Boston Bruins

A Classic matchup at Gillette between Bruins, Canadiens

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A Classic matchup at Gillette between Bruins, Canadiens

FOXBORO --The Boston Bruins didn’t grab all the sports headlines of the day hearabouts, thanks to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

But the B’s did produce the most positive sports story of the day . . . thanks also, in large part, to the Patriots.

Robert Kraft made it two press conferences in the same day, representing the Pats organization Wednesday afternoon when the NHL formally announced the Jan. 1 Winter Classic match between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at the Pats' Gillette Stadium home.

The Bruins will be the first team in NHL history to host the Winter Classic twice. They played the Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010.

All the excited chatter Wednesday was about the historic rivalry between Boston and Montreal, two franchises that have played each other in more Game 7’s in the playoffs than any other two organizations in any of the four major professional sports leagues.

The Bruins and Canadiens have faced off 729 times during the regular season, tied for the most head-to-head meetings in NHL history with Chicago vs. Detroit. The B's-Habs 177 head-to-head playoff games and 34 postseason series are the most in league history, while their nine head-to-head Game 7s lead all teams in North American major professional sports (includes MLB, NBA and NHL).

Sounds like a compelling match for folks planning to tune into the NBC Network on New Year’s Day for a hockey game.

“I want to thank the Bruins fans for their enthusiasm and support because that’s truly what brought this wonderful event back to New England,” said Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs. “I’m fully confident that our team will repay that loyalty with a big win over our friends from Montreal. I look forward to Gillette Stadium being a sea of Black and Gold on Jan. 1.”

Above and beyond the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also announced that a Bruins/Canadiens Legends game will be played on Dec. 31 between many of the B’s and Habs alumni that have made the rivalry what it is. There will also be plenty of events surrounding the Winter Classic in Foxboro, just as there were nearly six years ago at Fenway, and all those announcements will be made in the days and weeks ahead.

“When you think about sports franchises with traditions of excellence and success, the Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens and the New England Patriots would have to rank at the top of any list,” said Bettman. “When you think about rivalries that perfectly summarize the excitement and passion of NHL hockey, the enduring legacy of the Bruins and Canadiens would merit lofty status as well. The 2016 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic will be the 910th regular-season or playoff meeting between these two clubs, but it will be the first one, however, played outdoors.”

Information on a pre-sale for Bruins season-ticket holders, Canadiens season-ticket holders and Patriots season-ticket holders will be sent to those groups by each club in the coming days. Information regarding ticket availability for the general public will be released at a later date.

Morning Skate: Jagr looking for love on Tinder...from NHL teams

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Morning Skate: Jagr looking for love on Tinder...from NHL teams

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while really interested to see what Don Sweeney is going to do now.

*Here’s a pretty funny Tinder profile created for Jaromir Jagr as he’s looking for love in the form of NHL employment at this date late in the summer.

*John Tavares is in no rush whatsoever to re-sign with the New York Islanders and that may not be a great sign for them if they don’t really clean up a few things including their rink situation.

*The NHL doesn’t have an NCAA loophole problem, according to the Hockey News. I don’t have a big issue with it right now either, but it could really become a problem if every single drafted college player begins following this path to free agency.

*Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland is acting as the Golden Knights welcome wagon for all the new players coming into Sin City for the expansion franchise.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Winnipeg yesterday talking about the very comparable situations between Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak. This conversation took place hours before Draisaitl was signed by the Oilers, but I maintain what I said all along about Pastrnak getting paid as a result of this.

*Logan Couture and his jaw are fully healed and ready to go even his teeth are still pretty sore after last spring’s massive collision in the playoffs.

*If you’re interested in a wide-ranging conversation about the Vancouver Canucks, here is your story on the Interwebs today.

*For something completely different: The Defenders are coming in the next few days to Netflix and I’m pretty damn excited about it.

