Bruins value annual team-building event

Bruins value annual team-building event
October 2, 2013, 12:00 am
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WATERBURY, VT – The Boston Bruins didn’t do the ropes courses or Outward Bound-type stuff that some might expect out of a team-bonding excursion in Vermont, but still got exactly what they were looking for out of it.

The Bruins took 23 players up to Vermont for the program run by High Five Adventure educational and training problems just as they did five years ago with a young team just starting to show their potential. This time the Bruins are an accomplished group that’s been to the Stanley Cup Final twice in the last three years, but that didn’t stop anybody from getting the players out of their comfort zone.

“The goal is to get us together for a few days and to welcome in the new guys while also getting the core guys used to each other again. We’re trying to enjoy these days, but also do what we can to work on our leadership skills,” said Bergeron. “We do it as individuals, and also as a team.

“There is lots of communication and pumping each other’s tires, I guess. All of the guys have different fears, and it’s our jobs to help them through that. It’s good times, but it’s also something that has some specific things [designed in it] that we need to work on.”

There was skeet shooting and orienteering with only a compass to find their way, and there was even horseback riding.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve been on a horse before, but it was probably a pony ride a long time ago,” said Dougie Hamilton, who was in a group with Patrice Bergeron and backup goalie Chad Johnson. “This was a lot different.”

Everything about the Vermont activities provide a different path for hockey players used to putting on equipment, skating, practicing and playing in games where they go through a rigid routine through an 82-game season. It takes them out of their comfort zone and puts the players into situations where they’re taking leadership roles, and bringing together some individuals that haven’t played/practiced with each other at all through the split squad practices during training camp.

“It was really good. I think guys had fun and we did a lot of different activities,” said Zdeno Chara. “You do so much that it’s almost impossible to do in one day. There is no secret that during training camp you don’t have much time to hang out together, and you’re in different groups on and off the ice.

“Once management decides to shrink the team to lower numbers, then we actually see guys for the first time after the first week or 10 days of training camp. It was nice to be together over the last couple of days.”

The Bruins have traditionally held the team-bonding trips since Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli took over running the hockey operations, and it’s become a key part of the early season team development. Nothing will ever beat the two week excursion to Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic three years ago that opened a season that would see the Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup at the end of a long year.

But the B’s leadership group, coaching staff and management team has come to value the kind of chemistry that can be built by sometimes taking the players out of the hockey rink.

“It has paid its dividends in the past. After seeing us go through what we did yesterday, there’s no doubt on my mind it will pay dividends again this year,” said Julien. “They had fun with it, but all of the elements that we’re looking for were in there as well.

“At the end of the day they were a tired group, but they were also a happy group. Now it’s about moving on and getting ready for the opener on Thursday.”

With the team-bonding trip in the rear view mirror and Bruins Media Day on tap for Wednesday afternoon at TD Garden, there is precious little standing between Boston and another NHL season set up with high expectations for the Black and Gold.

The puck finally drops in less than 48 hours.