Posts Tagged ‘Boston Bruins’

“Big Z” is finally hanging up his skates.

Veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara announced his retirement Tuesday after 24 seasons in the NHL. The 45-year-old will sign a one-day contract later Tuesday to retire as a member of the Boston Bruins, his team for 14 seasons.

The Bruins saluted Chara following his announcement:

“When I started playing hockey as a young boy, I never imagined to be one day sitting at a press conference after playing in the NHL for 25 years,” he said during his retirement press conference on Tuesday. “This all feels surreal.

“I know I can walk away from the game with gratitude, honor, and pride. I’m not walking completely away from the game, but now it’s time I walk along (with) my family.”

Patrice Bergeron succeeded Chara as captain of the Bruins, and the veteran forward reflected on how his longtime teammate impacted the organization.

“His competitive drive, the way that he prepared, practices for games, in the gym, his focus, I learned from all of that,” Bergeron said, according to NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin. “It was a privilege to be a part of it. It was also a privilege for me at a young age to learn from him. He had a great impact. … It’s been an honor to be with him.”

Bruins president Cam Neely said the club plans to retire Chara’s No. 33, though no date has yet been determined, according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Ty Anderson.

Chara, who also spent time with the New York IslandersOttawa Senators, and Washington Capitals, retires as the all-time leader in games played by a defenseman (1,680) and sits seventh on the all-time list. The 2008-09 Norris Trophy winner tallied 209 goals and 680 points over his career and was named to seven postseason All-Star teams.

Originally drafted 56th overall by the Islanders in 1996, Chara spent his first four seasons on Long Island before joining the Senators in 2001 as part of the infamous Alexei Yashin trade. He broke out as an impact blue-liner in Ottawa, helping lead the Sens to one conference finals appearance over four seasons in Canada’s capital.

But Chara truly left his mark on the NHL after signing with the Bruins as a free agent in 2006. Boston’s captain for all 14 of his seasons with the club, Chara led the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Finals appearances, including the 2011 win that snapped the franchise’s 39-year drought. One of only three blue-liners to play over 1,000 games with the Bruins, he ranks top five among Bruins defensemen in goals, assists, points, power-play goals, and game-winning goals.

Chara left Boston for a one-year stint with the Capitals in 2021 before returning to the Islanders for a final season. Even at age 45, he made an impact on the ice, registering 14 points in 72 games and scoring a goal in his final contest.

Internationally, the native of Trencin, Slovakia (formerly Czechoslovakia), goes down as one of his country’s most decorated athletes. Chara represented Slovakia on the international stage 10 times and led it to silver medals at the World Championships in 2000 and 2010. He also served as the nation’s flag bearer at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The 6-foot-9 blue-liner was the tallest player in NHL history and until Tuesday was the oldest active player in North America’s major professional sports leagues. His retirement makes Joe Thornton, who’s currently a free agent, the last active athlete in North American pro sports to have played in the 1990s.

With just one more season left before he hits unrestricted free agency, Bruins star David Pastrnak is making it clear how much Boston means to him.

“We love it here,” Pastrnak said Friday, according to The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa. “This is our home. This is where I’ve become a man. Unbelievable years with (Pastrnak’s partner, Rebecca Rohlsson). We are really happy here.”

Pastrnak – who’s played his whole eight-year career with Boston – has one season remaining on his six-year, $40-million contract. But although Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is prioritizing re-signing Pastrnak, the Czechia native made clear that he’s currently most concerned about the upcoming campaign.

“My focus, moving forward, is to be ready for Game 1,” Pastrnak said. “We’re going to be missing some key players. I know I have to be on my game from the get-go. That’s my biggest focus.”

He added: “I still have the whole season. … I’m focusing to be ready and help the team win, especially at the beginning of the season when it’s going to be extremely tough on us. We’ve got to be ready.”

Boston will be without Brad MarchandCharlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk to start the 2022-23 campaign. The Bruins are looking to bounce back after they were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

Pastrnak, 26, collected 40 goals and 77 points in 72 games in 2021-22. The campaign marked the second 40-goal season of his career.

