Bergeron proving his all-around value

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Bergeron proving his all-around value

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER Theres been an interesting little piece of urban legend passed along as fact when it comes to Patrice Bergeron.

The 25-year-old Bergeron signed a three-year, 15 million contract extension with the Bruins in Prague prior to this season, and made a commitment to the team that drafted and developed him as an 18-year-old pleasant surprise out of Quebec.

Bergeron was beyond overjoyed to continue the working relationship with the city thats become home over the last seven years. He even had one long, involved private conversation with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli at the Prime Ministers Palace in Prague exactly one night before formally agreeing on the contract extension.

This is where things get a little wonky.

The whispers, the word on the street and the rumor mill had it that Bergeron was lobbying to gain assurances from the Bs brain trust that hed have a bigger offensive role in Boston after several down years in the goal-scoring department.

He had taken on more of a defensive stopper role under Claude Julien, and Bergeron supposedly wanted some kind of offensive guarantees from Chiarelli before signing on the dotted line.

That kind of theory might hold some water in an age where so many professional athletes fret and fawn over their own statistics, but theres a giant problem with that line of thinking when it comes to No. 37.

Theres simply not even a shred of truth to it.

No, that never happened, said Bergeron. The conversations I had were all about making sure the right pieces were going to be in place for us to be competitive, and to make sure the Big Guy Zdeno Chara was staying in Boston too.

Offensive numbers are nice and of course everybody wants to contribute, but thats not what it was ever about. I wanted to know what the long range plan was for the rest of the guys on the team. I wanted to know how we planned to keep everybody together. It had nothing to do with me individually, and its never been about that.

Thats the quintessential Bergeron answer to a question that wraps his entire hockey essence into a few quotable sentences.

The center has earned respect around his locker room and around the entire NHL world for that matter because of the selfless attitude and willingness to place the name on the front of the sweater way, way ahead of the French-Canadian name on the back.

The ironic thing about all of this?

The way matters have worked out, Bergeron is enjoying his best offensive season in five years for the Bruins.

In fact the two-way center is having his best overall NHL season while just entering his prime years that combine his considerable physical gifts, his ever-present drive and motor and the experience that comes along with being a seven year NHL veteran.

It seems like a very long time since he was tossed into the fire as an 18-year-old rookie on a Bruins team that featured high profile players like Joe Thornton, Mike Knuble, Brian Rolston, Sergei Gonchar and Glenn Murray, and all those experiences have molded him into a pretty special hockey package.

Ive always loved him, said Recchi of Bergeron. Last year was a very good year for him, and it was really a stepping stone. He was one of the top defensive players, and this year hes putting together better offensive numbers to where he was capable of. Hes so smart, so physically strong and so hard to play against and hes such a good guy.

Hes become a great leader on this team, hes really stepped up and he understands what it takes to be a leader both on and off the ice. He was leading by example on the ice, but now he can talk to guys about things and he feels comfortable doing that. Everything has evolved with him, and its been great to see and watch.

Bergeron has 20 goals and 29 assists in 60 games for the Bs along with a plus-21 this year, and is on pace for 27 goals and 67 points in what would be his best offensive season since the 2006-07 Boston campaign. He leads the Spoked B tribe with 13 multiple point games and has heated up for 12 goals and 13 assists in his last 22 games.

Back in his first few seasonshe was still manning the No. 1 offensive line for Dave Lewis in a doomed season of hockey, and the points came much more easily.

The two-way pivot has already potted 20 goals this year for the first time since his pre-concussion seasons coming out of the NHL lockout, and has figured out a way to balance both his offensive and defensive duties for the Black and Gold.

Bergeron heard the doubters that had him pegged as a glorified checking center incapable of again hitting the 30-goal and 70-point bar hed set for himself early in his career. He simply ignored them for the greater good of the team.

The center was willing to make offensive sacrifices in order to neutralize the other teams playmakers, but was fairly certain he would have it all in his hockey career.

