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Skating with Bruins pretty cool for Hennessy

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / September 14, 2011

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WILMINGTON - A full complement of Bruins and Bruins hopefuls took to the ice at Ristuccia Arena yesterday for a captain’s practice, minus the captain himself, Zdeno Chara, who is in Slovakia for the funeral of friend and former national teammate Pavol Demitra, who perished in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash last week.

Bruins practices officially begin Friday, and with the rookies on Long Island for a pair of games against the Islanders rookies, skating was optional for veterans. But almost all of the Stanley Cup champions were there, even Brad Marchand, a restricted free agent who has not yet agreed to terms on a contract.

After an hour of scrimmaging, when all of the players had left the ice and the lights in the rink were dimmed, one more player came out of the locker room to skate.

Josh Hennessy, a 26-year-old forward from Rockland, is so excited to be a Bruin, he can’t contain his enthusiasm.

Hennessy played in Switzerland with HC Lugano last season (9-10-19 in 36 games) after five years in the Ottawa organization, but he was back home in time to watch the Stanley Cup run and it rekindled his childhood affection for the Bruins.

“I was on the bandwagon like everybody else in the spring, at the parade and stuff,’’ said Hennessy, who is still recovering from surgery he underwent in April to repair the ACL in his right knee. “I was such a big fan my whole life. I was as excited as anybody else.’’

And never more excited than July 2, when the Bruins signed him to a one-year contract. Cam Neely and Adam Oates were Hennessy’s favorite Bruins when he was a kid, and thus far he has only had a chance to shake Neely’s hand and say hello. But even though his injury keeps him from skating with the team, he’s in the room with some guys who are strangely familiar.

“It’s cool seeing all the guys’ faces; you became so familiar with them as a fan, through the playoffs and stuff,’’ Hennessy said. “It’s neat to be in the locker room with them. My mom and dad are the biggest Bruins fans ever and they’re asking me all about the guys.’’

Hennessy is 6 feet and 200 pounds, with speed and good skills. After he graduated from Milton Academy in 2001, he went straight to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior league, bypassing college. After four strong years in the Q, including 85 points in 68 games in his fourth season, he was drafted by San Jose in the second round of the 2003 draft (43d overall, two slots ahead of Patrice Bergeron).

His lofty run ended there. He spent a full season with the Sharks’ AHL team in Cleveland (24-39-63) and was named AHL Rookie of the Year, but then was traded to Chicago, which immediately sent him to Ottawa. He played only 20 games with the Senators over four years (one goal, four penalty minutes), spending most of his time with Binghamton.

So once his knee is at full strength - his return is projected for mid-October - what can he bring to the Bruins? And what are his chances here?

“Good, I have to believe that they’re good,’’ said Hennessy. “I mean, I know I could play here. Obviously, it’s stiff competition and not a ton of spots. With my injury, it’s going to take a little bit of time to get to the level I’m capable of.

“I know with my skating, I can play a lot of different roles. Skating’s my strength, it’s always been my biggest strength.’’

Hennessy is unlikely to be a top-six forward, but seems determined to find a place with his hometown team.

“I can be pretty versatile,’’ he said, “kind of like a lefthanded [Rich] Peverley, that’s kind of how I see myself.’’

Hennessy said he can play both center and wing, and is good on faceoffs.

“I just have to be consistent and show it; make a case for myself on the ice,’’ he said. “I’m so excited - I’ve got that going for me, too.’’

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