Ference, Kelly accept roles as "co-assistants"


Ference, Kelly accept roles as "co-assistants"

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- While the alternate captain rotation between Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly during home and road games this season wasnt something many predicted around the Bruins, both veterans are well suited for the role.

Ference will wear the 'A' during home games in the first half of the year, and Chris Kelly during road games. Then halfway through the season, the two players will switch ihome and road duties. If either player is injured for any length of time, coach Claude Julien and his assistants reserve the right to bestow the 'A' on any of the other very worthy veteran leader-types in the Bs dressing room.

But for now its Ference and Kelly riding shotgun along with captain Zdeno Chara and permanent alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. And both players were understandably honored with the position.

For Ference its really been a building process over the last several years, and his simple acceptance of pretty much every player across nationalities, position on the ice, age and differing personalities makes him a natural choice.

In many ways its also about 43-year-old retired forward Mark Recchi, and imparting some of the knowledge passed on by the future Hall of Famer during his years in Boston.

Its definitely an honor, but I think the symbolism of Kelly and I sharing it is really right on, said Ference. Its like we talked about all training camp when you asked about it: how do you pick? There are so many guys where you could probably put it on half of us and nobody would blink. We have a very good locker room.

To have that good locker room and be selected to wear it . . . what do you say? Of course Im honored to be wearing it.

For Kelly it was a little bit trickier. His choice as a leader might have stunned those who dont have a good grasp on the inner workings of the dressing room, but those around the team heard just how vocal the former Senators center started getting once the playoffs rolled around. Kelly quickly went from a gritty bottom-six forward on the stacked playoff team to a voice that was widely respected around the room and also armed with a willingness to say whatever needed to be said un and down the lineup.

Kelly credited players like Daniel Alfredsson, Luke Richardson, Cory Stillman, Chris Phillips and Marty Lapointe as role models in Ottawa who really helped shape his leadership voice over the years.

Its a great honor. That letter could have gone to a lot of different guys in the locker room, said Kelly, who tread lightly at first after only arriving in Boston last February. We have a lot of leaders in here. Obviously when a team goes deep into the playoffs you learn a lot, and a lot of guys can really build up their leadership qualities. It was a surprise and a great honor.

A new guy never wants to be the loud guy. There were times at first where I really wanted to say something, but I kept my comments to myself at first and let the guys get to know me first. I didnt want to really want to over-talk because nobody likes the new loud guy. It was a little bit of a transition period, but I thought it was a good one.

There is a functional usage for the letter on a hockey sweater when it comes to chatting with referees during play, but its much more about the symbolic commendation of leadership for players that have demonstrated it well in the past.

Kelly and Ference were at the top of list, so perhaps this years new letter-beaters shouldnt have been quite as surprising as they were on first blush.

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

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season. 

Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?


Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.

*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.

*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.

*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.

*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.

*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.

*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.