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Why Patrice Bergeron doesn't want your vote for 2019 NHL All-Star Game

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USA TODAY Sports

Why Patrice Bergeron doesn't want your vote for 2019 NHL All-Star Game

Patrice Bergeron is one of the NHL's 31 "Last Men In" candidates to make the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, and he needs your help ... to lose.

That's right: The Boston Bruins center openly admitted Wednesday he'd rather not participate in the Jan. 26 All-Star Game in San Jose. He has a valid excuse, though.

"No, not really," Bergeron told 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" when asked if he cared about winning the "Last Men In" vote. "I just had a newborn baby boy. He's a month old, so obviously that time would be nice to be home."

There you have it.

Here's how the "Last Men In" process works: The NHL picks one player from each team as a candidate, and the player with the most fan votes from each of the league's four divisions earns a trip to the All-Star Game.

Bergeron's competition in the Atlantic Division includes seven other players: the Buffalo Sabres' Jeff Skinner, the Detroit Red Wings' Dylan Larkin, the Florida Panthers' Aleksander Barkov, the Montreal Canadiens' Shea Weber, the Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone, the Tampa Bay Lightning's Brayden Point and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly.

Bergeron certainly has played like an All-Star of late, with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in eight games since returning from a rib injury in late December. But if you'd like to do the 33-year-old veteran a solid, head to NHL.com and vote for one of those other guys.

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Bruins sign Zdeno Chara to a one-year, team-friendly extension

Bruins sign Zdeno Chara to a one-year, team-friendly extension

Zdeno Chara continues to get the Tim Wakefield treatment by the Boston Bruins, which means a string of one-year deals in perpetuity until the 42-year-old B’s captain decides to hang it up one of these days.

The Bruins announced on Saturday morning that they have signed the 42-year-old Chara to a one-year extension for next season worth $2 million in base salary along with another $1.75 million in reachable incentives.

Chara is in his 21st NHL season and 13th with Boston, and has appeared in 55 games this season while posting four goals and seven assists along with a plus-16 rating as a shutdown defenseman for the Black and Gold. While Chara is still effective as a shutdown D-man and is arguably still the best penalty killer going in the NHL, it’s also clear this season that age is beginning to slow him down a little bit at 42 years old. The 20:59 of ice time per game for Chara this season is the lowest of his career as the Bruins have focused on reducing his workload, and adding more to the plate of 21-year-old workhorse defenseman Charlie McAvoy.  

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The $2 million contract is excellent value for an aging, still-effective player in Chara that’s still a legit top-4 NHL defenseman at the NHL level, even if his Norris Trophy days and bigger offensive producer days are also now in the rearview mirror. The $2 million deal also gives the Bruins plenty of salary cap flexibility in helping them sign both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, a couple of young RFA’s that are due for big raises on their second contracts this summer.  The lowered salary and cap hit for Chara more than makes up for any reductions to Chara’s game as he continues to play into his mid-40’s with a goal of lacing them up until at least the age of 45 years old. Besides, one can’t really put a price tag on the leadership, work ethic, toughness and intimidation level that Chara brings to the table as a 6-foot-9 defenseman that’s seen and done just about everything at the NHL level over the last two decades. It will be interesting to see if both Chara and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can reach those career mile-posts for themselves as they largely put off any big effects to their games from Father Time.

The 42-year-old defenseman has led the Bruins to a postseason berth in nine of his 12 completed seasons with the team, including a Stanley Cup Championship in 2010-11. He ranks sixth in franchise history in games played (948), and fourth in points by a defenseman (452) behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Bobby Orr (888), and Dit Clapper (474).

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Sean Kuraly out a month with a fractured right hand

Sean Kuraly out a month with a fractured right hand

The Bruins suffered their first big injury blow ahead of the playoffs with the news that fourth line center Sean Kuraly is going to be lost for the next month.

Kuraly suffered a fracture in his right hand during the third period of Boston’s 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, and will be out for at least four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the hand. The play where Kuraly was injured blocking a shot actually kick-started a goal-scoring rush going the other way for Danton Heinen in the one-sided victory over the Devils.

It’s crummy timing for Kuraly as he’d just enjoyed a big two-goal game in a Tuesday night win over the New York Islanders while in the midst of a good stretch for him, and posted a strong eight goals and 21 points in 71 games for the Black and Gold this season.

With Kuraly out for at least the opening portion of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins have recalled forward Karson Kuhlman from Providence on an emergency basis while they sort out their fourth line picture. Kuhlman has 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points with a plus-23 rating in 58 games with the P-Bruins this season in his first pro campaign, and scored his first NHL goal against the San Jose Sharks last month during a stint in Boston.

While the Bruins still have a strong fourth line with Chris Wagner and Noel Acciari entering the playoffs, the B’s are absolutely going to miss the energy, two-way competitiveness and big game, clutch ability that the big-bodied Kuraly brings to the table for the Black and Gold. The B’s have to hope that history doesn’t repeat itself as the fourth line proved to be one of Boston’s weak points last season when they were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

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