With training camp less than a month away, the Bruins will head to Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington with just a few new names on board, as last season's No. 1 seed in the East looks to make amends with hockey's greatest fans for an early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
General manager Peter Chiarelli and company were unable to make a big splash in the free-agent pool this summer, but the Bruins did make some waves. Here's a look back at the biggest Black and Gold transactions:
June 2: Bruins sign center David Krejci to a multiyear extension. One of the game's hottest young centers signed on for three more seasons at a grand total of $11.25 million. Krejci, who had successful hip surgery on June 4, had career highs in goals (22) and assists (51) last season and also led the NHL with a plus-36 rating. The 23-year-old will receive $3.5 million the first year, $3.75 million the second and $4 million the final season of the deal.
June 15: Chiarelli receives a multiyear contract extension. Chiarelli, who also manages Boston's AHL affiliate in Providence, had one year remaining on the four-year contract he signed in 2006. Last season, the B's led the NHL in goals against (196) and goal differential (+78). They led the Eastern Conference in goals (274) and were second overall in the NHL to the Detroit Red Wings (295). The former Senators GM has posted a 142-77-21 record and .635 win percentage in his three seasons at the helm in Boston.
July 1: The B's pick up free agent Steve Begin and re-sign Byron Bitz. Begin, the former Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars center, signed a one-year deal to take control of the fourth line and penalty killing duties. The 10-year veteran adds experience and toughness to the B's mix as he's racked up 482 penalty minutes in 409 career games. Bitz, who got a three-year extension, played in 34 games last season for the B's and towers at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds.
July 2: Veteran sniper Mark Recchi and P-Bruins star defender Johnny Boychuk each get one-year contracts. Recchi obviously sees something in this Bruins bunch, so the 41-year-old is going to give it one more shot. Recchi was added at the NHL trade deadline last winter and played in 18 games for the Black and Gold, scoring 10 times and assisting on six more. In 1,490 career games, the winger has 545 goals and 897 assists for 1,442 points. Boychuk was the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the American Hockey League’s outstanding defenseman for the 2008-09 season after recording 20 goals and 45 assists in 78 regular-season games. The 25-year-old adds size to Boston's roster as he stands 6-foot-2, 225 pounds.
July 20: Matt Hunwick and the B's avoid arbitration. The 24-year-old defender was able to re-up for two years at $2.9 million. Hunwick filled in for the injured Andrew Ference last season, skating in 53 games and racking up six goals and 21 assists to go with a plus-15 rating.
July 24: Chiarelli ships defenseman Aaron Ward to Carolina in exchange for right winger Patrick Eaves. In a move which nobody saw coming, Ward was sent back to Carolina for Eaves, who was instantly placed on waivers. The move appeared to be made to clear up some cap space to potentially bring back winger Phil Kessel, but the B's brass made another interesting move just one day later …
July 25: Bruins sign free-agent defenseman Derek Morris to a one-year, $3.3 million deal. Morris, an 11-year vet, spent last season with the Coyotes and Rangers, scoring just five goals and assisting on 15 in 75 games. In 793 career games, the 30-year-old has 76 goals, 264 assists and a minus-24 rating to go with 794 penalty minutes.
July 28: Longtime Bruin P.J. Axelsson says goodbye to the Hub. After 11 seasons with the Black and Gold, the free-agent winger signed with a team in his native Sweden. Ax potted 103 goals and 184 assists in 797 games for the Bruins since 1997 and had a career-high 24 assists last season.
Three hockey players with New England ties — Tom Barrasso (Stow, Mass.), Tony Amonte (Hingham, Mass.; Boston University) and John LeClair (St. Albans, Vt.; University of Vermont) – are headed to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It’s a thrill you don’t expect growing up,” Amonte told the Boston Herald. “I tried to play for the love of the game and played as hard as I could, and this is truly an honor and something myself and my family will cherish for a long time.”
Defenseman Aaron Ward, who was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, parts ways with the Black and Gold after just two-plus seasons in the Hub.
“I think he's been a tremendous soldier here, bringing experience, bringing size and strength and bringing a stabilizing influence to our defense," Chiarelli said at a news conference. "And, frankly, I wouldn't have traded him anywhere else but Carolina, because that's where his home is. And I really do appreciate the time and service and personality that Aaron has brought to our organization. I wish him well in his future hockey career and career afterward — he'll be taking some of your jobs."
Quote of the week
“I want to get bigger, stronger, and kind of take that next step where I’ll be controlling the puck even more and just get my game ready for [the time] when I can hopefully make the jump to the Bruins.”
–Joe Colborne, the Bruins’ 2008 first-round pick, to bostonbruins.com, on what he plans to accomplish this season at the University of Denver.
What to watch for
Team USA is holding its Olympic hockey training camp from Aug. 17-19 in Woodridge, Ill. The gathering is part of the preparation for the Winter Olympics in February. Boston’s Tim Thomas hopes to beat out Jonathan Quick (a UMass-Amherst alum and Milford, Conn., native) and Ryan Miller of the Sabres for a spot on the team..