Haggerty: Development camp continues to illustrate B's success

Haggerty: Development camp continues to illustrate B's success
June 29, 2012, 6:11 am
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WILMINGTON, Mass. The members of the first Bruins Development Camp six years ago still walk down memory lane with the Boston front office about it from time to time.
Milan Lucic will still casually mention to Bs assistant general manager Don Sweeney just how tough that first development camp was prior to his solid rookie season with the Boston Bruins.
Clearly that first class of prospects including Lucic and David Krejci was a big success, but the Bruins continue looking for bigger, better, greater ways of doing things in the world of player development.
Weve tried to improve and tweak, and find areas on and off the ice that we can improve on, said Sweeney. Ive talked with Milan Lucic in the past a number of times about how hard the first one was. We didnt have any kind of blueprint to go off of, but our goal was to see how far we could push these kids to get them ready for training camp in September.
What weve found in some of these camps is that the kids emerge from them ready to compete, and have won jobs with the Bruins as a result of it. Thats the ultimate goal.
The Development Camp is the brainchild of Sweeney and has continuously done a remarkable job of getting wave after wave of young players ready for potential calls to the NHL level. Power skating, drills centered around effort and toughness near the net and off-ice bonding sessions have always been staples of the program, and the results are difficult to ignore.
Lucic, Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Jordan Caron, Vladimir Sobotka and Matt Hunwick have all developed into NHL players as Bs development camp alumni, and that speaks to both the commendable job drafting by the Bruins scouting department and noticeable improvements in the player development process.
Its an ever-evolving project for the Bs organization, but both the camp and its results speak to the rising stock Sweeney is enjoying while contributing to a Boston brain-trust that includes Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Cam Neely and a group of trusted advisors and scouts.
It may not be this season or even two years from now, but its not difficult to see the Harvard-educated former Bruins defenseman running an NHL program as a general manager.
Nobody makes a team out here this week. Weve been very consistent in saying that, but the impression they make on us and hopefully we make on them is very important. Torey Krug is a good example of that, said Sweeney. He hadnt been at a camp, but we certainly followed and recruited him as a free agent. Thats a good example of how we set up the camp, keep it small in numbers and get to know these kids on a personal level.
Hopefully they get to know us as well, so they can get to know us, get comfortable with us and use us as resources. The questions that they may have should be answered.
Unfortunately Harvard prospect Alex Fallstrom is unable to participate in the on-ice drills due to an injury suffered late in the season while playing for the Crimson, but the other 22 Bs prospects were out on the ice showing the future is indeed bright in Boston while enjoying continuous success at the NHL level.
Dougie Hamilton looks, sounds and acts like a cornerstone NHL defenseman ready to learn at the feet of Bs captain Zdeno Chara, and capable of becoming the same kind of offensedefense hybrid producing 25 quality minutes per game.
Ryan Spooner might need some seasoning and strengthening at the AHL level, but his offensive skills, hands and playmaking were off the charts Thursday afternoon among the best and brightest Bs prospects.
Malcolm Subban was leaping and energetically flying from post-to-post while challenging shooters, and showing the kind of competitiveness and fire Boston is used to seeing between the pipes as six goalies compete throughout camp.
Alex Khokhlachev might have been the most promising forward of all as a 19-year-old Russian that will either be playing in the KHL or the NHL as a skilled scorer already ready to jump to the next level as a teenager.
That doesnt even mention Jared Knight, Matt Grzelcyk, Brian Ferlin, Torey Krug or Tommy Cross as Bs prospects that have stood out in the past, and are fully capable of developing into NHL players someday soon.
The development camp is perhaps one of the best examples the Bruins can put forth about all that they stand for as a hockey organization, and the tough-minded, proud mindset that is the Bruins Way the grinding, blue-collar, hard-edged philosophy that allowed them to win a Cup two seasons ago.
The hockey syllabus ranges from the way Bs players are expected to comport themselves on the ice, the dos and dont of Twitter as an NHL players, and everything in between.
The best part about this camp is that everybody in the organization pitches in, and pulls their own weight from the simplest things like getting lunch to guys running on-ice drills or John Whitesides running the off-ice stuff, said Sweeney. I love that aspect of the camp, and the kids take notice of that and they love it.
Im grateful the organization supports it and everybody chips in. Theres no one way to run it whether its with Matt Chmura preparing them for questions the media might throw at them, or the social media stuff which continues to be an important part of all our lives and has so many twists and turns to it that all these kids need to be exposed to and educated on.
Sweeney and the Bruins have come a long way from that first grueling week in July with a group of fresh-faced Bruins prospects that transformed into bearded Cup champions over the course of five years.
But one thing that will never change: the steady flow of hungry, young hockey players that show up in Wilmington every summer ready to make their mark on a Black and Gold organization ready to embrace them.
Theyre here again in July, and ready to be the next wave of Bruins stars like Lucic, Marchand, Krejci and Seguin before them.