Bruins

Morning Skate: BU's Greenway makes history for Team USA

Morning Skate: BU's Greenway makes history for Team USA

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready for a whole barrage of Olympics coverage from South Korea after Friday night’s opening ceremonies.  

*Great piece by colleague Kwani Lunis on BU forward Jordan Greenway breaking the color barrier as the first African-American to play for Team USA men's hockey at the Winter Olympics.

*Just when you thought you might have read every last story documenting the Vegas Golden Knights unlikely success story, here comes another one.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz has 10 observations from around the San Jose Sharks including the even-strength offense being ice cold.

*Former Maple Leafs forward Dave “Tiger” Williams is in trouble as he faces charges of sexual assault after a military trip to Latvia.

*Hal Gill is officially a “Bag Chucker” while on the road as an analyst with the Nashville Predators, which is a clear indicator of his Massachusetts roots where road beers are given their proper place on the priority list.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be quiet at the trade deadline, which is a sad state for a Hawks team that appears its going to be far out of the playoffs.

*For something completely different: It’s the end of an era for L.L. Bean, who will no longer offer lifetime guarantees for their products, and will only accept returns within a year of purchase.

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Patrice Bergeron issues statement, pledges donation after George Floyd's death

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USA TODAY Sports

Patrice Bergeron issues statement, pledges donation after George Floyd's death

Patrice Bergeron keeps a low profile off the ice, to the point where he doesn't have any social media accounts.

But the Boston Bruins center felt it was necessary to raise that profile following the murder of George Floyd.

Bergeron issued a statement Wednesday via the Bruins' Instagram and Twitter accounts reacting to a Minneapolis police officer's murder of an unarmed African-American man, which has sparked protests and cries for racial justice throughout the country.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

"As hockey players, we have a tendency to do our business while staying quiet, without wanting to make too much noise. It is our culture," Bergeron said in the statement. 

"But surrounding the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, it made me realize that by not speaking up on the matter, and not using my voice as a professional athlete, it’s in fact allowing racism to fester and continue. Silence is not an option for me anymore."

Bergeron also expressed a desire to "listen, educate myself and stand up for the Black community." The Bruins' alternate captain and Quebec native took action, as well, pledging donations of $25,000 each to the Boston branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the Centre Multienthnique de Quebec.

Bergeron joins fellow Bruins veteran Zdeno Chara and many other Boston athletes advocating for justice and racial equality in America after a video emerged of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, killing the 46-year-old unarmed man.

Why aren't Bruins players back skating yet? Here's what's 'gummed things up'

Why aren't Bruins players back skating yet? Here's what's 'gummed things up'

While NBA players on teams like the Boston Celtics began getting back to work at their practice facilities this week, Bruins players and their brothers across the NHL are still in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to getting back into playing shape.

Some like 43-year-old Bruins captain Zdeno Chara have already traveled back to the Boston area to get ready for small, informal practices that will happen when the league moves to Phase 2 of the return-to-play program. Some others undoubtedly have found smaller, local rinks to at least get back on the ice and begin skating again while also still practicing social distancing.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

But the NHL doesn’t want a staggered opening of NHL practice facilities when some teams skating together earlier than others could give them a potential competitive advantage when it does come time to return to play.

What’s holding up the NHL at this point with so many states around the United States beginning to open back up things like athletic practice facilities?

In a nutshell, the NHL won’t let Phase 2 begin until all 31 teams can safely and legally open up their practice facilities and there are still complications with the Canadian cities when it comes to practicing, or when it comes to foreign-born players not being allowed to head back to Canada from other places around the world.

Until that changes, the NHL will still be on pause with July 10 as the earliest date being looked at when NHL training camps could start in earnest with a goal of returning to play in the 24-team tournament in late July/early August. That all could and should change over the next week or two, but there are no concrete indications when exactly it is going to happen.

“We need to find out and find out very quickly. It’s early June and the NHL and NHLPA have indicated that they want to initiate Phase 2 in early June. That’s now. I think we’re going to learn a lot this week and drifting into next week,” said TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger during an NBC Sports Boston Zoom call with his Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast partner -- TSN Hockey Analyst Ray Ferraro -- earlier this week. “You talk to people around the league and players are already beginning to return to their NHL cities, so as soon as it’s safe to initiate Phase 2 they are going to do that. The tricky part is that Canada, and the seven Canadian teams, are holding things up a little bit. And that’s not on the NHL.

“Health Canada and the provincial officials and the federal government here in Canada are being incredibly careful. I’m appreciative of that and so is Ray [Ferraro]. We both live in Canada. But it’s gummed things up a little bit, no question about that, in terms of the NHL moving things forward.”

Ferraro, the longtime NHLer with 18 years in the league, including a memorable stint with the Hartford Whalers at the beginning of his career, likened the current NHL stage to the very beginnings of building an entire house.

“What I got from when we talked to the commissioner [on the Ray & Dregs Hockey Podcast] is that they’ve got this plan, but now it’s like if you’re building a house and you’ve poured the foundation and put the studs up,” said Ferraro. “Now they’re trying to fill in everything else inside the studs. Each time you finish one thing there is something else that comes up. Even just in the conversation we had, you start running ahead on what you need to accomplish just to get [the NHL] back as safely as possible… never mind whether you like the format or whether the Bruins as the best team in the season are getting the short end of the stick, which they kind of are ... but that doesn’t even matter right now.

It’s about can you even execute an incredibly complicated and detailed plan? For me that’s what this is about first and foremost, is can you even execute it?

The United States recently signed an order that made professional athletes essential workers, which enables them to travel back into the country from other areas of the world in order to return to their NHL cities.

The COVID-19 restrictions in Canada could also eliminate Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton from consideration when it comes to the two designated hub cities that the NHL narrowed down to 10 candidates last week when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman discussed the league’s return-to-play plan.

The best guess is that the NHL’s Phase 2 should begin in the next two weeks with groups of six NHL players on the ice at the same time in informal, voluntary settings, but stay tuned on exactly when that might happen for the Bruins and the other 23 teams still alive in the NHL's postseason format.