All in the family: Red Claws draft Jeremiah Rivers

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All in the family: Red Claws draft Jeremiah Rivers

Doc Rivers poked his head into his son's bedroom on Saturday night after arriving home in Florida for a quick visit following the Boston Celtics win over the Washington Wizards.

"He popped in my room and he was like, 'Congratulations, man. Welcome to the Red Claws,' " Jeremiah Rivers said in a telephone interview.

On Friday the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics D-League affiliate, selected Jeremiah in the fifth round of the 2012 NBA Development League Draft.In spite of being Doc's oldest son, there were no guarantees where the 25-year-old guard would land. He drew interest from other teams in similar rounds, but when he was available the at Red Claws pick, the team called his name.

"I think it's cool," said Jeremiah. "We didn't plan for it to be that way . . . I just think it's great that my father's not too far away. They have that fan base and that culture. I'm extremely excited about it."

Jeremiah isready to get back on the court and take the next step in his career after recovering from double ankle surgery.He played in Serbia last season and returned to the United States for the procedures in March and April, eyeing a return in time for Las Vegas Summer League in July. He appeared in four games for the New York Knicks, averaging 3.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.5 assists, but was more ready to play mentally than he was physically.

"Summer League with the Knicks, I did ok," he said. "Obviously I wasn't playing my best basketball. Unfortunately, my health was a really big concern. I was coming off double surgeries on my left and right ankles and I shouldn't have even been playing in summer league. But it was just a great opportunity because unfortunately last year with the lockout, I wasn't able to play. I was just so eager to to get out there, and I shouldn't have been out there."

Jeremiah returned to Florida to continue rehabbing. He made his health his number one focus and stayed positive with the support of his family, including Doc and his younger brother Austin, a rookie on the New Orleans Hornets.

"My dad was basically like, 'Get healthy. I know it's been frustrating for you,'" Jeremiah said. "I feel like I've been rehabbing for so long. Unfortunately ankles are just very, very difficult, tricky procedure and the rehab and recovery on it takes a lot of time. It's been a very tough recovery. My dad's been saying things like, 'Man, I know you have the talent. You're 6-(foot)-5, you're tall, you can jump, you can run with anybody in the NBA, you have the skills. He said, 'Get healthy and everything else will take care of itself.' "

While his ultimate goal is to earn a spot on an NBA roster, he knows it won't happen by playing selfish basketball.Drawing from the "we, not me" approach his father has engrained in the Celtics, Jeremiah is focused on the Red Claws as a team rather than his individual performance.

"I think if you play to win, everything else will take care of itself individually," he said. "I know a lot of NBDL players are trying to get that call up and play the best that they can play, so for me, I'm not going to go out there and worry about myself. When you play to win, you're going to play your best basketball. I want to bring leadership, create plays for other people, hit the open shot, play defense, do all the things I'm good at and have developed over the year that people haven't seen since I've been away from the game in Europe or hurt. I can bring a lot so I'm excited."

Jeremiah will begin his career with the Red Claws when training camp opens on November 12. On that day, Doc will be coaching against the Bulls in Chicago and Austin will be preparing for a game against the Houston Rockets.

"That's how we want it," Jeremiah laughed. "Honestly, it's really neat. We work hard. I'm so proud of my brother Austin and obviously my dad. It's basically a big support system at my house. Everybody knows the time and hours that everybody puts in for things to work and honestly I'm just blessed. I don't know another way to put it. I'm glad to be able to go out there and do what I love and play basketball again. Hopefully soon enough I'll be playing against Austin in the next level and my dad, which would be an even crazier story. Hopefully it works, and at the end of the day that's all I can ask for."

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

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Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed backup linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

"Jonathan is a very dependable player," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Saturday. "He is able to do a lot of different roles for us. He can play inside, outside, on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He has been a very valuable player for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size, a four-phase special teams player.

"He is one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training. He always does things right. He works hard, doesn't really say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think everybody in the organization looks up to him."

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

Click here for the gallery.

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.