels far, swapping coasts as he settles down outside Vancouver.
And when the "Bear Tracks" crew flew out West, and made the drive from Seattle to the Delta area South of Vancouver, No. 17 and his family graciously opened his new home to us.
He, along with his wife and six-month old daughter, Valentina, showed us around their beautiful home, and the breathtaking sites of the mountains and Vancouver across the water.
After a relaxing afternoon filled with family time, Milan didn't want the crew driving back in Vancouver traffic, so he fired up the grill out on the patio and made it steak night in the Lucic household.
As he sat, relaxing outside during what he said was the 35th day of sunshine in the area, he spoke about the peace and quiet he enjoys now during the offseason, as he gears up for the grind of the NHL season.
BostonBruins.com - So, it's official, summer is dragging on and we're getting anxious for the season to get under way. Training Camp is just over a month away in early September, and waiting until then to check up on the B's summers seems like light years to wait.
So, as the season carried into late June and July, we started thinking about how we could make the doldrums of the offseason move just a little quicker. And what better way to do that than take a road trip?
Last summer, the idea of #BearTracks was born. In 2011, the travels with the Stanley Cup brought the BostonBruins.com crew to places all over North America and beyond, visiting players' hometowns and giving fans a glimpse at their lives off the ice. But Lord Stanley's tight schedule didn't allow for much discovery. Thus, the #BearTracks trips allowed a chance for us to head out on the road and take you to these amazing places, and get to know the Bruins a bit better.
There's something about seeing Gregory Campbell light up as he talks about his hometown of Tillsonburg and the rolling fields, a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle, and as he walks you through his family's barn (straight out of Youngblood!) where he used to do chin-ups on the wooden beams.
Or having Adam McQuaid drive through Prince Edward Island to Cornwall, where he grew up, describing how his roots helped shape him into one day becoming a Boston Bruin.
Or seeing just how hard the B's work in the offseason, like Brad Marchand challenging himself in the weight room with a "no pain, no gain" attitude, and then having the forward take you on a tour of his favorite parts of his offseason home base of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Or how about learning that Patrice Bergeron may do everything he possible can on and off the ice, and he still finds time to delve into business ventures? Like having part ownership in a Nordic spa outside Quebec City. Oh, and poutine may not be on his nutrition plan for the summer, but he still knows the best spot in Quebec City for visitors to indulge in the cuisine.
Last summer, #BearTracks took us to all of those places above, and more. One of Patrice's training partners, Jordan Caron, joined him on the visit through Quebec. We also visited Torey Krug - a year before his NHL playoff debut and the Kruuuuug's that would rain down from the TD Garden rafters - as he was making the transition from college to the professional stage. The recently traded Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley were also among the visits, as we made our way around Toronto.
So now, with just over two months until puck drop for the 2013-14 season on October 3, we're hitting the road again… Only this time, we're heading out West!
Follow us all week, beginning July 30, as we bring you into the offseason routines of two Bruins who are already working hard preparing for next season.
A member of the Bruins' core group, Milan Lucic will show us around Vancouver and let us in on his offseason training regimen. Then, we'll get to know the newest Bruin and future Hall of Famer, Jarome Iginla, in Vernon, British Columbia.
I'll be tweeting @NHLBruins ^CS and we'll bring you updates via Instagram, Facebook, BostonBruins.com and the Bruins' mobile app. Be sure to join the conversation by using the hashtag #BearTracks.
We'll have plenty of time in the car after we touch down in Seattle from Boston, so feel free to send questions and suggestions throughout our trip via Twitter. And who doesn't love a good suggestion for a food stop along the way? So send those as well!
Watch the video below for a preview, take a look at BostonBruins.com for our favorite moments from previous trips, and then stay tuned for more from our #BearTracks trip out West!
BostonBruins.com - The league announced today (July 19) that NHL players will be participating in the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia,
The agreement was reached between the league and NHLPA with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee.
The Olympic Break in the 2013-14 season will run from February 9-25. The preliminary round begins on February 12, with the gold-medal game slotted for February 23. NHL season play resumed on February 26.
"The National Hockey League features the most international player population in professional sports, and our outstanding athletes take tremendous pride in representing their homelands on the global stage," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the league's press release announcing the agreement.
With the Olympics, the preseason schedule gets pushed up to September 13, with the regular season campaign opening on October 1 league-wide and on October 3 for the B's.
BostonBruins.com - The 2013-14 Bruins' schedule (as well as the entire NHL schedule) is out, and you can view it in its entirety by clicking here.
Seems like we just finished, doesn't it? Well, get your countdowns ready because Rookie Camp opens on September 3, Training Camp opens on September 11, preseason starts September 13, and the B's season kicks off on October 3 in Boston.
Have all of those dates written down? Good. Now I'll suggest a few more to make note of as well….
Before we go through a list of "notable dates," the biggest change heading into 2013-14 is the new divisional and conference format from geographical realignment that went into effect with the new CBA in January.
The NHL now has two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference. The Black & Gold remain in the East, but we say farewell to the Northeast Division.
The B's will be in the new "Atlantic Division" with Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
BostonBruins.com - When the NHL Draft was all said and done this past June, just about a week after the end to the 2013 playoffs, the Bruins had drafted three players from Sweden's junior leagues.
You'd have to go back to 2005 to find three or more European players selected by the B's in a single draft year (from the Czech junior leagues), and back to 2004 to find the last player chosen from the Swedish leagues (Anton Hedman, Sweden 2nd Division).
Chiarelli, of course, knew the trio of players from their extensive draft meetings.
But the Black & Gold's seventh annual Development Camp last week in Wilmington gave General Manager Peter Chiarelli - and fans - a closer look at their style of play and potential.
"Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve had that many European players in one draft so I think I was watching them a little more closely just for that reason," said Chiarelli, of following them through the week at Dev Camp. "And I was happy with what I saw."