Haggerty: Ference's attitude good for the NHL

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Haggerty: Ference's attitude good for the NHL

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

The Bruins didnt exactly look like a bitterly divided team while holding the San Jose Sharks to a season-low 18 shots in a shutout loss on Saturday afternoon.

Yes, it was a shutout loss. But it was also a group of players that were giving effort including Andrew Ference, as he blocked four shots and sacrificed his body for the team as he always does.

But it didnt stop the blanket clichs of a divided dressing room from being thrown around by Hockey Night in Canadas Don Cherry on Saturday night during his Coachs Corner segment. Cherry was discussing Ferences frank, justified comments in the wake of the Daniel Paille head shot that earned a four-game suspension, and he wasnt pulling any of his jabs.

Here are Cherrys comments from Saturday night on CBC: I dont care if youre teammate is an axe-murder. What youve got to say is when you go into the dressing room and say to the guy, That was a dirty hit. But youd never do that anyhow. You never go to the press and say that it was a bad hit.

Id hate to be in that dressing room now. Did you see what happened in the game on Saturday, it was a 2-0 loss. It brings your dressing room down when youve got a guy in there talking about your own players and you know theyll get suspended.

Ference was very candid during the aftermath of last Thursday nights win over the Stars when Paille lined up RaymondSawada with a blindside hit to the head in the second period that broke the forwards nose.

One day later Paille had himself a four-game suspension handed down from the NHL.

Bruins coach Claude Julien contended Sawada was skating through the slot area with his head down while fumbling for the puck, and general manager Peter Chiarelli hoped for leniency given Pailles clean NHL record.

It was a far cry from Ference, who clearly stepped across some imaginary teammate line when he labeled Pailles collision a bad hit and something that needs to be taken out of hockey. Paille cruised all the way from his wing position and clocked Sawada with a hit to the head that broke his nose and could have very easily caused a concussion.

Both players were lucky the consequences werent any worse.

Heres a snippet of what Ference said on Saturday thats clearly rooted in bitter feelings over Matt Cooke taking out Savard, and watching as other Penguins players looked the other way or even worse, defended the indefensible cheap shot artist.

Its a bad hit, right?" said Ference. "You hear it from every player after they do it, they feel bad, and same thing, I talked to Danny Paille and he feels bad.

You cant be a hypocrite about it, though. Ive thought about this a lot and had plenty of time to put things in perspective over the last year. Sidney Crosby has been very vocal about the head shots and blindside hits since he suffered one in the Winter Classic, but what did Crosby say after Cooke hit Savvy last year? Nothing.

I thought a lot about that. You want to be a good teammate, but you shouldnt be a hypocrite about it.

Since those remarks there have been all kinds of accusations that Ference is going against the family and breaking an unwritten code of conduct while decrying the hit before any kind of suspension was handed down to Paille.

But whatever the timing and circumstances, there is never anything wrong with telling the truth. Thats exactly what Ference did: tell the truth as he saw it from a clear perspective that allowed him to sleep at night.

Ference is a progressive, thoughtful sort of guy that stands as one of the real outliers when it comes to the social network of NHL players. Hes involved environmentally, he drives a Prius and once again hes on the cutting edge among his hockey brethren when it comes to head shots.

Ference watched Patrice Bergeron struggle to simply live three years ago after a dangerous hit from Flyers defenseman Randy Jones, and hes watching Marc Savard's career and health being jeopardized by multiple concussions.

Ference fumed when nobody on the Penguins, aside from Bill Guerin, criticized Cookes hatchet-man act last March, and he determined he wasnt going to be one of those hypocrites if the shoe was on the other foot.

Ference has been a leader on the Bruins from the time he arrived in Boston four years ago, and hes continued in that regard while standing up for teammates, playing through injuries and skating courageously no matter what the situation.

His judgment and motives shouldnt be questioned given his track record, and given the teammates hes watched go down with major head injuries over the years. Perhaps if there were more outspoken and involved players like Ference, it wouldnt have taken a dastardly Cooke elbow to get head shots outlawed by a league still making excuses for their dirtiest players.

