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BRIGHTON – It only amounts to lip service coming in the first few days the Bruins players are simply getting together for informal captain’s practices, but it’s pretty clear the fire is burning brightly after missing the playoffs two years in a row.
For a group that still includes some players that made the playoffs seven seasons in a row, made it to the Cup Finals twice and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011, it feels like that sting of pride is very close to the surface.
Torey Krug wouldn’t even entertain discussion of last season when asked about it following Monday’s skating session at the new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility. David Krejci said he’s officially done talking about winning the Cup five long years ago. Now, it’s about righting the ship for the Bruins, and getting things back moving in a positive, forward progression after moving backwards and sideways over the last two years.
As always, the playmaking Krejci gives a straight, honest take about where the team is on the down side of their Cup years.
“I feel like we’re back to where we started 10 years ago, you know? The teams didn’t make the playoffs, and now we kind of have some new guys. It’s still a good mix with some experienced guys,” said Krejci. “But the hunger, it’s there again. Obviously we haven’t been in the playoffs for a couple of years. It’s exciting times.
“If you go back to 2011 and then to 2013, we were in the Final. But we knew that we had already won two years before. We did try, but you always knew in the back of your mind that you’d already won the Cup. Now, it’s like the Cup is out of the window and that was a long time ago. I’m going to talk about the Cup when I retire, so now we’re all hungry again. We missed the playoffs two years in a row, and it’s a new excitement again. I just can’t wait to get back into it.”
Krejci’s first full season in the NHL was actually the year that the B’s made it back into the postseason in 2007-08, but he was close enough to the organization to see what it was like at the 2006 training camp when a great deal was in flux for the Black and Gold.
It’s not unlike the big changes that the Bruins have seen in the past two years with the hopes that there will start being a payoff in the near future.
It’s exciting for Krejci, in particular, as he should be 100 percent healthy for the first time in three years after surgery on his left hip last spring. A healthy Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will give the Black and Gold their potent 1-2 punch down the middle and there’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of the B’s defensemen crew after a difficult campaign last year.
Krug admitted as much while brushing off big picture questions about what happened last season, and why this season should be any different for a group of seven defensemen returning from last season’s crew ranked 19th in the league.
“I’m not going to talk about [last year]. We’re moving on. This group will use it as motivation moving forward. With this new practice facility, everybody is excited to get back together and start moving forward,” said Krug. “We have [D-men] pieces in here that maybe people aren’t getting too excited about, but we know what we have in this room. We’ve grown and developed together.
“We know that we’re highly capable of taking whatever is thrown our way. But I know the D-men especially are motivated to prove a lot of people wrong that we’re not ready to compete, and not ready to be a playoff team.”
That’s essentially what it comes down to for the Black and Gold. They can talk about regaining the hunger to compete and utilizing last season’s failures as motivation for this season, but it all amounts to nothing unless they show it on the ice on a consistent basis.
It will be months before everybody truly knows if it’s more than talk from the Bruins and before we learn whether the B’s even have the talent on the roster to truly compete in a difficult, improving Atlantic Division.
For now, the optimism is running high for the returning Black and Gold players and that registers as something as they slowly ramp up to the start of training camp next month and the season opener on Oct. 13 in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.
FOXBORO -- After Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson went down with a torn Achilles in a recent preseason game, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said he wouldn't mind if the league eliminated preseason games.
"If I had my choice, I'd go none," Harbaugh said. "That might be an extreme point, but we could run scrimmages, or we could run practices against other teams and figure it out. We'd all be in the same boat. That's for people higher up than me to decide."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked on Tuesday afternoon for his thoughts on the value of the preseason.
"I think I’ll let all the experts in the league decide that," Belichick said. "That’s not really my job. My job is to coach the team. But, I think our joint practices give us extra opportunities to evaluate the team. That’s why we use them.
"I’d say probably almost every team in the league does that. There might be a couple who don’t, but most of them do one, sometimes two. It seems to me like most of the teams want that type play and competition and opportunity rather than less of it. You want to play against somebody else. I don’t know why you wouldn’t schedule a few extra scrimmage days. But, you should talk to the experts about that. That’s not really my . . . we just play by the rules."
Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison apologized on Twitter for saying Colin Kaepernick wasn’t black after saying in an earlier radio interview that the 49ers quarterback wouldn’t understand the discrimination people of color face every day.
“I’m a black man, and Colin Kaepernick, he’s not black,” Harrison told a Houston radio station. “He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people or people of color face on a every single [day] basis when you walk in the grocery store, and you might have two or three thousand dollars in your pocket and you go up into a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you’re about to steal something. I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.”
Kapernick, who ignited a controversy when he refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game to protest racial injustice, is biracial. His birth mother is white and he was adopted by white parents.
Harrison, now an NFL analyst for NBC Sports, later tweeted the following:
I never intended to offend anyone , I was trying to speak about my experiences as a African American.— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016
I apologize to anyone that I offended , wasn't meant to be hurtful to anyone. God bless— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016
Last point I want people to know. I never even knew he was mixed.— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016