The defensive responsibilities would be the only reason I would think that, said Bergeron when asked if the thought ever crossed that he might never get back to his former offensive level. It was never about me doubting that I was still that kind of player because I knew I was. I know some people out there doubted me, but not me. I know that Im the same player. I just needed some time after my role changed.

For me the thing Im my most proud of is the two-way game, said Bergeron. To be able to put up the same kind of numbers now is a lot different than my first couple of years. The first couple of seasons when I was putting up numbers like I am now, I was more of a first line guy. I wasnt put out there in defensive situations. Ive learned a lot over the years, Ive gotten better at the defensive side, I take pride in it and I dont think Ive let my defense slip at all this year because the offense was there.

Bergeron isnt one of those characters in sports like Dustin Pedroia or Tim Thomas that imagines doubters anywhere and everywhere, and uses it like rocket fuel to prove them horribly and terribly wrong.

Hes instead been the kind of player that simply wants to beat you and take the puck away because hes A) ultra-competitive and B) respects the game of hockey thats provided him with things he never thought possible.

Its that unwillingness to give up on puck battles and the ironclad strength when it comes to possession that opens up comparisons to New York Islanders legend Bryan Trottier, who Recchi played with in Pittsburgh at the end of his NHL career. Recchi said Bergeron strongly resembles Trottier with his heaviness and solidity while handling the biscuit, and thats not a bad comparison considering Trottier cleared 500 goals and 1400 points in the NHL.

Bryan Trottier was very similar to Bergeron. He had a similar body type and he was really hard on the puck, said Recchi. Hard on people, hard on the puck and he just wasnt going to be denied. He was so strong on the boards. It wasnt like he was out crushing people, but he just has that physical element where hes so strong.

I think the world of Bergeron and to me the Bruins locking him up was a huge step. He wanted to stay here and be part of this. I love coming to the rink every day because I know Im going to be playing with Bergeron, and obviously he makes life a lot easier for me.

Bergeron could play keep away with just about anyone in the NHL, and rarely loses possession because bigger, stronger and faster opponents simply cant get the biscuit off Bergerons Reebok stick. In a game where puck possession is king, that kind of skill set is worth its weight in Black and Gold.

That mixture of competitiveness and tough-minded skill has always made Bergeron a good match with Recchi on forward lines, and this season theyve found their perfect compliment in the skilled, gritty, speedy Brad Marchand. The chemistry and shared high skill level has helped Bergeron regain much of his offensive game from the post-concussion days, and its also brought the centers name to the forefront when it comes to award consideration.

I think we scored three goals against Buffalo in that first game together, and you could tell right away that it was a good fit, said Bergeron. He is that energy guy that we needed to have success on that line, and he has that speed and unwillingness to quit on any pucks.

A sad but true NHL fact: its not a 40-point scorer that wins the Selke Trophy no matter how good a defender that NHL player might be.

Youve got to be an offensive superstar to also be considered among the leagues best defensive forwards, and Detroit Red Wingers forward Pavel Datsyuk is living Selke proof of that over the last couple of seasons. Expanding his offensive numbers has allowed Bergeron to enter into the Selke conversation with Datsyuk, Vancouvers Ryan Kesler and Chicagos Jonathan Toews, and build on last years body of work that allowed him to finish fifth in the Selke Trophy voting when it was all said and done.

Bergeron is among the NHLs top ten in faceoff percentage with a 56.5 percent success rate in faceoff wins, and hes second among Bs forwards behind newly acquired center Chris Kelly with 2:05 of shorthanded ice time per game on a penalty kill thats been solid for Boston all year. That coupled with his impressive plus-20 while routinely matching up against the other teams best players has spurred Bergeron on the path back from underrated two-way player to budding superstar.

Theres little doubt Bergeron will get some Selke consideration at the end of the year, but there are other pieces of hardware hes fixed his eyes on.

That stuff is always something specialand it means a lot, said Bergeron. But I really mean it when I say that awards in hockey are something I don't really believe in. The other stuff doesnt really matter all that much. Its about winning at the end of the year, and hoisting that Cup over your head. Im sure any guy that wins any of those awards would trade it for a Cup. I truly and honestly mean that. It's nice, but it wouldn't change my life at all.

