Recchi: I wanted to take the heat off Chara

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Recchi: I wanted to take the heat off Chara

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Bruins proved a lot of different things by embarrassing their fiercest competitors from the hockey-crazed hamlet of Montreal.

The Bs showed they could ably handle the speedy, skilled, resilient Habs while playing a straight hockey game. They simply beat the Canadiens with hard work, skill, strength and skating speed rather than on-ice thuggery.

Essentially, they beat the Habs at their own game, going on six power plays, dominating the shots by an almost 2-1 margin and never easing off the gas against a team that had won 9 of their previous 11 meetings.

Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell each potted a pair of goals to announce their readiness for their first Stanley Cup playoff experience. Zdeno Chara notched three assists, which continues an amazing run (2 goals, 8 assists along with a plus-8 in seven games) since the Pacioretty incident at the Bell Centre. And Tim Thomas racked up his career-best eighth shutout of the season.

All of those things on the ice were thoroughly undeniable as the Bs slammed down the Habs by a shocking 7-0 score at TD Garden. Boston essentially locked down the division with a five point lead over Montreal with only nine games left and two important games in hand for the Black and Gold.

But the most important thing that took place over the last 36 hours was almost entirely about what went on in Boston's dressing room. It's been accused of being fractured or fragile at points over the last three seasons, but this week the Bruins have shown their togetherness both on and off the ice.

Mark Recchi and to a slightly lesser extent Milan Lucic both admitted after Thursdays statement victory over the Habs that their comments about Max Paciorettys injury embellishment on 98.5 the Sports Hub were orchestrated to help take some of the attention and heat away from their 6-foot-9 captain, Chara.

Chara has been the subject of derision, preposterous threats of criminal investigations and plain old smear campaigns manufactured in Montreal, and hes had to put up with unending questions about the Pacioretty hit in every city hes visited in the 16 days since the incident.

And that doesnt even count the CNN crew on Long Island that demanded to know what the 6-foot-9 Slovakian thought about Air Canada threatening to pull their NHL advertising dollars because of his on-ice violence.

Or the boos fueled by the Montreal-concocted perception that Chara is hell-bent on hurting opposing players with dirty hits a laughable accusation given Charas nearly immaculate 13-year disciplinary history in the NHL.

For a player that prides himself on playing a clean game and adhering to everything within the rules, all of that junk was piling up as a burden on Charas shoulders throughout the last three weeks. Recognizing all of that and the Montreal media tempest hitting Boston, Recchi stepped forward and took a hit for his captain.

I have to be honest with you guys. I wanted to take the heat off Zee Zdeno Chara for a day, said Recchi after the big shutout victory over Montreal. Im a big boy. And I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there.

I have great respect for Doctor David Mulder, the medical staff there. I had a great five years there. I took the pressure off of Zee. In twenty-two years, Ive respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that for twenty-two years. I took the pressure off of Zee for one day, Im a big boy, I can handle it.

Recchi was pressed to answer whether he actually believed what hed said 24 hours earlier about the Habs organization embellishing Paciorettys injuries to try and get Chara suspended, and he continued to hold up his simple motive behind the explosive comments.

I did what I had to do. Zee has taken a lot of heat and I felt it was very important to take, get some focus elsewhere. Im a big boy and like I said, Im sorry if it hurt some people, but at the same time, I think everyone knows my reputation for twenty-two years, said Recchi. Im very respectful of teammates, players, organizations and that is not going to change. I felt a need to protect our captain and its important. That will be the end of it and you wont hear anything said by me anymore.

Coach Claude Julien indicated he knew exactly what Recchi was doing by stirring the pot a day before his hockey club played its biggest game of the season, and it was pretty clear from the efforts of Chara on down that his teammates respect what their 43-year-old leader did. Chara never asked for anyone to step in on his behalf or shoulder some of the Pacioretty-sized burden on his shoulders, but he appreciated Recchis assistance.

Recchi is such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. Its a thrill to have him. We all learn so much from him, said Chara. Hes obviously the next Hall-of-Famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I cant thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.

But it wasnt just Recchis gesture that showed a hockey team as one. It was about all the Bruins playing the way they did to back up both Recchi and Chara against the Canadiens, and it was about Campbell dropping the gloves with the bigger, bulkier Paul Mara to defend Recchi once again.

Mara had gone after Recchi with several blows in front of the Boston net earlier in the second period that sent both players to the box, and Campbell responded without hesitation to go at the Montreal defenseman when both players were on the ice. It wasnt much in the way of a fight and it was the only fight on such a hotly anticipated evening of hockey compared to the bouts during the bloody affair between these two teams at the Garden the last time they met.

But Campbell showed the kind of leadership, togetherness and support thats been there pretty much all season for the Bruins.

It showed up in abundance when it was needed most against the hated Habs.

I think the focus and togetherness showed tonight, said Julien. We went out there and were focused on doing it right, and I think for us its a win that we needed for all the right reasons: standings and everything else. I think our guys felt good about their performance tonight and rightfully so.

The Bruins are back on track, theyre playing for each other and they served another 60-minute piece of evidence that things are a little different this season.

Dont believe me?

Why dont you go ask the Canadiens and see what they say?

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

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

Click here for the gallery.

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing. 

Bruins’ new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility to open Sept. 8.

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Bruins’ new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility to open Sept. 8.

The Bruins’ new practice facility has been years in the making and they will finally get to officially open the doors to Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton next month. 

The B’s players will start informal captain’s practice skates at the new facility on the New Balance property in these final days of August, but the team announced on Friday that the new facility will be officially opened to the public on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs, team president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney and a number of players will be on hand for the opening ceremony and ensuing open house for the media. Also planning to attend from New Balance will be Owner and Chairman Jim Davis and NB Development Group LLC Managing Director Jim Halliday, along with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo. 

Following the formal portion of the event, Warrior Ice Arena will host the “Boston Youth All-Star Game featuring Bruins Alumni” which will feature local squirt players from the Boston communities of Allston-Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Hyde Park, South Boston and West Roxbury mixed in with members of the Bruins alumni. 

The Youth All-Stars will team with Bruins alumni and they will play the first official game before the ice is turned over to the current Bruins players for their training camp later in the month.

The Warrior Ice Arena gets its name from the Warrior brand of hockey equipment that is now a division of New Balance and comes with a 79-foot high Warrior hockey stick that greets visitors at the front entrance doors.

Warrior Ice Arena will be the B’s new and permanent practice home after the Bruins spent 25-plus years practicing in the suburbs of Boston at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.