Boston Bruins star winger Brad Marchand is confident his team can start the 2022-23 campaign strong despite missing some key players, including himself.

“It will be tough (not playing), but I think we’re in a good spot as a team,” Marchand said. “I think the toughest thing would be if the team wasn’t winning or doing well, then that would be really (bad).

“But I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think we’re going to have a really good start. The guys look really good right now … hoping that they put a really good push on.”

The B’s are going to be without Marchand and defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk for at least the first month of the season:

PLAYERPROCEDURERETURN TIMELINE
Matt GrzelcykOffseason shoulder surgeryEarly November
Brad MarchandOffseason surgery on both hipsLate November
Charlie McAvoyOffseason shoulder surgeryDecember

Marchand paced the Bruins with 80 points (32 goals, 48 assists) in 70 games this past season while playing an instrumental role on Boston’s top line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk. The Bruins controlled 67.3% of the shot attempts and 69.7% of the expected goals with the trio on the ice at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.

On the backend, McAvoy is just as indispensable. He led the team in average ice time per game (24:38) and topped all Bruins defensemen with 56 points in 78 games. Boston owned 62.8% of the expected goals at five-on-five while McAvoy was on the ice, which was the league’s best mark among all defensemen who played at least 200 minutes.

He and Grzelcyk put up formidable numbers when they were side-by-side on Beantown’s blue line. The Grzelcyk-McAvoy duo accounted for a staggering 75% percent of the goals for and 67.4% of the expected goals in just over 400 minutes of ice time together at five-on-five.

Among Bruins pairings to log at least 200 minutes of ice time together at five-on-five, Grzelcyk and McAvoy’s 1.45 expected goals against per 60 minutes ranked first on the team.

It isn’t all bad news for the Bruins. After much uncertainty, five-time Selke Trophy winner Bergeron decided to return to Boston for one more season, and veteran center David Krejci is back after a year overseas.

Boston will likely need to have a decent start to the campaign in a competitive Atlantic Division, especially given the strides the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings made in the offseason.

The Bruins finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 51-26-5. The Carolina Hurricanes eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs.

Former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy doesn’t buy the narrative that his dismissal in Beantown influenced centers Patrice Bergeron‘s and David Krejci‘s decisions to return to the NHL.

“What I know about (Bergeron), we talked at the end of the year – he was upfront about, ‘I’m going to take some time,'” the new Vegas Golden Knights bench boss said in an interview with Boston Sports Journal’s Conor Ryan. “I don’t think the decision they made with me had anything to do with Bergy.”

Cassidy said Krejci was also clear about his intentions before opting to play out the 2021-22 season in his home nation of Czechia.

“He told us that his parents were getting older, he wanted his kids to get to know his grandparents,” Cassidy said. “With COVID, there was a good challenge and he was going home. For how long? He said, ‘I don’t know. But if I come back … listen, I’m gonna probably just come back for the Bruins.'”

Cassidy added: “With (Krejci), we never had disagreements – he wanted to play (with David Pastrnak) more than he did. Who didn’t, right? He’d be the first to admit it. Hopefully he gets his chance this year.”

The 2020 Jack Adams Award winner wasn’t so certain about whether his dismissal swayed winger Jake DeBrusk, who rescinded his trade request about one month following Cassidy’s firing.

“Only he can answer that. I thought he had a really good finish to his year. I think there was different things that went into his trade demand,” Cassidy said.

“We just signed Taylor Hall to a long-term contract, who was a left winger. (Brad Marchand) had a long-term contract, so there may have been some issues of how high (he) can get in the lineup.”

DeBrusk moved to the right side after being promoted to the Bruins’ top line with Bergeron and Marchand in February, and saw an uptick in production for the remainder of the season.

The returns of captain Bergeron and Krejci are more than welcome for the Bruins, who are going to have to start the season without the injured Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.

Bergeron captured his fifth career Selke Trophy after another stunning campaign as a Bruin. The 37-year-old logged 25 goals – 17 of which came at even strength – and 40 assists in 73 contests.