The Bs center was getting pigeon-holed into the defensive stopper role hed grown to love with the Bruins while skating in Claude Juliens system, and that was unfortunate.

But those labels simply dont apply anymore, and cant contain Bergerons expansive gain.

Bergeron has proven once and for all hes the best Boston has to offer on their current roster, and that both he and his hockey team are in the exact kind of place they need to be with the playoffs looming.

Its been fun. Weve got a good team thing going on, said Bergeron. Ive enjoyed the season so far, and its been fun to be a part of. Im just trying to fit in and be a part of it, and just do my job.

But it can really only be fun if you go far in the playoffs, and really make something out of it. Thats the goal for all of us and Im not looking to far ahead.

Thats the beautiful thing about Bergeron: theres no hidden agenda, subtext or dual meanings to anything he says.

Its what makes him a burgeoning leader inside the Bs dressing room, and its exactly what has allowed Bergeron to build himself all the way back up into a two-way force of nature for the Black and Gold.

Contrary to what some might have said, what you see is exactly what you get with the hard-charging, dogged Bergeron.

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

Bjork returns to Notre Dame after impressing at Bruins' development camp

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Bjork returns to Notre Dame after impressing at Bruins' development camp

Given that he’s a former fifth-round pick, he’s not a local guy with any Boston ties to speak of and that there isn’t a lot of fancy to his game, Anders Bjork might be a bit under the radar as far as Bruins prospects go right now. 

Still, the 19-year-old Notre Dame forward has been steadily rising among the ranks at the NCAA level and Bjork put on a pretty impressive show at B’s development camp right along with more hyped forwards like Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk.

Bjork showed great skating speed and a hard-nosed willingness to battle whether the puck was on or off his stick. Even better, he showed a finishing flourish with the puck whenever he was around the net. He was literally blowing by defenders with his speed throughout drills each and every day at camp, and it was hard not to notice. Time after time Bjork buried those chances earned through speed and tenacity and showed the offensive confidence that saw him lead Notre Dame in points (12 goals and 35 points in 35 games) last season as a sophomore.

“You can tell the guys that have been here. Grizzy [Matt Grzelcyk] has a great week and Anders [Bjork] has a great week because they’re just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “I mean they’ve played at the college hockey level for two, three, four years in some of these cases. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.

"In Anders’ case he gained a tremendous amount of confidence in the World Juniors last year and you can tell he’s carrying that over offensively. He also plays in a very tight system at Notre Dame, so the habits away from the puck are really ingrained in him. Now he’s looking to explore his offensive side.”

The good news for the Bruins: Bjork wants to keep improving on the offensive end and pump up the goal-scoring numbers in his third season with the Fighting Irish. If the week spent at Ristuccia Arena is any indication, Bjork should be lighting it up in Hockey East next season after being a second team All-Hockey East selection last season.

“I’m just working on trying to contribute a little more offensively, and really work on my goal-scoring and offensive abilities like that,” said Bjork, who is a bit of a legacy at Notre Dame with his father, mother, siblings and cousin NHL forward Erik Condra all having matriculated in South Bend as well. “Working on the little things in areas like goal-scoring and playing on the wall are what I’ve been focused on. The feedback from the Bruins has been really good, and really helpful.

“Sometimes they’ll check in after a game or after a weekend of games, and give really helpful feedback. Sometimes it’s even different than what my coach said, so it’s nice to get my viewpoint and sometimes they see things that my coach doesn’t notice. Stuff like that has been really helpful, and has helped me develop as a player definitely.”

Bjork said the Bruins have stressed consistency and greater focus in his game from shift-to-shift and game-to-game and that’s something he clearly took to heart in a dominant week at development camp. Given the rising number of college hockey players that are foregoing the teams that drafted them and become free agents following their senior seasons, one would expect that next season will be Bjork’s last at Notre Dame before signing with the Bruins.

The way that the 6-foot, 188-pound Bjork is improving his game each and every season after being projected a couple of years ago as a possible third-line player in the NHL, the Bruins should be looking to bring him into the Black and Gold fold sooner rather than later. 
 

