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.