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For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

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For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

TORONTO – It’s no secret that NHL players weren’t happy about being barred from participating in the Winter Olympics wrapping up in South Korea this week. 

Instead the NHL continued their regular season with business as usual while skipping the Olympics for the first time since 1998, and college hockey players, minor league players and players already playing overseas in Europe were utilized to comprise the teams for the US, Canada and others participating in the Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament. 

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The lack of NHL participation has made for a wide open tournament at this month’s Olympics, and led to the major upset of Canada actually losing to Germany on Friday in a match to play for the gold medal game this weekend. That was bad news for former Bruins forward Chris Kelly as the captain of Team Canada at the tail end of his hockey career, but great news for fellow former B’s forward Marco Sturm as the head coach of Team Germany. 

Naturally one couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, who certainly would have both been on Team Canada, watching Hockey Canada fall short of the gold medal game. 

“Obviously you cheer for your country and that’s what we were all doing. I got up early to catch a little of the game,” said Bergeron. “It’s too bad. I thought Germany played a really good game, and there’s a part of me that’s very happy for Marco [Sturm] since he’s a friend of mine. We played together for a long time.

“It was tough. You wanted to be out there and you wanted to be able to compete. It’s too bad that we didn’t have a say in it. That’s probably the biggest thing for me. That’s my biggest disappointment that we had no say in being a part of it. It was different. The last two Olympics I was in it, and now being able to watch it on TV it’s actually been a lot of fun to be able to watch different events at any time of the day.”

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While Bergeron has his two gold medals from each of the past two Olympic Games to go along with his memories, Marchand might have missed his one chance to be a part of Team Canada at the Olympics during the peak of his hockey career. Coming off last season’s stunning performance from Team Canada at the World Cup, Marchand would have been close to an automatic for the Olympic roster, but instead it’s an experience he may have simply missed the boat on given that he’ll be 33 years old the next time around. 

“Obviously you get over it, but it was more about it being an opportunity lost, I think,” said Marchand. “It was a potential opportunity lost, but it allows other guys to have opportunities. I couldn’t be any happier that a guy like Chris Kelly gets to be there. It’s a huge opportunity. A lost opportunity for us is a huge opportunity for other guys…but it would have been nice to be there and be a part of it. It’s the biggest stage in the world.  

“The biggest reason it stings is that I never thought I would even be potentially be looked at for a team like that. With how things have played out the last couple of years, I might have been able to crack that [Olympic] lineup. So I think it stings a little more for that reason…to have the rug pulled out from under you for no reason. It does sting a bit, but that’s how it goes.”

That stinging feeling from the league pulling out of the Olympics will no doubt be revisited the next time the NHL and NHLPA go to the bargaining table for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But that’s a different story for a different day as the first Winter Olympics without NHL players in 20 years finally goes into the books this weekend.

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Bruins make first training camp cuts at 'difficult camp' for young hopefuls

Bruins make first training camp cuts at 'difficult camp' for young hopefuls

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins made their first cuts of NHL training camp over the weekend with their preseason schedule halfway over, and Providence Bruins camp for their AHL farm club set to begin on Monday. Young D-men Axel Andersson and Wiley Sherman were sent down to Providence this weekend, and Samuel Asselin, Chris Breen, Alexey Solovyev, Brendan Woods and Cooper Zech were all assigned to the P-Bruins as well.

The moves still leave the Bruins with a few young faces in NHL training camp as more veterans will be inserted into the lineup for the three home preseason games beginning tonight at TD Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers. But Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been quick to point out that there aren’t many open spots for young hopefuls this time around for the Black and Gold coming off last year’s Stanley Cup Final run, and taking into account all of the different players with NHL contracts in this season’s camp.

“This year is a more difficult camp to find a spot in the lineup. We just have more returning players. It doesn’t mean you can’t beat a guy out, but it’s more difficult than maybe last year where we created some competition at different spots hoping that a young guy would take over. This year [there are fewer openings] just because of the trade for Coyle and the growth of [Karson] Kuhlman. There’s competition for that right wing spot with [David] Krejci, but we like what Kuhlman did.

