2011 Bruins' entertaining live stream reunion a reminder of what made team so special

2011 Bruins' entertaining live stream reunion a reminder of what made team so special

It didn’t turn out to be the entire 2011 Stanley Cup Boston Bruins team that turned out for the "Locker Room Time Machine" live stream to watch the Game 7 broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final between the B’s and the Vancouver Canucks.

Nathan Horton never made it onto the live stream on the Bruins YouTube channel as his former teammates joked that he was “on the moon” and couldn’t get a WiFi signal.

Tomas Kaberle didn’t make it past the first 10 minutes of the first period before he dropped off the call after the conversation never really moved his way, and then his former teammates joked that he “was out delivering groceries” for the rest of the stream. 

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Michael Ryder popped in late from Newfoundland -- just as he was infamously late for so many team meetings during his playing days in Boston -- but arrived with a smile and the same happy-go-lucky attitude he always had with the Black and Gold.

Even if one or two guys were missing from the re-watch of Game 7 broadcast on NESN on Tuesday night, all of the key players were there for the entire two-plus hours watching the game. Current NHL players on other teams like Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk and Tyler Seguin logged on for the entire thing, Hall of Famer Mark Recchi was there as well, and elusive Conn Smythe-winning Tim Thomas also was watching the game that cemented his legacy in Boston.

Current core Bruins Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask were all watching, and retired Bruins like Chris Kelly, Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Ryder, Shane Hnidy and Rich Peverley were on hand, as well.

The event was sponsored by Bud Light so some of the chirping was exactly the kind of brotherly ribbing that took place every day with the 2011 group -- and spurred on as the wine and beer kept on flowing throughout the stream.

Gregory Campbell was the unlikely MVP of the Zoom stream. He repeatedly roasted Brad Marchand for his hairline, his March&Mill Co. clothing line with Kevan Miller and pretty much anything else he could think of along the way.

At one point Marchand shot back, calling Campbell “a muppet” and made fun of the Merlot Line center begging him for free March&Mill Co. clothes. It was all in good fun, but it also totally comical as the two forwards talked smack with each other on and off throughout the entirety of the two hour video stream. 

Lucic talked trash about Canucks center Ryan Kesler (“He’s not in the league anymore…[expletive] him") and the Bruins collectively laughed about Lucic’s body check on goalie Ryan Miller destroying an entire franchise in the Buffalo Sabres. 

"I wonder what must have happened for them to get so sensitive about it.. .. Hey, he shouldn't have been standing there,” said Lucic of the NHL moving in recent years to protect goaltenders from taking hits. 

The whole thing was highly entertaining while everybody got an inside look at exactly what made the chemistry so special with the Bruins in 2010-11, and how much they loved each other beyond the chirps and bickering.

“Let’s just cheers to the fact that we got our names on the Cup and that we won together. This is a family that we will have for the rest of our lives,” said Lucic, leading all of his Bruins teammates in a toast as they watched video of their on-ice celebration after raising the Cup back in 2011.

“I love you guys and cheers, boy.”

Lucic also led a toast to Thomas, who hasn’t been back to Boston as a celebrated Cup winner since his split with the team after the 2011-12 season, when the former Vezina winner and Conn Smythe winner skipped out on the team’s day celebrating the Cup at the White House.

Most of Thomas’ teammates haven’t seen him since the last time he played in the NHL, so it was pretty cool to see them enjoying each other’s company during the Zoom call. 

"I haven't seen Timmy T in a long time,” said Lucic. “You were the MVP that season… a .938 save percentage. What a historic season for a goalie. Tank, I appreciate what you did that year. I love you man. Cheers."

The love, genuine affection, brotherly ribbing and the chemistry you watched on the Bruins Zoom call Tuesday night is exactly why the Bruins won the Cup that season. It was a fun, strong-willed hockey team with tons of talent, but tons of character up and down the lineup, too.

I was lucky enough to be there for every day of it while covering in person all 82 games they played that season plus the playoffs, but everybody was able to get a peek behind the curtain on Tuesday night as to what made that team so special in the first place. 