Tuesday, July 26: Daley’s surprise visit with the Cup

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Tuesday, July 26: Daley’s surprise visit with the Cup

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while never getting tired of the Bernie Sanders/Curb Your Enthusiasm parallels.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Trevor Daley making a surprise visit with the Stanley Cup and talking more about his emotional moment hoisting the Cup right after the win by the Penguins.

*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean get their just reward with a star on the Canada Walk of Fame after years of great hockey entertainment.

*Adam Larsson has heard the fan reaction in Edmonton after being traded for Taylor Hall, and he’s downplaying it all.

*A lack of a deal for RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba with the Winnipeg Jets doesn’t mean Trouba trouble quite yet. But it sure doesn’t sound like things are all ducky in Winnipeg.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Rosen sits down with Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka to answer five questions about his new gig, and some big changes for the Desert Dogs.

*Scott Powers has Jimmy Vesey’s camp confirming that the Chicago Blackhawks will be one of the teams on Vesey’s “short list” when he speaks with teams on Aug. 15. Watch out for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks, who have been out to see Vesey a couple of times in Foxboro over the last month.

*The Washington Capitals continue to build depth among their forward group, and have constructed a strong roster for next season.

*For something completely different: if you love baseball or have ever enjoyed some of the truly great Dan Shaughnessy columns over the years, you will enjoy this column from Shaughnessy about his Hall of Fame induction. Congrats to Dan, a true titan in our industry.

 

Hagg Bag: Some offseason B’s questions while waiting for Vesey’s decision

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Hagg Bag: Some offseason B’s questions while waiting for Vesey’s decision

With Bruins development camp in the rear-view mirror and the Bruins roster pretty close to full barring any bold moves from B’s general manager Don Sweeney, there isn’t much movement anticipated for the Black and Gold the next few weeks. 

Certainly there isn’t much expected until the Bruins learn about their chances in the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes Aug. 15. The addition of the Hobey Baker winner and Harvard captain could spur on a couple of moves from the Bruins front office and would certainly result in some alterations in terms of talent and salary cap makeup on the NHL roster.

But it’s all quiet on the Black and Gold front for right now, so there’s ample time for another edition of the Hagg Bag mailbag. As always, these are tweets to my Twitter account using the #HaggBag hash tag, emails to my jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com and messages to my CSN Facebook page. Now, on to the tag:

Joe

I still keep coming back to that interview, which for a Bruins fan had to make you giddy like Jimmy [Vesey] was when he responded to you about the possibility of putting a B's jersey on.  

After hearing your podcast with Jim Murphy, I agree with you there are a lot of options out there such as Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, San Jose to play with [Joe] Thornton his idol, or New Jersey but if his father lets him make his own decision, as he's stated, then the B's have a great chance of signing him.

He wanted the B's to [draft] him but Don was not the GM then so being given a chance on August 15 to do just that has to be one of his biggest factors. Add that to having his family close by, knowing Jimmy Hayes, Matt Grzelcyk, & Ryan Donato (plus knowing and appreciating Torey) I can't wait until the 15th. Why wait until your later years to play in Boston when you can sign now?

Question is with Loui gone taking 30 goals off the board I think his signing on top of acquiring [David] Backes will be more than replace those goals. But who then can the B's trade away, not right away, but into the season to acquire some help in other areas?

The first name is [David] Krejci, [Adam] McQuaid, and possibly Jimmy Hayes if he has a second subpar season. Could the inclusion of Krejci, who can produce, be dealt along with some other pieces to acquire a player like [Jonas] Brodin or [Matthew] Dumba & also have a chance of getting a player like Charlie Coyle?

What lines do you see?  What about the following:

1st Line- Jimmy Vesey-David Krejci- David Backes

2nd Line- Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-& David Pastrnak who, like Seguin, might be better suited with Patrice?

