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.