Haggerty: Boychuk a class act

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Haggerty: Boychuk a class act

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk is as good as they come, and as honest to boot.

The hard-hitting Bruins defenseman threw a body check at Mason Raymond in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals that fractured bones in the Vancouver forwards vertebrae and left one of Vancouvers key defensive forwards in a body cast as the Finals concluded with Game 7 in Vancouver.

The hit correctly wasnt penalized by game referees or eyed by the NHL disciplinarians, and it instead spoke to the violent contact sport nature of hockey and the damage done when big bodies collide in an encased rink. Giant human beings moving at rapid rates of speed on an icy surface are going to collide, and there will be collateral damage when thrown into the highest competitive situations.

Raymond doesnt have a timetable on returning to hockey, but he did tell Vancouver reporters on Thursday that he received a text message from Boychuk at the end of July. Boychuk admitted he was thinking about Raymond all summer and wanted to make sure he expressed his sorrow that the Vancouver forward had been injured so badly on the play.

Just as much as Boychuk celebrated his Cup victory with the Bruins or planned for his wedding day over the summer, he hoped that Raymond was progressing well in his recovery.

Nathan Horton expressed some discontentment when Aaron Rome similarly sent a conciliatory text message to him after Romes head shot knocked Horton out of the Finals and indicated Rome might have done more if he were truly sorry for a hit that warranted a four-game suspension.

But Boychuk explained that he purposefully waited until July to send the text to Raymond after retrieving the Canucks phone number during the Finals in Vancouver and was glad to hear that the Canucks forward had received the message. Raymond never responded to Boychuks text, but it was pretty clear the Bs defenseman had some heartfelt emotions behind the phone message.

I didnt get a response, but I just wanted to make sure I sent him a message that I didnt mean to hurt him and I hope that he gets better, said Boychuk. You never want to see anybody get hurt like that at all. Its one thing if its a broken finger or a minor injury like that.

But to see a guy break his back, even in the Stanley Cup Finals, I would never, ever want to see that. It does mean a lot to me. Because if somebody did that to me it would crush me. You never want to do that to somebody. It was unintentional and I just wanted to send him a message saying sorry, I hope he gets better and I didnt mean to. I was thinking about him more or less all summer, but I wanted to make sure it was the right time.

Boychuk is preparing for his third season in Boston, but hes seen plenty of things go down during his five years playing in the Western Hockey League and six more seasons at the AHL level. He knows the unspoken code within the game of hockey and respects the safety of his fellow players.

Boychuk knows the right thing to do, and did just that when he sent out an unreturned text message to Raymond at the end of July.

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

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner has definitely heard the reports out there that he’s being shopped in trade by the Boston Bruins, and he played like a guy that didn’t want to be moved in Monday’s win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.

Spooner had his good skating legs, created chances for his teammates and set up the third period goal that got the B’s into overtime when he flipped a shot at the net that was tipped in by David Backes while camped out around the crease. Spooner finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating along with five shot attempts in his 14:24 of ice time, and looked much more like the energized, creative player that was at the heart of some pretty good offensive things last season.

In other words, Spooner looked much more like the talented young player that finished with 13 goals and 49 points last season while centering the third line.

“I think there were five or six games there where I felt I wasn’t playing a bad game. Then six or seven games there where it was hard to get, I guess, the ice time that I wanted,” said Spooner. “At the end of the day, I’ve been a little bit inconsistent.

“I just have to go out there and use my speed and my skill and I found that in the game here. I thought that I did that and I just need to play with that, and I should be fine.”

Multiple sources have indicated to CSN New England that the Bruins are talking about a possible Ryan Spooner deal with multiple teams including the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. Part of it is certainly the need for the Bruins to collect a bit more goal-scoring as Monday night’s win was just the eighth time in 26 games this season that Boston’s offense has scored more than two goals.

Part of it is also, however, a challenging season for Spooner where he’s been in and out of Claude Julien’s dog house while getting dropped to the fourth line at times, and even being left off the power play a handful of times as well. He’s played out of position at left wing rather than center and has underachieved to three goals and nine points in 25 games largely played with David Krejci and David Backes.

Whatever the history and the number of potential trade scenarios, Spooner said was “fed up” with all of it in his own words as he headed into Monday night’s game, and one thing remained true above all else: He wants to stick around as a member of the Bruins.

“I try to just put it in the back of my mind. When I was 17, I went through the same thing [in junior hockey]. I definitely want to play here,” said Spooner. “I want to help out and that’s kind of where I’m at now. If I play like I did [against the Panthers], I think I’ll be fine. I just want to go out, I want to help out, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

The Black and Gold are looking for a top-6 forward capable of putting the puck in the net on the trade market in any possible deal involving Spooner, but it would seem that the 23-year can control his own destiny in Boston if he starts generating offense and putting the puck in the net. Spooner did just that on Monday night while setting up a third period goal, and lo and behold the Bruins offense posted four goals after struggling to get more than two for most of the season.

That could turn into the kind of trend that keeps Spooner in Boston if he knocks out the inconsistency in his game, and instead steps on the gas pedal and brings the speed and skill that got him to the NHL in the first place. 

Chara 'felt pretty good' in first game back

Chara 'felt pretty good' in first game back

BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara knew which question was coming, so he didn’t even wait for it to be asked in the postgame B’s dressing room.

“I felt pretty good for the first game. It was a good game to come back,” said Chara, who finished with a minus-1 rating in 23:31 of ice time. “Obviously, Florida is a very good skating team and it is always kind of challenging to play them. But I had no issues. It felt good to be back and, obviously, big win.”

Surprisingly the Bruins didn’t have many issues from a defensive standpoint in the six games that their captain missed with a lower body injury, and finished with a 3-2-1 record and 10 goals allowed in the aforementioned six games.

That was something Chara, off to the best start to a season in at least a couple of years, remarked on both right before and after returning to the B’s lineup on Monday.

“I was very proud. It was exciting to see how they battled and it’s never easy. Every game is a challenge and every game is a big game,” said Chara, who has one goal and six points along with a plus-11 rating in 20 games this season. “There’s never an easy game. But guys were battling. They were playing some hard opponents and they won some really big games by gutsy efforts.”

Still it was good to get Chara back into the mix as a top shutdown pairing with 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and that allowed the rest of the defensive pieces to fall into place for the Black and Gold.

Clearly there was a little bit of rust on Chara after just practicing for a couple of days and he’ll really be pushed with so many games coming up in a short period of time, but it is nearly impossible to push the 39-year-old out of the lineup after he’s worked his way back in. The timing, the reads and the positioning will all get back to top form quickly for the 19-year veteran, but his coach thought it was a good first step with him while showing no issues moving around on his skates throughout the game.

“He played okay. It was his first game back and, you know, a lot of responsibility,” said Julien. “You expect guys to work themselves back in, and I think he did a good job.”

Now Chara will focus on working himself back into the rhythm he was in prior to the injury, and preparing his nearly 40-year-old body for the grinding schedule that awaits them for the rest of this month.