Thornton, Boychuk out for the Bruins

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Thornton, Boychuk out for the Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com
BOSTON Shawn Thornton was okay after taking 40 stitches in a long, grotesque gash above his right eye caused by Fernando Pisanis skate blade, but there are several team-wide ramifications stemming from the injury suffered Tuesday night against the Blackhawks.Thornton wont be in the lineup tonight against the Maple Leafs after failing to gain medical clearance from the team doctors that sewed him up, and hell likely be wearing a visor until the nasty looking wound heals completely. The Bs enforcer donned a visor two years ago when he incurred a smaller gash on the other side of his forehead, and said hell never get used to that piece of protective equipment on his helmet.Im not used to a visor, but Ive worn one a few times before said Thornton. I feel great. Im 100 percent, but Im told that Im medically not cleared because of the stitches inside my head. Thats the doctors call and I guess they want to give it a couple extra days because we have the extra bodies. Theres no point in getting it ripped open.Thorntons scratch led to several lineup changes with the Bruins on the verge of clinching the Northeast Division title with a victory in regulation tonight against Toronto. Michael Ryder will be back in the lineup in Thorntons place skating with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, and hopes to snap an 11-game goal-scoring drought thats mounted up as the games began to take on higher meaning at the end of the regular season.You definitely dont want to be out of the lineup. Thats for sure, said Ryder. When youre in the lineup you certainly dont want to try and do too much. Try and make sure you help the team rather than hurt it.Things get worse if you try to do too much. I just need to go out and play my game and then its a coachs decision after that.The Bs will also start resting their defensemen corps, and that starts tonight with Johnny Boychuk getting a blow while Steve Kampfer is placed back in the lineup against a desperate Maple Leafs team. Kampfer has been scratched five straight games and hasnt played since a March 17 loss to the Nashville Predators that saw the puck-moving defenseman make some critical plays in the third period and overtime that led to the defeat.The youngster took responsibility for the mistakes after the game, and has been working diligently at practice waiting for his next chance.Claude Julien stressed Boychuk was being rested to help get the team ready for the playoffs, and had nothing to do with performance on the ice a practice that Bs fans will likely see more of as the team is cementing their seeding in the Eastern Conference standings. Boychuk has been playing some of his best hockey of the season for the Bs over the last two weeks, but can certainly use a quick rest before the postseason gets going.Kampfer is going to play tonight," Julien said. "Boychuk is going to sit out this one, and were going to kind of maybe rotate guys in and out. Its got nothing do with their play more than we have an opportunity to give some guys some playing time. We want to make sure we do, and well work through it. Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice and it appears that hell get the start against the Maple Leafs while riding a four-game winning streak that includes only two goals allowed and a pair of shutouts. Julien said that its likely that Shane Hnidy will see his first NHL action of the season when the Bruins play the Atlanta Thrashers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Hnidy has been activated, and the Bruins coaching staff has been looking for the proper opportunity to get The Sheriff into action.

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

Five reasons why Stamkos won't be coming to Boston

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Five reasons why Stamkos won't be coming to Boston

The downright mania around Steven Stamkos is reaching a fever pitch with the clock counting down to July 1 and unrestricted free agency, and doubly so with former Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton stoking the Boston fires on Monday by lumping the Bruins in with Tampa Bay and Toronto as potential favorites to land the top free agent big fish out there. Unfortunately I have heard absolutely nothing about Stamkos harboring a desire to play in Boston, and there’s no reason to believe the Black and Gold have anything resembling a legit shot to land the Lightning center this weekend.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why Stamkos won’t be picking the Boston Bruins as his NHL destination of choice when the moment of truth comes, likely on Friday.

1. Going in the wrong direction

The Bruins are headed in the wrong direction at this point. Let’s say the Bruins sign Stamkos to a $10-11 million per season contract for seven years, and immediately plug him into the lineup. Things might work out financially for the 2016-17 season, and perhaps the Stammer Hammer on the PP is enough to get the Bruins back into the playoffs. They are still a deeply flawed team even with Stamkos, and the giant $11 million cap hit is going to make it impossible to keep everybody with Torey Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all looking at new contracts over the next calendar year. That doesn’t even mention trading, or signing in free agency, a potentially expensive defenseman, and replacing Loui Eriksson on the right wing if he walks on July 1 as well. The Bruins could theoretically sign Stamkos at the end of this week because they have $20-plus million in cap space, but they would immediately be in cap trouble once again with a roster that’s still nowhere near a Cup contender. Signing a shiny, skilled sniper off the free agent market isn’t a good strategy to build the Bruins back up into Cup contender, and it could actually set them back even further than they already sit at this point.