Haggerty: Draisaitl deal means Pastrnak is about to get paid in big way

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Haggerty: Draisaitl deal means Pastrnak is about to get paid in big way

The final price tag on David Pastrnak’s contract just went up.

With the news on Wednesday that 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl had signed an eight-year, $68 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers that pays him an average of $8.5 million per season, the high bar has been set for the 21-year-old Pastrnak. It will be difficult to find a better comparable for the dynamic Bruins right winger than the center/winger Draisaitl as they sit at the exact same points in their respective NHL careers.

As Jeff Copetas laid out on twitter, the numbers between the fellow first round picks make a convincing, almost airtight case that they would be comparable players in negotiations:

So what does this mean for Pastrnak and the Bruins now that the ink is dried on Draisaitl’s deal, and Peter Chiarelli is once again holding an impact over Boston’s salary cap situation?

Well, they’re going to have to pay more than the $6 million per season they were hoping to get Pastrnak for on a long-term contract. While Pastrnak may not get exactly the same deal from the Bruins that Draisaitl earned from the Oilers, there is every possibility the 21-year-old is poised to become the highest paid player on the entire team coming off a breakout season where he posted 34 goals and 70 points.  

A fair market value contract for Pastrnak could be the exact same eight-year, $60 million contract that Vladimir Tarasenko signed with the St. Louis Blues a couple of years ago. If he really wants to maximize his situation, the Czech right winger would be well within his rights to hold out for $8 million per season for as long as it takes the Bruins to decide they can go there.

It’s a massive deal for a player coming off their entry-level contract with one truly excellent season under their belt, and a big bet that Pastrnak will continue to improve his puck management, his two-way game and his consistency to go along with the electric offensive skills.

But let’s be honest about Pastrnak here. He’s not Phil Kessel, Dougie Hamilton or Tyler Seguin in the best way possible. All of those young, elite Bruins players had issues that ultimately doomed their careers in Boston whether it was Kessel and Hamilton both wanting to play elsewhere, or Seguin treating his career with the Bruins like it was a never-ending episode of The Bachelor.

Pastrnak is committed to reaching his potential as he showed a summer ago by getting bigger and stronger in an effort that paid dividends on the ice, and his carefree, exuberant personality makes him very well-liked in his own dressing room. He wants to play for the Bruins for the long term, and he again showed that by traveling with the Bruins organization to China this summer to promote the Original Six hockey club.

There’s also the simple fact that the Bruins don’t have anybody in their organization that can replace his speed, offensive skills and ability to break open games with his scoring. Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy are the future building blocks for this Bruins franchise for the next 10 years, and the Bruins need to view it that way when they’re investing in them as players.

So the 21-year-old checks off all the boxes in terms of the Bruins feeling good about making a sizeable long term investment, and Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs confirmed on WEEI Wednesday afternoon that the B’s want a six plus year deal with the right wing wunderkind. He’s also exactly the perfect speed, skill and game-breaking fit for a Bruins organization that’s changing their philosophy to a hockey club comprised of more skill/speed over size/physicality.

In a perfect world the Bruins could have signed Pastrnak to a contract that would have fit in with their internal salary structure, and slotted him in behind Brad Marchand ($6.125M), Patrice Bergeron ($6.875M) and David Krejci ($7.25M) among the forwards. But that kind of contract was dead in the water once elite young players like Connor McDavid, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ryan Johansen signed massive contract extensions earlier this summer, and it’s become totally unrealistic with the Draisaitl deal coming down in Edmonton.

The good news is that the Bruins have a month before the start of NHL training camp and they have $10 million in salary cap space. They are firmly in a position to get something done with Pastrnak in a way that’s not going to negatively impact him or the franchise, and Don Sweeney now knows the parameters they’re working within. Now it’s just going to cost the Bruins a little bit more than they originally intended, but it’s no secret that 21-year-old goal-scorers with elite offensive skills get paid sooner rather than later in the NHL these days. 

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