Bruins

Kaberle's return to Bruins uncertain

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Kaberle's return to Bruins uncertain

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
ST. PAUL, Minn. The Bruins were focused on the future while drafting six players at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend, but theres also a present that needs to be taken care of.

The weekend began with a discussion between Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and Tomas Kaberles agent, Rick Curran, about a potential future for the 33-year-old defenseman on a team that he never really seemed to settle in with. Kaberle shared the lead with Dennis Seidenberg for top scoring Bs defensemen during the playoffs, but also saw his ice time minutes dwindle as the playoffs went on.

Chiarelli didnt deny that a full training camp and season would probably allow the former Maple Leafs defenseman a greater chance at fitting in with the Bruins way of doing things, but the GM also didnt sound like locking down Kaberle was a foregone conclusion.

I think if Kaberle returning is the case, I think he would," Chiarelli said. "You know he played in Toronto for a while, got used to what was going on there. Im not saying it was good or bad, just different from where we were. We were at a higher level, we simply were. I think it took him some time.

It was pretty clear that higher level of expectations and pressure wasnt something that Kaberle was prepared for, and his conditioning wasnt allowing him to play 20 minutes of ice time per night in a more pressurized environment. Add that to the fact that there are three or four other unrestricted free agent defensemen out there potentially for the taking, and it seems the Bruins wont be in a rush to ink Kaberle if they decide to go that route at all.

Given that an injury prone Andrei Markov managed to secure himself a three-year, 17.25 million contract as a 33-year-old while only playing 52 games for the Montreal Canadiens over the last seasons it would seem that the market is going to be a little on the high end for a Kaberle player in that same category.

Chiarelli thought the Markov contract was actually a bit shorter term than he expected, and that has to be the minimum term Kaberle is looking for in his likely final big contract as an NHL player. Perhaps the Bruins are willing to spend that kind of money because they invested a pair of first round picks (one literal first-rounder and a former first round pick in Joe Colborne) and a 2012 second round pick for Kaberle but that seems very doubtful given the likely price tag of 3-4 years around the 4 million that the defenseman was making with the Maple Leafs.

Thats a huge investment for a player that wasnt trusted to play more than 14 minutes in the final two rounds of the playoffs, and ended up as something of a power play specialist on a bottom defensemen pairing with Adam McQuaid.

There are three or four defensemen like Kaberle," Chiarelli said. "Those defensemen are valuable types of defensemen. They skate through the traps, passing through traps, all of that type of stuff. I dont know what value they would be.

Historically, theyve been in and around where Tomas Kaberle is now and above. So that would suggest that theyd be above that.

Among those other unrestricted free agent names are guys like Anton Babchuk, Joni Pitkanen, Kevin BieksaSami Salo and James Wisniewski that could be on the market for the Bruins come July 1 with plenty of salary cap room to chase after whichever blue-liner would make the best blue line fit. That doesnt even account for young defensemen like Steve Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski that are fighting for playing time moving forward as younger, more affordable, physically tougher alternatives to a player like Kaberle softened by the years in Toronto.

It really doesnt make a great deal of sense to lock things in with Kaberle before the Bruins see how the landscape plays out for the rest of the free agent defensemen crop this summer.

Bruins first round pick Dougie Hamilton was said to be taken aback by a question from the New York Islanders during the interview process where they asked the brilliant student if he saw himself playing in the NHL in two years or finding a cure for cancer. The question stunned the brilliant 18-year-old as if he would ever have to choose between playing hockey or the strong academic record hed put up over the years, and the notion amused Peter Chiarelli that a brilliant student couldnt also be a very good hockey player.

Well, New York Islanders GM Garth Snow is a brilliant GM, said Chiarelli with a completely straight face.

Third round pick Anthony Camara is a fighter and gritty junior player that made a name for himself with his fearless style of taking on any possible fight opponents. When asked where that fearless came from, the 17-year-old Toronto native had a pretty surprising answer.

I would say probably my sister would beat on me when I was a little kid, he said before breaking out into laughter. It got me tougher. Congratulations to Eric Tosi, Matt Chmura, Kelly Mohr and all of the other hard-working interns and game day staff people on the Boston Bruins PR staff for winning the highly-respected Dillman Award given to the NHL's top PR staff in the league each and every year. The B's do a lot of good work in that area, and have truly lifted that department up over the last four years. The award is a well-deserved honor.

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

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

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Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Perhaps part of the confused look from the Boston Bruins on the ice Sunday night in Las Vegas was a nagging feeling of déjà vu they never could shake. The Vegas Golden Knights took a 3-1 win over the Bruins for their fourth win in five tries this season, and handed the Bruins their third truly dreadful-looking defeat in five games played on the young hockey season.

It was tough to avoid the feeling that the Golden Knights were basically “Boston Bruins West”, and that was never too far away from notice as things played out on Sunday. Old friend and former Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher and ex-B's defenseman "Sheriff" Shane Hnidy are the friendly faces on the Vegas TV telecast, and were on the Jumbotron pregame in a skit with Carrot Top, of all people, to run down the arena's safety rules in a funny and well-produced video.

Former Bruins PR guru and Beverly native Eric Tosi is in charge of the media relations with the Golden Knights, and has been a busy, busy man along with the rest of the Vegas franchise getting the expansion club off the ground. He was even busier this past weekend, albeit with a relaxed smile on his face, as 20 members of the Tosi clan made the road trip out to Vegas to see the first NHL game between the two franchises.

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And there were the actual familiar faces on the ice with ex-Bruins Malcolm Subban and Colin Miller excelling against their old team. Subban only needed to stop 21 shots in the victory, but was able to finish his first NHL start and earn his first career NHL win against the Bruins franchise that left him unprotected on waivers just a couple of weeks ago.

The Bruins didn’t make the 23-year-old Subban sweat much during the game with pedestrian shots that hit the first-round pick squarely in the jersey crest, and pretty much zero attempts to beat his questionable glove hand.

"We know Malcolm well," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's a good first-shot goaltender for the most part. We wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable on those second ones, and I don't think we did a good job on that."

But give Subban credit for calming down his mental approach and refining his technique enough to play solid positional goaltending against the Bruins, and gaining some sweet revenge in the process.

Subban wasn’t gloating about it or basking in any kind of vengeance against his former team, but instead just expressed happiness at doing the job after stepping in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. It remains to be seen if Subban is going to be able to hold down the fort against the teams that will inevitably test him more than the hapless Bruins did, but he gave his team a good chance to win on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling. I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I'm just happy to get the win. The biggest thing was just not thinking, staying focused, and staying in the moment. It feels really good to get the first win in your first game," said Subban, "My first shot I got good control on it and that got me in the game a lot. You never know how the game is going to go in the NHL. It’s really technical. Sometimes you don’t get a lot of shots, so you gotta stay focused, and I felt I did that tonight.

“I thought I played pretty good. The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday). There weren’t too many high chances. [There were] a lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”

Miller didn’t factor into the scoring for the Golden Knights against the Bruins, but he was extremely active with three shots on net and eight shot attempts in 18:25 of ice time. He got plenty of power play time, was a plus player and looks like he might get the chance to develop his game in Vegas that hadn’t quite played out over the previous couple of years in Boston.

The Bruins won’t return to Vegas until next season, but the hope has to be those same Golden Knights’ familiar faces won’t get the best of the B’s when they come for their one-and-only visit to TD Garden at the beginning of November.

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