Bruins

Bruins take off for team bonding retreat

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Bruins take off for team bonding retreat

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BRIDGEPORT, CT. The Bruins are spending Sunday and Monday at a team-bonding retreat away from the ice and the hustle and bustle of Boston just prior to the start of another NHL season.

The entire team loaded onto a bus outside the Webster Bank Arena Saturday night following their final preseason game against the Islanders, and they were headed to parts unknown for two days of role playing, trust exercises and team activities designed to bring the entire square closer together.

The Bs organization was making arrangements for several of the younger players to take part in the weekend along with the established cast of veteran characters just as theyve done the last couple of years. The big wrinkle this season is that the location of the team-bonding camp hasnt been identified, and none of the players know exactly where theyre going.

Im not even curious, basically, said Tim Thomas with a laugh while alluding to the importance of the team-building process. Whatever. Well see when we get there.

Last fall the team went to Vermont for the two-day team-bonding activities and brought Marc Savard with them even though the center was still suffering from post-concussion syndrome and nowhere near ready to get on the ice.

The thinking is that inclusion in the bigger Black and Gold group makes some of the Providence-bound training camp players more comfortable with their teammates if theyre needed during the regular season.

Claude Julien spoke about last seasons team-building event shoehorned in with the trip to Belfast and Prague, and how it helped with getting over the catastrophic loss to the Flyers in the playoffs.

To us it works well and thats why we keep doing it every year, said Julien. We like getting the guys together to do things that are going to get them to bond, and we do have some new faces in our lineup this year no matter how we look at it. Those new faces have to bond with the team and get comfortable. But it never hurts to spend some time together.

We have a pretty good idea of what the players thrive on and enjoy, but at the same time we take a lot of consideration into what the group needs. Thats what we did last year with the theme and the approach when we talked about going from contenders to champions. We contended every year but didnt get the job done, and there were certain things that had to change. We focused on that and made it a part of our team-building.

Tim Thomas has watched plenty of hockey over the years and played with all manner of teammates as one of the last remaining Bruins with a resume that includes games for the Bs during the Joe Thornton Era in Boston. He has come to understand what works or doesnt work for any particular team, and he said that last years team-building in Vermont actually helped the Bruins rethink their approach by the leadership group.

It is what you make of it. It was helpful to us last year and to a certain extent its been helpful for us every year. It forces us to a work as a group, said Thomas. Different people have to take control at different points in the process. You kind of learn where the leadership lies.

I think last year we learned it was leader by committee, which was a good thing as compared to some previous years when we had certain guys that tried to be dominant. Every year you have a little bit different group. Its set up in a manner where you learn a lot. It was valuable to me last year.

The stressed points and message behind this years team-bonding activities will certainly center on the pressures of repeating and avoiding the complacency that can decimate a hockey team.

What else the players take from their two days off the grid will likely not be on the table for public consumption. But maybe just maybe it will help the Bruins form a tighter group as it did before last years Cup journey.

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

'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

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That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.  

Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

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Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while back in the good, ol' Eastern Time Zone.
 
*Really nice piece from Shawn Thornton in the Players' Tribune about the inspiration provided by his “Nanny” and how he’s come to truly love the community service and hospital visits while involved with professional hockey. He’s always been one of those athletes that just stops by children’s hospitals for a visit without needing the attention for it, and that is a credit to his great generosity and empathy for those brave kids.

 *You want a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps? Well, the world will certainly provide a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps.

*Defenseman Connor Murphy hasn’t been the player that the Chicago Blackhawks expected him to be since arriving in the Windy City.
 
*The Colorado Avalanche are adding a fancy stats and video man to their management group as they seek to keep improving the NHL product.
 
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eddie Olczyk is returning to the NBC broadcast booth as his health will allow as he continues to battle cancer. Good to see you back, Edzo!

 *Erik Karlsson is finally set to debut for the Ottawa Senators after offseason foot surgery, and it will be a case of the strong getting stronger for a Sens team off to a pretty decent start.

 *For something completely different: Just in time for Halloween, Jennifer Tilly releases all of the behind-the-scenes secrets of working with Chucky.