Bruins make plans to replace Bergeron

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Bruins make plans to replace Bergeron

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. There was no real update for Patrice Bergeron as he recovers from a mild concussion suffered during the third period of Friday nights decisive Game 4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. And there may not be one for a while.While the Bs two-way center attempts a comeback from his third career concussion, and is likely to miss the beginning if not all of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins know theyve got to move on without their best all-around forward.I dont think theres much of a change here, said coach Claude Julien when asked about Bergerons status over the last 24 hours. I dont know that every day is going to be one of those questions wondering whats going on with him. I think the best thing is that we hopefully plan on updating you as we see progress.Ive texted with him. Obviously hes talked to a lot of people. Were hoping for the best here. When it comes to concussions, you think about the person first and not the player. Well deal with the situation and make the best of it. But theres no doubt wed love to have him back, but not until hes a hundred percent and ready to go.To cut Juliens words down to a Boston clich: It doesnt sound like Bergeron is going to be walking through that door anytime soon.Tyler Seguin has been consistently skating with the Black Aces on off days and getting in work with the Bruins reserves while suiting up for every pregame warm-up through the playoffs. Its all but a certainty that the 19-year-old will get the first crack at replacing Bergeron in the lineup.Seguin wasnt skating with the Black Aces on Sunday morning in a very clean indication he'll be in the lineup for the Eastern Conference finals a rarity in the NHL, where draft lottery studs normally go to teams that have turned to the golf course this time of year. Whats likely to happen is Julien will slide Chris Kelly up to center the second line between Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand, and then the trio of Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Seguin will comprise a new-look third line with perhaps Peverley or Seguin at the center spot. Seguin should also get a look or two on a power play that finally produced goals in back-to-back games at the end of the triumphant series against the Flyers.Seguin on the man advantage was something the Bruins brain trust was considering even before the injuries began hitting them hard.Kelly is excellent on faceoffs and his two-way play is the closest facsimile of what the Bruins have lost in Bergeron, but its clear the Bs will lose some offensive punch despite the fact Kelly has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) and a plus-7 in 11 playoff games this year.Chris Kelly is a good two-way player," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. "He makes strong plays and weve seen him on that other line. And his style of play is not unlike Bergys. So at first glance it looks like it would be a good fit, and watching him last night it looks like it would be a good fit.Either way, Julien said its going to be a team effort to replace Bergeron in the lineup and he likened it to the 2007-08 regular season, when the Bruins survived losing Bergeron to a severe concussion courtesy of a Randy Jones boarding penalty in the corner that put him out for all but 10 games and became a playoff team.
Julien said hed likely be putting different players in different places to make up for Bergeron's absence, which figures to be considerable. His line (Bergeron, Marchand and Recchi) is at plus-25 so far in the playoffs.
Chiarelli dealt a second-round pick to Kelly for just this scenario. He didnt want his team to get caught unprotected if it suffered a potentially catastrophic injury, like the dislocated wrist that ended David Krejcis season last year.We talked about acquiring players this year to give us some depth in case things like that happened," Julien said. "This is an opportunity for our depth to come up and replace a guy . . . who is extremely valuable for our team. Bergeron is our best faceoff man by far and probably one of the best two-way players in the league.You dont replace a guy like that easily, but as a group you have to do it. I go back to four years ago when we lost him for the year. Everybody kind of came together and tried to compensate for that. Thats what we are going to have to do again if he is not with us.It certainly wont be easy against the explosive Lightning, who are getting healthier just as the injury bug has bitten Bergeron and the Bruins. But everyone should get a better look at Bostons strategy when player practice resumes Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena.Things arent going to be perfect with Bergeron back in the dark world of concussions, but this Bruins team has already proven its more resilient than previous editions in many, many ways.Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

Backes introduces Bruins fans to his 'Athletes for Animals' charity

JAMAICA PLAIN -- David Backes probably could have opted to have his introductory press conference inside the Bruins dressing room at TD Garden, or maybe even in some finished part of the team's new practice facility in Brighton, which is set to open a couple of months from now.

Instead, the new Bruins forward met face-to-face with the media for the first time while taking a tour of the MSPCA and, in the process, introducing Bruins fans to his “Athletes for Animals” charity, a foundation that promotes rescuing -- and protecting the welfare of -- homeless pets nationwide.

Backes took pictures with a pit bull named Greta that’s been at the MSPCA Adoption Center for the last seven months looking for a “forever home”.

And as he spoke, it became abundantly clear that this is what the 32-year-old former St. Louis Blues captain is all about.

“[Taking a tour of the facility] gives you a warm feeling inside, and makes you feel like you’re already a part of the city while helping give some attention to the great work that they’re doing,” said Backes, the owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty, Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly), who is house-hunting in Boston this week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter.

“Hopefully this will be just the beginning of our connecting with the community, and helping serve the people that are great fans of the Bruins and that will be watching us every night. [Hopefully] they’re watching us go on deep playoff runs year after year.”

Backes’ efforts with rescue animals gained national notoriety when he took time to help with the stray dog situation in Sochi, Russia during the last Winter Olympics. But the roots of his “Athletes for Animals” charity goes back to his college days at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," he said "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

For these reasons alone, Backes is a great fit in Boston. The Bruins donate heavily to the MSPCA and were one of the first NHL organizations to come up with the Pucks ‘N Pups calendar, which each year features Bruins players and their dogs, or strays from the MSPCA, to raise money for the animal welfare organization.

To learn more about Backes’ organization, “Athletes for Animals,” visit http://athletesforanimals.org .