The veteran was unsure about his playing career following the 2021-22 season, but he ultimately signed a one-year pact worth $2.5 million to stay with Boston.

Krejci, meanwhile, enjoyed a dominant stint with Olomouc HC this past campaign. He paced the team with 20 goals and 46 points in 51 games. Boston brought him back on a one-year contract worth $1 million plus an additional $2 million in incentives.

Cassidy was head coach of the Bruins for six seasons and amassed a regular-season record of 245-108-46. He steered the team to the postseason each year and made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

The Boston Bruins took care of a trio of forwards on Monday, signing Patrice BergeronDavid Krejci, and Pavel Zacha to one-year contracts.

Bergeron re-upped for $2.5 million with another $2.5 million in incentives. Krejci rejoined the club on a pact worth $1 million plus an additional $2 million in incentives. Zacha agreed to a deal with a cap hit of $3.5 million.

Bergeron and Krejci were unrestricted free agents, while Zacha was an RFA who Boston acquired in a July trade with the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Erik Haula.

The Bruins captain – who’s arguably the best defensive forward in NHL history – won the Selke Trophy for the fifth time this June, setting an all-time record. The 37-year-old had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021-22, his 18th campaign. He’s played all of them with Boston.

Bergeron notched 25 goals – 17 of which came at even strength – and 40 assists over 73 games while winning 61.9% of his faceoffs.

He led the NHL in expected goals for percentage at five-on-five among those who played at least 17 total minutes in those situations, according to Natural Stat Trick. Bergeron also topped the league in five-on-five scoring chances for percentage among players who logged more than 39 total minutes in those situations.

Krejci played in Czechia last season after spending his entire NHL career in Boston as well. The veteran center led Olomouc in goals, assists, and points.

The 36-year-old last appeared for the Bruins in 2020-21, tallying 44 points in 51 games. He chipped in nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 11 playoff games that season as well.

Krejci produced 215 tallies and 515 helpers over 962 regular-season NHL contests across 15 campaigns before playing in his homeland in 2021-22. He helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the final in both 2013 and 2019.

Zacha failed to meet expectations with the Devils after they drafted him sixth overall in 2015, but he’s still only 25 years old. The Czechia-born center registered a career-high 36 points while tying a personal best with 70 games played in 2021-22.

The Boston Bruins named former Dallas Stars bench boss Jim Montgomery the 29th head coach in franchise history, the team announced Friday.

“Jim has a winning history, and throughout the interview process, he conveyed his ability to connect with all types of players while also demanding that his teams play with structure. We are excited for Jim to begin to make his imprint on our team,” general manager Don Sweeney said.

Montgomery served as an assistant coach on the St. Louis Blues’ bench for the past two seasons. He was named head coach of the Stars before the 2018-19 campaign and led them to the playoffs after they failed to qualify the previous two seasons.

The Stars fired him midway through the following campaign due to unprofessional conduct. Less than a month after his dismissal, Montgomery revealed that he checked into rehab for alcohol abuse.

Overall, the Stars went 60-43-10 under Montgomery.

Montgomery replaces Bruce Cassidy, who was fired by the Bruins after they were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs.

Boston made the postseason in each of Cassidy’s six seasons as head coach, but the team only advanced past the second round once. The Bruins fell to the Blues in seven games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

Cassidy was hired by the Vegas Golden Knights shortly after his departure from Boston. The Bruins announced that they signed Sweeney to a multi-year contract extension earlier this week.

The Boston Bruins signed general manager Don Sweeney to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Monday.

Sweeney’s previous deal was set to expire at the end of June.

“Under (Sweeney’s) management, the Boston Bruins have been one of the winningest franchises in the league and a perennial playoff contender year in and year out,” said Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs. “While we recognize there is work to be done to achieve the ultimate goal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston, I’m confident that Don’s commitment to being best-in-class on and off the ice will help us climb that mountain once again.”

