Mottau in limbo waiting for next NHL employer

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Mottau in limbo waiting for next NHL employer

Bruins defenseman Mike Mottau has offers from Europe, and he knows hell able to play hockey somewhere this season. But Mottau isnt quite ready to bolt away from friends and family in Massachusetts without a job to come back to in the NHL when logic and fairness finally prevail in the CBA negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA.

The 34-year-old blueliner and former Hobey Baker Award winner at Boston College never found an NHL suitor during the summer free agent frenzy, and it doesnt appear hell be returning to Boston when the NHL does resume after the Bs signed former Blue Jackets defenseman Aaron Johnson.

So instead Mottau is waiting things out while playing the role of full-time dad from his Avon home while working out on the South Shore with fellow NHL lockout victims, and hoping for a quick resolution.

Ill be around for a while, said Mottau to CSNNE.com earlier this week. Im going to wait it out and see if I can land a job once the CBA gets squared away. Europe will be an option after that.

The veteran depth players like Mottau are some of the silent victims of the lockout as NHL teams arent going to spend discretionary money on them until theyre 100-percent clear on the terms of the new CBA and salary cap structure. Veterans like Mottau, Radek Martinek, Brett Clark, Petr Sykora, Dominic Moore, Jason Arnott, Mike Knuble and Andrew Brunette are all in the same puck limbo while Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman work their magic.

From 2007-2010 Mottau was skating 20 minutes per night as a full-time defenseman for the New Jersey Devils, and had carved out a nice little niche for himself as a heady, efficient blueliner that paid attention to detail in his own end. Things went south as they so often do for NHL players when Mottau headed to Long Island for two tours of duty with the New York Islanders.

Injuries limited Mottau to 49 games over two years and a minus-22 rating, but the defenseman showed he was healthy and effective after a late season deal to his hometown Bruins last year. His steady play gave Claude Julien options in the playoffs when the ineffective Joe Corvo and injuries conspired to give the veteran blueliner a shot in the lineup.

Mottau had voiced a willingness to potentially play a role as a sixseven defenseman for the Bruins this season as that rare veteran a blueliner capable of sitting out for chunks of time and then jumping in without missing a beat at a moments notice. But now the defenseman is open to a job with any of the 30 teams with 332 NHL games played in his career including regular season and playoffs. That puts him just one more NHL campaign away from a full NHL players pension (it kicks in at 400 NHL games played) he would have easily earned three years ago if the injury bug hadnt caught up to him in Long Island.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.