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Sweeney Switched it Up

"The Program" was just the latest innovation at Dev Camp

Sunday, 07.11.2010 / 12:01 PM ET / Features
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Sweeney Switched it Up
Wilmington, MA -- It's a given. Every summer, Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney throws some wrinkle into his prospects' summer. However, during Development Camp 2010 that wrinkle turned into more of a mountain, ocean or desert.

Cross gets some "instruction."
Throughout the sweltering heat of the past week, and to start the camp's training sessions, "The Program" provided a punishing prelude, in both the gym and the pool, to Sweeney's program on the ice.

"I've tried to continue to allow it to evolve and find something new each year to tweak it, [to] get better from it and learn from it each and every year," said Sweeney. "We have returnees, and I don’t want them thinking oh, it’s the same old story."

Well, it may have been new to the 2010 Campers, but the basic tenets of The Program are as old as the U.S. Marines. The leadership and mental training sessions on Day 1 and Day 2 of the B's fourth annual summer soiree provided this year's new B's a solid mental and physical challenge and asked more of their brains and bodies than had ever been coaxed before.

"You have to have a little risk involved in trying different things and seeing whether or not it works. That was part of the thing of bringing in the guys from The Program this year," explained Sweeney. ""Luckily we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from Peter [Chiarelli], first and foremost, to implement a lot of these things and, from the organization, the financial support."

In short, The Program sought to challenge the way the young Bruins thought about their mental and physical training and their approach to the organization and their teammates.

“What we do and what we believe in is leadership development, personal development and team building through shared facing adversity,” explained Eric Kapitulik, an ex-Marine Corps. Special Operations Officer. “What we do has nothing to do with bigger, faster, stronger.”

No, those Olympian ideals are what the B's try to instill into their . But Sweeney and the rest of the Black & Gold brass sought to cement those athletic goals in more team-building and character development.
 
"[The trainers from The Program] asked us if we had people we wanted them to focus on," said Sweeney. "We felt [it better], as the group is so young, to allow that to emerge a little bit naturally.

"I think that the players themselves will probably identify some of the guys that step forward during that situation and that will probably play itself out as the week goes along," predicted Sweeney at the beginning of camp.

Sweeney's intuition was correct, as many players stepped outside of their comfort zone and performed admirably both during The Program and on the ice. Tommy Cross, the Boston College Eagle who has been plagued by injury during his tenure as a Bruins draftee seemed to turn the most heads and was singled out by The Program facilitators as the person who must exemplified their philosophies. Joe Colborne was another Dev Camp vet who was recognized as exhibiting growth both on and off the ice rink.

But Cross and Colborne weren't the only ones who challenged themselves. Many players seemed to take the things that they learned in The Program's gym and pool and apply it directly to the ice.

"You don’t need me to stand up here and tell you who  necessarily stood out tin that environment," said Sweeney. "The [Program] for me, provided to our [team] what we wanted to come out of it.

"It was tremendous. I feel really good that they were able to put these guys through their paces and put them in uncomfortable situations so some of that would emerge. I'm really happy to have had the opportunity to work with them."

And throughout the rest of the week, the young Bruins continued to talk about their experiences and insisted that while the "The Program" was one of the toughest challenges they had faced, it had made them better Bruins.

"We're learning to trust each other, and come together as a group," said Cross after the first session of The Program. "Obviously we are pushing ourselves, physically, as well as mentally for sure.

"I think mentally, that part of it comes into how far you can push yourself physically. They tie together.

"And it doesn't seem fun right now, but in a week or two, when I look back it will definitely be something to [learn from]."

"Our hopes were that they would talk about it," said Sweeney. "I didn’t think I needed to go in and point out who was exhibiting leadership.

Those sentiments had to have ben music to Sweeney's ears.

"The group that runs the program, Eric and his team, they run a good two day session and I think the kids did appreciate it," added former Bruins defenseman. "I know as management we felt that it accomplished and hit a lot of the goals that we had set out for that team building exercise and hopefully it does.

"Hopefully it just spills over into everything they do, to tell you the honest truth, because...in a perfect world every player here wears our sweater and are a part of our big club down the road."

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