Chris Bourque willing to take on any role with B's

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Chris Bourque willing to take on any role with B's

It was clearly a dream come true for Chris Bourque when he got the phone call from Peter Chiarelli that he was joining the Bruins organization.
He grew up north of Boston and his dad, Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, was one of the best to ever pull on the black and gold sweater, and those are just two of the zillion or so reasons why the Bruins were the perfect fit.
So while it was flattering to have the Bruins exchange first-round disappointment Zach Hamill to Washington for his rights prior to him becoming an unrestricted free agent, Bourque said the Bruins were going to be his top attraction if he made it into free agency after July 1.
They could have had me for free. I was going to be unrestricted and if they put up any kind of offer they were going to have the big edge with me being able to play in front of all my friends and family. It would have been intriguing to me no matter what, said Bourque, who scored the OT game-winner in the Beanpot in his one and only year at Boston University. I was looking forward to seeing who might be interested and Boston was always at the top of that list.
When they traded for me, I was just thrilled. I had a good talk with Mr. Chiarelli when I signed. He told me that I was going to have a good shot to make the NHL team. Theres a lot of history here between my family and the Bruins, obviously. I grew up idolizing Cam Neely, Adam Oates and my dadto get to see them up close at the rink every day as a kid was special. Now with what the Bruins have meant to the city over the last few years; it seems like it would be so much fun to be a part of.
Bourques willingness to do whatever it takes speaks to how badly he wants to carry on the family tradition on Causeway Street, and he may have to do just that while breaking through that NHL ceiling. The youngster watched as guys like Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle got their NHL chances in the Capitals organization, and Bourque is looking for that same thing in Boston.
Thats all Ive ever asked for. Its up to me to do the rest and bring some energy to the team. Im known as more of a playmaker, but Ill play any kind of role that they need me to, said Bourque. Whether its on the power play or the penalty kill Im just hoping they give me the chance to show I can do.
The 26-year-old Bourque might also be walking into a perfect fit with the Bruins at the NHL level: theres a third-line winger role up for grabs among 21-year-old Jordan Caron, fresh-faced rookies like Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight, and the eldest son in the Boston Bourque clan. The bottom-six forward role might not be the natural long-term spot for a 5-foot-8 skill player thats coming off a 27-goal, 93-point performance in the AHL for the Hershey Bears, but Bourque thinks that may be the best passageway into a permanent NHL spot.
Its reasonable to think given the proper chance he could match or surpass the 16 goals and 32 points produced by a hit-or-miss Benoit Pouliot in that role last season. Thats what it sounds as if Bourque has his sights set on.
Maybe starting off in the bottom-six would be the perfect way to ease into things. I like to bring a lot of energy to the game. Ill get in on the forecheck and Ill pitch in offensively when I can, said Bourque. Any role is fine, though. Id play defense or goalie if it gets me into the NHL with a full-time job. Thats the main goal.
It can be tough to tell because things havent translated for me from the AHL to the NHL. But hopefully the change of scenery helps me turn into the NHL player that I think I am know that Im going to be.
On the Bruins end of things, Chiarelli sees the offensive promise Bourque has shown at the AHL level and envisions him making the adjustment despite four points and a minus-6 in 33 games of sporadic actions for the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. He also sees the third line possibilities that could make him a legit candidate for a checkingenergy role with some offensive upside skating alongside guys such as Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
He does have the ability to shoot to find seams, but he also has a great element to his game where that if he has to play lower down the line he can do that. I told him, among other things, that hell need like another quarter step to maintain it at this level, said Chiarelli. If he gets that and I think he will -- hes another guy whos relatively young, and that hell be able to play at this level on a regular basis.
I think hes got a good chance of making our team. I told him basically that hes just not here to go to Providence. Hes very keen about being a Bruin and Im happy to have him in the organization.
Now its little more than two months away from Bourque getting his big chance to play for the hockey club hes always dreamed about from the time he learned how to skate. Hes as ready as hes ever going to be to make the leap, and the Bruins are just as willing and ready to catch him.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.