Chara tones down his offseason training slightly

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Chara tones down his offseason training slightly

LAS VEGAS, NV Zdeno Chara is still going strong at 35 years old, and will serve as a Norris Trophy Finalist for the fifth time in his career as evidence of his continued dominance for the Bruins.

But even the biggest, the baddest and the best get slow downat some point, and that process is beginning for the 6-foot-9 defenseman as he heads into the long back nine of his NHL career. Chara led all defensemen with a plus-33 and led the Bruins to their third Northeast Division title in four years, and posted a career-high 52 points while averaging 25 minutes of ice time per night.

Chara is up against two defensemen still basking in youthful prime with Nashvilles Shea Weber and Ottawas Erik Karlsson, and the Bs defenseman said it could come down to a simple matter of taste among the voters.

Its not stressful. I was nervous the first time I was nominated, Chara said. You get a little bit nervous when it comes down to your category. That never gets old. Hopefully you get the votes and this is the year. No matter how you look at it, its very close.

For a number of writers and for people that are eligible to vote everybody likes something different. You have three cars in front of you: you have the BMW, you have the Mercedes and you have the Porsche. A hundred people are going to like the Mercedes, a hundred people are going to like the BMW and the rest are going to like the Porsche. Every guy is a winner maybe in the different worlds of each different group of writers. It just comes down to the total scores of votes. Of course you want to win. Its a huge honor.

So which car is Chara?

He wouldnt answer the question, but he probably is best described as a Slovakian tank or a Mack Truck with a hemmie.

Karlsson is clearly going to get a large number of votes after putting up 78 points this season, and finishing with nearly 30 more points than anybody else in the defensemen category. But the Sens D-man also was fifth on his own team in ice time on the penalty kill and didnt face the toughest offensive competition while trying to live up to his positional name.

One interesting footnote to Charas training: the 35-year-old fitness freak admits that hes scaled down his once maniacal training regimen. The long, punishing bike rides through the hills and mountains have been toned down slightly, and Chara has found the recharge button that hockey players need during the summer.

Its a great question. Every time after the season I sit back and make a little change to my preparation for the next season. I get older, but I also get wiser about the way that I train, said Chara. You do more in some things and less in others. You pay more attention.

In some ways I do less biking than I did before, and I do other stuff instead. When you look at it now I was biking maybe six or seven hours each day, and maybe that was a little too much. Now I try to train hard, but not in the volume of those hours as before. Then youre not gaining anything.

An older, stronger, wiser Chara must be a scary thought for opponents, regardless of whether or not he takes his second career Norris Trophy.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats