The Bruins veterans began work in Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday morning, with 16 players reporting for the first day of optional pre-camp workouts. No coaches are allowed on the ice, though goalie coach Bob Essensa did conduct a session of his goalie camp with a number of the organization’s netminders before the veterans took the ice.
With captain Zdeno Chara leading the drills, the bulk of the team’s veteran core took part in Tuesday’s workout. In addition to Chara, defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Stuart, Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid were on hand, along with forwards David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, Nathan Horton, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand and goalies Tuukka Rask and Matt Dalton. Mark Recchi skated on his own after the session.
The high turnout impressed one newcomer, as Horton noted that such informal workouts never drew quite this kind of crowd in Florida.
"We had a little bit, but a lot of guys didn’t come," said Horton, who was acquired from the Panthers with Campbell in exchange for Dennis Wideman and a first-round pick in June. "It’s nice to see a lot of guys here and nice to just get used to everyone and joke around a bit before [camp] starts. I’m excited. It’s really nice to be here and be a part of this."
Chara was less surprised by the turnout, but was happy with the initial workout.
"It’s normal that guys like to come in way ahead of the start of training camp and get the feel and get a few practices in on our own and basically establish a little bit here," said Chara. "It’s a good thing that guys come in early. We’re getting used to some new guys and getting used to the city again, so I think it’s a pretty good idea to come in early."
The session was less intense than the practices during camp and the season will be, as players were more focused on just trying to get their legs back and have a little fun with old and new teammates alike.
"It’s always fun the first day, getting back on the ice with the guys and just playing a little bit," said Stuart. "These first few days are fun, do a few drills and just play and have fun with the guys. And it’s good to see everybody again and get to meet the new guys."
Stuart admitted that it’s also enjoyable to get a little freedom from the watchful eyes and blaring whistles of the team’s coaches.
"I’m sure we’ll be getting our fair share of them really soon," said Stuart. "It’s nice to kind of do your own thing for the first few days here, kind of get acclimated again."
The Bruins weren’t without supervision, however, as Chara can be almost a tough a taskmaster as Claude Julien.
"He’s pretty close," said Stuart with a smile, "but Z has a good time, too. You realize how hard it is to play against him though in those 4-on-4 games. I couldn’t get it past his stick."
Horton was equally impressed with Chara and his other new teammates.
"There’s so many great players here, so many great leaders," said Horton, who has yet to play in an NHL playoff game since being drafted third overall by the Panthers in 2003. "It’s great to come in here and hopefully be a small piece of the puzzle and put a lot of wins on the board and go from there."
Horton is off to a good start, as he’s already adjusting well to a new team and new city.
"I’ve been here a week and I’m getting used to it," said Horton. "It really helps that all the guys on the team are really friendly. It’s a great bunch of guys. You come into the room and meet the guys and it’s like you met them a long time ago. It’s been going really well."