Bruins trade Wideman to Florida for Horton, Campbell

53083.jpg

Bruins trade Wideman to Florida for Horton, Campbell

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

The Bruins' offseason makeover began Tuesday afternoon, as the team traded defenseman Dennis Wideman and two draft choices -- its own first-round choice (the 15th overall selection) this year and a No. 3 next year -- to the Florida Panthers for forwards Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell.

Horton, a 25-year-old center, was the third overall selection in the 2003 draft and has scored 142 goals in six NHL seasons. His career high in a season is 31 (in 2006-07), and he's scored 20 or more in each of the last five years. Last season he had 20 goals and 37 assists in 65 games.

He is the jewel of the deal, as far as the Bruins are concerned.

"Nathan is big, powerful, young man," general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. "He is 25 years old, has scored over 30 goals once, and over 20 goals in five consecutive seasons. He is a shooter who plays a power game."

Horton will earn 4 million for each of the next three seasons.

In a conference call, new Florida general manager Dale Tallon said that Horton had asked for a trade.

"Obviously he was frustrated with what has gone on in the past and wanted to know if we could help him out to see what is out there forhim," Tallon said. "That's how this all began. He showed frustrationand felt it would maybe be better if he was able to go somewhere else.

"I said in my introductory press conference that players want to be here will behere and players that want to play elsewhere will play elsewhere.That's what is going to happen here."

Campbell -- the son of NHL discipline chief Colin Campbell -- is a 26-year-old center who is a restricted free agent. His best year was 2008-09, when we went 13-19-32 in 77 games. He slumped to 2 goals and 15 assists in 60 games last year.

"Gregory is a hard-nosed, smart, two-way player," said Chiarelli. "He is strong in his zone and can play a variety of roles."

Wideman's disappointing 2009-10 season in Boston has been well-chronicled, and both Chiarelli and Tallon say a change of scenery may be what the veteran defenseman needs.

"Dennis had a terrific three years in Boston," said Chiarelli. "He hit a couple of bumps along the way this past year. This happens sometimes with skill players and their confidence. He rebounded to be one of our best players in the stretch run and in the playoffs. He is a clutch competitor and is one of the best passers in the game. I wish Dennis the best of luck in Florida."

"I think he was frustrated early in the year, lost some of his minutes and probably tried to do too much," said Tallon. "But he bounced back after the trading deadline and had a good finish to the season and an outstanding plauoff.

"He'll get plenty of ice time in Florida and spark the power play."

Tallon said he tried to acquire the second overall pick from the Bruins, but was rebuffed.

"There had been discussions, yes there were, but they were adamant on keeping it," he said.

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

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 .