Haggerty: The Bruins opening night that should have been

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Haggerty: The Bruins opening night that should have been

BOSTON -- Tonight should have marked the start of another raucous journey with a Bruins team that holds the best chance to bring Boston its next world championship.
It should have been every bit as compelling as the last five years have been for the Bruins organization a span thats seen them become rock stars in Boston again for the first time since the 1970s golden era.
The Boston Bruins should have been taking the ice for a nationally televised game against the Broad Street Bullies in Philadelphia.
They should have been kicking off their campaign of great vengeance and furious anger after getting unceremoniously booted by Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
Tyler Seguin should have been continuing on his pathway to becoming the next big superstar on the Boston sports scene, and about to go supernova in his third NHL season as so many other NHL stars have before him.
Milan Lucic should have been breathing fire on the ice while atoning for last years limp playoff performance, and showing everyone hes worth every cent of his hefty new 6 million per year contract. The Bruins should have been finally getting on with life without Tim Thomas while their exiled goalie prepares for the end of days in his Colorado bunker.
But instead the Big Bad Bruins have scattered to the four corners of the world.
Rather than populating Charlestown and the North End, they are strange hockey players in strange lands wearing unfamiliar hockey sweaters in exotic European locales. A year ago the Bruins were raising a new Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters after an unforgettable playoff run. The local fans were even softening to the visage of owner Jeremy Jacobs after long holding him as the No. 1 reason Boston had never won another Cup after the golden age of Bobby Orrs Bruins teams.
But all of that has been sullied by the leagues second work stoppage in the last eight years, and their fourth labor dispute in the last 20 years.
Instead, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Jacobs the powerful NHL Board of Governors Chairman have both become the picture of greedy gluttony while holding fans hostage as they shake down the players for every last silver piece.
The loge and balcony seats at TD Garden will be empty rather than rocking for Bostons home opener against the hated Habs on Oct. 18 a game thats now a historical footnote after getting whacked along with five other games to start their season.
It takes two to tango, of course, and the NHLPA hasnt put forth their best offer either despite the cancellation of games.
But only Gordon Gecko would be proud of a group of NHL owners squeezing the players for 18-20 percent pay cuts after the league raked in a record 3.3 billion in revenues last year. The owners are locking the players out, and two weeks worth of games have already been cancelled including the season-opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. Another two weeks worth of games will be cancelled within the next week if the NHL and NHLPA cant bridge the billion dollar gap that remains between the two sides.
Lockouts and threats of work stoppages have essentially become parliamentary procedure in CBA negotiations for professional sports leagues.
One only needs to look at the difficulties that both the NBA and NFL survived last year when their agreements were up. But its different with the NHL, and by extension its different with the Bruins.
The National Hockey League has lost 1,780 games due to work stoppages since 1992. Major League Baseball (983), the NBA (504) and the NFL (0) combined have lost a little more than half that number over the last 20 years. The NHL gets no benefit of the doubt in work stoppage situations. The league has continuously shot itself in the foot over the years when it could have been building an undying loyal fan base combined with a likable group of assets in the players.
"We hoped it wouldn't be as confrontational as the last time around, but obviously that wasn't the same sentiment on the other side," said Andrew Ference before he left Boston to play in the Czech Republic. "We're getting into this rut where we're almost a joke. Every few years we've got to revisit the same thing."
Both the Bruins and the NHL have enjoyed skyrocketing momentum and unparalleled popularity over the last few seasons. Theyve hit jackpot after jackpot with the Winter Classic, the 247 HBO series and their new partnership with the NBC Sports Network over the last few years. But theyve also taken their oft-abused fan base for granted one more time, and continue to act the part of the no-good boyfriend in the latest Tori Spelling Lifetime made-for-TV movie.
Theres every reason to believe the NHL and the players will get their act together by December at the latest, and there will be Bruins hockey in Boston this season. This fight is strictly about splitting up the money pie, and that can be resolved.
Its not the philosophical battle for the salary cap that cost the NHL an entire season eight years ago.
But Jeremy Jacobs, Gary Bettman and the rest of the NHL purse-holders are playing with kerosene-soaked matches each time they choose profits over paying fans. Eventually even the most ardent hockey fans will move on and decide to spend their money elsewhere leaving the Board of Governors with the hollow husk of a league that could have been great.
The silence from the empty yellow seats at the Garden is deafening, and is forcing their fans to move on with their lives.
That will be the regrettable, lasting legacy of the NHL hawks if they continue on their current path to mismanagement and self-destruction.

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

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Saturday, July 23: Hammer Time for VP pick Kaine with Caps

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while everybody is working for the weekend...or during the weekend.

*The vice-presidential candidate for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, made quite an impression while hanging out a Capitals game with MC Hammer. They call this guy boring, but that doesn’t sound very boring to me.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bob Stauffer has the news that the Edmonton Oilers are parting ways with fancy stats lad Tyler Dellow. Boy, it seems like some teams are reversing course pretty quickly on some of these smarter-than-thou advanced statistics types, aren’t they? I certainly wish Dellow well and hope he finds another gig. But Instead of baselessly wondering whether the Oilers are going to continue down the fancy stats road (which they most certainly will), perhaps this is more a referendum on nonsensical stats-driven decisions like handing out that long term contract to a perpetually underachieving Benoit Pouliot.

*The New York Rangers have locked up Chris Kreider to a four-year contract at a reasonable number, and now he has the time with the Blueshirts to see how good he can be.

*Brian Leetch opens up to the Players Tribune about his NHL experiences playing with the New York Rangers, and all of his favorite experiences from a Hall of Fame career.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says that Carey Price’s injury from last season is no longer a concern, according to Habs coach Michel Therrien.

*The Chicago Blackhawks will appear a whopping 21 times on national television across the NBC Networks next season.

*Incoming BU goaltender Jake Oettinger is among the names to look out for at the 2017 draft, according to the NHL Central Scouting bureau.

*Travis Yost says that the Carolina Hurricanes are on the rise thanks to winning the shot differential battle. I think it’s because they have an outstanding cast of young defensemen, who are helping them control the puck and win that shot differential battle. But they still need to score more if they’re going to really be a team on the rise, so we’ll see what happens there.

*For something completely different: for those that think I’m a Democrat because I am anti-Trump, here’s a story on the DNC machinery attempting to torpedo Bernie Sanders during the presidential campaigning over the last year.
 

 

Friday, July 22: Versteeg headed for Europe

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Friday, July 22: Versteeg headed for Europe

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while vowing to never try to marry the NHL and Pokemon into the same lame story.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Kris Versteeg one of a number of NHL veteran free agents going to Europe for next season.

*The New York Islanders have reportedly been discussing moving to Queens and building a rink right next to the Mets’ Citi Field. Interesting. I know the Isles fan base was not happy with the setup in Brooklyn last season.

*The Black Knights get the top odds as a moniker for the Las Vegas franchise with a number of funny long shot names.

*Ian Mendes said that it’s pretty clear by the moves of the Ottawa Senators that they believe their time is now.

*Jason Botchford wonders if the Vancouver Canucks have a shot at being a playoff team next season. I hope so for Jim Benning’s sake.

*Ken Campbell wants to know if Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, now that they’re both retired, are Hall of Fame-worthy players. I say no to both of them, but I can be stingy with my Hall of Fame qualifications as the Jarome Iginla fanboys know so well.

*For something completely different: Jon Stewart brought the funk and the noise while breaking his TV silence on Thursday night and tearing into a GOP that’s coming apart at the seams right now.