Notes: Mark Stuart draws interest on trade front

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Notes: Mark Stuart draws interest on trade front

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

RALEIGH, N.C. Hockey sources here indicated to CSNNE.com that theres strong interest on the trade front in defenseman Mark Stuart, and that dealing the rugged defenseman might be an option for the Bruins over the next four weeks if the team needs to clear salary cap space for a roster move.Stuart has served as a healthy scratch for the Bruinsin each of the last three games leading up to theNHL All-Star break, and hasn't played since a Jan. 20 loss to the Buffalo Sabres -- only his second game back from a broken right hand that kept Stuart out for a month. Adam McQuaid has played inStuart's place while the Bruins defenseman has sat on the bench, and represents a similarly physical defensemanfor less than athird of Stuart's cap hit (1.675 million).IfStuart is dealt before the Feb. 28 trade deadline,it will be purely for salary capreasons as Stuart heads into unrestricted free agency after the current season is over. His leadership and toughness around the net are valued assets, and the reason he's garnering interesting around the NHL -- includingan Atlanta team that listened to a package involving Stuart for Ilya Kovalchuk at lastyear's trade deadline. With his fifth All-Star appearance in the book, Zdeno Chara looked just as excited as he must have been the very first time around.

The 33-year-old defenseman is an NHL team captain, a Norris Trophy winner. As a 6-foot-9 defenseman with a 105.9 mph slap shot, he has every reason in the world to take another NHL All-Star weekend in Carolina for granted.

But Chara knows his elite playing days wont last forever, and he basked in it all: his fourth straight hardest-shot title and the 20-plus minutes on the ice as Team Staals top defenseman in an 11-10 loss to Team Lidstrom at the RBC Center.

Its an honor. Youre here to represent your team, said Chara. Its one of those things where some guys might say Oh, Id rather have the days off,' but at the same time these memories and times cant really be replaced with vacation or time off.

It stays with you. There are only so many opportunities that youre going to get to play in these All-Star Games and meet all of these players in your career. You have to enjoy it and be happy about being invited, and I definitely am. Ive very humbled by this.

Chara finished with 21 minutes of ice time, had a pair of assists and a plus-1 in a game that featured 21 goals and tons of offense, and said afterwards that teammate Tim Thomas might have been the difference when it came right down to it. Thomas made 11 saves in the third period to capture his third consecutive victory, but Chara couldnt help but note that his great goaltending teammate might have been a little lucky.

We had some great chances. Everybody knows Timmy is very competitive, said Chara. We had some great shots and he made some big saves. He made one on me when he got kind of lucky and it hit off the knob. But thats the way it goes

A southern TV reporter asked with curiosity why Chara owner of the NHLs hardest shot didnt wind up and blast one of his 105.9 mph heat-seeking missiles during the exhibition game.

In a normal situation I would do that, but its an All-Star Game and its for fun, said Chara. Its kind of an unwritten rule that you usually dont shoot slappers.

Thomas was asked about the importance of the game against Carolina coming out of the All-Star break, and immediately went into a refrain hes sounded a few times this year about making too much out of regular season games.

What, are we going back to making all of these games like theyre Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals? said Thomas with mock indignation.

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

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats