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NEELY, CHIARELLI PRESS CONFERENCE

NEELY, CHIARELLI PRESS CONFERENCE

bruinslogo1BOSTON BRUINS PRESIDENT CAM NEELY AND GM PETER CHIARELLI  PRESS CONFERENCE REGARDING THE OPENING OF CAMP

THOMAS WANTS TO PLAY IN 2013-14

McQUAID READY TO PLAY……

Cam Neely opening statement…
First of all again, I would like to apologize to all our fans, season ticket holders, and premium clients for the lengthy lockout. Certainly, I don’t know if any of us expected it to go this long, but fortunately, we can start talking about hockey and hockey games. Before we get into questions, I just want to go through some of the promotions the organization is going to be doing for this year, and more specifically, for the month of January. For all our five home games, all of the fans will receive free concession vouchers. The vouchers will be valid for three food or beverage items, which would include hot dogs, sausage sandwich, a slice of pizza, healthy wrap, jumbo home-cooked meatball, peanuts, popcorn, and fountain beverage. It’s very important for the organization and for ownership to do this. Along with that, on opening night, presented by TD Bank, there will be free t-shirts for all fans, and in-game fan giveaways. There will be post-game locker room visits and meet-and-greets throughout the season, there will be two away game trips for two on the Bruins charter, which includes hotel and tickets to the game. There will be free parking in North Station garage for the remaining 23 home games. That will be not for everybody, but that will be a gift as well. There will be suite nights for concerts and Bruins games, subject to availability, including food and two parking spots. Also, an exclusive skate on TD Garden ice, which includes private ice time with friends and family, and also a $500 Boston Bruins Pro Shop shopping-spree. These are all things our fans can appreciate, because lord knows we certainly appreciate our fans.

Peter Chiarelli opening statement…
From my perspective, I just want to make some quick opening comments, and then I’m sure there will be a lot of questions for Cam and me. It’s been a painful journey up to this point for all of us. Mostly for our fans, for our stakeholders, but I’m glad the parties came to an agreement, and we’re able to ice our team now. Our team is—there’s not many roster spots available. We’ve got a pretty established team. You’re going to see a very small camp, and a very quick camp. What’s important is to condense your assessment—and that’s what I’m going to do—condense my assessment time, and recognize that this is now truly a sprint. You’re going to see a lot of things happening, you’re going to see from the player movement perspective, I don’t think you’re going to see much from us to start. We’re going to try to put some newer, younger guys in the lineup. You’re going to see pretty much what you’ve seen before, and everyone is healthy, and we’re very excited. We’ve got changes in goal, but we can talk about that, but you’re going to see a good team, and you’re going to see a team—I talked about condensing expectations, which magnifies them I guess—you’re going to see a team that’s highly, highly motivated. With that, we’ll open it up for questions.

On the best way to prepare for such a short season…
Peter Chiarelli
You’ve got a group of players that have played overseas, that are in game-shape, and close to top conditioning. You have players that have not played over there that have conditioned here, so you have various levels of conditioning. It’s critical that you take it deliberate, and you have to really keep your eye on each of those groups, and that’s up to our coach and coaching staff as far as how the practices unfold. We’ve got a scrimmage coming up; how he uses the guys there. Of course you’ve got all the issues associated with getting up and ready in a quick period of time, like the groins, and all that stuff. That’s up to the coaching staff to be careful, and we’ve had a lot of discussions as to how to do it. And then the season, as you’ve seen the schedule, it’s almost every other day. You just almost have to get the mindset into the players about this being a sprint, and there’s going to be more adversity in this 48 games then in a whole season, because we’ve got such a shortened time period. It’s jut being prepared, and rolling with it a little bit, and that applies to me as a manager to. If we have to makes moves, you have to do them more quickly—process you’re decisions more quickly.

On how he’s proceeding with Tim Thomas’ situation….
Peter Chiarelli
According to the transition rules, they have until 10 o’clock tomorrow to show up. Tim is not going to show up, and he’s told us that he’s not playing for the year, and wants to play next year. As late as last week he told me that through his agent. So we’ll end up suspending him, and we want to do it in a non-adversarial way. I’ve talked to the agent, and we’ll agree to some type of set of facts, and remedies, and that’ll be it. He will be on our cap, unless I trade him, and with the floor as it is—$44 million for this year—there’s probably not the opportunity to move him to a team that needs to get to the floor, so it’s a bit of a standstill. He’s on our cap, and he’ll be suspended.

On if Thomas said he wants to play next season…
Yes.

On what action they can take with Thomas…
We have the ability to toll the contract, which would mean at some point toward the last portion of the contract term, we can basically say we require you to give us another year under the same terms.

On if they will toll the contract…
Too early to tell, Steve. It’s a contractual right that by law that we have it; we may use it, we may not.

On if they will monitor Thomas…
Well, he’ll be a suspended player, and I don’t suspect so, unless he says he’s thinking about coming back.

On if they have a timetable on when the team will be up-and-running full steam…
Cam Neely
Just going from when I played in the 48-game season, most of the players weren’t playing overseas like they are today. To Pete’s comment earlier, we’re fortunate enough that we had a lot of guys over there, including both our goalies playing. It shouldn’t probably take as long as it did in past years to get up and running. The players know the urgency of having a good start, and they generally keep themselves in pretty good shape. We’ve got a great group of character guys. It’s been a long time since they’ve played in an NHL game, and they’re excited about playing, and know what’s at stake early on and throughout the whole 48 games. I don’t anticipate us to take too long to get up and running.

On if they’ll reach out to Celtics Coach Doc Rivers on how to deal with a condensed schedule…
Peter Chiarelli
It’s not something that I’ve discussed with our coach. I know periodically he’ll talk to Bill Belichick or Doc Rivers, so he may or he may not. It’s different sports, I know kind of the number of games is the same, but he’s been through—actually I don’t think Claude was in the league in the first truncated season in 94-95. It’s something new to him. Our coaching staff is good in assessing the current condition of the group, and that applies to days off too. That’s one of the strengths of our staff; they can judge the energy level, the performance level, and the conditioning level on a day-to-day basis through a rigorous schedule. So he may or may not, I haven’t discussed it with him.

On if there’s a silver lining in starting late for the team and for Nathan Horton…
Peter Chiarelli
Yes. For Horton yes, because he’s had that much more time to recover. What Cam said earlier about the two goalies, I think that’s huge. We’re going through a goalie change here with not having Tim, so the fact that they can have that edge, perceived or not, I think is good for them. Now we’ve had enough rest, so we’re no longer fatigued from a Stanley Cup win. I think it just more speaks to motivation that these guys are in a short season, anything can happen, it’s a sprint, and let’s get going. It’s more that the longer they’ve been out now, the more motivated they are to get going.

On Tuukka Rask’s development and how ready he is to be the true number one…
Peter Chiarelli
He was an elite goalie that played a lot of minutes in the Finnish Elite League with a team that wasn’t really strong, so he faced a lot of rubber, and that’s kind of his first stepping-stone of development. He came here and put in the time, the apprenticeship in Providence. We’ve always kind of had a plan, a succession plan, you might have heard me talk about for handing the reigns over to him when it’s time. Maybe it’s a year early from my perspective, but it’s close enough that we’re happy where he is in his development. He had a chance to be the number on goalie so-to-speak in the year we lost to [Philadelphia] in the second round, and I think he acquitted himself quite well. But, I think he—and he’ll be the first to say—I think he got fatigued a little toward the end, due to the workload, due to the pressure; maybe more so due to the mental pressure of being number one. So that’s a challenge that he’s going to have, but he’s gone through all the steps of development, and he’s passed them all with flying colors. He should be ready for the challenge.

On if he envisions having to move players in and out of the lineup more often than usual because of injuries/results…
Peter Chiarelli
I think just because we have so many games in so few days, you’re going to see more of that. I don’t think it will be contrived from our end, if it happens we’ll do it. It’s not going to be part of our plan to do that. We’ve got a group that’s very well conditioned based on the results that I’ve seen and the two skates that I’ve seen, so injuries are going to happen with the schedule the way it is, we’ll just have to see what happens and deal with it proactively.

On if he has any words of wisdom for the players, having gone through a shortened season as a player and on Buffalo and Montreal strengthening their lineups as a result of the Bruins…
Cam Neely
Well, it is going to be intense, there’s no question. They just have to play their game, they know how they need to play to be successful and how to help our team be successful, that’s not going to change. Teams have reacted because of the way we play, there’s not much we can do but to continue to play the way we’re capable of playing to be successful.

On who the candidates are for the third line winger line and what he expects to see out of them in camp…
Peter Chiarelli
It’ll probably be beyond this week, the assessment period, because of the injury to Jordan [Caron], but you’ve got Chris Bourque who’s going to be vying for it. He plays a different role  in the American League than he plays in the NHL, but he’s got a terrific shot, he makes good plays in small spaces and he’s a left shot, so he’s some left shot skill that we always seem to be looking for. You’ve got Lane MacDermid and Danny Paille, our other left wings that may find their way up to that spot. And then of course, you’ve got the ability of Chris Kelly to move over and you’ve got the ability of Soupy [Gregory Campbell] to play that spot. I don’t know if you’re going to see all of those options in these six days, but we do have a lot of options. You’ve seen snippets of Lane MacDermid, he’s a bigger, stronger player, like a robust player. [Ryan] Spooner, you’ve seen snippets from past camps, skilled centerman. There’s a bit of – we’ve got the ability to mix and match with that bottom half of the forward lineup. When Jordan gets up and running – I don’t know how we’ll get him in, but we’ll have to get him up and running again in Providence and then we may, subject to who’s doing well up here, we may have to see him up top.

On the hopes and expectations he has for Dougie Hamilton…
Peter Chiarelli
My automatic preface to that question is he’s going to have an adjustment period. Not too much expectation on him to start. He’s coming off of the World Juniors, they [Canada] had a tough, disappointing finish. He was pressing offensively, from what I saw and what our scouts saw over there, so we’ve got to just dial that back a little bit. But he’ll work his way into the lineup, he’s got to earn a spot but I expect him to earn a spot based on what I’ve seen and how we project. I think he’s grown since the summer, so he’s big and rangy. He’s a rookie, who’s a very good rookie who has to work himself into the lineup. It’s as simple as that, I’m going to temper expectations as much as I can on him. It’s hard to be a defenseman in the National Hockey League.

On what has happened since last Sunday’s announcement organizationally and if it was a busy week…
Peter Chiarelli
Well, it was. I’ll say some stuff and I know Cam’s been doing a lot of stuff, too. I was out West and got the call early on Sunday morning that there’s a deal done, so you spend all this time, by the way, I’m glad I don’t have to look at Twitter anymore, but that was my sole source of information for a while. I get the call, I find out from the call rather than from Twitter, so I find my way back here and you still have to wait, everyone starts getting excited but we still had the week to wait, so we were planning and we still had to wait because of the ratification and you don’t know if it’s going to be a 52-game schedule or a 50 or a 48, so we had to put up a bunch of different plans. Then, of course, last night at 9:30 or something when they signed the memorandum of understanding. We had planned an exhibition scrimmage and we didn’t know if we could do it, so there were a lot of false starts.

Cam Neely
Yeah, exactly. I know for the three or so months that we haven’t been playing hockey, we have been prepared and preparing to drop the puck, so a lot of different moving parts during the course of that time frame. You’re almost kind of held hostage, a lot of stops and starts but everybody is certainly well prepared, we’re ready to go and, obviously, very excited about it.

On if he knows if Adam McQuaid is ready to play after his injury…
Peter Chiarelli
He’s ready to play, he’s cleared to play now. I don’t know what level of contact he can take but I haven’t talked to our docs yet, but he’s – I think he’s completely ready to play.

On if McQuaid will be in the lineup next Saturday…
Peter Chiarelli
I would assume so, yes, unless he stinks out there.

On if the team has some clarity for next year, in terms of compliance…
Peter Chiarelli
I knew you or Kevin was going to ask me that. I’ve looked at the new deal, we’ve got a cap upper limit, next year, a guarantee of an upper limit of $64.3 [million], so at the very least it will be that. Then there’s the ability to retain cash in transactions, so there’s a whole lot more tools in this CBA, there’s the compliance buyouts over two years. Tons of combinations have been going through my head as to how to continue to ice this competitive team to challenge for the Cup. I’m still in that stage. We’ve got some key signings whether they’re expiring contracts, whether they’re going into their final years like the Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron], the expiring contracts, the [Nathan] Hortons. Then we got [Andrew] Ference, guys like that, the goalies, so we’ve got some decisions to make. I’m more focusing on this year now, maybe give me a week before I start figuring that out.

On where Marc Savard stands health wise and if he will have to use his contract…
Peter Chiarelli
Just, all you cap counters out there, the performance bonus goes into the cushion now, so you take a big chunk off of Tyler [Seguin’s] contract. If Jordan plays, his contract. If Dougie plays, his contract, all of that goes into the cushion, so there’s, whatever that amount is, fourish, is now  cap space. Then you have Savvy [Marc Savard] who’s eligible for LTI [long-term injured reserves], he will be on LTI, he’s coming in next week, this coming week. So, we’ve got a lot of flexibility this year. Do I suspect we’ll use Savard’s LTI, it depends. Mr. Jacobs has allowed us to  pursue those types of players, he wants to win, so I think if we presented a compelling case to him, I think he’d let us use it.

On if there are two buyouts beginning next season…
Peter Chiarelli
I haven’t looked at it closely.