Don Sweeney admits Bruins face 'some hard decisions' with upcoming free agents

Don Sweeney admits Bruins face 'some hard decisions' with upcoming free agents

The Bruins head into this summer’s Return to Play with plenty of question marks about how it’s all going to turn out attempting to complete the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. But there are question marks beyond that as well, with several key contracts ending once this postseason has been completed by the Black and Gold.

Torey Krug is set to become an unrestricted free agent and the offensive-minded D-man could be the most coveted defenseman on the market should he get there. Jake DeBrusk is a restricted free agent and will be looking at a big raise in his second contract after averaging 20 goals per season as a top-6 guy during his first three years in the NHL.

The two players combined will easily command over $10 million per season with their next contracts, and the Bruins will have to figure out new contracts for Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk and Anders Bjork among others. Complicating matters will be a flat salary cap for at least the next couple of years at $81.5 million with a chance it might go up a nominal amount in the third subsequent season after the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a CBA extension earlier this week.

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It will be interesting to see just how much the market corrects for a player like Krug that could have been looking at a payday in the $8 million per season range, and whether or not a player like him would take a shorter deal to remain in Boston and wait out the financial fallout headed for all of pro sports over the next couple of seasons.

Don Sweeney wouldn’t rule out negotiating deals with those potential free agents while Phase 3 and 4 roll out over the next few months, but also cautioned that the Bruins weren’t going to be “overly aggressive” given how much is still unknown about the way player contracts will be impacted moving forward.

“I’ve never stated that we’d never have conversations, so ultimately I think we’ll have [contract discussions] case-by-case. I’m not going to be overly aggressive as we get into Phase 3 getting ready to play and then into the playoffs. But if something makes sense then we’ll do it. If there are some players that are very particular and don’t want to have those conversations until we’re done [with the games] then I respect that as well,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney during a zoom call with reporters on Sunday.

“I think I’ll just touch base with each and every one of [the free agents], and that includes RFAs that want to know where they’re going to be. There will be some conversations that will take place in terms of how we’re going to position contracts and how we’re going to structure contracts, and how you fit it together. Ultimately, we’re all going to have the $81.5 million for the next two years. We’re going to start to have conversations.  

“We’ve had to run simulations and still [get to a place] where we’re treating every player fairly from a compensation standpoint. But we have some decisions to make and we may have to make some hard decisions just like every other team in the league now that we have the parameters of the cap and how the mechanisms of the new CBA are going to work.”

Those “hard decisions” could mean they have to decide between Krug and DeBrusk when finding a way to get under the cap for next season, though it should be noted that the Bruins have a lot of cap space opening up two seasons from now when the current deals for both Tuukka Rask and David Krejci (almost $15 million in cap space) will be off the books.

Bruins expect to be missing a few players at start of camp due to quarantine rules

Bruins expect to be missing a few players at start of camp due to quarantine rules

Don’t be surprised if a couple of players are missing from the ice when Bruins training camp gets going at the outset of Phase 3 of Return to Play on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

The Bruins submitted a roster of 29 players and four goaltenders that will be a part of training camp for the next few weeks before leaving for the Toronto hub city on July 26. The list did not include Bruins reserve D-man Steve Kampfer, who has opted out due to health concerns for his wife and young son amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but it sounds like everybody on the active training camp roster is intent on playing for the next few months.

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Still, at least one or two European players may not be on the ice for the first day of practice while observing the self-quarantine rules following international travel to get to Boston over the last couple of weeks. Several European players like Zdeno Chara, Par Lindholm, Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask were already taking part in Phase 2 practices over the last month, and it's unknown exactly which players might not be cleared to go right out of the opening starting gate. 

“They have a final decision to make by Monday at 5 p.m. At this point in time we haven’t heard from anybody else [aside from Steve Kampfer],” said Don Sweeney. “We may have one or two players that are still facing international quarantine rules per the recommendation of our staff, but within a day or so we should be fully up and going.”

David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, Joakim Nordstrom, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril and Daniel Vladar were the players expected to be traveling back from Europe, so any camp absences at the start would be expected to be among that group.