Bruins return home from team bonding trip

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Bruins return home from team bonding trip

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs

The mystery locale for the Bruins team-bonding was revealed on Monday afternoon as the Bs returned to Boston for Thursdays opening night against the Philadelphia Flyers, and it was a bit of a surprise.

The Bruins traveled to Great Diamond Island in the Portland harbor of Maine on Sunday for two days of team-building, bonding and physical activities designed to strengthen the teams chemistry and foundation headed into a challenging season. It wasn't about grabbing a fist full of lobster rolls or spotting a moose or two along the way for the B's, however. This was all about hockey.The Bruins took part in plenty of exercises along the water in Diamond Island Cove, and Bs coach Claude Julien said it was important to mix things up with so many players returning from last years squad.The same old program might not have provided a challenge to the returning 17 players from last seasons Stanley Cup championship, so things were changed up a bit for players and coaching staff that have benefited tremendously from the team-building events since Bs GM Peter Chiarelli took over the franchise.

The Bruins kept it a secret from the players, the media and just about anybody that else didnt need to know a move that takes on a little more importance when its a Stanley Cup-winning team with the frothy following in Boston that comes along with it.

We ended up taking a ferry boat out there. It was secluded and we were able to do what we needed to do as a team, said Claude Julien. A lot of the stuff that we did was based around the water, and our guys seemed to enjoy it. We had plenty of water coming from the sky yesterday, but it was also underneath us.

It was challenging. We feel coming back from there that everybody enjoyed it, and that our group also got a lot of things accomplished as far as what we need to do this year to be competitive.

The Bs players have become accustomed to the team-building program just prior to the grind of the NHL regular season, and Tim Thomas even credited last years program with allowing the team to shift from dominant individual leadership voices to the leadership by committee method that worked so well for the Bs. The trip to Maine took on added importance this season with no long road trip in the first few months of the season for the Bs a logical time when a new team of players are able to bond together and form that tight hockey unit.

With 13 of their first 17 games at home, the two-day trip to Maine for 25 Bs players including goalie Anton Khudobin and injured defenseman Steve Kampfer will have to suffice as that early West Coast trip that used to be a staple of the Bs regular season schedule when the circus came to town.

So it truly does have an effect. But orientation exercises trust falls and ropes courses among other things can only do so much, and the Bruins are under no illusions about the challenge this season as the targeted Stanley Cup champs. The Bruins know they have to talk the talk, but its much more important to go out and walk the walk.

It would appear that was a key part of the whole two-day retreat to an island in Maine, and will be hammered home over the next few days.

I dont think anybody on this team is fooling themselves, said Andrew Ference, one of the leading candidates to earn the A on his sweater vacated by Mark Recchi when he retired at the end of last season. We all know how hard it is to make it into the playoffs first off let alone the little bounces and the good health that you need in the playoffs to have success.

We know the challenge that faces us no matter what year it is whether youre defending the Cup or not. There are some good lessons we learned last year on how to be successful. With all that said, you still have to go out there and prove it. Actions definitely speak louder than words.

Those actions continued with the two-day trip to Maine, but they get a lot more defined when the Bs put all those good team-building lessons to use Thursday night against a Flyers team they embarrassed while sweeping during the playoffs last season.

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

Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

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Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

The Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s two-year, $24 million deal he signed last season, the Boston Globe reported.

Johnson, 29, a 6-9 forward, signed as a free agent last summer, averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 79 regular season games for the Celtics and 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the six-game, first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. 

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

With the salary room created by buying out the final two years of veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg contract, the Bruins signed restricted free agent Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract ($5.25 million cap hit) through the 2019-20 season.

The negotiations between Krug and the Bruins had been fairly quiet with GM Don Sweeney consistently stating that something would get it done and it seemed the writing was on the wall when Sami Vatanen signed a four year, $19.9 million extension with the Anaheim Ducks. The two are comparable players in size, offensive production, NHL experience and both also served in top-four roles last season while projecting to stay at that level of performance over the next four years.

The Bruins couldn’t afford to let Krug, 25, hit the open market, where another team could potentially poach Boston’s only true puck-moving D-man with an offer sheet. After signing a one-year bridge deal, Krug played in a career-high 81 games, with four goals and 44 points. His 40 assists were ninth among D-men in the NHL last season and it’s clear that Krug plays a vital role as a puck mover and power-play specialist.

Krug also stepped up in minutes last season, finishing only behind Zdeno Chara with a career-high 21:36 average of ice time and essentially serving as the B’s de facto No. 2 defenseman. The diminutive (5-foot-9) D-man did pay the price for playing such heavy minutes by undergoing shoulder surgery following the season, but Krug was expected to make a full recovery and be ready to jump into the lineup at some point during the month of October.

The signing of Krug is a big piece for Sweeney and the Bruins, who must prepare for what awaits them Friday, once the free agent market opens, and later in the month when they begin efforts to re-sign Brad Marchand to an extension. 

 

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins placed veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on waivers on Thursday for the purposes of buying the veteran defenseman out of the final two years of his contract.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Seidenberg, who turns 35 July 18, still had two years remaining on a deal that would have paid him $4 million in each of the seasons. The move will save the Black and Gold roughly $4.6 million in cap space over the next two years.

Seidenberg confirmed the contract buyout to CSNNE.com and confirmed one other thing: "I going to miss it."

The extra space should theoretically allow the Bruins to spend big money on Friday when free agency opens, but the Bruins really haven’t been the lead suitors for any of the major available players to this point.

With the way buyouts work, however, the spread over four years means that the Bruins will still be including $1.16 million cap hits from 2018-2020, and are now down another experienced D-man who was a stalwart warrior for them over the years. Seidenberg clearly lost a step after blowing out his knee in the 2013-14 season and was a minus player for the first time in Boston last season with one goal and 12 points in 61 games.

The skating speed was noticeably slower and Seidenberg had trouble keeping up with the pace even as he continued to block shots and throw opponents around in the defensive zone. Seidenberg finishes his seven seasons in Boston with 23 goals and 117 points in 401 games as a rugged top-four defenseman. He will always be cherished in Boston for his marvelous stretch en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Claude Julien pairing Seidenberg with Zdeno Chara midway through their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens changed the tide of that playoff matchup and was the combo used by the B’s for the playoffs when they again made it to the Cup Final in 2013 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The German-born defenseman was a respected and tough veteran leader in the B’s dressing room and will be missed for his toughness and accountability whether it was good times or bad in the room.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Seidenberg was being placed on waivers for the purpose of being bought out of his contract.