Pandolfo: Dream come true to sign with Bruins

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Pandolfo: Dream come true to sign with Bruins

BOSTON -- Jay Pandolfo is now officially a Boston Bruin.

During intermission of Tuesday night's game against the New York Rangers, the veteran Massachusetts native spoke about finally signing with the team, calling it a dream come true.

"Yeah, I'm really excited," said Pandolfo. "I've been here for a month now practicing with the team. I was hoping this day was going to come, and now it's here. So, I'm really excited about being part of this organization."

Pandolfo has been practicing with the team, but his signing hadn't been made official until Tuesday.

"They were really up front and honest with what was going on the whole time," said Pandolfo. "When you have that type of communication, it's pretty easy. I'm living in the area, so I come to practice, and just to be a part of this organization, that was good enough to keep me around for sure. This team has a great chance of winning a Stanley Cup. I'm really glad to be a part of it.

"The communication was great with Claude and Peter," he added. "They were kind of talking to me every week or so, and trying to keep my up to date on what's going on. I wasn't getting frustrated at all. I was actually having fun coming to the rink every day. It was good. I got to know these guys pretty good."

Pandolfo admits that he needs a few games to get back into "game shape." He just doesn't know if that will require a trip to AHL-Providence, before he acquires his new role with the B's.

"I think I'm going to be a depth guy," said Pandolfo. "In a shortened season like this, I don't think anyone can predict what's going to happen with injuries or different things. So I think the more depth you have, it's only going to help. So I think I see myself as a depth guy and fill in wherever needed."

Bruins coach Claude Julien will be re-united with Pandolfo, who spent his first 13 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils.

"It was only one year in New Jersey, but I had a great working relationship with him there, and I'm happy to be back with him," said Pandolfo. "I know what type of coach he is and what he expects. I've talked to him quite a bit, and I know what he wants."

Pandolfo wanted to play for the Bruins. He'll now get that opportunity.

"My main goal, obviously, was to sign here, and that's what happened," said Pandolfo. "I really didn't want to go anywhere else. My family's here. I'm from here. This couldn't be a better situation for me."

Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

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Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while putting the pieces together now that the hockey season is O-V-A-H here in Boston. 
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur takes a look at the end of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who put on a good show with their young, talented crew. 
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here is this morning’s interview with Toucher and Rich where I talked about the Bruins taking a step forward despite their season being over. 
 
-- He might look and sound like a Bond Villain, but Guy Boucher was far from it in stopping to shake hands with Senators fans at the airport after their playoff win over the B’s. 
 
-- Interesting that John Stevens is named head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, since the change isn’t expected to be a big departure from what was already going on there. 
 
-- The San Jose Sharks are all done for this season, and one wonders if GM Doug Wilson is going to have to choose between Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau moving forward. 

 -- Speaking of the Senators, PHT writer James O’Brien has Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson making Ottawa’s playoff victory all the more emotional

 -- For something completely different: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is coming to a theatre near you soon, and here’s a review. I’m looking forward to this one.

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

BOSTON -- After the Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, nearly every player was in agreement in identifying the turning point of the season:

The coaching change.

The B's went 18-8-1 in the regular season after Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien and rallied to make the playoffs after a late-season, four-game tailspin had them in danger of missing out for the third straight year. And despite being ravaged by injuries, they showed fight and spirit in pushing Ottawa to six games, including a road victory in a double-overtime, Game 5 thriller, before eventually succumbing in overtime, 3-2, on Sunday.

Certainly there were moments of sloppiness -- ill-timed penalties, moments when the Bruins simply couldn't bust through Ottawa's 1-3-1 trap -- but Boston's gutty playoff showing, coupled with the regular-season surge, makes it seem clear Cassidy deserves to be awarded the full-time head coaching gig. 

Several Bruins players voiced their endorsement of Cassidy on Sunday, lauding him for bringing energy, offensive thrust, and open-mindedness to using younger players. 

"The results speak for themselves," said David Backes, who played some of his best hockey in Games 5 and 6 once he was paired with center Sean Kuraly. "We were climbing uphill when [Cassidy] took over and we made our way [to the playoffs] . . . [He] certainly did a heck of a job."

And how does Cassidy -- who had gone more than 13 years since his last NHL head coaching job before replacing Julien on an interim basis, and spending the previous eight seasons at the AHL level in Providence -- feel? 

"Absolutely. 100 percent," said Cassidy, when asked if he wanted the Boston job on a permanent basis.

And if he got it, perhaps those improvements would continue.

"Maybe a full year with him, he changes a few things," said Backes.

"That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach, and what players will be here will [also] be determined by management," said Cassidy. "So it's a tough question to answer [on what improvements need to be made]. I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play . . . and we were always a good forechecking team. This series took on a personality that we were going to have to score on the forecheck. 

"I thought that's why you see guys like [Noel] Acciari and Kuraly get into the lineup and really contribute. It's the strength of their game, and maybe less so from other guys that are more line rush guys. Don't forget, we had a lot of neophytes going into this series in terms of National Hockey League playoffs. So there's a learning curve for them and that's part of the growth process that we hope that, if we're sitting here next year at this time talking about advancing, that they learn something from this year. That's what every team goes through and the [David] Pastrnaks of the world, [Charlie] McAvoy . . . pick your players that are new to it, and [they] have to learn from [it]."

The decision to start Anton Khudobin in Brooklyn late in the regular season after the Bruins had lost four in a row was a turning point-type move, where Cassidy certainly pushed some buttons with No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask. And his insertion of Kuraly for Ryan Spooner in Game 5 worked on every level, and probably prolonged the series. So give him credit for both of those things along with the pumped-up offense he helped orchestrate in the final few months of the regular season. 

The Bruins won't be making any public statements or pronouncements on Monday, but one has to assume Cassidy holds the inside track on the job after guiding the team back into the playoffs for the first time in three years. Certainly there may be courtesy interviews for other candidates like Providence College coach Nate Leaman, but it's difficult to see anything else Cassidy would have to accomplish to be fit for the position. 

As Backes said himself, the results speak for themselves.