By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The connection between Claude Julien and Michael Ryder is well established.
Ryder played for the Bruins coach during his final season with the Hull Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior League and for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL, and then during both stints with the Montreal Canadiens and the Bruins. The enigmatic Ryder has enjoyed some excellent seasons under Julien, but hes also been head-scratching in his inconsistency under the familiar coach.
But they had always been together and they eventually won the Stanley Cup last season as coach and player, with Ryder summoning some clutch performances during the postseason after an underwhelming regular season campaign. So it was natural to ask the coach if there was any adjustment without one of his normal hockey pupils ready to take orders after Ryder agreed to a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars.
Ive done it before and for Michael he went out and got himself a contract that gave him some security, said Julien. You have to respect that for him and from players at this stage of their careers. I guess they get into their thirties and Tomas Kaberle is the same thing. He got himself a nice three year deal.
You have to respect that sometimes. You try and keep those guys but at the same time new blood is never a bad thing into your lineup. Michael has been extremely good for us, especially in the playoffs. I dont think hes ever disappointed in the playoffs. His seasons hes had some ups and downs, but his playoffs were good enough that someones giving him another opportunity. So he moves on and so do we. We bring in another player that we think can certainly help our hockey club.
The other player that Julien is referring to, of course, is former Habs winger Benoit Pouliot, but Jordan Caron is expected to compete for the open winger spot as well along with a youngster like Jared Knight. Caron became a Julien favorite in no time at all last fall after the Bs coach watched him perform in development camp and he made the team out of regular training camp in September.
So it could be one Julien favorite replacing another if Caron gets the bulk of the playing time headed into next season, but Pouliot is certainly going to get a long look after signing a 1.1 million deal with the Bs. Julien went so far as to draw a Pouliot parallel with Nathan Horton as an underachieving player that might find a little more success with Bostons structure, coaching staff and talented roster.
Hes actually a kid that grew up maybe fifteen, twenty minutes away from where I grew up. So Ive seen him enough and know enough about him. I think hes going to be a really good acquisition, Julien said. I think his skill level is extremely high. I know that a lot of people seem to think that he underachieved. We feel that we probably will be able to give him a better opportunity here with the space thats open for him.
From what I saw when he played for Montreal, there were times where he was really physical. We saw him get in a fight with David Krejci but also involved in the corners and then being physically engaged I guess. I think in this surrounding here in Boston knowing hes got good support and our team has everybodys back, I think that its even going to be even a better situation for him. But at the same time we expect him to come in and demonstrate his skills and use his skills that everybody seems to think he has. Im really optimistic about him.
The Bs coach was also excited about the potential switch of Kaberle for Joe Corvo, and the skills that the well-traveled veteran defenseman could bring to the table in Boston.
I think you know you look at Corvo whos got a really good shot," Julien said. "Hes a player that may be a little bit more physical and more engaged. Were going to have to work with him as far as making him understand the way we play here. I think the way we play will certainly help him a little bit. Because we dont want him running around . . . we want him playing well positionally. He skates well and hell move the puck well.
Claude Julien said that hes only managed about a week away from the hustle and bustle at his summer home in Ontario, but hes already feeling refreshed and ready to jump right back into things next season with his hockey team.
Its been great," he said. "We went from winning the Stanley Cup to the draft and then back here to development camp. I spent about a week now at my summer home which is nice to kind of get away from things a little bit . . . but its been great. Its going to be short but at the same time, I didnt think Id feel this way at this time this soon but Im looking forward to getting going again. Thats just the way we are.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated that new team power skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze will work with the big club as well as the younger players throughout the season.
Hell spend some time with our club and throughout the year, yeah," Chiarelli said. "Hes going to focus primarily on our Providence team, but hes going to spend time with the Bruins whether its one-on-one or one with a small group. Hell spend some time with our big club. Hes good, very good, you saw, hes dynamic. Its all about edges with him and thats important. I talked to a few of the guys after the first session and their groins and their rears and their lower back were all really, really sore. To me thats good when those things are pushed.
The height and weight of Dougie Hamilton was a hot topic for Chiarelli, who has been pretty consistent in his stance that the 18-year-old defenseman needs at least another year of junior hockey before hes ready for prime time. There needs to be some serious muscle and strength added to the still-growing 6-foot-5 frame, and the Bs GM would like to see at least another 20 pounds added over the next couple of years.
If he can get to 220 pounds thatd be great . . . and he could. With his frame and hes still growing. I think hes still growing . . . we had one posting measurement at some point toward the end of his season, and hes grown a quarter of an inch or a half an inch since then.
The weight gain has got to be done properly and Im sure hell do it. I know hes conscientious about that. His parents are two former Olympic athletes. Hes got core strength too so 210 pounds would be great.