'Relieved' Campbell played no role in suspension

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'Relieved' Campbell played no role in suspension

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Mike Murphy didnt want to be speaking to the media onTuesday afternoon. He even said so.

But since the NHLs senior vice president is also theinterim disciplinarian for the league during this years Stanley Cup Finalbetween the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, the ruling to suspend Canucksdefenseman Aaron Rome for the rest of the series was a decision that had to bemade.

The NHLs previous disciplinarian Colin Campbell steppeddown just before the Finals began, as his son Gregory Campbell is a forwardfor the Bruins.

Murphy let it be known on Tuesday that, while he didreceive advice from others, he did not speak with Colin Campbell, and thefour-game suspension handed down to Rome was a decision made by him, and himalone.

This is my standard, said Murphy on Tuesday at WalterBrown Arena in Boston. I was given the responsibility to deal with thisseries. Brendan Shanahan will take over next year. And hell have a group ofpeople that are in his confidence.

I was told, You have to take care of this series. Ifsomething like this happened, its your responsibility. I have to look atmyself, and make sure Im doing the right thing. Because I know the severity ofwhat weve just done here. I know the severity with Nathan in the hospital, andAaron Rome not being able to play in the Finals.

Ive learned a lot of this from Colin Campbell, addedMurphy. Ive learned some it from talking with Brian Burke over the years,when weve had issues that Ive had to deal with. But, this is mine.

Gregory Campbell was one of several Bruins players availableto the media as well on Tuesday. He said his father was happy to not have tomake those kinds of decisions anymore.

I think hes relieved, said Campbell. You see situationsand decisions like the one that was just made. Its not an easy decision tomake, and its a tough spot to be in. So I think he put in his time, and heworked hard. I think hes happy to move on.

Its not an easy job. Youre dealing with injuriessometimes. But youre also dealing with taking a player out of a series, thattheyve worked their whole lives to get to that point. So its a no-win job.

I try to separate myself from that, because its not reallymy place, and its not my job, added Campbell. Ive dealt with it in mycareer, because thats the nature of it. Its my dad. Having been up front, andseen some of the decisions he had to make, its not an easy decision, butthats the job that they do.

With the ruling now in his hands, Murphy said on Tuesdaythat he took the decision very seriously, knowing that Horton and Rome may neverbe able to play in the Stanley Cup Final again.

And while he assured everyone that Campbell was not part ofany discussion or decision with Romes suspension, Murphy did acknowledge thatdealing with Campbell in the past, helped him handle the tough situation he wasdealt.

Most of what I know and what I decided on today, Ivelearned a lot from Colin Campbell, said Murphy. And I know he learned a lotfrom Brian Burke. This has to do with what we talk about almost on a nightlybasis, in the Toronto video room, when we have multiple clips.

Not to this severity, but we have a group of people thatshare ideas and share thoughts. And we often get asked about panels. We have apanel of people that I discussed this with, and a lot of people outside thepanel.

As difficult as this was, this was the right thing to do.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him. 

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.