Team hopes that drive is still there
BOLTON - Yesterday, the players who sent every other team to the golf course last year had their opportunity to swing some sticks.
The occasion was the annual Boston Bruins Foundation tournament at The International. The Bruins’ short summer kept them from improving drives and putts that they had time to practice during previous offseasons.
There were no complaints about that.
“Awful, especially this summer,’’ Patrice Bergeron, before hitting the course yesterday, said of his game. “I played once. Not going to be pretty today.’’
Of course, the Stanley Cup was at the course, and the Bruins gathered behind the clubhouse to take their picture with it. During the tournament, the Cup made the rounds of the course. The Bruins’ 100-day stewardship is nearing its end, but they would like nothing better than to extend their privileges for its services another summer.
General manager Peter Chiarelli cautions that a Cup hangover is very real, based on conversations with players and executives who have been champions. But the Bruins are hoping that a favorable season-opening schedule and a near lack of roster turnover will push them through the grind once the puck drops on 2011-12.
Starting Oct. 6, when the Bruins raise their championship banner at TD Garden against Philadelphia, 13 of the first 17 games will be at home. Unlike last year, when their early-season travels took them to Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic, they will have a quiet training camp. Stops include Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal, and Bridgeport, Conn.
In theory, the return of most of last year’s team should ease the break-in period. Mark Recchi retired, Michael Ryder signed with Dallas, and Tomas Kaberle bolted for Carolina.
“With most of the same group coming in, it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing everyone,’’ Milan Lucic said. “We want to do as much as we can to get ourselves back to that point where we were having fun playing with one another - playing with that team chemistry that we had. I think that’s our main focus in training camp. Get ourselves back into shape, but also create that team chemistry we had last year that was so great.’’
Newcomers bidding for those openings include Benoit Pouliot, Chris Clark, and Joe Corvo. Youngsters Jamie Arniel, Max Sauve, Ryan Spooner, and Jared Knight also could contend for NHL paychecks.
“Last year was a dream come true for pretty much everyone,’’ Bergeron said. “That being said, it’s not over. We’ve got to keep going. Now we’re the defending champ. We should take pride in that.’’
Horton feels good A separated shoulder suffered during the Eastern Conference finals couldn’t derail Nathan Horton’s postseason run. In Game 3 of the Cup Final, a concussion delivered by the Canucks’ Aaron Rome did what the shoulder could not.
“The season’s so long. The year’s so long,’’ Horton said. “Everyone battles through injuries. In the end, that’s all that mattered. We won the Stanley Cup because we battled through.’’
The summer off, as short as it was, appears to be just what Horton needed.
“I feel good. I feel a lot better than I did,’’ he said. “We still have another month before the season starts. So I should be ready to go.’’
Marchand on hand Brad Marchand has been participating in captain’s practices at Ristuccia Arena. Yesterday, he played in the golf tournament.
But Marchand is without a contract just three days before the opening of camp.
“I am part of this team. There’s no reason for me not to be,’’ Marchand said. “I want to be here. I want to show that I’m in shape and ready to go this year. I’m excited to get back into action. Just waiting to see if we can get it done here.’’
If Marchand doesn’t sign before Friday, he will be only the second player to hold out under the current management team’s watch. Phil Kessel held out in 2009 before he was traded to Toronto.
No-name defenseman Chiarelli confirmed that Steven Kampfer will not have his name engraved on the Cup. The defenseman dressed for only 38 games last year and none in the playoffs. The Bruins had filed a petition with the commissioner to have Kampfer’s name included. Players must play in at least 41 regular-season games or one match in the final . . . Johnny Boychuk noted that life as a Cup champion is different. On his first day back in his native Edmonton, Boychuk was shopping for groceries when the store manager asked him for an autograph. “That was kind of weird,’’ Boychuk said. “I didn’t think they’d recognize me because I didn’t have my beard.’’ . . . Bergeron and former Bruin Normand Leveille posed for a picture with the Cup. Bergeron and Leveille are Quebec natives.