Pandolfo travels with Bruins to Buffalo

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Pandolfo travels with Bruins to Buffalo

BUFFALO Jay Pandolfo has already joked several times that hes enjoying life as a member of the NHL practice squad with the Boston Bruins.

There is, of course, no such thing as the practice squad in the NHL as there is within the NFL. The 38-year-old Pandolfo is a on a professional tryout agreement with the Bruins that was activated during NHL training camp, and has been practicing and skating with the Bruins over the last month.

He hadnt been traveling with the Black and Gold over the seasons first three weeks, but did make the trip to Buffalo this weekend with Boston getting ready for a tilt against the Sabres. The former New Jersey Devils forward still hasnt signed a contract with the Bruins as of this weekend, but Pandolfo hoped an invitation on the road trip was a good sign something might be upcoming.

Weve been talking and its been good being around the guys and getting comfortable. Theyve been honest with me right from the start, and that makes it easier as a player if you know exactly whats going on, said Pandolfo. I appreciate that theyve done that. Its made it easier for me so I can come in and be patient. They were honest with me right from the start of camp.

Perhaps theres a chance the Bruins can now sign Pandolfo to a one-year deal after moving Tim Thomas contract and 5 million cap hit to the New York Islanders. Pandolfo would certainly give the Bruins another veteran bottom-six forward capable of killing penalties should more injuries hit in Boston.

Its a pretty good bet Pandolfo will head down to Providence to play in a few games ifwhen the Bruins do officially bring him into the fold. That would likely happen before he gets pressed into NHL duty with Boston.

You can be in the best shape in the world, but being in game shape is totally different, said Pandolfo. I would think playing in Providence is something that could definitely happen, I would guess. Thats something just to get into game shape rather than getting thrown into games. Im sure thats something that will get talked about.

Either way, its been a nice experience for the former Burlington High superstar, who has been able to practice with the Bruins while settling in with his family in their Winchester home over the last month. Getting to jump into some NHL games with the Black and Gold down the line would simply end up making it the perfect situation for a local guy thats been such a good pro over the last 15 years.

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

JAMAICA PLAIN -- David Backes probably could have opted to have his introductory press conference inside the Bruins dressing room at TD Garden, or maybe even in some finished part of the team's new practice facility in Brighton, which is set to open a couple of months from now.

Instead, the new Bruins forward met face-to-face with the media for the first time while taking a tour of the MSPCA and, in the process, introducing Bruins fans to his “Athletes for Animals” charity, a foundation that promotes rescuing -- and protecting the welfare of -- homeless pets nationwide.

Backes took pictures with a pit bull named Greta that’s been at the MSPCA Adoption Center for the last seven months looking for a “forever home”.

And as he spoke, it became abundantly clear that this is what the 32-year-old former St. Louis Blues captain is all about.

“[Taking a tour of the facility] gives you a warm feeling inside, and makes you feel like you’re already a part of the city while helping give some attention to the great work that they’re doing,” said Backes, the owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty, Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly), who is house-hunting in Boston this week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter.

“Hopefully this will be just the beginning of our connecting with the community, and helping serve the people that are great fans of the Bruins and that will be watching us every night. [Hopefully] they’re watching us go on deep playoff runs year after year.”

Backes’ efforts with rescue animals gained national notoriety when he took time to help with the stray dog situation in Sochi, Russia during the last Winter Olympics. But the roots of his “Athletes for Animals” charity goes back to his college days at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," he said "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

For these reasons alone, Backes is a great fit in Boston. The Bruins donate heavily to the MSPCA and were one of the first NHL organizations to come up with the Pucks ‘N Pups calendar, which each year features Bruins players and their dogs, or strays from the MSPCA, to raise money for the animal welfare organization.

To learn more about Backes’ organization, “Athletes for Animals,” visit http://athletesforanimals.org .

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.