Bruins notes: Krejci blasts Bauer for sticks

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Bruins notes: Krejci blasts Bauer for sticks

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON David Krejci was lambasting Bauer hockey on Saturday afternoon following Bostons loss to the Sharks because hes being forced to play with an old model of sticks for the next week while waiting for a new Bauer factory to open on Feb. 11.

Krejci said he put in an order for a new batch of Bauer sticks weeks ago, and was told that he would have to play with the Bauer model he was dissatisfied with at the beginning of the year and it was the Czech center up in arms while he waits.

This stick sucks, and thats all Ive got, Krejci, who was actually named Third Star of Saturdays loss after firing four shots at the net in 22 minutes of ice time, told DJ Bean of WEEI.com. You can put it up on TV or in the papers. I dont care. This stick sucks.

That was the reason why I changed from those sticks to the new ones Im using, because I dont like these ones, he said. I changed them because I didnt like them anymore, but now its the only thing I can have.

Krejci hasnt scored a goal in 19 games, but has six assists in his last 10 games while playing with a batch of bum sticks, and wanted to stress he wasnt using the equipment excuse for anything less than outstanding play.

Im not making excuses for my game, said Krejci. I just dont like those sticks. Thats all it is.

Its always a little unfair to look at players drafted in the same class a few years down the road, but it was difficult to ignore the connection of San Jose forward Logan Couture and Bruins center Zach Hamill when each team faced off Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Hamill was selected by the Bs as the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft in Ottawa, and Couture was taken one spot later by San Jose scouting director and Melrose native Tim Burke in a selection thats turned out very well for the Sharks.

While Hamill played his second career NHL game on Saturday afternoon and wasnt much of a factor on Saturday afternoon, Couture cranked in his 23rd goal of the season to lead San Jose to a 2-0 victory over the Bruins.

Couture leads all NHL rookies with the 23 tallies this season, and was invited to take part in All-Star weekend after his impressive first half of the season in San Jose.

I think he is the most complete player that Ive seen at that age, said Sharks Captain Joe Thornton of Couture. He penalty kills, he plays power play. He plays all the important minutes. Hes been a stud for us all year long. He is very very complete, by far the Calder (trophy) winner so far this year.

Hamill meanwhile is still trying to establish himself as a thinking mans center capable of seeing plays develop and picking teams apart with his passes despite average size and skating speed for a skill center in the NHL. Its a tough spot to be in, and it becomes tougher when youre lumped together with a player like Couture that the Bs arguably had a chance to select way back in 2007 with their high first round pick.

Hamill has taken a longer and more deliberate path to the NHL since draft day, but has turned a bit of a corner while leading the Providence Bruins with 25 assists prior to his promotion to Boston this weekend in the days leading up to a decision whether or not to shut Savard down for the rest of the season.

Hamill said he knows Couture a little bit from the draft and their junior hockey days, and said watching his Sharks opponent play inspires to try and have a similar kind of impact for the Bruins.

We know each other to say hi and thats about it, said Hamill. Hes a good hockey player and a nice guy. We were both right there and hes obviously had a good year and stuff. You see the kind of year hes having, and you want to go out there and do what hes doing.

You see him doing that and you want to do the same thing.

Joe Thornton was happy to be back in Boston again for his third visit since getting dealt to San Jose way back in the 2005-06 season, and even happier to get the victory for the Sharks. While Thornton admitted that the first time he came back to Boston was an important one to him and a game where he lasted mere minutes after hitting Hal Gill from behind and earning an ejection from the contest in the first period its more about playing one of out 82 now that Jumbo has been in San Jose for such a long period of time.

What can I say? I had really, really long hair and obviously was eighteen years old. That was a long time ago, said Thornton. Pat Burns was the coach. He was really tough and a really good coach for me, but I really dont remember too much from being eighteen.

It is just a win. Maybe the first time I was here, you wanted to win the first one. But now it is just any other road game, I think.

The last remnants of the Thornton trade are also gone from the Bruins as Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm have all moved on to other hockey pastures after arriving in Boston via the deal that rocked the Bs franchise five years ago.

Saturdays win was the first shutout of the Bruins for the San Jose Sharks in the franchise histories of both hockey clubs.

The Sharks had an apparent goal taken away because of goaltender interference in the second period.

The Bruins' previous low for shots allowed was 20 on Oct. 28 in a 2-0 win over Toronto.

Zdeno Chara played in his 900th NHL game and Tim Thomas played in his 300th career NHL game on Saturday afternoon.

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 .