3rd Line- Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes

4th Line- Frank Vatrano- Noel Acciari- Riley Nash

Backend- Zdeno Chara-Colin Miller; Torey Krug-Kevan Miller; & John Michael Liles-Adam McQuaid or Brandon Carlo (long shot is to acquire Jacob Trouba from Winnipeg because he wants top four minutes and has Buff and Myers ahead of him on the depth chart…if possible slot him in the second unit with Torey and deal either McQuaid or Miller)

Another point I would like to touch on is also from your comments on the podcast or NHL XM/Sirius radio when you mentioned the Bruins have to caution themselves from dealing away valuable picks, or assets, for rental players at the trade deadline.  One point that Don Sweeney has made on a number of occasions was that the Bruins targeted defensemen and big center-men. My hope now is that since they have re-stocked the system they need to draft the top potential player available on the board rather than selecting based upon a particular need. Not to knock who they have drafted but they need to pick the best player available keeping in mind the importance placed on picks to having hockey sense and leadership or character traits. The selection of David Pastrnak is a case in point as he's a high skilled player who needed to learn the defensive game.  I hope that future drafts will see the Bruins focused on the best player available not based on the position they play. 

Greig Young

 
JH: Glad you enjoyed the Jimmy Vesey, interview. I came away with a much better feeling about the kid in general than I did going in without knowing much about him. I think a lot of the whispered stuff you hear about him is coming from those around him rather than him. It’s understandable that Vesey’s dad might have strong opinions about it all given that he played in the NHL. So, surely he’s advising his son, but I got the strong sense this is about the 23-year-old Vesey making the decision for himself, and what’s best for his career and his own chances of NHL success.

I went into the interview thinking that the Bruins had a very good chance based upon what I’d heard, and talking with Vesey did nothing to dissuade me from that feeling. Could the Blackhawks swoop in and snatch him at the last minute? Maybe. Or maybe he’s had designs on going to Toronto all the time.

But I’ve heard Boston was one of the frontrunners all along, and I’m going to continue to believe that until we know for sure.

Whether it’s Brodin, Dumba, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler, Jacob Trouba, Tyson Barrie or somebody else, I do think the Bruins are poised to pull the trigger on another move if Vesey does indeed sign with Boston next month. It would certainly make a winger on the NHL roster expendable, and the Bruins already have a slew of NHL-caliber centers as well.

As for the draft, I’m a firm believer in always picking the best player available. When you pick by positional needs over best player, that’s when you end up with nonsensical choices like Malcolm Subban in the first round in 2012.

 
If they get Vesey do they run at Barrie with 54, 72 & 51?

--Russ Romandini (@goldenpipesss)

 
JH: Who knows? If the arbitration process goes badly enough for Tyson Barrie and the Avalanche then perhaps he’ll get dealt somewhere. If the Bruins sign Vesey, then I’d expect a couple of those players you mentioned (Adam McQuaid, Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner) might be in play to get a dynamic, young top-four defenseman the Bruins could immediately plug in as a top-pairing candidate with Zdeno Chara.

That would be my expectation of how things go down with the Bruins, but if we’ve learned one thing it should be this: it’s awfully, awfully difficult to close a deal in the NHL for a high-caliber defenseman, and it might not be in the cards for Don Sweeney and the Bruins prior to the start of the season.

The Bruins need to get one of those D-men if they really want to compete this season, so we’ll see what happens if/when Vesey signs with them. If Vesey signs elsewhere then I’d expect the Bruins will go into the season with what they currently have.

 

#StrangerThings have you ever played D&D like Mike, Dustin and Lucas? Did you ever sport a mullet in the 80s?

--borisan (@borisan28)

 
JH: Yes, and don’t forget about poor Will. He was there playing at the beginning and the end too. Right around that age I played my share of Dungeons and Dragons along with love of baseball cards, addiction to Strat-O-Matic baseball, football, basketball and hockey and a steady diet of outdoor sports playing with the many kids in my neighborhood.