Instead there still exists a stubborn, bullheaded attitude harvested by voices like Cherry that celebrate and condone brain-rattling hits rather than condemn them.

It's one thing thats still very wrong with hockey, and its a big reason why integrity-driven players like Ference need to keep telling it like it is no matter what the consequences.

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

Bruins center Acciari’s status uncertain after leaving with apparent leg injury

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Bruins center Acciari’s status uncertain after leaving with apparent leg injury

BOSTON – There were no updates following the preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night, but fourth-line center candidate Noel Acciari had to leave in the third period with what appeared to be a leg injury. 

The Rhode Island native appeared to be favoring his right leg after getting tangled up in front of the benches just a couple of minutes into the third period, crawled toward the bench and then headed back to the B’s dressing room for repairs.

Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco didn’t have any update in the moments directly after the 5-1 preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

“Noel did leave the game. I’m not sure what his status is, or what the injury was. I haven’t been told,” Sacco said. Acciari finished with five hits and a blocked shot in 10:35 of ice time vs. Detroit. “I’ll have to check with medical and see where we’re at.”

The hope is that the injury isn’t a serious one after Acciari looked strong and heavy playing an energy role down the middle last season for the Bruins in the final weeks of the regular season. He teamed with Justin Hickman and Anton Blidh to play a gritty, energy line on Wednesday night, and they were largely effective for the Black and Gold while some of the other bigger name players struggled.

A potential injury to Acciari, however, does leave the door open for Dominic Moore to really put an iron-fisted grip on the fourth-line center spot after it appeared there would be a big surplus of centers at the start of camp. 

 

 

Local kid Grzelcyk ‘really excited’ to suit up for first Bruins game

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Local kid Grzelcyk ‘really excited’ to suit up for first Bruins game

BOSTON – It wasn’t the perfect outcome, or exactly how he probably dreamt it would go down growing up on the streets of Charlestown in the shadow of the home of the Bruins, but Matt Grzelcyk finally got to wear the Black and Gold in front of friends and family at TD Garden. 

The former Boston University standout was on the ice for a couple of goals against in a rough 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night and clearly had a little bit of culture shock adjusting from NCAA hockey to the speed and intensity of a preseason NHL game.

The 22-year-old admitted as much after slowly showing during the game that he was getting more accustomed to the speed, power and precision of NHL opponents playing with purpose.

“I think maybe I was a little bit shocked coming out there. The speed of the game is obviously noticeably faster. But I think as time went on I felt a little more comfortable out there, and was able to skate pucks out of trouble. Hopefully I can build on that going forward,” said Grzelcyk. “It was obviously really exciting to get out there. I was a little bit nervous for the game and stuff and [had to] get the jitters out. But it was nice to get my first game under my belt.”

The puck-moving defenseman had tons of friends and family in the stands including his father, John, who usually works on the bull gang making sure the Garden sheet is in tip-top shape for games such as Wednesday night’s affair. So, it was natural for the nerves to be there despite “Grizz” suiting up for plenty of Beanpot games at the Garden as a member of the Terriers, but they went away as the game went along.

He picked up an assist on Boston’s only goal after working the puck up to Ryan Spooner prior to him feeding Austin Czarnik for the score. Then it was about simply playing the game, and showing where his level of play is right now as the Bruins evaluate all of their D-men. Grzelcyk had the point and he logged a solid 19:49 of ice time while finishing with a minus-1 rating and a couple of shots on net.

So, there were some positives for the local kid and some things to work on as he gets ready for some seasoning in the AHL when cuts eventually come in this B’s camp.

“I think it was a night where, as the game went on, he got better. I thought his third period was the best period he had, and as the game progressed, he started to feel a little bit more confident out there,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “He was skating. He was avoiding… being able to escape some of the breakouts, and it’s his first game in a Bruins uniform back at home here, so I’m sure at the beginning he was probably fighting some nerves. I’m sure it was a special night for him in that regard, but I thought he got better as the game went on.”

The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder will clearly take that the first time out, but clearly Grzelcyk will be looking to show the abilities that saw him post 20 goals and 61 points over his past two seasons at BU as a talented offensive D-man looking to help sooner rather than later.