Notes: Bruins like their chances next season

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Notes: Bruins like their chances next season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Even with the Stanley Cup in their possession for the summer, many of the Bruins are starting to think about next season and training camp, which is only a few months away.

With just about 2 12 months to rest, recharge and ramp up, there'll be a lot of challenges for a team that will be the top target for everyone in the NHL. The Bruins will be attempting to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover that undoubtedly hampered the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

Also, the B's were relatively healthy this season. Playing an additional two months, and 25 playoff games, has to take a toll on a players body, and the Bruins will find exactly how much when they regroup in September.

But they're looking forward to the challenge.

This is exciting, said Patrice Bergeron. Its a lot of fun. We won the Cup, but once you have that taste you want it some more. In the room, on the plane and on the ice you want to do it again because its so amazing and surreal. Its almost the same team next year, so its very exciting and the future for us is very bright.

Coach Claude Julien said having the same cast of characters minus perhaps one or two will greatly enhance the Bs chances of defending their championship. Keeping title teams together is a rarity in the NHL salary-cap era; as an example, everyone watched the Blackhawks get decimated by trades and free agency. But that won't be the case in Boston, as most of the team's core is tied up in long-term contracts.

I personally like that as a coach," Julien said of keeping the bulk of the roster intact. "You are getting your team back . . . As a coach, when you win the Cup and you know that a big majority of your team is coming back, you have to be happy.

"If you asked Chicago last year, they would have loved to have kept their team together. They couldnt, but if they could then they would have. When you build a championship team, you like having those guys back.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs spoke prior to the player availability on Sunday, and was asked if he was considering putting out an executive mandate that the Bruins become the first team in nearly 15 years to repeat as Stanley Cup champs again next season.

Its a great idea," he said. "To get this done this year was an incredible, incredible experience. Weve become so proud of the people that represent you, we had a lot of good fortunes and a lot of good luck here. This is an incredibly durable, dedicated group of young men. The leadership that Claude showed them, that general manager Peter Chiarelli, and team president Cam Neely, my son Charlie Jacobs, the team's principal owner played a role, a strong role in this, helping put this group together. It just validates what strong leadership can do in bringing this to fruition.

We had a lot of talent, but without leadership, it wont happen. Im talking about leadership on the ice as well as off the ice, I know we had folks off the ice, but take Chara, who really melded this group around him and around his personality. You really had to love these guys, the durability.

"I made the observation that this was not a sprint. This was a long race, if you think about it started in Prague during the season-opening series, which is one of the most unlikely places for the players, to meld together and create a fellowship. Its unique but my experience, in Prague, was special for me personally. Then 107 games, to wind up in a place like Vancouver, it was very, very special. Its the trip of a lifetime. I would love to repeat it, I would love to repeat it, but I feel so fortunate to have gotten there.

A group of about half the Bruins were going to get tattoos commemorating the Stanley Cup championship won by the team, and defenseman Andrew Ference flew in his tattoo specialist from Calgary to assist the team-wide exercise. Several of the Bruins got tattoos with Stanley Cup Champion, Boston Bruins, 06.05.11. in three lines and Mark Recchi was planning to get all three Stanley Cups won with three different teams in one grand design on his body.

He always wanted to come here and do his thing, so he said if you guys ever win, Ill come down and tat all you guys up, said Ference. Ive seen him every year since and he tells me the same thing every year. So I sent him a quick e-mail after we won and he got on a plane and here he is.

Definitely different things, you know, some guys are just getting some writing, some guys are getting the Spoked B, the Cup and B combo or something like that. I think Rex is getting all of his done, all of his past Stanley Cups.

Nathan Horton said he wont need surgery on his separated shoulder suffered during the Tampa Bay series, and that the concussion symptoms have abated over the last few days. Horton said he was suffering from headaches during Games 6 and 7 of the Cup Finals, but that the noise and action surrounding the rolling rally parade didnt bother him in the least.

Its not fun to be injured, but youre in the Stanley Cup Finals and youre playing the playoffs. Thats what people do in the playoffs, said Horton. They play through injuries and we definitely had a lot of guys on our team with injuries. But being injured again with a concussion, it was tough to watch. It was such a good feeling when we won. I felt like I was on the ice no matter what.

"Even every time we won, we have such great teammates. Injuries happen during the playoffs and its just to be part of it and to be part of a team when youre not playing, I felt like I played Game 7. So its a good feeling.

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

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

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.