B's reflect on time with Cup, ready for new season

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B's reflect on time with Cup, ready for new season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

The Bruins are under no illusions about the difficulty of repeating as Stanley Cup champions once the 2011-12 NHL season gets underway.

They know just how much of a struggle it was to get to the NHL mountaintop last year, and its going to be even more challenging the second time around. They are the team with the targets on their back that other NHL squads will measure themselves against.

There hasnt been a back-to-back champion in 14 years since the Detroit Red Wings captured the Cup in 1997 and 1998, and that means no real dynasties since the current salary cap era was put in place.

The Bruins are a little bit of an exception to a lot of those teams because they have much of their squad intact, and lost only a handful of contributors from last years Cup-worthy team. That means pretty much everyone in the Boston dressing room knows whats coming this season.

Teams always play their best against the champions," Dennis Seidenberg said. "Everybody knows that in the locker room and is ready for the challenge. I really think that can only help us and make us better.

The Red Wings and Penguins both made it to the Finals in 2008 and 2009 with each time taking home one series win, and thats no small feat. But the Bs know that the long playoff run, short summer, and grueling upcoming season are all working against them as they start to crank things up for the first official day of training camp on September 16.

Nathan Horton didnt get to play in those final few games of the Stanley Cup Finals due to the concussion suffered at the hands of Aaron Rome in Game 3, and he definitely wants to get the full experience this time around.

Its such a great feeling," Horton said. "Im still on a high and I know a lot of the other guys are still as well. We know once it starts over were all even again, and its our time to win it again.

Thats what we wanted and its why were here. Its definitely going to be tough that were on top now and its tough to stay there. Everyone knows that and is prepared to play like we did last time. But thats the challenge.

Bruins management wants the players to get their rest and spend as much time away from the ice as possible before jumping into training camp in September a necessary step when so many are expecting a Stanley Cup hangover to hit them hard after playing an additional two months and 25 games of playoff hockey.

So the Bs will get as much rest as possible while getting themselves ready for next season, and be prepared for the mental and physical grind that awaits them as reigning Stanley Cup champs starting this fall.

Nathan Horton said that hes heard through the grapevine about some of the rumored post-concussion syndrome problems that Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has still been dealing with this summer. The Bs winger also said hes thanking his lucky stars that hes been symptom-free since a week or two after the Finals were over, and has been able to resume his normal workouts with any setbacks or issues.

Im not sure exactly, but Ive heard that hes still having troubles. I feel really lucky, said Horton. Concussions arent fun, obviously, and to have a bad one is tough. Im fortunate to feel good and not have any setbacks.

Tuukka Rask has recovered nicely from knee surgery and is 100 percent healthy and motivated heading into Bruins training camp next month. He also made some nifty plays at shortstop in his first game ever playing softball for Milan Lucics Rock and Jock Softball Charity Game, and the Finland native managed to make himself a human highlight reel in the process.

Daniel Paille spent most of his summer in Boston, and said that he's enjoyed getting to know his neighbors in the North End while exploring his NHL home base. The versatile Bruins winger said the pasta dinners and walks on Hanover Street were altogether enjoyable, but it did go by a little too quickly.

It went by quick, but I relaxed and really enjoyed it, said Paille. In certain parts of the city you get noticed, but in the downtown area I could really walk around without getting noticed. I made some really close friends in the North End. I definitely enjoyed the summer.

Paille also was the first NHL player to ever take the Cup on the Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist boat that travels around the Falls, and said that his outside-the-box day with the Cup was thoroughly enjoyable.

It was something Id thought about after we won. Doing that was one of the best things I could think of. It was a special moment and I was glad that I brought it on there. I asked the Cup custodian every time I wanted to move around with it, and he said okay as long as I didnt let go of it near the water. Obviously I had a tighter grip than normal on the Cup when it was near the water.

Dennis Seidenberg brought the Stanley Cup to Atlantic City in New Jersey with his family this summer instead of his native Germany, and laid out the reasons when he spoke to the media at Milan Lucics Rock and Jock Charity Softball Game on Wednesday night.

"My wife was pregnant with our third kid, so it would have been tough," he said. "I havent been back to Germany in five years, so it would have been a lot of travel and visiting different people. It would have been too much, so we decided to just stay back in the United States and take the time to relax a little bit.

The German defenseman is hoping for a repeat this season, so he can finally bring the Cup to his home country for the first time.

I should have taken it because its never been there before, said Seidenberg. But theres always a chance to do it a second time and get it back there next year.

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

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.