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Dev Camp is an introduction, but also serves as an unofficial tryout

Tuesday, 07.12.2011 / 3:00 PM / Features
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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BOSTON -- It wasn't an official tryout, however, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli admitted that the B's monitored the doings of their draftees and prospects very closely over the five days of Development Camp 2011.

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"Any time you watch them, you’re always assessing them," said Chiarelli during the closing moments of the Black & Gold's summer session. "What I told them to start the camp was [to] pay attention to every little detail in this camp. On the ice, off the ice, and treat it as if -- not that you’re trying out -- but treat it with the utmost care and attention and determination."

Those qualities were attributes that the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions had in spades and are essential to any player who wants to excel in the NHL.

"We want to instill at an early age," explained the B's GM, "the work ethic, the level of expectation that they’re going to be facing from us.

"At the end of the day, it’s a development tool, and it...indoctrinates the new players into the organization and that’s what we hope to accomplish.

"It is something that we look [at], how they [are] on the ice, off the ice, we’re always assessing them. So in that sense, it’s a tryout."

And the majority of this year's group brought positive things to the track, weight room and ice at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington.

"I liked what I saw," said Chiarelli. "Each day they got better.

"Those players that have attended camps before, you can see them coming along a little more quickly than the new guys. They know what they’re facing, and they’re maybe able to pace themselves a little better through the power skating, which I thought was quite good, quite strenuous, but quite good."

Assistant GM Don Sweeney spent lots of time on the ice with this year's campers.

"I’ve been really impressed with the camp overall," said the former Bruins and Harvard University standout. "The kids have really come in, I told them that on the ice today, I thought they really bought into trying to take advantage of all the things we’ve thrown at them: the challenges, the power skating and stuff, the scrimmages, even the tempo.

"And guys making plays that we ask them to try," added Sweeney. "They all really tried things.

"Off the ice, you know the first couple days are a grind -- it’s a long day with the physicals and then you know, gong to play paintball and the guys decided to divide up teams.

"I’ve been really impressed with the group," he said.

Click here for Dev Camp photo galleries.
Sweeney, asked if the group exceeded his expectations, explained, "I don’t really have any expectations in terms of, outside of the guys we’ve already seen.

"We do have expectations that they are going to be better, physically and more comfortable to be able to do things that we expect them to progress in the areas that we’ve been addressing with them. So from that regard I think some guys have made some strides.

"The new guys coming in, it’s an open canvas. It’s their chance to make a first impression and then go to work on some of the things that we’re going to identify."

For the amateur and junior players who travel to Wilmington, Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien sees the week as an introduction to the professional game.

"It’s almost like an initiation of how we do things around here, what’s expected of them, that’s on-ice, off-ice, the conditioning part," said Julien. "But also, they’re teaching them about things in the community and being part of it. And hockey is more than just the game itself, it’s about giving back at times.

"You have fans that come and commit themselves to your team but we also have to commit ourselves to our fans. I think it’s a great thing for them to learn at a young age, so that when they do come to training camp, you know, again, it’s not a first time experience, it’s not a shock.

"They’re less nervous, and when they’re less nervous it helps them perform even better. So we’re helping them out," he said.

Chiarelli was asked if any of the 2011 camp crop have a chance to stick in the NHL when camp breaks in September.

"I don’t want to kill any dreams that these kids have, but we have a whole other strata of players like the [Jamie] Arniels, the [Jordan] Carons, the [Matt] Bartkowskis," said Chiarelli of other Development Camp alums. "I mean we have a whole level that are really close. But usually every year there’s one or two. Like last year, [Ryan] Spooner stayed till the very end.

"Now was it realistic that he was going to make it? Probably not, but he played so well that at least we talked about it.

"So in that sense there probably will be someone that is there and wows you and you have to talk about it and think about it," he said.

But Development Camp certainly helps the Bruins organization find those players who are able to fill out the Black & Gold jersey with the big spoked-B.

"Obviously, the competitive nature has to be there," said Sweeney. "You know Shawn Thornton is the best example of that that you can possibly come up with. I mean, Shawn Thornton scored ten goals for us this year and you know, he does the other part of his job, he’s used in all situations.

"Shawn worked hard on his skills. And those guys need to," added the Assistant GM. "I dial in to each and every one of the guys and we talk in a group to try and identify the stuff...but they all have great assets that we’ve identified and that’s why they’re here and that’s why were excited about them."

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