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Bruins notebook

Long shots hit the jackpot

Players on bubble grateful for chance

Milan Lucic (62) is making the leap from junior hockey to the NHL because of his hard work and dedication in the preseason. Milan Lucic (62) is making the leap from junior hockey to the NHL because of his hard work and dedication in the preseason. (MARY SCHWALM/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WILMINGTON - Newcomers Milan Lucic and David Krejci weren't alone in their relief and excitement Monday when they were named to the Bruins roster that will kick off the 2007-08 season.

Shawn Thornton, whose NHL chance finally came last season with the Anaheim Ducks, knew enough not to take "cutdown day" for granted.

"It was my first time going through it [while having] a one-way contract," said Thornton, 30, signed as a free agent over the summer for a contract that pays him a total of $1.55 million over three seasons. "But there's still uncertainty - things aren't set in stone. You never know, it could have gone another way, and I feel very fortunate to be part of this team, that's for sure."

Meanwhile, rookies Lucic, 19, and Krejci, 21, were considerably less assured of making the grade. But by Monday night, the forwards were members in good standing of the Bruins, whose first game is Friday night in Dallas against Mike Modano and the Stars.

"Yeah, I am on the team," said Krejci, his English vastly improved from when the club selected him 63d overall in the 2004 draft. "But that doesn't mean I am finished - it all starts here. This is an opportunity. I have to improve every shift, every game. It's up to me now . . . that's life."

The thick-shouldered Lucic, the 50th pick overall in 2006, was an even longer shot to make the varsity roster, and was faced with the prospect of returning to his Vancouver Giants junior club. Instead, he will get at least a nine-game crack at The Show while the Bruins analyze his readiness and suitability to the pro game.

If Lucic were to exceed nine games with the Bruins this season, his three-year entry-level contract, per terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, officially would be on his dossier. The Bruins then would be faced with issuing him a new contract when he became a restricted free agent in 2010. If he doesn't play a 10th NHL game this season, then becomes a regular in Boston next season, he would not be eligible for a new deal until summer 2011.

"Obviously, I'm very excited," said Lucic, who made a string of phone calls, including shout-outs to his parents, grandparents, uncle, and even the family that provided him room and board last season with the Giants. "I am here for at least nine games now. It's always been my dream to play in the NHL, so now this . . . it's a dream come true, that's for sure.

Coach Claude Julien noted Krejci and Lucic both earned their spots through hard work and dedication, making them worthy "keeps".

"Krejci is very smart, very poised, and he only got better and better though camp," said Julien. "Lucic did a good job, too, but if anything, he faded a little bit toward the end. I think playing with Team Canada [in a late-summer tourney against a Russian squad], then coming right here, it wore him down a little. We have to allow him to get his second wind."

Metropolit on board

Following the late-morning workout, which lasted some 90 minutes at Ristuccia Arena, camp invitee Glen Metropolit said his contract, while not actually signed, has been all but finalized.

"Proud to be a Bruin - sign it up," said the 33-year-old Metropolit, who is represented by Larry Kelly, former partner of Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "I'm feeling good to be part of the team. Now we get off on the right foot here, get some wins under out belt."

Metropolit, who can play center and wing, is slated to be one of 14 forwards who will make the trip to Dallas.

Julien most nights will dress only 12 forwards, but he also is carrying an extra defenseman, which some nights could lead to only 11 forwards in uniform. Most likely, though, he'll dress the conventional dozen forwards and half-dozen blue liners.

Metropolit, whose deal is expected to be one year at around the league minimum of $475,000, has been assigned the oft-rebuked No. 13.

"That's what they gave me - never had that before," said Metropolit, among those who are squeamish about the unlucky number. "I wasn't going to go ask for another number, you know what I mean? I guess all the others are retired. Maybe I'll look at changing it."

Chiarelli said in an e-mail last night that Metropolit has agreed to the one-year deal and will sign it today. Without a deal, Metropolit would be free to sign with anyone. A source familiar with the machinations of the Toronto front office said over the weekend that the Leafs made Metropolit, a son of the city's Cabbage Town, an offer.

Metropolit spent most of the practice skating between Lucic and Thornton.

No alternate response

Julien, who earlier in camp said Zdeno Chara will retain the captain's "C" he sported last season, said yesterday he has not determined who the alternate captains will be for the opener. "That's something we are still discussing," Julien said a couple of hours after practice. "We should know that before we leave [tomorrow] for Dallas." Julien also said earlier in camp he might rotate the assistant captains' "A's", perhaps among as many as four players . . . The Bruins ended exhibition play with a 1-4-1 record, and were outscored, 19-13. They also were outshot, 188-175, most dramatically in the second period, when opponents fired 60 on net to the Bruins' 37 . . . The Bruins will skate here again today and tomorrow before boarding their charter flight for the trip to Dallas . . . Jeff Hoggan, placed on waivers following Monday's cutdown, was not claimed by another team. He is expected to start the season in Providence.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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