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."
BostonBruins.com - Throughout the past week, we saw the next crop of B's hopefuls make their way through Development Camp, ending with a team-building day off the ice and out of their element on Thompson Island in the Boston Harbor.
During the six long days at camp, some prospects were experiencing the Bruins' culture for the first time; others had been through several camps before and had been exposed to the organization's core values, and the emphasis of both on and off ice professionalism.
Seeing the way the prospects carried themselves, and even improved throughout the week, it's easy to see how the Bruins' "team-mentality" trickles from the top down.
"We talk about, during the first part of the week, the culture of the Boston Bruins and being a family," said Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney.
"I think you should feel that as part of our group, now, whether it’s by invitation or whether or not you’ve been drafted and have returned here four times over."
BostonBruins.com - As I stood on a platform 60 feet in the air on the final day of Development Camp, atop an alpine tower full of climbing logs, ropes, twists and turns, I watched a stream of Bruins' prospects make their way through the tough course and up to the top, with the nearly 100-degree heat steaming down.
With the Bruins' seventh annual Dev Camp nearly in the books, the prospects had been through five days of tough running tests, off-ice fitness testing, on-ice workouts and scrimmages. They had learned about nutrition, strength and conditioning, and how to represent the organization off the ice. They had embraced every moment and left Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney impressed with their collective enthusiasm and effort.
So, when day No. 6 rolled around, the group of prospects also embraced a team-building day on Thompson Island in the Boston Harbor, about a 20-minute boat ride from downtown Boston.
"They sort of gave us the perfect setting, environment to close camp off. Nice, challenging day," said Sweeney of Thompson Island Outward Bound Professional, the non-profit organization that operates the island and its customized leadership, team-building programs for all ages.
THOMPSON ISLAND - After finishing up with the on-ice portion of Development Camp, the prospects traveled into Boston and out on the water for team-building activities on Thompson Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands system.
In years past, the prospects have taken part in The Program, a military training based challenge that is physically grueling. This year, the "team bonding" time is happening on the final day of camp. On the island, they're taken through various challenges that test them with problem solving, leadership, and most importantly, teamwork.
"To serve and not to yield" is the motto for Thompson Island Outward Bound Professional, who organizes the programs for young kids, as well as specialized programs like the one today for the prospects.
Before the day started, the prospects were asked what they've learned this week throughout camp.
"Sky's the limit," said Anthony Camara. "You take out what you put in," added Wiley Sherman.
BostonBruins.com - In what is likely to be his final media availability before the preseason kicks back into gear, Bruins' General Manager Peter Chiarelli was content with where his club stood heading into 2013-14.
With the re-signing of Tuukka Rask and extension for Patrice Bergeron - both eight-year deals - complete, and the right side nearly filled out with the offseason additions of Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla, it doesn't appear that the Bruins will be making any more transactions this summer.
"We’re done for now," said Chiarelli from Ristuccia Arena on Sunday, where the last day of on-ice workouts for the prospects at Development Camp had wrapped up.
"There’s some little things that you need to take care of but nothing significant."
It was a busy end of the season for Chiarelli and his staff, going from the Stanley Cup Final, to the draft, trade with Dallas, free agency and into Development Camp. The GM was prepared for the busy offseason, though.
WILMINGTON, MA - As Development Camp hits Day 4, the prospects have now gone through session after session of on-ice drills and scrimmages, along with off-ice fitness testing.
On Saturday, the competitiveness began to reach a higher level, and the scrimmages and game-like situations showcased a quicker pace to the game. Most of the attendees haven't skated in weeks or even months, so as they get their legs under them, the tempo picks up as well.
"We’re here to develop skills and the off-ice [part of the game]," say Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, who is helping lead the camp this week, said following Day 4's workouts.
"Scouts obviously love to see that to see what they’ve drafted and as coaches we like it, too."
The prospects are given a chance to display their skill sets on the ice, but they're also tested off the ice. They are faced with new challenges every day, and every day gets progressively harder.
BostonBruins.com - On Friday, General Manager Peter Chairelli announced that the Bruins Patrice Bergeron to an eight-year contract extension, that makes him a Boston Bruin until at least the 2021-22 season.
As voiced numerous times by everyone in the Bruins' organization, from Chiarelli, to Head Coach Claude Julien, to the assistant general managers, to his teammates, Bergeron epitomizes the spoked-B on and off the ice everyday. He's the model, the example they use, when described what they want in a Bruin.
The constant preaching came to fruition for the entire hockey world - and beyond - in the Stanley Cup Final, when Bergeron ended up playing through a broken rib and torn cartilage on his left side, along with a separated right shoulder, and a puncture in his lung.
When Bergeron and Chiarelli joined media on a conference call Friday to discuss the new extension, the alternate captain said his recovery for the aforementioned injuries is "going well."