Bruins

Pastrnak likely to miss start of camp; 'no breakthrough' in talks

Pastrnak likely to miss start of camp; 'no breakthrough' in talks

The Boston Bruins are set to kick off their training camp for the 2017-18 NHL regular season on Thursday morning with fitness testing at Warrior Ice Arena, but they’ll be missing one key player from the roster. B’s 21-year-old right winger David Pastrnak remains behind in his native Czech Republic as his agent and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney continue to try to work toward a contract extension for the game-breaking forward. 

Pastrnak won’t be returning to North American until he has a contract agreed upon, and therefore won’t be in attendance for the start of camp on Thursday. Instead Pastrnak will seek out a team to work out with in Europe if the holdout becomes a long term situation, and will be forced to explore other options for the season aside from Boston. 

For now, though, there is still plenty of time for Pastrnak to get signed to a big contract and quickly make the cross-continental flight to be on the ice for the weekend with little harm done to his preparation for the upcoming season. Pastrnak’s agent said he continues to go over ideas with Sweeney in very open lines of communication, and the two sides are talking about multiple deals with varying lengths of term. 

“I’m still talking to Don on a few terms, but no breakthroughs yet,” said Pastrnak’s agent, J.P. Barry, in a text message to CSN New England. “We will keep at it.”

It certainly sounds like it’s entirely up to the Bruins to provide the “breakthrough” in negotiations that’s finally going to close the deal with their young player. 

The increase in discussion between the two sides comes in direct proportion to the ticking clock when Pastrnak’s absence from camp begins to negatively impact his season. It’s believed that the Bruins and Pastrnak’s camp are a little closer than previously when the two sides were $2 million apart in average annual value (AAV) of the contract. It’s likely that the Bruins aren’t currently willing to go much past the $6.75 per season million handed out to Johnny Gaudreau a year ago, and Pastrnak’s camp could be convinced to take the $7.5 million per season that Vladimir Tarasenko signed for in St. Louis a couple of years ago. 

Both are undoubtedly comparable contracts to Pastrnak, and that would leave around $7 million per season on a long term deal as the amount it would probably take to finally close the deal with the 21-year-old sniper. Pastrnak’s teammates and the Bruins coaching staff are undoubtedly hoping that things get done sooner rather than later, and that he’s able to step into camp and take his place on the right side alongside David Krejci early on in the preseason process. 

“You coach the guys that are there. You’re putting lines together all summer, and now at this particular moment you’re thinking about who is going to be on David [Krejci’s] right side if Pasta isn’t here. That’s about as far as it’s gone in that regard,” said B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I think with most guys if they miss some time, they’re playing a little bit of catch-up. How much catch-up? That’s speculation. How far behind? That’s speculation.

“But generally there is a bit of a catch-up period [with holdouts]. But let’s face it for his sake and for our sake, let’s hope there it’s very little if any at all [time missed].”

At the very least Pastrnak is going to miss the first official day of training camp for the Bruins, and will begin missing crucial on-ice practice days beginning Friday if the two sides haven’t been able to work out a suitable contract. 

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

bruins_david_backes_121216.jpg

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

BRIGHTON -- While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the medical staff, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

MORE:

After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress . . . certainly. A return . . . we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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

bruins_tuukka_rask_110315.jpg

'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.

MORE:

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.