Boston Bruins

Bruins continue to mull over 'A' choices

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Bruins continue to mull over 'A' choices

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

The Bruins sit on the eve of opening night against the Philadelphia Flyers, and no decision has yet been made on an alternate captain replacement for Mark Recchi on a Bs team laden with veteran leadership.

Watching Recchi collect his championship ring with the rest of the team on Tuesday night was a stark reminder the Bs are still one A jersey short of a full set with Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron serving respectively as the captain and permanent alternate captain.

There have been plenty of names bandied about for the A, and theyre all extremely good options.

Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton are both veteran leaders and influential voices within the dressing room, and compelling arguments can be made for their letter worthiness. They would and should be the leaders in the clubhouse.

Adam McQuaid, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly and the departed veteran Chris Clark all wore the A during the training camp season, and are among younger players like Milan Lucic, Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell that all exhibited excellent leadership qualities over the last couple of years.

So the choice isnt easy for Claude Julien and the rest of the Bs coaching staff when it comes to a new alternate captain. There are also some different options the team could opt for as well. In fact its never a bad idea to emulate the Detroit Red Wings on any organizational level including picking captains and holding an expectation of excellence among those without letters.

With the experience that we went through last year that made those guys more confident, there is a feeling like they can lead a little bit more," Julien said. "There's that comfort in that dressing room right now with guys that have been together for a long time. So there are a lot of things that come into play, and you don't need a letter. You often use the example of Detroit because they seem to be a nice model for a lot of those things.

There are a lot of guys on that team that could also wear a letter and they don't. That doesn't stop them from being a great team, and doesn't stop those guys from leading by example whether it's on or off the ice.

The Bruins may go back to the Julien system of letter-carrying prior to Mark Recchi, and disperse the second A on a rotational schedule to multiple players over the course of the season based on numerous factors. Or there may be one clear choice for alternate captain among the list of battle-hardened players in Black and Gold.

Whichever way Julien and Co. were leaning, he wasnt tipping his hand 24 hours prior to puck drop.

It's not going to be an easy decision," Julien said. "That process is made between coaches, and obviously you always get a little input from players. But there's a lot of guys that could wear it. I know that it could be shared, it could be a monthly thing or it could be just a few guys. There are also guys that don't really need a letter to be leaders. As much importance as you guys put into it, we put as much too. But the meaning of it or what it's going to do to whoever has it or whoever doesn't have it -- is not as big of an issue as most people think.

While it may not be a huge deal, its clear by Juliens deliberation that hes not taking his letter choice lightly.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Bjork faces 'good test' in first real audition with Bergeron and Marchand

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Bjork faces 'good test' in first real audition with Bergeron and Marchand

BRIGHTON, Mass – After a week of wondering what exactly 21-year-old Anders Bjork would look like skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the former Notre Dame standout will get his chance in a prime forward spot tonight against a stacked Flyers lineup.

With Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Ivan Provorov, Radko Gudas and Jakub Voracek among others expected to play for the Flyers, it will be a good NHL-style test for Bjork when the Bruins and Flyers suit up for the exhibition game at TD Garden. 

The first-year pro already has a goal while playing in more of a third-line spot with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey on Monday night, but tonight’s audition with two of the world’s best players is exactly the kind of thing any young hockey player dreams about.

“I’ve been learning a lot from their example, and a lot from them just talking to us young guys,” said Bjork, who had 21 goals and 52 points in 39 dominant games for the Fighting Irish last season. 

“One of the biggest things is just consistency, and bringing your best in every drill and every shift in a game. You see how intense they are and how much they want to win every puck battle.

“It was definitely helpful to play in a preseason game [already], and get that confidence going. I hope to build on that. It’s crazy being able to play with players of that caliber [of Bergeron and Marchand]. Obviously, they’re some of the best players in the world. I’m just trying to do my best and keep up with them. I try to help them in practice any way I can.”

On Thursday night, Bjork will officially go from the title of practice helper to showing how his skating speed, high-level offensive instincts and hockey smarts can assist Bergeron and Marchand in a game.

“You can see that he’s a dynamic player who is willing to attack,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, in an apt description of exactly what he’s looking for in his system on the ice.

On paper and in camp practices, it has looked like a comfortable fit between with one of the NHL’s best tandems and much more of a Tyler Seguin/Reilly Smith-type fit than a Brett Connolly third-wheel kind of winger.

It got to a point with Connolly on their wing that Bergeron and Marchand were basically playing two-man hockey. That’s perfectly understandable when you’ve got the kind of chemistry that those two have built while scoring hundreds of goals in six years together, but it’s undoubtedly preferable to get a right wing who can bury some of the prime scoring chances he’s sure to enjoy playing with two All-World forwards.

Bergeron doesn’t anticipate the need for much hand-holding with Bjork and that should absolutely be the case if he wants to be one of those B’s prospects who makes an immediate impact.

“It’s been going well in practices, but obviously you want to translate that over to games on the ice against real opponents,” said Bergeron. “It’s going to be a good test for us. Hopefully, we’re out there talking a lot and we see some things that we can build off of.

“I like it. It’s nice to be able to help as much as possible. Most of the time the guys that are on our wing don’t need that much help. But you’re always there if need be, and it’s always nice to share your experiences and what you see on the ice.”

Thus far in camp, the young forward prospects have been a dominant factor while scoring and looking like they belong. The degree of difficulty rises with each passing preseason game and it will be a great gauge for Bjork’s readiness in a premium spot when he takes the ice with Boston’s dynamic duo. 


 

Morning Skate: Kurz takes Sharks' coverage to The Athletic

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Morning Skate: Kurz takes Sharks' coverage to The Athletic

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating Jimmy Kimmel more with each passing day.

*Congrats to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on his move to The Athletic. Here he details why he’ll now be covering the Sharks for them.

*Joffrey Lupul has apologized for intimating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are “cheating” when it comes to player injuries.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Loui Eriksson looking to bounce back with the Vancouver Canucks after a tough first year there. He’ll probably be better than he was last season, but one thing I learned about Eriksson during his time in Boston is that you’re not going to see his best unless there’s a reason for him to be at his best. Sitting in Vancouver in the middle of a comfortable, big money contract on a mediocre-to-bad hockey team isn’t exactly going to ratchet up the urgency.

*Tampa Bay defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev has “NHL written all over him” after a strong start to training camp with the Lightning. That’s music to management’s ears down there after they gave up Jonathan Drouin for him in the offseason.

*Nick Cotsonika chronicles the “big first step” that the NHL has made into China with an exhibition game there between the Kings and Canucks.

*This blog post pokes fun at Don LaGreca for a rant about geometry, but I agree with his overall point that the vast majority of people choose to like sports exactly because it doesn’t include these complex mathematical formulas that the fancy stats brigade is trying to introduce into the sports world with more and more force.