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Town hall meeting

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  September 11, 2008 09:48 AM

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philkessel091108.jpg
Phil Kessel's development was one of the discussion topics last night. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

Some final items from last night's town hall meeting:

* Peter Chiarelli answered a question about Phil Kessel and what the third-year pro must do this season to keep moving forward. The bottom line: Kessel has significant upside, but he still has work to do. "Kess is a tremendous talent," Chiarelli said. "He's a young player, and we expect those players to improve. He has improved. He's improved over the summer. He's gotten stronger. You can't win in this league without skill. [Milan Lucic] has skill too. But Kess has a lot of skill. You have to work with these players. Claude [Julien] has a track record of working with these players and they've really progressed. They have to prove that game by game and year by year. We're not ruling out Kess. He's a tremendous player for us. He had his ups and downs last year. The way you have to deal with younger players is that you have to be consistent. We're going to be consistent with Kess."

* Julien said that Michael Ryder is the type of player who needs to feel like he's a big part of the team to be successful. Ryder certainly didn't feel that last year, when he was in Guy Carbonneau's doghouse for most of the season. "He's one of those players who, if he feels that he's got an important role to play and feels he's part of the nucleus that's going to help us win, then he really bears down and plays a complete game," Julien said.

* Julien reminded the audience that Manny Fernandez will need some tuning up during training camp in preparation for the regular season. "We have to realize here that Manny, more or less, has been inactive for a year and a half," Julien said. "We'll use training camp to evaluate him and give him a chance to find his game." Fernandez underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Dec. 12, 2007.

* Lots of talk about the 5-4 win over Montreal in Game 6. "Game 6 was probably the best game this building has ever seen as far as hockey goes," said Cam Neely.

* Zdeno Chara was asked about what he, as captain, must do to get the players ready for the start of the season. "We have to become a really tight group," Chara said. "Then we have to bring that on the ice." Chara was referring to the upcoming training camp, which will see the Bruins set up shop in Halifax for four nights, then spend three more in Stowe, Vt., for team-building exercises. Last year they also got away to Stowe, then used the five-game season-opening road trip to bond as a team.

* As he usually does, Aaron Ward delivered one of the better lines: "I don't enter a season thinking I'm not going to win a Stanley Cup. Then it's useless to even put the skates on."

* Chiarelli singled out Matt Lashoff, Matt Hunwick, Blake Wheeler, Martins Karsums, and Nate Thompson as young players who are candidates to contribute at the NHL level this season.

* Neely said he wouldn't be surprised if Marco Sturm hovers around the 40-goal mark this season.

* A smiling Chara on Axelsson, his quirky personality, and his sense of style: "P.J. is a very unique individual. His haircut is always something different. You never know what you're going to get. He's an awesome guy. He's great in the locker room. We all enjoy him very much."

* When asked by a youngster how big he is, Chara replied, "Really big."

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