I definitely owned a Players Handbook (though I was never hardcore enough into it to be a Dungeon Master, and wasn’t nearly geeky enough to suitably fit in with the real bone fide D&D nerds in the town I grew up in), and had a longstanding high-level fighter/magic user named Huon Pendragon that I role-played with. I’m willing to bet I still have some 20-sided dice around the house somewhere. And don’t forget about the golden age of Nintendo right around then as well: RBI Baseball, Tecmo Bowl, Mike Tyson’s Punchout, Spy Hunter, and Nintendo Hockey among others.

What a great time to be a kid. I definitely had some form of a mullet in middle school during the mid-1980’s, but it was probably not as definitive as many during that time period.

 
Which prospect will surprise us and make the roster?

--Michael Matthews (@MMATTHEWS4)

 
JH: Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen are both expected to compete for spots, so I’m not sure I’d label either one of them a surprise. How about Jeremy Lauzon? He’s a 2015 second-round pick coming off a big junior season and the Bruins rave about his approach, his work ethic and certainly seem to think he’ll be a top-four defenseman someday soon. Perhaps it’s as soon as this season. Jake DeBrusk would be my best guess among the forwards after a strong development camp performance. Claude Julien is already on record as being a fan of his toughness and his willingness to do the work as a young player, and the NHL bloodlines from his dad Louie don’t hurt either.  

 
With plenty of cap space and losing a 30 goal scorer, was it foolish of Sweeney not getting Versteeg for a cheap 1 or 2 yrs?

--Jeremiah Kilburn (@vtmxjer66)

 
JH: Not a huge Kris Versteeg fan and, incidentally, neither is the rest of the NHL if he had to go to Europe for steady work for next season. Versteeg is a tough player: good enough to be paid decently in the NHL based on his numbers, but not a good fit in anything but a supporting role on a good hockey team. I’d rather see the Bruins bring along young kids in that spot or hope that something has inspired Jimmy Hayes this summer.

 
Will Rask bounce back from last year? What will Cassidy provide behind the bench to help the B’s this year?

--Bob Falfa (@FalfaBob)

 
JH: I think Rask will have a better season provided the Bruins can execute a deal for another puck-moving defenseman. If they go into the season with the current group of D-men, then I think Rask will be in line for another season similar to this past one. Why would anybody think there’s going to be a radically different result?

I obviously don’t think Rask was consistently at his best last season, but I also think 80-90 percent of his troubles last season are attributable to the shoddy defense in front of him. Plain and simple, cut and dried. Bruce Cassidy is a keen offensive mind and he’s good with young players, which means he either A) will be a nice compliment to Julien as sort of a counter-point on the coaching staff or B) will end up replacing Julien and pushing the Bruins more in the offense and youth direction if the B’s struggle mightily at the start of next season.

The Bruins should get more out of Ryan Spooner and Colin Miller with Cassidy on the staff, or should in theory at least.

I’ve long been of the opinion that things are a little stale with this Bruins group, and that a change of coaching voice might be the best thing for them given the current direction of the franchise. It doesn’t take away what Julien has done over the past 10 years, or reflect his standing as an excellent hockey coach. He just might not be the right coach for this Bruins team and the direction that they’re headed. It should be a really interesting season because I don’t think Cassidy takes the NHL assistant gig in Boston unless he thinks there’s another NHL head coaching shot in his future. That’s just my opinion, of course, but certainly an informed one.

 
Hey Joe - why do the Bruins not promote Tommy Cross? Too old now?

--John Thiell (via CSN Facebook page)

 
JH: Tommy Cross is what he is: a solid, tough pro and leader of men at the AHL level, who can perform in spots when called upon at the NHL level. I just don’t think he skates well enough anymore to be a regular NHL D-man after all of his knee surgeries, and it’s a shame given the kind of player he was before all of the knee issues. He would not be an upgrade if he was among the Bruins D-men group to break NHL camp this fall.

 
I think the B's will be better than predicted. But if things go south do you think they move Chara at the deadline? #HaggBag

--Ray Guarino (@rayguarino)

 
JH: I like your optimism. If things go south for the Bruins, I would hope they’d explore that kind of a move while clearly changing the blue line guard. They should have explored it last year as well, in my humble opinion.

