Knight, Spooner continue to bond in Providence

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Knight, Spooner continue to bond in Providence

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. The word bromance has been tossed around quite a bit with Bs forward prospects Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner. They were both drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft that also produced Tyler Seguin, theyve played against each other for the last three years in the OHL and now theyre both joining the pro hockey ranks with the Providence Bruins this season.

They bonded closely at Bruins Development camps over the last few years, and were by each others side at the NHLPA-hosted Prospect Showcase last month in Toronto.

So theres plenty of common ground for a close friendship thats seen Knight, Spooner and defenseman Torey Krug all move in together in a Providence apartment for the season. All three skaters were expected to compete for a couple of spots up for grabs in Boston in NHL training camp, but will instead open as three of the more familiar faces in P-Bruins camp while the lockout rages on.

Theyre among a talented crop of players that Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli hopes infuse youth, talent and excitement into a Providence farm club that was missing all three of those things last season.

The silver lining is that there will be a lot more development time for the young players, said Chiarelli. Weve got more skill and I think were going to have some good goaltending as well. We want those guys to focus on the task at hand.

You want the skill to come out in a good and proper work environment. Its hard to put a stick in it as to where they should be playing, but Im just happy weve got somebody we can watch play.

Its not quite what Knight or Spooner hoped for while preparing over the summer, but they realize its about work rather than play in the world of pro hockey. Thats a far cry from the London Knights and the Kingston Frontenacs.

Its almost October and we havent played in any games yet, so its a little weird, said Knight. You go to an OHL camp and guys are maybe having McDonalds after practice. Now guys are having protein shakes and people are definitely taking things more seriously. Its great to watch the older guys like Trent Whitfield to see how they treat their bodies and prepare for each workout.

One thing that the stint in Providence will do for Knight and Spooner specifically: get them into midseason form in time for a potential invite to impromptu Bruins training camp in Boston once the NHL regular season begins. Spooner and Knight were expected to compete with Chris Bourque and Jordan Caron for a winger role on the third line, and all four of those players will be skating together in Providence.

The KnightSpooner bromance might have to take a time out if one or the other ends up making the NHL roster once the Bruins season does begin, but given the talent involved -- the other probably wont be too far behind.

Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

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Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

It’s only a coincidence that it will air the same week that the Boston Bruins went Hollywood with their annual three-game road trip through California, but David Backes and his wife Kelly are going to get some solid TV time this weekend. The animal-loving couple are going to be featured Saturday night in the all-new Animal Planet special "Stars to the Rescue," which highlights the Backes family’s excellent work to ensure every animal has a ‘furever’ home.

The lifelong animal lovers have adopted five rescue pets that all made the move from St. Louis to Boston this summer, and launched Athletes for Animals in 2013, a non-profit organization supporting professional athletes and animal advocacy efforts. The 32-year-old Backes chose a Boston animal shelter as his first setting to meet with the Boston media this summer after signing with the Bruins in free agency, and spoke glowingly about his inspiration for marrying two of his passions: helping animals and sports.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," said Backes, the proud owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty and Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly). "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said, ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

The “Stars to the Rescue” special premieres on Saturday night at 8 pm on Animal Planet where there will be a full segment on the Backes family, but here’s a clip where Backes talks about his well-publicized involvement with a number of stray dog rescues during his 2014 Olympic Hockey stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia.

Backes isn’t the only Boston athlete featured during the Animal Planet special as it also chronicles the stories of other well-known athletes and celebrities and the dogs they can't live without: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley, Selma Blair, ESPN Correspondent Michelle Beadle, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and more. From training buddies to comforting companions, “Stars to the Rescue” shows first-hand how these celebrities first met their cute rescued canines and how their dogs have impacted and transformed their lives for the better.

What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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