2. Krejci would have to be dealt

The Bruins would need to move heaven and Earth to make Stamkos happy. Okay, so maybe not heaven and Earth, but they would have to find a taker for playmaking center David Krejci. The Tampa Bay Lightning scorer is leaving the Bolts, and looking for a team where he can play center after battling with Tampa coach Jon Cooper over his playing position for the last couple of seasons. Going from Krejci to Stamkos would clearly be an upgrade on paper, and on the ice where Stamkos is one of the most electrifying players in the entire league. But there’s no guarantee Krejci would be willing to waive his no-movement clause to accommodate the Bruins bringing in his replacement, and that could blow up in Boston’s face if they make the signing before clearing out Krejci. Imagine if the Bruins are stuck with an unhappy Krejci who knows the Bruins want to move him, and an unhappy Stamkos that’s playing out of position because the Bruins once again didn’t get all their ducks in a row. That would be just another disastrous scenario for the Black and Gold where not enough attention was paid to the details. Speaking of those details, Brett Connolly and Stamkos are fairly good friends after their time in Tampa Bay. So non-tendering Connolly certainly wouldn’t have won any points with a player in Stamkos they’re allegedly attempting to woo.

3. Ontario is home

People need to realize that part of what’s going on here is Stamkos harboring a dream to go home to Ontario, and be the player that’s going to lift his Maple Leafs back to a proud, winning organization. There are pictures all over the Internet of Stamkos wearing Maple Leafs gear as a kid, and he’s said to those close to him that he wants to play in a real hockey market where the NHL is king. That was never the case in Tampa Bay where he still flourished, became a leader and developed into one of the most well-liked superstars in the entire league. But Stamkos now has a chance to go to the biggest hockey market that the NHL has to offer, and that’s Toronto where were Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre is a certified sports event. It doesn’t matter which team is in town, the Leafs get top billing on Hockey Night in Canada, and those Leafs players are splashed all across TV sets throughout Canada. Boston is a great hockey market, and an Original Six city that boasts its own considerable amount of hockey history. But it doesn’t compare to Toronto for an Ontario kid that grew up worshiping the Leafs, and now potentially has a chance to go home and lead that franchise to glory. There’s no just contest there when you think about it.

4. Julien is not Obi Wan Kenobi

There are many that think Claude Julien holds some kind of special bond with Stamkos, and that is going to be the key to getting him with the Boston Bruins. I’m sure that Stamkos appreciates that a classy guy like Julien visited him in the hospital after he gruesomely broke his leg in Boston, and they have forged a good player/coach relationship during their time at Team Canada events. But people are portraying this as Julien being some kind of Obi Wan Kenobi figure that’s going to wave his hand, and use some kind of Jedi mind trick on Stamkos to get him to sign on the dotted line with the Black and Gold. This is probably one of the most ridiculous theories in this entire Stamkos-to-the-Bruins propaganda that’s floating around. The truth of the matter is that Stamkos’ offensive numbers would take a dive in Claude Julien’s system, and that he wouldn’t be the top center in most situations while giving way to Patrice Bergeron at important moments. I don’t think that is what Stamkos has in mind when signing with a team, whether it’s Toronto or Tampa, or somebody else. It’s nice to hold out hope that the Bruins are going to land a big fish despite being a star-crossed franchise that’s very much in the middle of a painful reloading process. But some of these are delusions more than reasonable scenarios based on what might actually happen.

5. Bruins aren’t on the list

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s the most damning piece of proof. TSN’s ultimate hockey insider Bob McKenzie was on the phone with TSN Radio out in Edmonton on Tuesday morning, and was asked about the Stamkos sweepstakes right out of the gate. He labeled Detroit, Buffalo and Toronto as the three favorites to land Stamkos in free agency, and Bobby Mac never even mentioned the Bruins during a lengthy, information-filled discussion with numerous follow-up questions. Other teams like the Canadiens were tossed into the mix for discussion purposes, but at no point were the Black and Gold even a glint in McKenzie’s eye during his comments. All due respect to Lawton, but it’s like I said earlier: there is a 0.0 percent chance that Stamkos signs with the Bruins on July 1 if he ultimately leaves the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Tuesday, June 28: Stamkos to the Bruins isn't happening

Tuesday, June 28: Stamkos to the Bruins isn't happening

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the parade of RFAs without qualifying offers wait for July 1 free agency.

*The Eric Lindros induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame finally puts the debate to bed over a controversial player with dominant seasons, serious injuries and some potential unrealized when it was all said and done.

*A list of the top 5 reasons why Steven Stamkos is going to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*A list of the top reasons why Steven Stamkos is going to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Notice there is no list of the top reasons why Stamkos is going to sign with the Boston Bruins because it is not going to happen. 

*Goalie Jack Campbell is traded away from the Dallas Stars, but has nothing but positive things to say about the organization.

*Matt Cullen will put off retirement after winning the Stanley Cup, and hopes to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Congrats to Ron Maclean and David Amber splitting the hosting duties for Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays. A great example of two classy pros, though I also think that Strombo did a good job under challenging circumstances the last couple of years.

*Andrew Shaw signs a six-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens that will insure he’s an aggravating pest in the Habs/Bruins rivalry for a long time to come. 

*For something completely different: Peyton Manning pays his respects to legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt on the day of her passing.