“It makes it tougher for those young guys trying to crack the lineup. So what you’re trying to do is identify yourself as a depth player that can be the first call-up in certain situations. That’s about the best you can do with the hand you’re dealt.”

Take for example, young center Jack Studnicka, considered by most to be Boston’s top young prospect entering his first season as a pro. Studnicka has been solid in camp and did his best to bulk up a bit in his first real shot at an NHL job, but it’s also pretty apparent the 21-year-old is going to be best served by some development time in the AHL where he can keep getting bigger and stronger.

“It’s going to be tough in the middle for Jack. We’d have to move pieces around, which we said we would do [if he was ready]. But I don’t think he’s there yet and that’s fine. With Jack there is great hockey instincts and great will, but I just think he hasn’t grown into his body yet strength-wise. It is what it is,” said Cassidy. “But we like how he’s playing. Is he ready to unseat anybody? I wouldn’t say so yet.”

With the numbers beginning to get pared down, here’s the expected lineup for tonight’s first preseason game at TD Garden this fall. Conspicuously absent from Monday night’s starter-filled Bruins lineup is Patrice Bergeron, who should make his only preseason appearance in Saturday’s finale at TD Garden vs. the Blackhawks just a few days before the start of the regular season:

Marchand-Coyle-Pastrnak
DeBrusk-Krejci-Ritchie
Heinen-Frederic-Wagner
Lauko-Kuraly-Backes

Chara-Clifton
Vaakanainen-Petrovic
Zboril-Didier

Rask Vladar

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Bruins' Jake DeBrusk 'more aware of what to expect' as RFA after watching McAvoy, Carlo

Bruins' Jake DeBrusk 'more aware of what to expect' as RFA after watching McAvoy, Carlo

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Jake DeBrusk will be one of 10 potential free agents for the Bruins when this upcoming hockey season comes to a close, and further complicating things, the 22-year-old will be a restricted free agent. DeBrusk is coming off a career-high 27 goals scored during the regular season and a fairly disappointing postseason when he managed just four goals and 11 points in 24 playoff games.

Of course, the hindsight breakdown of DeBrusk’s postseason also includes that he may have been playing through a bit of a fog after absorbing a Nazem Kadri cross-check to the face in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Still, after averaging 21 goals and 42 points in his first two NHL seasons, DeBrusk will be looking at a substantial raise next summer provided he can put together another season with those kinds of numbers. So the Bruins left winger was watching things fairly closely with Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy this summer knowing that it will be his turn a year from now when he’s a part of another talented restricted free agent class.

“Obviously that’s going to be my situation [as an RFA]. Hopefully not [as a holdout], but maybe, possibly next year just looking around the league you see different things with guys dragging it out,” said DeBrusk, who will be joined by Brett Ritchie and Matt Grzelcyk as next summer’s restricted free agents for the Bruins. “It’s one of those where you ask questions on the business side of it. Things change and different stuff happens with talks, but at the same time I mostly just try to stay out of it. I try to stay dialed in to get ready for training camp and the season. I guess when that time comes, though, I’ll be more aware of what to expect.”

Certainly guys like Carlo and McAvoy will be more than happy to pass on whatever pearls of wisdom they derived from their RFA situations with the Bruins this summer.

“I’d say just to remain calm and don’t be shocked by different things with the back and forth, and how long [the entire] process might take. For me I didn’t expect it to be that long. I was excited when the season was over to sign back real fast, but it took a little bit more time than anticipated,” said Carlo. “You just try to be as patient as you can, but it’s really hard to be patient in that scenario with your first larger deal off your entry level. [At the end of the day] you’ve done everything you can do up to that point, so just stay calm [in negotiations].”

One would expect that DeBrusk saw a couple of guys from his draft class, Brock Boeser (3 years, $17.625 million) and Travis Konecny (six years, $33 million), both top $5 million per season on second contracts they signed less than a week ago, and knows that kind of payday awaits him as well. Boeser is in a bit of a different class given his upside and production, but DeBrusk and Konecny are pretty comparable players provided DeBrusk surpasses 20 goals and 40 points this season.

B's focused on improving 5-on-5 this season>>>>>

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