By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
The mystery locale for the Bruins team-bonding was revealed on Monday afternoon as the Bs returned to Boston for Thursdays opening night against the Philadelphia Flyers, and it was a bit of a surprise.
The Bruins traveled to Great Diamond Island in the Portland harbor of Maine on Sunday for two days of team-building, bonding and physical activities designed to strengthen the teams chemistry and foundation headed into a challenging season. It wasn't about grabbing a fist full of lobster rolls or spotting a moose or two along the way for the B's, however. This was all about hockey.The Bruins took part in plenty of exercises along the water in Diamond Island Cove, and Bs coach Claude Julien said it was important to mix things up with so many players returning from last years squad.The same old program might not have provided a challenge to the returning 17 players from last seasons Stanley Cup championship, so things were changed up a bit for players and coaching staff that have benefited tremendously from the team-building events since Bs GM Peter Chiarelli took over the franchise.
The Bruins kept it a secret from the players, the media and just about anybody that else didnt need to know a move that takes on a little more importance when its a Stanley Cup-winning team with the frothy following in Boston that comes along with it.
We ended up taking a ferry boat out there. It was secluded and we were able to do what we needed to do as a team, said Claude Julien. A lot of the stuff that we did was based around the water, and our guys seemed to enjoy it. We had plenty of water coming from the sky yesterday, but it was also underneath us.
It was challenging. We feel coming back from there that everybody enjoyed it, and that our group also got a lot of things accomplished as far as what we need to do this year to be competitive.
The Bs players have become accustomed to the team-building program just prior to the grind of the NHL regular season, and Tim Thomas even credited last years program with allowing the team to shift from dominant individual leadership voices to the leadership by committee method that worked so well for the Bs. The trip to Maine took on added importance this season with no long road trip in the first few months of the season for the Bs a logical time when a new team of players are able to bond together and form that tight hockey unit.
With 13 of their first 17 games at home, the two-day trip to Maine for 25 Bs players including goalie Anton Khudobin and injured defenseman Steve Kampfer will have to suffice as that early West Coast trip that used to be a staple of the Bs regular season schedule when the circus came to town.
So it truly does have an effect. But orientation exercises trust falls and ropes courses among other things can only do so much, and the Bruins are under no illusions about the challenge this season as the targeted Stanley Cup champs. The Bruins know they have to talk the talk, but its much more important to go out and walk the walk.
It would appear that was a key part of the whole two-day retreat to an island in Maine, and will be hammered home over the next few days.
I dont think anybody on this team is fooling themselves, said Andrew Ference, one of the leading candidates to earn the A on his sweater vacated by Mark Recchi when he retired at the end of last season. We all know how hard it is to make it into the playoffs first off let alone the little bounces and the good health that you need in the playoffs to have success.
We know the challenge that faces us no matter what year it is whether youre defending the Cup or not. There are some good lessons we learned last year on how to be successful. With all that said, you still have to go out there and prove it. Actions definitely speak louder than words.
Those actions continued with the two-day trip to Maine, but they get a lot more defined when the Bs put all those good team-building lessons to use Thursday night against a Flyers team they embarrassed while sweeping during the playoffs last season.