Chara devastated over lost friends in plane crash


Chara devastated over lost friends in plane crash

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The anguish on Zdeno Charas face was plain as he sat down at his locker stall following captains practice with his Bruins teammates on Thursday morning at Ristuccia Arena.

Chara lost a lifelong friend in NHL scorer and fellow Slovakian Pavol Demitra, who was among the 43 that perished in the horrific Lokomotiv plane crash near Minsk on Wednesday morning. The former Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks forward attended Charas Stanley Cup celebration this summer in his hometown of Trencin with his family. The two NHL stars were also neighbors in Slovakia during the summer offseason, and remained very close friends in the hockey world.

I knew Demitra very well growing up with him and being my neighbor. Pavol was always so easy going, said Chara. He was always friendly with anybody and everybody. He never had a conflict with anybody. People dont know how dedicated he was."

Chara and Demitra had long been teammates on the Slovakian national teams while growing up as European hockey superstars, and they both shared agent Matt Keator during their professional playing careers.

"Its a huge shock still, said Chara. Its horrible. Its tragic and shook up the whole world . . . the hockey world especially. We all feel bad about the player's families. Its something that is just hard to swallow, you know?

Chara and Demitra grew up about 20 minutes away from each other in the neighboring towns of Trencin and Dubnika, and he still hadnt entirely wrapped his brain around the awful plane crash that decimated an entire KHL team roster.

The stunning tragedy had jolted Chara like one of the crushing body checks hes used to doling out to other players, and coping with it was all he could do.

Former Bruins, Whalers, Red Wings and Coyotes defenseman Brad McCrimmon was also lost in the crash as the head coach for Lokomotiv. He was one of Charas defensemen coaches as the 6-foot-9 blueliner developed in the New York Islanders organization.

Chara played against more than a half-dozen of the KHL players lost in the crash, and Chara spoke about both Demitra and McCrimmon with his head downcast. The fresh wound of loss was understandably still fresh and stinging the Bs captain, and he spoke cathartically about losing several hockey figures near and dear to him so tragically.

There were other guys I've played with . . . or a coach I had in Brad McCrimmon in the Islanders system, said Chara. When you get to know other players and coaches as people, its devastating.

The Bs defenseman said that Demitra had made the decision to play in the KHL for Lokomotiv starting last season so his school-age children could learn in Slovakian schools. That family-based decision was one of the things about Demitra that Chara hoped will live on as his legacy.

He was very favored and a popular guy with all of the other guys. We all know that he was an extremely talented player, said Chara. What people probably dont know is how dedicated a dad he was. He was always spending time with his kids and his family. That speaks for itself too. He had offers from the NHL, but he chose to go back to Slovakia for his kids and wife when it was time for them to go to their schools in Slovakia. Its a very sad time right now.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient


Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It may be strictly due to injuries or because Ryan Spooner is being moved back to third line center full-time, but Danton Heinen is going to get another top-six look on the wing. The 21-year-old Bruins prospect will be skating on the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey in Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild after serving as a healthy scratch last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen has only two shots on goal in the four games leading up to the scratch, and has been quiet offensively after leading the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason. Clearly there’s an adjustment to be made there, and it looked like the playmaking rookie winger was starting to develop a little more confidence trying to make plays while skating with Krejci and David Backes in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils.

Heinen actually looked reminiscent of Krejci on a couple of plays, pulling back the puck after entering the zone and catching a trailing B’s teammate with a perfectly executed lead pass on the offensive rush. That effort plus a trip to the ninth floor press box last weekend seemed to reinforce just how much time he has to make plays, and that should be a benefit for both Heinen and his linemates.

Sometimes getting that first NHL point is the hardest part when a player breaks into the league, and it’s been that way for the young winger through his first four games.

“[Krejci] is such a good player, and I just try to complement him any way I can,” said Heinen. “You never want to be up in the press box, but it gives you a different perspective on the game. It’s a different angle. From up there it looks like you’ve got way more time. I definitely think I can be more patient with the puck, and make some smarter plays.”

Heinen started to do that in his best NHL game to date prior to being scratched against New Jersey, and it resulted in greater offensive possession and a couple of potential scoring plays getting created for the B’s second line. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to actual goals, and Heinen knows that’s what needs to happen through him if a player like him, with an offense-minded reputation from his University of Denver days, is going to stick top-6 in Boston.

“You can’t rely on the [top] guys every night,” said Heinen, who watched the Habs beat the Bruins on Saturday night while essentially shutting down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. “When we’ve been out there we’ve kind of been getting some chances, but we’ve got to bear down.

“[Krejci] likes to play with the puck a lot, so you just get him the puck, go in hard on the forecheck and try to get open because he’s a good distributor.”

It sounds like a simple plan that might be a very good thing for young Heinen, who needs to start breaking through offensively if he wants to stick around in Boston for the long haul. 

Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban


Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It could get a little dicey for the Bruins over the next couple of days.

Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin were missing from Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and instead rookie Malcolm Subban will get the start for the Black and Gold against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.

Rask hasn’t been on the ice since last Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils when he re-aggravated a lower body injury and Khudobin will be out three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered at Monday’s practice. It appeared the B’s backup suffered a right hand/wrist injury in the early moments of the practice, and Subban was left as the lone goaltender until Boston brought up Zane McIntyre on emergency recall Tuesday morning.

Julien said the Bruins have confidence in Subban’s ability to play a great game for them, but he’s struggled so far in Providence while getting yanked from two of his four AHL starts this season.

“I just want [Subban] to go in tonight and play a really solid game because we know that he can. He’s a good goaltender, so just because he had a bit of a rough outing [in the AHL] doesn’t mean he has to have one tonight. This is an opportunity for him to play well, and to demonstrate that he’s ready to play in the NHL,” said Julien. “We have bad games and we tell our players ‘Let’s not live in the past, let’s think about what we have to do to rectify it and play better in the next game.’ So I think our goaltender is in the same situation.

“Our game plan is about playing good defense with Tuukka or without Tuukka. That doesn’t change. We understand that some of the teams that we’ve played lately (Montreal and New Jersey) are very stingy, so we have to give up the least amount of goals we can because we’re not going to score a ton against those teams. When you put a system together you believe in it, and you go out and play your game. You don’t adjust your game for other teams, and adjusting for injuries isn’t quite what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a solid performance from our team, and that will trump any injury that we have.”

Oh by the way, the Bruins also have a road game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in a back-to-back situation that’s less than ideal with injuries piling up. In addition a Subban/McIntyre tandem in goal, the Bruins will also be without David Backes with what Claude Julien termed “a minor issue” that also has him day-to-day.

In the good news department, Adam McQuaid will make his season debut after missing the first five games of the season with an upper body injury. Rob O’Gara was sent to the Providence Bruins to make room for him coming off injured reserve. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for tonight’s game vs. the Wild with Joe Morrow as the healthy scratch on the back end:







Liles-C. Miller