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Introductory thoughts

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  September 10, 2008 10:06 PM

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As expected, vice president Cam Neely received the biggest hand at the start of the town hall meeting.

NESN analyst Andy Brickley kicked off the meeting with questions to each panelist. Here are their initial thoughts:

* GM Peter Chiarelli kicked things off with a look back at 2007-08, noting how significant it was for the players to make the playoffs and gain postseason experience. Chiarelli was pleased with the defensive improvement and how hard the Bruins were to play against on most nights ("an abrasive side to our team night in and night out," said the GM). He then discussed the signing of Michael Ryder, noting his shot and his grittiness in the corners, and the addition of Stephane Yelle as a penalty-killer and veteran presence. Chiarelli reiterated that the 2008-09 Bruins will be hard to play against and that young players will continue to get opportunities.

* Executive vice president Charlie Jacobs acknowledged there is pressure on the organization because of the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots. Jacobs mentioned how the other teams stockpiled their assets and said he was encouraged by the contributions of the Bruins' young players.

* Captain Zdeno Chara said his left shoulder is not 100 percent following his offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum, but said it's improving. He said it was a very tough summer because of post-surgery limitations.

* Coach Claude Julien gave the 2007-08 Bruins an attaboy by noting how respect the team earned. But Julien said the Bruins won't be taken lightly by other teams this season, so there will be need for improvement. Julien said he wants more offensive production this season, but not at the cost of defensive responsibility. Julien mentioned the additions of Ryder and Yelle as well as the expected return of Patrice Bergeron and Manny Fernandez, and said he expected the Bruins to be better this season.

* Owner Jeremy Jacobs discussed the introduction of the new regime and the steps that Chiarelli and his staff have taken in the transition from Harry Sinden and Mike O'Connell. Jacobs compared his team's model to that of the Patriots, where change takes time and hard decisions must be made.

* Neely talked about why he decided to join the front office. Neely explained of how he spent last year -- attending practices, taking a scouting trip, talking to his fellow executives, visiting the dressing room.

* Aaron Ward noted how the new NHL requires players to be in full training mode over the summer. Ward said the informal sessions at Ristuccia Arena have been going well, not just on ice but in the room, as old players mix with the new faces.

We'll have some tidbits from the Q&A session later.

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