Boston Bruins

Seguin denies being born with hip problem

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Seguin denies being born with hip problem

MONTREAL -- The start to Tyler Seguins second NHL season had much of the too good to be true ring to it after the teenage puck prodigy jumped out to nine points in his first nine games of the season.

Seguin appears to have truly turned the corner toward becoming an offensive force for the Bruins for years to come. But here comes the splash of cold water.

An ESPNBoston.com report, citing league and team sources, threw some icy water on the Seguin optimism Friday when it revealed the 19-year-old natural born playmaker has a congenital hip situation that makes him more susceptible to future hip injuries and with it a potential for a degenerative hip condition down the line due to repetitive stress usage.
Basically the report stated Seguin might have hip issues later in his career that could potentially shorten his hockey body of work just like somebody could saunter out onto Boylston Street and get hit by a speeding Winnebago tomorrow.

Seguin vehemently denied the report Saturday morning at the Bell Centre following the teams morning skate, and several team sources took issue with it being a congenital hip problem as stated in the story.

Ive heard there was a story out there about my hip. I can say that Im 100 percent healthy, said Seguin. Anything about my hip is really false. I have no problems and I wasnt born with any symptoms or anything like that.

Im all good. I can sit here and say things about me, and tell the truth. Whatever happens outside of what I say is out of my control, but I know how I feel and how my hips are. Theyre 100 percent fine.

Seguin said he doesnt do anything differently to protect his hips than any other hockey player on the planet as hip injuries become more and more commonplace within the NHL. Where once the injuries were described as groin problems or sports hernias, proper stretching to avoid hip injuries and repetitive strain problems is something Seguin practices religiously each day he laces up the skates.

I think for hockey players hips and groins are a big thing for all of us, said Seguin. Lots of guys get pulled groins and things like that, and I know personally I do extra stuff in the summer-time for hip and groin workouts before I do my regular work. You need to do that stuff if you want to have a long career.

The timing of the report is interesting in that the questions for the report on Seguins hip were asked over a month ago, and were only released for consumption with the Bruins playing a big weekend series against the Montreal Canadiens while the eyes of the hockey world on both teams.

One Bruins team source said nearly every player on the roster has a medical issue that could lead to surgery at some point in their careers, and its pretty clear there are bigger fish for the team to fry after a 3-6 start to their season.

It would be like reporting (Player A) has bursitis in his ankle that might need surgery someday or (Player B) has a calcium deposit that might be an issue down the line, said a team source. There are plenty of players that will need surgeries at some point in their careers if they play 10 or 15 years in the league, but take a look at the players when they are out on the ice.

Our leading scorer in the playoffs (David Krejci) and our Conn Smythe winner (Tim Thomas) both had hip conditions that needed to be addressed with surgery, and both players have bounced back tremendously well. Its something that happens in the world of professional sports. Now a perfectly healthy 19-year-old hockey player has to answer questions about a hip problem that hasnt even presented itself.

Mike Lowell is a good example of a player that battled through the congenital hip issue described in the story, and he played 11 years of Major League Baseball before succumbing to a hip surgery at 34 years old that eventually forced him to retire two years later at the age of 36. But Lowell never did the proper stretching or maintenance for an athlete with a higher susceptibility to hip issues until it was too late, and it appears that that Seguin is way ahead of the game at this point in his very young NHL career.

So those worried about Bostons 19-year-old leading scorer all of a sudden needing an artificial hip or a walker to get around the Bs dressing room should take heart: the Seguin hip story appears to be much ado about not much.

Haggerty: Bjork looking like he's ready for his NHL shot

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Haggerty: Bjork looking like he's ready for his NHL shot

BOSTON – At this point in training camp with just a couple of preseason games to go, Monday night’s performance might have represented the exclamation point on Anders Bjork’s impressive drive to win an NHL roster spot. The 21-year-old Bjork has scored other goals during this preseason, but Monday night’s tally in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks was his first while skating with prospective linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

“I think we had more ice time together, which helped us get more comfortable and helped me kind of learn their chemistry a bit more,” said Bjork, who finished with 21 goals and 52 points in 29 games for Notre Dame last season. “Obviously, they have a ton of chemistry and they’re very easy to play with, of course, but you know, it’s nice to get more shifts with them and kind of pick up on their patterns and stuff like that.”

In fact, it’s become easy to see Bjork now winning the right wing spot with No. 37 and No. 63 after watching them work together in perfect concert for Boston’s third goal of the night.

Already up by a 2-0 score, Marchand turned over a puck in the Chicago defensive zone while on the forecheck hunt, and managed to work it over to Bergeron for a quick, backhanded saucer pass to the slot area. The alert Bjork stepped up into the high slot and one-timed the puck past Corey Crawford to give the Bruins a three-goal lead on Monday night, and allow all involved a sigh of heavy relief that Boston has found at least one rookie ready to hold down top-6 NHL job.

“He’s got that speed and the smarts to get open and then find the openings in the quiet ice. It was a great play by him just to get open, and for me to see him. He made it really easy,” said Patrice Bergeron. “He skates well, he made some great plays, we just need to keep talking and finding each other more and more on the ice.”

Given the overall scope of Bjork’s performance in camp, his steady presence on a line with Bergeron and Marchand during the preseason and his speedy skill set, the rookie is stating a strong case that he’s ready for NHL prime time. It would be a major training camp shocker to this humble hockey writer if Bjork is anywhere other than in the Bruins lineup when they drop the puck against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 5.  

“Yes, it does [look like Bjork is NHL ready]. The competition will stiffen for him and we’ll keep evaluating that. Still, he’s got skill, speed, and courage. He gets to the dirty areas. He’s hard to play against [and gives] second effort on pucks,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s not one-and-done with him. And for a young kid, that’s special, to be able to hang in and there and battle for those turnovers. That’s usually the part of the game they have to continue to grind on them.

“But he’s got a lot of that. Maybe that’s Bergy and March’s influence, I’d like to think they have some of that, because that’s their game. Marchy never quits. Bergy never quits. They’re going to be a hard line to play against if they are that dogged on the puck every shift.”

There are still two preseason games remaining before the real thing, so it makes little sense for the Bruins to pronounce Bjork ready for NHL duty until the time comes. Bjork’s combination of blazing skating speed, decision-making and confident swagger on the ice have pushed him to the top of Boston’s prospect list when it comes to being closest to play in the NHL. All were on display in his 12:48 of ice time with a goal and a plus-1 rating to go along with two shots on net, a hit and a takeaway while playing the fast, aggressive hockey that Boston prefers these days.

Bjork could have even had a second goal after he intercepted an Erik Gustafsson outlet pass, but missed the net high with a shot in close while going for his second goal of the game. All in all, it was another hurdle cleared by a talented Notre Dame standout that certainly feels like he’s destined to make the opening day roster, and equally ordained to start in a top-6 right wing role with arguably the best duo in the entire NHL.

It will be interesting to see just how good Bjork can be on a daily basis at the NHL level, and if he can get into becoming the 20 goals/50 points range player that should be in his future.  

Now it’s up simply up to Bjork to finish up strong in the preseason when he’s paired with Bergeron and Marchand, and continue on the straight-ahead path toward cracking the Bruins roster for years to come. It would appear he’s poised to “pop” in training camp just as Brandon Carlo did a year ago, and stand as one of those talented youngsters ready to help bridge the gap between talented rookies and established core veterans.

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