Haggerty: New teammates get a chance to bond

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Haggerty: New teammates get a chance to bond

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. The old saw of hockey wisdom goes a little something like this: The best time for players with disparate backgrounds to bond and gel as a unit is on the handful of long, extended road trips rife through the regular season.

The Bruins had one such monstrous trip when they ventured to Belfast and Prague over the first few weeks of the NHL season for the Premiere games. Theres another one set up this week as the Bs leave for a nine-day sojourn through the Canadian outposts of Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa.

It cant be drawn up much better than that.

It actually is a pretty ideal situation, said coach Claude Julien. I think the fact theyll be spending a lot of time together is great. Bonding with your teammates is always important, and the new guys are going to get that chance on the upcoming road trip.

Its the Black and Golds last major road trip of the regular season, and its not a coincidence the Bs hurried to make all of their trade acquisitions prior to this final chance at a team bonding experience.

Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley will all be indoctrinated to the Bs way of doing things by the time the trip is over, and its the best possible way for the newly configured hockey club to be forged together as a single-minded unit prior to the playoffs.

I think its a great chance for us to get away, get that team bonding going again and find a way to get the new guys involved and fitting in with the team, said Milan Lucic. It always helps being on the road. You lose great people like Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler, who were great friends of mine. But its part of the job and weve got to move forward with what weve got on this team.

Lucic remembers just a few short months ago when Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton were both little more than strangers to everybody on the Boston roster, but that was no longer the case after the new guys traveled to Europe with the rest of the Bruins.

Thats the same kind of rapid initiation that awaits Kaberle, Kelly and Peverley over the next week.

Its funny, said Lucic. If you looked at the start of the year when we began the season in Europe, the new guys coming in like Horton and Campbell you didnt know very well at all. But you're on a trip with them and you seem like youve known them forever after a trip like that.

Theres more time to spend with each other because there are less distractions off the ice. I think its going to be great for this group, and we get a chance to see right away where were at with all of these new players. The big thing for us is that chemistry, and we want to build that up as soon as possible.

While the established Bruins and longtime players were looking forward to really breaking things down with their teammates, the new guys were just as anxious to have a few team dinners, shake a few hands and start working their way into the fabric of the team.

Both Kelly and Peverley have been placed on a line with Michael Ryder, and the team will be joined in Calgary by Kaberle after he takes care of the ubiquitous visa paperwork in Canada. That forward trio will be all about speed, grit and plenty of offensive upside on a team that desperately needed to quicken the tempo more than a little bit.

I think its perfect right now for three new guys coming into a new team, said Kelly. To get on the road and get away from the obvious commitments that guys have to family and friends or whatever they have to do when theyre at home, to get away and be together as a group is going to make things a lot easier on us.

If all goes well for the Bruins on a road trip featuring some tough games against the hot Flames and elite Canucks, then the three newest members of the Bruins wont be known as anything close to the three new guys when the Bs return to Boston in March.

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.