Neely wants the Bruins to play outside more often

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Neely wants the Bruins to play outside more often

WILMINGTON, Mass. It seems like only yesterday the Bruins were gearing up in special Winter Classic Bs sweaters and skating on a temporary NHL rink inside Fenway Park.

But its now the third season since that game, and things have developed quickly with the gem of an event in the middle of the NHL schedule. The HBO cameras trailing around the teams and creating the 247: Road to the Winter Classic TV series along with the potential for the game to be on prime time depending on the weather has put a whole different spin on the teams involved in the series. Thats something that began the year AFTER the Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime at Fenway with a famous Marco Sturm goal face celebration.

So the Bs missed the boat a little bit on marketing their unique blend of players in the 247 series, and Bs fans were teased a little while watching the Black and Gold essentially cast as hatchet-wielding villains in the second episode of the show when they trounced the Flyers.

Clearly the Winter Classic wont be held in Boston again anytime soon, but Bruins' President Cam Neely admitted in a radio interview last week with Felger and Mazz on 98.5 the Sports Hub that hed love for his team to be involved again in the early January game. Given the kind of TV ratings the Bruins can command and the natural interest inherent in a Cup-winning level hockey club, it would seem to make a lot of sense to once again bring Boston into the proceedings.

Whispers around the league have either Detroit or Washington hosting the next Winter Classic given the settings already visited by the NHL, and the Bruins could be a natural opponent for either one of those teams. After all, the Winter Classic two years ago at Fenway was originally supposed to be the Bs hosting the Caps, and perhaps they could reverse the home and road teams for the next NHL centerpiece. Thats the kind of game people would watch, and Neely said his team is highly interested in getting involved with the Classic and the 247 TV series if the opportunity presents itself.

The league holds it pretty close to the vest on who theyd like to have each year. I think theyre doing a better job of getting teams a little bit more notice. We pushed for that certainly because its a big undertaking and the more time you have, the better its going to turn out, said Neely. I would certainly welcome it as an organization. I think it would be fantastic for the Bruins.

Its great what the league does and its great what HBO does. Im all for it. I know its a little intrusive and the coaches have a hard time with it at times because the cameras are all around much more than theyd probably like. Everybody is buying into it, and I would love for our organization to be a part of the Winter Classic again. Its a fantastic event; wed love to be a part of it whether its hosting it or going on the road.

So when the Rangers and Flyers suit up for the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon, just imagine that the Bruins could be dusting off their special WC edition jerseys for another game in the near future if everything goes according to plan.

Wednesday, July 27: Boychuk's historic home about to be razed

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Wednesday, July 27: Boychuk's historic home about to be razed

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while amazed that President Bill Clinton has still got “it” after all these years.

-- An odd story about Johnny Boychuk’s historic home on Long Island, which is now set to be razed.

-- The Buffalo Sabres are undoubtedly looking to trade Evander Kane at this point. Here are five possible destinations for a player who's got far too much baggage at his age.

-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman continues to make firm denials about the link between concussions and CTE in ex-football and ex-hockey players.

-- Some rumors from Spector that include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie, and whether either player is on the trade block.

-- The Red Wings have signed Danny DeKeyser to a long-term contract that might be viewed as a bit of an overpay at this point in his career.

-- The annual Hockey News story focusing on three teams that could make the playoffs in 2016-17 after missing last season, and three teams that might fall out of the playoff picture from last season. Once again the Bruins are not counted as one of the teams expected to get back in after missing last season, but the Canadiens are at the top of the list.

-- Former NHL tough guy Jay Rosehill has surfaced in the British Elite League, where he’ll play for the Braehead Clan.

-- Moving piece from Joel Ward about the passing of his father, and his own excellent career at the NHL level.

-- For something completely different: Smash Mouth has made an EDM song. I repeat, Smash Mouth has made an EDM song.

 

Bjork returns to Notre Dame after impressing at Bruins' development camp

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Bjork returns to Notre Dame after impressing at Bruins' development camp

Given that he’s a former fifth-round pick, he’s not a local guy with any Boston ties to speak of and that there isn’t a lot of fancy to his game, Anders Bjork might be a bit under the radar as far as Bruins prospects go right now. 

Still, the 19-year-old Notre Dame forward has been steadily rising among the ranks at the NCAA level and Bjork put on a pretty impressive show at B’s development camp right along with more hyped forwards like Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk.

Bjork showed great skating speed and a hard-nosed willingness to battle whether the puck was on or off his stick. Even better, he showed a finishing flourish with the puck whenever he was around the net. He was literally blowing by defenders with his speed throughout drills each and every day at camp, and it was hard not to notice. Time after time Bjork buried those chances earned through speed and tenacity and showed the offensive confidence that saw him lead Notre Dame in points (12 goals and 35 points in 35 games) last season as a sophomore.

“You can tell the guys that have been here. Grizzy [Matt Grzelcyk] has a great week and Anders [Bjork] has a great week because they’re just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “I mean they’ve played at the college hockey level for two, three, four years in some of these cases. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.

"In Anders’ case he gained a tremendous amount of confidence in the World Juniors last year and you can tell he’s carrying that over offensively. He also plays in a very tight system at Notre Dame, so the habits away from the puck are really ingrained in him. Now he’s looking to explore his offensive side.”

The good news for the Bruins: Bjork wants to keep improving on the offensive end and pump up the goal-scoring numbers in his third season with the Fighting Irish. If the week spent at Ristuccia Arena is any indication, Bjork should be lighting it up in Hockey East next season after being a second team All-Hockey East selection last season.

“I’m just working on trying to contribute a little more offensively, and really work on my goal-scoring and offensive abilities like that,” said Bjork, who is a bit of a legacy at Notre Dame with his father, mother, siblings and cousin NHL forward Erik Condra all having matriculated in South Bend as well. “Working on the little things in areas like goal-scoring and playing on the wall are what I’ve been focused on. The feedback from the Bruins has been really good, and really helpful.

“Sometimes they’ll check in after a game or after a weekend of games, and give really helpful feedback. Sometimes it’s even different than what my coach said, so it’s nice to get my viewpoint and sometimes they see things that my coach doesn’t notice. Stuff like that has been really helpful, and has helped me develop as a player definitely.”

Bjork said the Bruins have stressed consistency and greater focus in his game from shift-to-shift and game-to-game and that’s something he clearly took to heart in a dominant week at development camp. Given the rising number of college hockey players that are foregoing the teams that drafted them and become free agents following their senior seasons, one would expect that next season will be Bjork’s last at Notre Dame before signing with the Bruins.

The way that the 6-foot, 188-pound Bjork is improving his game each and every season after being projected a couple of years ago as a possible third-line player in the NHL, the Bruins should be looking to bring him into the Black and Gold fold sooner rather than later.