Bruins brace for new head shot enforcement

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Bruins brace for new head shot enforcement

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON -- The Bruins spent Tuesday morning working out off the ice and readying for their Black and White scrimmage in Providence, but they also spent time at the movies. Both Bs training camp groups watched the NHLNHLPA sponsored video about the new rules governing head shots and boarding calls for the upcoming hockey.

The Bruins have always been a team sensitive to the injuries, given Marc Savards difficulties after suffering through a Matt Cooke cheap shot and the Patrice Bergeron season lost to a severe concussion on a hit from behind. So the Bruins players paid close attention to the video, but most veteran players said it wouldnt change the way they already play the game.

Defensemen like Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference talked about respecting all the other players in the league, and drawing a line when it comes to finishing off a vulnerable player.

Most of it was common sense to me. Its certainly okay to hate some of the guys that youre playing against, said McQuaid. But you also have to respect the fact that these players have a life outside the game.

Ference cautioned his teammates that theyd be foolhardy to play on the edge this season, with former NHL great Brendan Shanahan taking things over as the NHL discipline chief. There are the circumstances of the last two seasons with the needed crackdown on head shots, concussions and the indifferent league attitude that left so many players with brain injuries. Then there is also the NHLs poster boy in Sidney Crosby missing more than half of last season including the playoffs with post-concussion symptoms after he was injured in the NHL showpiece event at the Winter Classic.

The league has begun to realize it needs to protect the elite players that put rear ends in the seats, and players like Ference seem to be anticipating a disciplinarian thats going to toss the book at the first few agitators that test his resolve. The Bs defenseman will leave that up to the Matt Cooke miscreants of the world.

It seems like pretty common sense stuff, said Ference. I know youve got into specifics when youre talking about wording and stuff with rules. There are going to be gray areas, and decisions will be made by Brendan now and the referees. All you can do is hope that the referees see everything from the correct angle and then make the proper call. Thats all you can do as a player along with being responsible for what you do yourself.

Ference certainly thinks that Shanahan is waiting to get tested by NHL players willing to operate on the edge and potentially hurt fellow players while stepping firmly over that edge.

If guys arent clued in that the league will be watching especially in Brendans first year and if you think youre going to get away with anything then youre not kidding anybody, said Ference. Youre probably going to be made an example of if theres anything borderline this year.

Not every hit is malicious and there is incidental contact out there. Nobody is disputing that. But there are also definitely repeat guys that do the same hit time and time again. Youd think that if there was ever a season last year and this year combined to put that to an end, this would be the year.

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

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.