 
Who the hell is Chief Hopper feeding in @Stranger_Things? Elle? Demogorgon? Ryan Fitzpatrick?

--CP (@cpierce1994)

JH: I’m going with “El”, but not ruling out Ryan Fitzpatrick. Something tells me that El and the Demogorgon are linked together, or perhaps two sides of the same being. It will be interesting to see how they explore it in Season Two, but suffice to say that I recommend “Stranger Things” on Netflix to anybody that hasn’t seen it: an awesome, addictive 1980’s homage eight episode series that combines E.T., Poltergeist, Firestarter, War Games, Goonies and Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s just that good.

 
Brad Marchand for Hampus Lindholm and Chris Wagner

--Joe Harris (via CSN Facebook page)

JH: Okay, but are you asking me or telling me? If you’re asking me, I don’t think the Ducks are going to do that unless Marchand is signed to a reasonable, long-term contract. And I don’t think he’s going to be signing one of those: he’s going to get something in the neighborhood of eight years and $50 million on a new contract if the Bruins are willing to go there.

 
Joe, will the Bruins look at either Kris Russell or James Wisniewski before camp or wait till to see what happens with the young guys

--Eugene Mannarino (@steelman58)

JH: Perhaps, but the price would have to be right. I also don’t think either of those would be candidates unless the Bruins go into training camp and don’t like what they see out of Joe Morrow, Miller and Carlo. Russell was a consideration, but I think he’s still looking for far too much money and term for the Bruins to be interested right now.

 
What is the most realistic situation for the Bruins adding to their D? And who do you see as the most promising B's prospect

--Colin Miller (@sportschatterHD)

 
JH: The most realistic situation is the Bruins signing Vesey, and then trading Vatrano or Spooner and a first round pick to St. Louis for Kevin Shattenkirk, or perhaps even trading David Krejci to the Blues for Shattenkirk once they get into the season and show that he’s fully recovered from his hip surgery. I think Charlie McAvoy is the most promising Bruins prospect and that he’s a legit top-pairing talent a couple of years down the line.

He’s got the skating, the passing, the size, the willingness to mix it up physically, and the offensive instincts to be effective while skating big, big minutes. He says he wants to play like Drew Doughty and there’s more than a little of that kind of player within McAvoy’s game. Even if he can be 80 percent of Doughty, that is a guy the Bruins can win with as one of their top defenders. He’s exactly what they need, but it will be a year or two before the 18-year-old is ready for Boston.

Combine McAvoy with Carlo, Jakub Zboril, Lauzon and a young NHL talent in Torey Krug, and you have the makings of a pretty talented back end a few years down the road. That doesn’t excuse the mess of a blue line the Bruins have right now, however, that’s alarmingly the same as last year’s weak unit that dragged down the hockey club.

 
Joe,

I am very disillusioned with the Boston Bruins.  I am angry they traded Seguin (Chiarelli), Reilly Smith and Dougie Hamilton, for essentially nothing.

They allowed Eriksson to walk, not even getting a draft pick.  They draft terribly and usually choose checkers…meanwhile, other teams in the East are improving. Bruins are not pro-active. I honestly think they do not know what they are doing.  Sweeney and Neely must be listening to dinosaur Harry Sinden.  Harry also hated scorers and offensive-minded prayers.

This team needs an upgraded defense, plus some young dynamic scoring (work so hard to score goals) talent up front, especially now that Eriksson is gone. I am so frustrated with idiots Don Sweeny, Cam Neely, Gretzky, Claude and scouts.  I want them to be fired immediately; I want Jacobs to sell the team. I want some young scoring forwards on this team... and a coach/organization that is more offensive-minded/friendly. They are so boring....

Thanks for your attention.
J.E. Shay

JH: Get it all, out. Get it all out, J.E. This mailbag is cheaper than any Bruins therapy session you’d ever attend in person. I suspect your opinion will change if the Bruins make the playoffs this season while introducing more of the young talent in their pipeline. If they don’t, then I’ll expect another one of these from you next summer. See you guys in a couple of weeks and thanks for the great questions.