Hamilton, Knight, Spooner get ready at NHLPA Showcase

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Hamilton, Knight, Spooner get ready at NHLPA Showcase

The Boston Bruins were well represented in the fourth annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase, and Bostons young prospects had the gifts in hand to prove it.

Dougie Hamilton, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner are all concerned about a potential NHL lockout, but that was a worry for another day with so much going on around them in Toronto.

All you can do is hope that things start on time. Its easy to sit there and just worry about the negatives around it, but its not the best thing to do, said Spooner. Im saying to myself that the season is going to start on time, and that gives me the best chance to prepare. It would be easy to cut corners and say eh, the season isnt going to start on time and slack a bit. But Im not doing that.

All three Bs prospects had their likeness scanned for the latest edition of the EA Sports NHL Hockey 2013 video game, and also posed for plenty of photos snapped for what will eventually become their first hockey trading cards with Upper Deck and Panini America (the official trading card licensees of the NHLPA & NHL). The cards will be made once each member of the trio plays a game in the NHL.

Hamilton, Spooner and Knight were among 29 NHL hopefuls the most ever for the NHLPA event -- that the players association summoned to Toronto as players expected to make their NHL debuts this season.

Or at the very least players that are within striking distance of making it to the big leagues soon. Hamilton and Spooner had worked up a friendly rivalry as hockey video game adversaries over the last couple of days, and enjoyed getting back together so quickly after Bruins Development Camp in early July.

It was pretty fun. Very cool, said Hamilton, who has the best chance of the three players to crack the Bs roster out of training camp. There were a lot of pictures and autographs, but the best part was probably the full head scan by EA sports for the video game. They had 18 cameras for our head and profile and stuff.

They actually have the OHL in the game, so I made my video game debut two years ago. But the real debut as a member of the Bruins will be pretty cool.

The players went from station-to-station at the two-day event taking pictures, recording videos, playing video games against each other, and signing plenty of autographs for fans before taking in a dinner at the Hockey Hall of Fame. There were also plenty of free goodies for the players from Upper Deck and Panini.

Obviously Im here with Dougie and Jared, so thats awesome. Ive been able to sign some autographs and enjoy myself, said Spooner. Opening up hockey cards and playing NHL 2013 have both been pretty cool. I think Dougie and I opened up six or seven containers of hockey cards, so maybe like 2,000 each. Its been pretty cool for somebody that loves hockey.

NHLPA representatives Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner also spoke to the 29 NHL prospects prior to the dinner, and wrapped up a nice little way for each of the youngster to cap off whats been an important summer.

Its been pretty busy. Were going from station-to-station, but its been really fun, said Knight. We just yesterday played in the EA video game tournament and each got a copy of the game. So I think Im going to go home and play it.

We did a bunch of head shots for the game as well. That was pretty cool. A lot of the guys here Ive played against and Id never really met before -- and a lot of guys from the Dub WHL and the Q QMJHL that Id never played against or met. So it was cool to get to know them and go out to dinner with them.

Hamilton, Spooner, Knight and the other 26 prospects spent much of Tuesday at the MasterCard Centre practice home of the Toronto Maple Leafs where they interacted with the media before finishing the day with a scrimmage on the ice. It was a brief whirlwind trip for young prospects getting ready for the biggest moments of their hockey careers to date, but its also another step prepared by the NHLPA to get those youngsters ready for their NHL close-up when it does arrive.

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.

 

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

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But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.