Seidenberg to use contract status as 'fuel'

Seidenberg to use contract status as 'fuel'
September 11, 2013, 11:00 pm
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BOSTON - While the Bruins have the majority of their veterans locked up for multiple seasons, there is one key player that remains unsigned beyond the 2013-14 season: Dennis Seidenberg. The 32-year-old German defenseman has been a rock-solid performer over the past four seasons for the Bruins, and has been part of Boston’s master plan in the playoffs while forming a shutdown pairing with Zdeno Chara.

Still, it was a rough postseason for Seidenberg, who battled hamstring issues while totaling just a single assist along with a plus-1 rating in 18 playoff games. In the final three losses to the Blackhawks Seidenberg was a minus-5, and Boston’s shutdown defensemen pair became a liability against Chicago’s best offensive playmakers.

“I want to start fresh, but the way things ended last year is awfully hard to forget. But you’ve got to move forward,” said Seidenberg, referencing Boston’s Game 6 collapse when they allowed a pair of goals in 17 seconds late in the third period. “Even when we won, I thought I could have been better. There were certainly a lot of goals against for us where I could have done things differently. But that’s how sports are.

“Things happen very quickly, and then you say should have, could have, would have afterward," he said. "You just try your best every time you go on the ice, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Those circumstances leave Seidenberg ready to move on this season, and create a platform for the steady defenseman to set his market value as an impending free agent. Seidenberg would rather stay in Boston beyond this season and continue what he’s helped build with the rest of Boston’s nucleus, but it could be a tough call for B’s management with so many young, talented defensemen pushing for jobs.

Seidenberg confirmed there haven’t been many discussions between his agent, J.P. Barry, and the Bruins, but doesn’t seem to want much information unless there’s a finished deal to sign off on.

“You definitely think about it, but the bottom line is that you don’t let it affect your performance. Some guys are franchise players, and I’m trying to get there still,” said a laughing Seidenberg, who had four goals and 17 points along with a plus-18 in 46 games last season. “You try to put it in the back of your mind, use it as fuel and just play the best that you can.

“If the two sides start talking I don’t really want to be a big part of it. I want to hear little bits of it, but I don’t want to be heavily involved [in negotiations]. It could be a distraction, and I just want to focus on this season and how I’m going to play.”

The last thing Seidenberg and the Bruins need is a contractual distraction. He’s a smart, experienced veteran that likely wouldn’t fall into that trap even if he goes into the season without a contract extension, but it can become a distraction even the most experienced veteran.

“I’ve had a great time here, and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t want to stay,” said Seidenberg. “Hopefully something gets done eventually. If not during the season then after the season.”

Impending free agency clearly became something of a distraction for Andrew Ference in the second half of last season, but he managed to rally for a strong second half before leaving for Edmonton this summer.

The Bruins could make it a lot easier for Seidenberg by inking him to a deal before his contract ends. It’s likely he’s looking at something in the neighborhood of 2-3 years with a modest raise to $4 million per season, but he’ll have to show this season that he’s still got plenty left in the tank.

Given Seidenberg’s passion for fitness, toughness and competitiveness, that kind of a new contract doesn’t seem out of reach at all.