Friends come and go and in hockey, teammates can be teammates for a single season or many. But all good things come to an end eventually and for Boston, the end came on Monday night. As the Chicago Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup, a reality set in. With a relatively untouched roster since the 2011 Stanley Cup winning season, the band of brothers that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has kept together, finally skated their last game as a unit.
It’s never easy to say goodbye, but the time has come. Some players are at the forefront of negotiations, goaltender Tuukka Rask for example, who had a stellar run and proved himself as starting goaltender material game in and game out. Nathan Horton, will also be on the negotiations table.
“I’ve always said, like I said, I love the guys,” said Horton. “The team is great, it’s a fun place to play. Other than that, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I couldn’t tell you throughout the year that was going to happen, I don’t know and we’ll see what happens.”
As is customary, some players are at the top of the negotiations list, while others find themselves in limbo, back-up goaltender Anton Khudobin and Wade Redden both fall into that category. Although the Jaromir Jagr acquisition was a good one and helped the overall cause, he will not be donning a Bruins sweater next season. Jay Pandolfo is another no-go for Boston, and is unclear of his plans moving forward. It’s always sad to see a player go and the final confirmation that defenceman Andrew Ference is among those to leave Boston, will certainly be a blow to fans.
Wednesday morning brought a banged up, bruised and heartbroken group of players together for break-up day. Despite a shortened season for the league, it’s been a lengthy and emotional road for Boston.
The feeling in the room was best summed up Bruins forward Brad Marchand. “What’s injured?”, asked a member of the media. Marchand’s simple response, perhaps applicable to his entire team, “just my heart.”
Playing through pain is par for the course, that’s playoff hockey.
Reluctant to disclose too many injuries, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli simply said, “we were banged up.” Zdeno Chara had a really bad hip flexor, Dennis Seidenberg has been battling a hamstring issue since the first round, while Jaromir Jagr had both a back and hip issue. Nathan Horton had a dislocated shoulder that will require surgery this summer, although he’s the only player as of now who will undergo surgery.
By now, the hockey world is familiar with Gregory Campbell’s on-ice heroics, playing a shift with a broken leg during the Penguins series. Another prime example of battling on and playing through pain can be found in Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron, who was absent from break-up day, is currently under observation at the hospital. The face of on-ice perseverance wears a #37, Bergeron battled through the final games with a punctured lung, broken rib, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder. The dedication showed to the team has not been lost by anyone within the organization, teammates included.
“You can’t say enough about him. He’s an inspiration,” said enforcer Shawn Thornton on Bergerons’ dedication. “He’s a man amongst boys, as far as the toughness goes. I think what he played through, I’m not sure how many guys could play through that, so it was pretty impressive. That’s for sure.”
It isn’t about focusing on the past, but looking ahead to the future. For players, that future will start in just 9 short weeks, when they return to Garden ice for another season. For management, scouting for the future starts this weekend during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, being held in New Jersey. Following the draft, Bruins development camp with face-off beginning July 10th at the Bruins practice facility in Wilmington, Ma.
What’s worse than a break-up? Breaking up with an entire team, and that’s just what fans are faced with as the summer finally begins. Enjoy the rest hockey fans, because a new NHL season is just around the corner.
Break-up day videos: