On Thursday, September 18, the complete roster of the Boston Bruins training camp arrived for their off-ice strength and physical fitness testing. For hockey fans this means that the season is closer. For the Bruins’ management it means some additional tough decisions in the next few weeks as they whittle the roster of 32 forwards, 17 defensemen and four goalies down to the final roster for the 2014-15 season.
During the “State of the Bruins” event that was held for the season ticket holders, a few of those present brought up the disappointing finish to the past season—made all the more bitter by a defeated handed to them by their arch rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. One small boy even asked captain Zdeno Chara if he believed the team would make it to the playoffs in the coming season. And, while promises shouldn’t be made, Chara told the boy that he did. And actually, it is clear that, to a man, the Bruins believe that they will be in the postseason once again.
Earlier in the day, after being put through their fitness tests, many of the players were made available to the media. Some of the players have been retained from the recent rookie camp—11, to be precise—and there are a number of invitees as well, including veterans Ville Leino and Simon Gagne. However, just like the young guys from rookie camp and those from the Providence Bruins, as head coach Claude Julien stressed today, these two veterans will have to push for a spot as hard as everyone else.
While talking with goaltender Niklas Svedberg, The Pink Puck asked him about his mindset going into camp.
“As I’ve said before, you gotta earn your spot and I’m coming in this year with the goal to make the team and that’s the same goal I had last year,” Svedberg said. “So hopefully this year I can do it a little bit better and make the team.”
It isn’t just those who are more recognizable in a Spoked-P rather than the Bruins jersey that understand this facet of training camp. Johnny Boychuk—about whom there has been much written in regard to his potentially being trade bait, something that general manager Peter Chiarelli would not elaborate on—also talked about the competition for spots.
“Everybody wants to play in the NHL, but you have to take it away from somebody to accomplish it,” Boychuk told those congregated. “It’s a hard feat but it makes for healthy competition.”
Boychuk expanded on the thinking of all those attending training camp, which in some ways echoed what Svedberg had already said.
“You have to work for your spot, nothing’s given to you and we know that,” he said. “You have to work for everything you get. It’s going to be fun.”
And while there is definitely competition for spots—four forward spots were mentioned by Chiarelli, in addition to determining the final defensemen roster—the players all admit that there is fun; fun and guidance.
During rookie camp some of the players who had been there before could be seen offering some advice to those who for whom it was their first experience at this level of the profession. The Pink Puck talked to Bobby Robins about that. He mentioned that while there was definitely competition—healthy, as Boychuk called it—that the team is also a family. He described those who had helped him when he was coming up and that now it was his turn to help others. The hockey version of paying it forward.
During the next couple of weeks, the players will be put through drills, scrimmages, team bonding and more as management evaluates each player’s strength along with the chemistry that comes from different line combinations. In the end though, as Chiarelli promised, he will ice the best roster for the fans and for continuing a winning tradition in the city.
Chiarelli’s press conference during the morning: