Undecided Bruins still mulling lockout options

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Undecided Bruins still mulling lockout options

FRAMINGHAM Milan Lucic admitted he was surprised that so many of his Bruins teammates seven of them, including Tuukka Rask and Rich Peverley have already bolted for European hockey leagues. The Bs power forward hasnt made any plans for playing anywhere other than the NHL this season, and it doesnt sound like thats going to change in the near term.

You start thinking about it, admitted Lucic, who chatted with CSNNE.com after speaking to the Mary E. Stapleton Elementary School in Framingham Monday morning in an event sponsored by NMTW Community Credit Union. Im actually kind of surprised that guys are so urgent and anxious to leave so quickly given where the labor dispute is where its at. As more and more guys start to go over and more and more guys from our team start thinking about it, you start thinking about it more. Right now I dont have any plans to go, but its in the back of my mind.

Things are a little more complicated for the 24-year-old Lucic than they might be for a 20-year-old Tyler Seguin, who can literally drop everything and head over to Switzerland until the NHL lockout ends. Lucic and his new bride Brittany are expecting their first child during the upcoming season, and the Bs power forward understandably doesnt want to be across the world for that life milestone.

That all makes it more complicated especially when its your first child, said Lucic. You want to be around for all of the experiences of it. Thats basically where Im at right now. I want to be there for her more than anything.

The concern, of course, is becoming rusty as a hockey player if the NHL layoff turns into months rather than days or weeks. Lucic might be forced to leave for Europe at some point if the scrimmages and informal skates arent enough to keep in tip-top shape, but thats a long way down the road.

CSNNE.com contacted both Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk on Monday as well, and both players arent any closer to brokering a deal with a European club. Thornton is exploring potential opportunities in Europe, and is running into the same insurance challenges that many NHL players face while attempting to protect themselves from potential injuries.

A US underwriter estimated to CSNNE.com that NHL players will be footing a bill of roughly 10-25K per million of salary for each month that they play in Europe just in insurance costs.

The Belfast Giants team that the Bruins played two years ago in Northern Ireland would be a natural fit for a guy like Thornton thats only two generations removed from his Irish heritage. But thus far the Bs enforcer and the Belfast club havent come to an agreement on a deal suitable for both sides.

Boychuk hasnt explored the European option as of yet either. The Bruins defenseman is going to remain in Boston for the foreseeable future skating with some of his teammates. The question becomes how quickly the opportunities for NHL players dry up in the European Leagues as so many hockey players flock to Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland among other places.

Well see, I guess, said Boychuk. I am not leaving right now. I know that much. I dont know where Ill go if I do end up playing in Europe.

Zdeno Chara is one European player that hasnt made the move back to his native Slovakia quite yet. The insurance premium would be considerable for a 33-year-old player carrying a big salary price tag like Chara, but he is rumored to be headed to Bratislava ifwhen he does opt for Europe.

Chara would be reunited with good buddy and former Bruins forward Miro Satan if he hops over to Slovakia, but the Bs captains daughter is already enrolled in Boston schools for the semester so Chara will be taking his time before making any final decisions.

Bruins release complete 2016-17 exhibition schedule

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Bruins release complete 2016-17 exhibition schedule

The Bruins got on with the rest of their hockey lives on Tuesday with most NHL eyes fixed on the Stanley Cup Final, and kicked off the important dates to start a 2016-17 season that they hope goes better than the last two years.

The Bruins will open rookie training camp on Thursday, Sept. 15, and one week later the main NHL camp will open on Thursday, Sept. 22. There will obviously be plenty of Bruins personnel missing, including head coach Claude Julien, from the first few weeks of camp with the World Cup of Hockey taking place at the same time in Canada.

The World Cup will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The two-week tournament, featuring eight teams comprised of more than 150 of the best players in the NHL, will progress from the Preliminary Round to the Semifinals and ultimately the Final. 

That means somebody other than Julien will be calling the shots behind the Boston bench when the Bruins open up their preseason schedule at TD Garden with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sept. 26, and proceed to play a seven game schedule against the Blue Jackets, Flyers, Red Wings and Canadiens that concludes at home against Philly on Oct. 8.

The highlight of the preseason schedule is the Oct. 4 game against the Habs to be played at the new Videotron Centre in Quebec City, the first time both teams have played an exhibition game in the former home city of the Nordiques since 2009.

Here is the complete 2016 preseason schedule for the Black and Gold:

MONDAY, SEPT. 26 -- vs. Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28 -- vs. Red Wings, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 30 -- at Red Wings, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 1 -- at Flyers, 7 p.m.
TUESDAY, OCT. 4 -- vs. Canadiens at Quebec City, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, OCT. 6 -- at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 8 -- vs. Flyers, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, May 31: Will NHL follow MLB's lead and retire O'Ree's number?

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Tuesday, May 31: Will NHL follow MLB's lead and retire O'Ree's number?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while blaming both the zoo and the parents in Cincinnati. Is it okay to do that, or does everything in life have to be all or nothing?

-- Dan Rosen says Sidney Crosby has a twinkle in his eye as he returns for, and wins, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

-- Tim Panaccio has a few thoughts on the sad passing of Philadelphia Flyers legend Rick MacLeish at the age of 66.

-- It looks like Ken Hitchcock will be back once again as head coach of the St. Louis Blues despite their fall in the Western Conference Finals.

-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gives a number of scenarios for potential expansion, including waiting another year before doing anything.

-- A good Players Tribune piece on hockey dad Matt Cullen preparing with the family for the Stanley Cup Finals with the Penguins.

-- Jacques Martin, currently serving as a member of Mike Sullivan's Pittsburgh coaching staff, is appreciating his first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

-- Joel Ward wants to see the NHL retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22, similar to Jackie Robinson's No. 42 permanently retired by all Major League Baseball teams.

-- Ken Campbell says that the San Jose Sharks won’t be in a panic after dropping Game 1 to the Penguins.

-- So Ulf Samuelsson will be a head coach in the AHL next season for the Charlotte Checkers. Teams might want to stock up on the foil

-- This goal call by Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi for Nick Bonino’s game-winner in Game 1 is pretty damned awesome.

-- For something completely different: Bernie Sanders attending the Warriors/Thunder Game 7 on Monday night, a week before the California primary, might qualify as a savvy political move, but it’s also pretty clear that he's a big basketball fan. Did you see footage of that textbook old-man jump shot while Sanders was waiting for primary results a few months ago? Ball don’t lie.

 

 

Report: Khokhlachev leaves Bruins, signs with Russian team

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Report: Khokhlachev leaves Bruins, signs with Russian team

Another once-valued Boston Bruins asset might be heading out the door with nothing coming back in return.

Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev has signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to a report out of Russia. The deal will become official after his entry-level contract with Boston runs out on June 30.

Khokhlachev, 22, was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft and spent the last three seasons as one of the Providence Bruins' leading scorers. In that time he appeared in only nine games in Boston, with no points and a minus-4.

At the start of last season's training camp, Khokhlachev said he’d never been given a legitimate chance by the Bruins at the NHL level. But “Koko” also never exactly crushed his chances in preseason, or during his regular-season stints with the parent club.

The belief is that Khokhlachev’s camp would have rather the Bruins traded him, as his family had settled in the Toronto area over the last few years. But he was, in essence, forced to go to Russia since the Bruins would continue to hold his NHL rights as a restricted free agent.

According to sources close to Khokhlachev, the last straw came when the Bruins signed a European free agent -- 28-year-old Finnish center Joonas Kemppainen -- before last season and gave him more than four months to prove himself at the NHL level. It was the kind of audition that Khokhlachev never felt like he received during his time in the Bruins organization, despite posting 59 goals and 168 points over the last three years in the AHL.

Clearly, there are still questions about whether the 5-foot-10, 181-pound center is a “tweener” -- not big enough or fast enough to score at the NHL level. And it looks like those questions will go unresolved as Khokhlachev returns to Russia for the foreseeable future.