New contract long time coming, extra sweet for Boychuk

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New contract long time coming, extra sweet for Boychuk

BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk spent five full seasons in the minor leagues.

When the defenseman was traded to the Bruins organization in the summer of 2008, he played one full season in Providence. And when he finally made it to Boston on a full-time basis during the 2009-10 season, he swore he would never go back to the minors.

All of that time in the AHL came into perspective following the Bruins' 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Boychuk sat in front of his stall and answered questions about his new, three-year contract extension that will pay him an average annual salary of 3.36 million and includes a limited no-trade clause.

And for a moment, he brought everyone back to what it was like in the minors.

"It was awful," said Boychuk on Tuesday night. "There's bus rides and you go back home and think about maybe getting a job for the summertime, and just be a normal person. When you have to work out and train really hard, it's tough when you're a minor-league player. People think you make a lot, but you don't. And you go home and you have to pay for a lot of things, especially training.

"When you look back at that, it's probably a blessing in disguise that it happened, because it toughens you up, playing in the minors, taking those bus rides, grinding it out.

"When you get your chance to come play in the NHL, you really get to appreciate it," added Boychuk. "And you make sure that you don't go back there."

Boychuk has made sure he isn't going back to Providence, or anywhere else for that matter. He wanted to stay in Boston, so there was no reason for him to test free agency after this season.

"I'm obviously happy," said Boychuk. "It wasn't a real big secret that I wanted to stay here. I'm just excited I guess.

"I knew that it was going to get done. I didn't know when it was going to get done, but I knew that it was going to get done here."

And the rest of the Bruins are also happy that he's not going anywhere.

"Hes a very good guy in the locker room," said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. "Hes very positive. Hes a happy guy and thats why you need him. When things go wrong you need guys to stay positive and cheer guys up.Its good to have him."

"I think we all like him, that's why he got extended with us," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We certainly didn't want to lose him. He's been a valuable asset. He's a great teammate. He plays hard every night. Whether he makes mistakes every once in a while like everybody else, he's very reliable.

"We like him, and his play and his demeanor and everything else just fits our group very well."

Boychuk said that he wasn't worried about a deal getting done, but it is nice to not get to a point where maybe, just maybe, that worry might creep in. It never got close to that. And everybody in the Bruins organization is happy about it.

"It's obviously nice to get it over with and not have to worry about it, especially being an unrestricted free agent," said Boychuk. "You want to stay here and they come and offer you a contract, it's a pretty easy decision when you're a Bruin. If you know what it is to be a Bruin, it's pretty special, and that's why I wanted to stay here."

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Beleskey/Blidh-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas stood before the media throng on Friday afternoon at the Celtics’ practice facility and answered all the questions with the usual truthful tone sprinkled with a bit of humor.
 
But you could sense that he was still bitter about the results announced by the NBA on Thursday as to who will be the starters in next month’s All-Star Game.
 
Cleveland’s LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler were the frontcourt starters announced by the league. In the backcourt you will find Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who finished in a tie with Thomas in this first season in which fans, media and players all have a say in who will be the game’s starting five, as opposed to past seasons in which the starters were chosen strictly by fans.
 
DeRozan and Thomas finished in a tie under the voting system, but DeRozan moved ahead of Thomas due to a tie-breaker (fan vote), in which DeRozan had about 41,000 more votes than Thomas.
 
“It’s not the end of the world; it’s all good,” said Thomas. “I was disappointed, but those guys deserve it as well. I did everything I could in my control to put myself in position to be a starter. It’s not the end of the world.”
 
Especially knowing that the coaches will vote him on to the team for the second year in a row.
 
But for Thomas to be even in the conversation speaks to how the league’s new system of choosing All-Star starters, makes the whole choosing of starters about more than just a popularity contest, which is the irony of Thomas being left off the starting five – it ultimately came down to DeRozan receiving more votes from fans than Thomas.
 
“I didn’t really look at it. I didn’t look at what the reason was, but it is what it is,” Thomas said. “I’ll use it as motivation. I have to get better. That’s all I took out of that. I’m not where I want to be.”
 
Thomas finished fourth in fan voting for the starting nod, but was second among players and first among Eastern Conference guards among the media.
 
“I appreciate everybody who voted for me, especially you [media] guys,” Thomas said. “The media showed me some love and then my peers showed me love too.”
 
But as far as coming so close to being an All-Star starter and not making it, Thomas said, “It hurts but I’ll be alright. I’ll use it as motivation and keep going.”
 
Thomas is having a banner season that has elevated his name and game into the conversation for the league’s MVP award that so far is being led by Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
He averages 28.7 points per game, which is tops among Eastern Conference players and fourth overall. 

Among his more notable accomplishments this season, he scored a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Miami, and in the same game, wound up scoring a career-high 52 points.
 
Thomas isn’t the only NBA player who has had a season that most would believe would result in him being an All-Star starter.
 
“You look in the west, [Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook] averages a triple-double and he didn’t get in [to start],” Thomas said. “I guess…I’ll let everybody debate for me and argue for me. Those guys that made it who start, they deserved it.”