Sweeney was promoted to GM prior to the 2015-16 season. He won the NHL’s GM of the Year in 2018-19 as Boston reached the Stanley Cup Final, losing in seven games to the St. Louis Blues.

The 55-year-old has been in the club’s front office since 2006, serving in various capacities. Sweeney also played 15 years with the Bruins from 1988 to 2003.

Patrice Bergeron isn’t going anywhere.

The Boston Bruins captain has decided to re-up with the club and is expected to sign a one-year contract, reports the Worcester Telegram and Gazette’s Joe McDonald.

Bergeron would’ve been one of the most coveted players on the market had he decided to test it this summer as an unrestricted free agent. The veteran center, who’ll turn 37 in July, won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward for a league-record fifth time earlier this spring.

He had a stellar 2021-22 season despite his age. Bergeron collected 25 goals and 40 assists over 73 contests. The versatile forward was his typically dominant self in terms of possession and defense as well. He led all NHL forwards in defensive goals above replacement, expected defensive goals above replacement, and expected goals against per 60 minutes at five-on-five.

Bergeron also ranked first in expected goals for percentage and scoring chances for percentage at five-on-five among the league’s skaters who played at least 500 minutes in those situations.

He’s spent his entire 18-year career with the Bruins, who drafted him 45th overall in 2003. Bergeron ranks fourth among the franchise’s all-time leaders in goals, assists, and points. He sits third in games played and has worn the “C” for the last two seasons.

The future Hall of Famer helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the final in both 2013 and 2019.

Bruce Cassidy’s dismissal from the Boston Bruins on Monday raised some eyebrows around the hockey world, but nobody was more surprised than Cassidy himself.

The former Bruins head coach says management told him during his season-ending exit meeting that his job was safe.

“The end-of-the-year meeting was that I would be coaching on this year of my deal,” Cassidy told reporters Thursday, including Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal. “That’s how it would be proceeding forward. And that was it. Sometimes there are talks after every year of – right away, there are coaches let go, there are extensions, there’s status quo. So that was the message: It would be status quo.”

Cassidy led the Bruins to the playoffs in all six years at the helm, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2019. However, Boston was ousted in the first round of the postseason by the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 this year.

“The Bruin is basically tattooed to me. That’s the difficult part,” Cassidy said. “I feel I did my job. We can always get better; we can always be better.”

Cassidy’s career points percentage of .635 ranks 20th all time. With his resume, he likely won’t have any issues finding work. In fact, he’s already spoken with multiple teams.

“In respect to the teams, I’m not going to go through them,” Cassidy said. “But yes, I have talked to a number of teams.”

He added: “I want to get back to work. Hopefully, it’s a really good fit – best fit possible. That’s not always the case, but that’s what I’m hoping for both sides. And we’ll see where it gets to.”

Boston Bruins management and star forward David Pastrnak will sit down in early July to discuss a contract extension, his agent told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Pastrnak is entering the final season of a six-year, $40-million contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

The 26-year-old is due for a sizable raise after massively outplaying his $6.67-million cap hit. He’s averaged 44 goals and 49 assists per 82 games through the first five campaigns of the deal.

Pastrnak re-upping in Boston is no guarantee, though. He was apparently unhappy that general manager Don Sweeney let Torey Krug walk as a UFA in 2020 and didn’t persuade David Krejci to stay in Boston, who instead left for his native Czechia in 2021.

“(Pastrnak) had seen how Don has treated his two best friends,” a source close to Pastrnak told The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa in a text. “No chance he comes back with (Sweeney) as GM.”

Sweeney made the bold decision to fire head coach Bruce Cassidy on Monday. Cassidy led the Bruins to the playoffs in all six years on the job, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2019.

The Bruins could undergo further changes, too, as captain Patrice Bergeron remains undecided on his playing future.

Boston will also be without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy to begin 2022-23 as the two pillars recently underwent offseason surgeries.

There’s been plenty of speculation the Bruins could undergo a rebuild if Bergeron opts to retire. If Pastrnak chooses not to re-sign, they’d be forced to trade him, Friedman noted.