Neely wants the Bruins to play outside more often

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Neely wants the Bruins to play outside more often

WILMINGTON, Mass. It seems like only yesterday the Bruins were gearing up in special Winter Classic Bs sweaters and skating on a temporary NHL rink inside Fenway Park.

But its now the third season since that game, and things have developed quickly with the gem of an event in the middle of the NHL schedule. The HBO cameras trailing around the teams and creating the 247: Road to the Winter Classic TV series along with the potential for the game to be on prime time depending on the weather has put a whole different spin on the teams involved in the series. Thats something that began the year AFTER the Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime at Fenway with a famous Marco Sturm goal face celebration.

So the Bs missed the boat a little bit on marketing their unique blend of players in the 247 series, and Bs fans were teased a little while watching the Black and Gold essentially cast as hatchet-wielding villains in the second episode of the show when they trounced the Flyers.

Clearly the Winter Classic wont be held in Boston again anytime soon, but Bruins' President Cam Neely admitted in a radio interview last week with Felger and Mazz on 98.5 the Sports Hub that hed love for his team to be involved again in the early January game. Given the kind of TV ratings the Bruins can command and the natural interest inherent in a Cup-winning level hockey club, it would seem to make a lot of sense to once again bring Boston into the proceedings.

Whispers around the league have either Detroit or Washington hosting the next Winter Classic given the settings already visited by the NHL, and the Bruins could be a natural opponent for either one of those teams. After all, the Winter Classic two years ago at Fenway was originally supposed to be the Bs hosting the Caps, and perhaps they could reverse the home and road teams for the next NHL centerpiece. Thats the kind of game people would watch, and Neely said his team is highly interested in getting involved with the Classic and the 247 TV series if the opportunity presents itself.

The league holds it pretty close to the vest on who theyd like to have each year. I think theyre doing a better job of getting teams a little bit more notice. We pushed for that certainly because its a big undertaking and the more time you have, the better its going to turn out, said Neely. I would certainly welcome it as an organization. I think it would be fantastic for the Bruins.

Its great what the league does and its great what HBO does. Im all for it. I know its a little intrusive and the coaches have a hard time with it at times because the cameras are all around much more than theyd probably like. Everybody is buying into it, and I would love for our organization to be a part of the Winter Classic again. Its a fantastic event; wed love to be a part of it whether its hosting it or going on the road.

So when the Rangers and Flyers suit up for the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon, just imagine that the Bruins could be dusting off their special WC edition jerseys for another game in the near future if everything goes according to plan.

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.