Boychuk 'really wanted to stay' in Boston

671792.jpg

Boychuk 'really wanted to stay' in Boston

BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk will be in Boston for a long time to come as the Bruins continue to lock up the defense corps that led to the Stanley Cup championship.

Boychuk, an impending free agent, signed a three-year deal with the Bruins that will take him through the 2014-15 season and earn him an average annual value of 3.36 million in salary. That slots him behind only Zdeno Chara in terms of contract value and pays him the going rate for a top-four defenseman in todays NHL.

Boychuk will make 3.1, 3.4 and 3.6 million over the three years of the deal and will provide him with partial no-trade clause protection over the early portion of the contract. The no-trade takes the form of NHL cities where Boychuk would prefer to land if a trade did arise. The deal came about largely because Boychuk loves playing in Boston, and wanted to remain with the Bruins.

Its the exact same thing that played out the last time Boychuk was an unrestricted free agent two years ago. Talks between the two sides began roughly a month ago and developed rapidly once both sides realize they had a common goal.

Johnny really wanted to stay here. I think thats the overriding theme. Hes obviously been a good performer for us, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli while announcing the signing. Hes a big, strong physical D. Ive had discussions with all our potential free agents and this is the deal thats come out of it so far.

Hes a Bruin-type of player: punishing and physical but he can also score with his shot. He chose not to test the market which is nice for us.

Chiarelli fairly projects a few things in his defensemans favor when discussing the new deal: Boychuks age (hes 28 years old) and the deliberate improvement in his game at a defenseman position where many late bloomers truly develop in the NHL as they enter their thirty something years. Above and beyond all that Boychuk would have commanded more money had he dipped his toes into unrestricted free agency.

The grass isnt always greener. He probably could have got more as a free agent. But hes also still young, said Chiarelli. In the old days youd have his rights until he was a 31 or 32-year-old player before he could go to market, so hes still a young player. Hes still learning. Hes an enthusiastic player.

Niklas Kronwall is a player that Boychuk could aspire to develop into as he continues improving in his own game and banks more power play time, but hell be getting paid in the neighborhood of former Bs defenseman Brad Stuart. Thats a fair comparable to Boychuk, and somebody that provides more toughness and defensive grit than Stuart does in Motown. Boychuk also stands in the NHLs top 10 in plusminus with a plus-23 and is pacing to match or surpass his career highs in goals scored and points.

Hes done all that while riding shotgun with Zdeno Chara and facing down the best forwards the rest of the NHL can thrown at them.

Johnny hasnt been on the power play much this year so his numbers are down. But he plays a solid 20 minutes, a heavy 20 minutes in high match-up roles, said Chiarelli. Im not really worried about what his numbers are. Hell score some timely goals for us.

When a team like the Bruins has some difficulty developing their own defenseman within the organization, its incumbent upon them to lock up the blueliners they do have. Thats exactly what the Bs have done with Boychuk, who will be running the music in the Bs dressing room for a long time to come.

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."