Chris Bourque willing to take on any role with B's

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Chris Bourque willing to take on any role with B's

It was clearly a dream come true for Chris Bourque when he got the phone call from Peter Chiarelli that he was joining the Bruins organization.
He grew up north of Boston and his dad, Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, was one of the best to ever pull on the black and gold sweater, and those are just two of the zillion or so reasons why the Bruins were the perfect fit.
So while it was flattering to have the Bruins exchange first-round disappointment Zach Hamill to Washington for his rights prior to him becoming an unrestricted free agent, Bourque said the Bruins were going to be his top attraction if he made it into free agency after July 1.
They could have had me for free. I was going to be unrestricted and if they put up any kind of offer they were going to have the big edge with me being able to play in front of all my friends and family. It would have been intriguing to me no matter what, said Bourque, who scored the OT game-winner in the Beanpot in his one and only year at Boston University. I was looking forward to seeing who might be interested and Boston was always at the top of that list.
When they traded for me, I was just thrilled. I had a good talk with Mr. Chiarelli when I signed. He told me that I was going to have a good shot to make the NHL team. Theres a lot of history here between my family and the Bruins, obviously. I grew up idolizing Cam Neely, Adam Oates and my dadto get to see them up close at the rink every day as a kid was special. Now with what the Bruins have meant to the city over the last few years; it seems like it would be so much fun to be a part of.
Bourques willingness to do whatever it takes speaks to how badly he wants to carry on the family tradition on Causeway Street, and he may have to do just that while breaking through that NHL ceiling. The youngster watched as guys like Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle got their NHL chances in the Capitals organization, and Bourque is looking for that same thing in Boston.
Thats all Ive ever asked for. Its up to me to do the rest and bring some energy to the team. Im known as more of a playmaker, but Ill play any kind of role that they need me to, said Bourque. Whether its on the power play or the penalty kill Im just hoping they give me the chance to show I can do.
The 26-year-old Bourque might also be walking into a perfect fit with the Bruins at the NHL level: theres a third-line winger role up for grabs among 21-year-old Jordan Caron, fresh-faced rookies like Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight, and the eldest son in the Boston Bourque clan. The bottom-six forward role might not be the natural long-term spot for a 5-foot-8 skill player thats coming off a 27-goal, 93-point performance in the AHL for the Hershey Bears, but Bourque thinks that may be the best passageway into a permanent NHL spot.
Its reasonable to think given the proper chance he could match or surpass the 16 goals and 32 points produced by a hit-or-miss Benoit Pouliot in that role last season. Thats what it sounds as if Bourque has his sights set on.
Maybe starting off in the bottom-six would be the perfect way to ease into things. I like to bring a lot of energy to the game. Ill get in on the forecheck and Ill pitch in offensively when I can, said Bourque. Any role is fine, though. Id play defense or goalie if it gets me into the NHL with a full-time job. Thats the main goal.
It can be tough to tell because things havent translated for me from the AHL to the NHL. But hopefully the change of scenery helps me turn into the NHL player that I think I am know that Im going to be.
On the Bruins end of things, Chiarelli sees the offensive promise Bourque has shown at the AHL level and envisions him making the adjustment despite four points and a minus-6 in 33 games of sporadic actions for the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. He also sees the third line possibilities that could make him a legit candidate for a checkingenergy role with some offensive upside skating alongside guys such as Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
He does have the ability to shoot to find seams, but he also has a great element to his game where that if he has to play lower down the line he can do that. I told him, among other things, that hell need like another quarter step to maintain it at this level, said Chiarelli. If he gets that and I think he will -- hes another guy whos relatively young, and that hell be able to play at this level on a regular basis.
I think hes got a good chance of making our team. I told him basically that hes just not here to go to Providence. Hes very keen about being a Bruin and Im happy to have him in the organization.
Now its little more than two months away from Bourque getting his big chance to play for the hockey club hes always dreamed about from the time he learned how to skate. Hes as ready as hes ever going to be to make the leap, and the Bruins are just as willing and ready to catch him.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

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.