Kampfer, McQuaid practice, close to returning

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Kampfer, McQuaid practice, close to returning

WILMINGTON The Bruins are a little banged up just five games into the new season, but they look like theyll be getting some reinforcements in the near future. Both Adam McQuaid who missed the Blackhawks game with a neck injury and Steve Kampfer who has missed all five Bs games with a sprained left MCL were back on the practice ice at Ristuccia Arena Monday morning, giving Boston eight defensemen.

McQuaids appearance on the ice seems to indicate that it was a neck injury rather than a concussion after he tumbled head-first into the boards against the Hurricanes last week, and coach Claude Julien said the towering blueliner was a possibility to play Tuesday night in the TD Garden rematch against Carolina if he can pass through some final tests Tuesday morning.

McQuaid made it through the biking and exertion tests previously, and Julien said itll be a well see about playing Tuesday.

You never want to miss too much time, said McQuaid, who indicated he skated on Sunday as well. But were just kind of evaluating things. Im feeling better each day; well see how the day progresses and then see how tomorrow goes.

I went through a similar situation before in last years Flyers series, so its one of those things where were just going day-by-day and see how it goes. Its been frustrating how the season has unfolded so far. Coming back after being sick for the first game, I still wasnt really feeling 100 percent like myself. So hopefully Im able to come back fully healthy this time around.

Kampfer, on the other hand, might need a few practices to get his conditioning back up to par and make sure hes ready for game action and that starts with the young blueliner likely getting cleared contact Tuesday morning. He looked as good as cleared for contact at the end of Mondays practice when he collided violently with Milan Lucic while the big power forward was carrying the puck with his head down.

I guess we were supposed to wait until tomorrow, said Kampfer with a laugh. But I guess it was good like that to get hit without expecting it. It kind of eases the mind to know you get hit and it didnt hurt anything.

Lucic skated away with everything pretty much intact, and Kampfer was okay after resting on one knee for a few seconds while making sure everything was in one piece. Kampfer assured after practice that he was pain-free in the left knee, and hes been attempting visualization exercises with the Bs training staff to help him pick up at the high level he was playing at just prior to the knee injury.

Im encouraged by how much Ive done in the first couple of games and how I feel walking and skating. It was a lot worse last season, said Kampfer. To feel as good as I do know is very encouraging. I still have to do a couple more things, get a couple more practices in and then well make that decision as we go.

The bottom line is this: Both McQuaid and Kampfer will be on the Bruins once they regain their health. It seems more likely that Matt Bartkowski is going to head back to Providence where he can get some playing time and build up confidence in his game. When asked about the defensemen on Saturday night, Claude Julien was specific in pointing out that he felt the five main defensemen were excellent against the Blackhawks while Bartkowski had a tough time getting out on the ice.

I would say five defensemen because Bartkowski only got out there for five minutes, said Julien. Bart was put in a tough position where he hadnt gotten much ice because of the situations, and then couldnt really put him into a close game in the third period. We feel it was judicious to use him there. Youre going to run into those situations where youre going to need to use the defensemen a little bit more.

We could handle it. We had two days before the next game and I thought they did a great job. Chara blocking those shots in the end. Johnny Boychuk blocking that one shot after getting run in the corner from behind. Then he goes down the ice and makes a big play on the game-tying goal. We really want our defensemen to be more proactive about getting down the ice and being part of the offense, and Boychuk was able to do that.

The need for offense is something stressed up and down the defensemen roster, and perhaps another reason why Kampfer should have the inside track on a roster spot once bodies start getting fully healed over the next few days.

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

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.