'Tough call' for Bruins to cut Chris Clark

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'Tough call' for Bruins to cut Chris Clark

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Things didnt work out for Chris Clark with the Bruins, but that doesnt mean the 35-year-old veterans NHL career is kaput.

Quite the contrary, in fact, it would appear the former captain of the Washington Capitals impressed his short-term teammates with his straightforward approach to the game of hockey, his no-nonsense work ethic and the commitment it took to break his nose in a fight with Michael Haley during the Bs final preseason game against the New York Islanders.

The fight and busted-up nose showed just how tough a customer Clarkstill is a fact that longtime puckacquaintances like Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton already knew to be true and he also made plenty of offensive plays in his handful of exhibition games, including a game-winning goal against the Canadiens in Bell Centre.

Despite all that and despite the Bruins inviting him to their two-day team-bonding trip in Maine Clark was released from his training camp tryout by the Bruins organization. The transaction was lost in the shuffle of everything else going on over the last couple of days, but it's clear the Bruins felt that the future is now with 2008 first round pickJordan Caron.

It seemed like it might have been a tough choice, but Bostons organizational depth didnt really allow for an outside veteran influence given a series of Bs prospects ready to break through from the AHL level.

It was a tough call," said coach Claude Julien. "I was one of the guys standing up here saying hes got good experience and good leadership qualities, and at the end of the day -- as a whole group -- a tough decision was made. It was a decision not so much for the present, but maybe for the future with what we feel we have as depth.

Anybody can ask me the question right now and Ill answer without hesitation: Chris Clark can still play in the NHL. Thats not a question. We just had too much depth. I think it would have been tough for him to fit in our top 12, and its a lot easier to show the leadership qualities when youre in the mix of regular players. Its hard to go in there and try to be a leader when youre not really fitting into the top 12. There are a lot of things that went into our thoughts, but the one thing I do hope is that he hooks up with some NHL team . . . because hes still an NHL caliber player.

Its difficult timing for Clark right at the start of the regular season, but anything can happen once injuries start popping up and NHL teams comes searching for a veteran bottom-six forward capable of providing a little grit and offense. Thats the kind of job Clark could still master at his advanced NHL age, and proved he was ready for during training camp.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

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Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.