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Kelly, Ference share alternate duties

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / October 7, 2011

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At the conclusion of yesterday’s morning skate at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien pulled his troops together for an important announcement: Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly would be joining Patrice Bergeron as alternate captains.

The “A’’ that Bergeron wears is permanent. It has been since 2006. Ference and Kelly will share the second “A,’’ which was affixed to Mark Recchi’s jersey last season.

For the first half of 2011-12, Ference will be the second alternate at home. Kelly will wear the second “A’’ on the road. Ference and Kelly will switch halfway through the season.

“I think all the players and the coaching staff agreed that those guys have that personality that gives them the respect in the room,’’ Julien said. “Also, they have that personality that shows leadership in the right way on and off the ice.

“They’re highly respected in the dressing room. Our guys really felt strongly. There didn’t seem to be any questions on whether they were the right choices. It really was pretty unanimous overall. They became the obvious choices.’’

Ference has been the second alternate before. Until 2008, Glen Murray was the second alternate. After the Bruins bought out Murray in the summer of 2008, Julien opted to rotate the “A’’ every 25 games among three players: Ference, Marc Savard, and Marco Sturm. Julien considers Ference a valuable link between the players and the coaching staff.

Ference caused waves in the dressing room before the start of the 2009-10 season. That summer, he was one of the central figures in the ouster of NHL Players Association executive director Paul Kelly. Some of Ference’s teammates didn’t appreciate how the rank and file weren’t informed of the proceedings until Kelly had been sacked.

Last night marked only the 25th regular-season game for Kelly as a Bruin. In that short span, however, he has become a respected presence in the room. In Ottawa, before general manager Bryan Murray dismantled the roster, Kelly was part of a leadership corps that included Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, and Mike Fisher. While Ference might be more vocal, Kelly shows his leadership via his professional approach on and off the ice.

Kelly made his greatest impact last season in the playoffs. In 25 games, he had five goals and eight assists while centering the No. 3 line and serving as a trusted penalty killer alongside Rich Peverley. Julien often tapped Kelly, Peverley, and Bergeron as his late-game line because of their three-zone reliability.

“When he first got here, he was known as a great leader in Ottawa, but he kind of felt his way through before he started showing those qualities to the extreme,’’ Julien said. “In the playoffs, it was pretty obvious what kind of leader he was. Our guys and the coaching staff recognized that.’’

Endorsement for Clark If Chris Clark needs a letter of recommendation, Julien will have his pen at the ready.

“Anybody who can ask me the question now, I’ll answer it without hesitation: Chris Clark can still play in the NHL,’’ Julien said. “That’s not a question.’’

Clark, released from his tryout Wednesday, once stood a good chance of breaking camp with the Bruins. But the native of South Windsor, Conn., projected to be the 14th forward - too low on the depth chart for the organization’s liking.

“What he was going to bring and what we were capable of offering him, I think, would have been tough for him, too,’’ Julien said. “Right now, he didn’t really fit in our top 12.

“His leadership qualities, you can show those a lot easier when you’re in the mix of regular players. It’s hard to go in there and try to be a leader when you’re not really fitting into the top 12 as we speak.

“It was tough. There were a lot of things that went into our thoughts. The one thing I do hope is that he does hook up with some team, because he’s still an NHL-caliber player.’’

The decision also reflected the franchise’s confidence in its bottom-six depth. Jamie Arniel, Lane MacDermid, and Trent Whitfield are among the current Providence players who could see fill-in duty if any of the big club’s grunts suffer injuries.

Pouliot scratched When Benoit Pouliot played for Montreal against the Bruins in last year’s postseason, he was a healthy scratch for the final four games of the first round. Last night, Pouliot was a healthy scratch once more. Jordan Caron served as the No. 3 left wing alongside Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. Caron submitted a string of zeroes in 10:20 of ice time . . . When David Krejci was growing up in the Czech Republic, Jaromir Jagr was his country’s biggest hockey star. Naturally, Krejci was thrilled to play against Jagr last night. The two were Olympic teammates in Vancouver last year. “Back home, people talked about it all summer,’’ Krejci said of skating against Jagr. “I couldn’t miss it. I’m really excited.’’ . . . Dennis Seidenberg ended last year on Zdeno Chara’s right side. Last night, Seidenberg started on the left side. “Pros and cons to both sides,’’ Seidenberg said. “Sometimes, I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m real comfortable on my left.’ And on the right side, I feel at home.’’ Seidenberg is one of Julien’s most valuable assets because he can play both sides and shift up and down the lineup depending on matchups. “I like that,’’ Seidenberg said. “It just shows they have faith and trust in me. I like having that feeling that comes. It’s a good feeling.’’ . . . Adam McQuaid skated yesterday morning but was held out of the game. McQuaid missed Wednesday’s practice and part of Tuesday’s session because of a virus. He hasn’t had much luck against the Flyers. Last year, Jody Shelley ran McQuaid face-first into the TD Garden boards. Shelley was suspended for two games. In the playoffs, McQuaid hurt his neck at the Wells Fargo Center after he missed a check on Mike Richards . . . With McQuaid out, Matt Bartkowski got the nod. Bartkowski played only 8:22 and struggled with his decision-making with the puck . . . Bergeron won 10 of 12 faceoffs . . . Old friends Recchi and Shane Hnidy attended last night’s banner raising.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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