Bruins give Shane Hnidy a tryout

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Bruins give Shane Hnidy a tryout

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER In their search for that final piece of defense depth, which is needed to round out a close-to-capacity Bruins roster, general manager Peter Chiarelli isnt ruling anything out.

That became obvious Wednesday at the Pacific Coliseum, when "The Sheriff" returned to town.

Shane Hnidy, a clubhouse leader during his year-and-a-half with the Bruins, practiced with the team, allowing Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien to get a first-hand look at how the 35-year-old defenseman is recovering from a rotator cuff injury suffered during thefall.

Chiarelli confirmed to CSNNE.com that the Bruins are still searching for potential forward and defensemen candidates to fill out the club's depth heading into the playoffs, either via trade or free-agent signings. Hnidy joined the Minnesota Wild after the Bruins chose not to re-sign him after the 2008-09 season, and is again a free agent.

Well have a look at him over the next couple of days, see how he is and make a decision then, said Chiarelli, who estimated Hnidy could be a month away while still working his way back from the shoulder injury. Hes a guy were familiar with and hes been in here before. He suffered an injury at the end of camp with Phoenix, and hes been rehabbing all year.

He reached out a couple of times to us and we decided it was time to take a look at him. Were still looking at little trade things along those depth lines at defenseman and forward, and this is another one of our options.

Hnidy took part in spirited 2-on-2 skating drills up and down the ice, and said afterward rejoining the Bruins would be the perfect fit.

Hnidy was coming off his best NHL season with the Wild in 2009-10, but the blueliner banged up his shoulder tumbling into the boards while trying out with the Phoenix Coyotes during training camp in September.

Julien is clearly a Hnidy fan, and hoped the Bs could get a few months of the Hnidy that cemented a role in Boston over the course of 1 12 seasons and finished with 17 points (4 goals, 13 assists) in 108 games. He wasnt going to wow anybody with his offensive skills or offensive abilities, but Hnidy is the exact kind of player that any good Stanley Cup level team has room for. There's also the whole matter of 37 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience on Hnidy's resume, which could help in an extended run for the Cup.

Hes familiar with us and the coaching staff, and were all familiar with him. Hes always been a team guy, said Julien. We know what he brings on the ice, and we know what he brings off the ice. If things work out then we have no problem making him an addition because hes been a good team player.

With the Bruins feeling that Steve Kampfer has encountered a bit of the rookie wall in his first season outside of NCAA hockey, and with Johnny Boychuk battling with consistency, adding another defenseman to the mix seems like a natural move forthe B's.

Boston also seems like the place for Hnidy, though there are plenty of other teams in the market for a veteran defenseman capable of playing gritty, tough hockey in a bottom-six pairing.

It was definitely an easy transition to come in here. Its such an incredible group of guys both the ones that Ive played with and the new guys that have come in here, said Hnidy. This is a team thats obviously at the top of my list. Theres no question.

When I left Boston I felt like there was a part of me that I left there. Right from when I first got traded there in January 2008 it was an easy fit for me, and it really felt right.

Hnidy is obviously an attractive option given his unique knowledge with the personnel, coaches and systems employed by the Bruins, but theres an even bigger part of the defensemens game. A no-nonsense guy from Manitoba, Hnidy had that rare ability to call out anybody in the dressing room when the time called for it during his time in Boston.

Many around the team pointed to Hnidys absence last season as one of the hurdles that had to be overcome in terms of leadership and locker-room voice, and hed clearly add a little toughness and intensity to this years playoff run if hes healthy enough to play.

Rather than the crazy trade theories tossed out there concerning the Bs Matt Hunwick anyone? signing a veteran like Hnidy with some Boston track record should be an attractive option for the Bruins. The minimal cost in terms of cap hit and assets surrendered make it something of a no-brainer if everything else is equal.

Im here. Thats the first step. I know its up to me and I know what Ive got to do, said Hnidy. I know theres going to be some work involved, but that isnt something Ive shied away from. Thats what my whole career has been about.

If its solely up to hard work and determination, then it would be only a matter of time before Hnidy is added to the Boston mix.

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

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

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