Bruins’ Prospects Maintain Competitive Spirit While Fighting Each Other for Jobs


Bruins' Prospects Maintain Competitive Spirit While Fighting Each Other for Jobs WILMINGTON, Mass. — Whether you're Tyler Seguin or a four-year veteran of the Bruins' development camp, you're all facing the same exact challenge.

The shuttle run.

The grueling physical test most often reserved for NFL and NHL prospects was at the forefront of the discussion of last week's camp at Ristuccia Arena, given the brutal 90-degree temperatures and debilitating humidity.

The drill is a necessary evil, according to assistant general manager Don Sweeney.

"Mostly, guys find out. But the drafted kids, if they've asked, we clearly tell them, 'You're going to run a shuttle test,'" Sweeney said. "They have a pretty good picture as to what they're supposed to do."

It was something that nobody was getting out of, and the players knew that. They came prepared, they completed the test and they basked in the glory of it being over, for the time being.

"It's not the best feeling, that's for sure," said defenseman Ryan Button. "There's better things to do. But it's the test they have, so you just have to get it done. The quicker, the better, and then you can just kind of relax like everyone else. It really plays with your mind."

The shuttle test is just one of many ways to separate the good from the great among the Bruins' prospects. Of course, it's not the be-all and end-all, but that — like every other drill at camp — helps breed a healthy sense of competition among the players.

Sweeney emphasizes that team-building is one of the primary goals of this particular camp; he wants all players, especially the new guys, to feel comfortable walking through the doors of Ristuccia Arena for the first time. He wants everyone to feel at home so the jitters don't interfere with the task at hand.

But that doesn't mean that a little bit of friendly competition isn't encouraged.

"I think we are going to see some guys — younger guys — start to challenge here," Sweeney said. "That's their job, to get in there and start to push other players out. As an older player, when you go through things, you constantly think, OK, who's coming next?"

The veterans — or all players who have been through the development camp drill more than once, according to strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides — are well aware that the younger guys are ready and waiting, breathing down their necks for a spot with the Bruins. But having been through the grind once or twice before, the wily vets have a bit of an advantage.

"You know the guys, you know people," Button said. "You know the training staff, Whiteside, [GM Peter] Chiarelli, the coaches — you know everyone."

Goaltender Matt Dalton, entering his second camp, echoed those sentiments.

"It's so tough no matter what," he said, "but it's definitely an advantage, knowing what to expect the second time."

Though competition is stiff among the prospects, the atmosphere is anything but cutthroat. Button, along with recently signed forward Joe Colborne, have expressed a desire to guide the new draftees through their first camp to limit the culture shock.

"The younger draft picks, they're coming in a little bit younger and probably a little bit more tentative," Button said. "So you try to help them out."

After all, they all have the same goal in mind.

"I'm going to work my hardest in minicamp to make the Boston Bruins," Button said. "Is it realistic? Probably not, but I have to come in here with a good attitude, give them my absolute best shot and hopefully get a spot on the Boston Bruins."

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