Cam Neely
This summer.

Peter Chiarelli
It’s the summer under the normal compliance schedule starting in the new league year which would be July 1. I haven’t looked at it closely, I think you can push…

Cam Neely
I think you can do two total in two years, so how you split that up…

Peter Chiarelli
You can do two the subsequent summer, or something

On if the standard protocol of a junior player usually playing 9 or 10 games and then the team making a decision if the player stays has changed…
Peter Chiarelli
That’s been prorated down, so I think it’s six games now. Whatever that fraction to 10 games is. We’ve seen enough – that option will present itself to us whether we can send him back to preserve a year. We’ve seen enough of him so that if we have a shortened period of NHL games, I don’t think that impacts our decision, if it’s 10 versus six. What teams have done before is that  they’ve carried guys and sporadically play them so that they get the benefit of practicing with the NHL team and staying up longer than just the six or 10 games, successive games. I don’t think we’ll do that because he’s a good player, so I would hope that he’s going – it’s too bad that he’s doesn’t have a full year to inject himself into our lineup and maybe at the 15 game mark we’re like, we can’t afford to have him full time. I don’t think that will be the case but I’m prepared to go though past that threshold and give him a little more time to get into our lineup, rather than make that decision and send him back, so I expect him to make our team and stay with us.

On whether other teams have reached out to him about a trade…
Peter Chiarelli
Not much, not much. We’ve all been waiting for the transition rules and the schedule and all that stuff. We’re not doing much, if anything right now. They probably figured that out everyone else, knows everyone else’s depth chart right now, so we’ve had a couple but not much.

On key CBA dates…
Peter Chiarelli
I won’t give you them all but I can tell you that…I don’t know why I won’t give you them all but I won’t.

The free agency date is, I think it’s July 5th, trading deadline is April 3rd, last day regular season April 27th. The draft is one day on the Sunday the 30th. Last possible date for the playoffs is June 28th.  So there’s some…free agency period begins…first buy out period begins 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final. So there’s a lot of them but the key ones are the free agency date, the trading deadline, and the draft, which I’ve given you.

On having more players in Europe than other teams…
Cam Neely
I think it’s certainly beneficial. Any time you can play hockey games and be in as close to game shape as possible if you’re not playing, so it’s pretty simple. Now having said that, that doesn’t mean that other teams won’t get ramped up quick, but I think it’s certainly beneficial for us to have as many guys as we did playing hockey.

Peter Chiarelli
I think it’s key to note also, to add to that, that there’s game shape and then there’s being in proper condition and then there’s both. And our guys, I’ve seen a couple of interviews on TV of players who have played over there that have made mention of you know, ‘I’ve got my game hands, and maybe my conditioning’s not what it would have been to start the season but I’m in game shape’. So again, not to overplay that we have such an edge, but based on what I’ve seen for the past couple of days and the conditioning results, it looks like we might have both. So, not to put any pressure on our coach.

On limited time for coaching and practice with high game volume…
Cam Neely
Yeah, well the other benefit obviously is our coaching staff hasn’t changed, so maybe there’s going to be some tweaks along the way what they do, but for the most part we’ve got a fairly similar team, similar coaching staff, so they know each other really well. I think Claude [Julien] has done a very good job over the years of understanding when guys need a break and when he can push them a little bit. That’s not going to change although it will certainly make a difference that we are playing every-other night. And the other good thing is if you don’t necessarily have a good game you can put it behind you pretty quickly.

On a player’s perspective of the difficulty of a defenseman to walk into lineup versus a forward…
Cam Neely
Yeah, well obviously there’s a lot more you’ve got to figure out defensively in your end, especially in the system that we play and how our coaching staff likes our [defense] to play. So it’s just really going to be a matter of understanding that from a player’s perspective and working on it and being open with the coaching staff. If you don’t necessarily understand it make sure you do understand it.

From a forward’s perspective, obviously the transition from offense to defense, you’ve got to be in tune with and you’ve got to understand where our coaching staff wants you to play, but Pete [Peter Chiarelli] said it earlier, I think it’s more difficult for a young defenseman to step into a lineup at the NHL level. Certainly players are bigger and stronger so there’s an adjustment there. Understanding positional play maybe is a bigger adjustment then it would be say in Junior or College, so defensemen they may need to use their hockey sense a little bit more as far as where to be and where to go and make sure you don’t put yourself out of position.

On Matt Bartkowski…
Peter Chiarelli
Well you’re right, he has had a strong second quarter and he had a strong finish last year. He had a slow start this year. He’s a rangy skating D-man [defenseman] who can move the puck out of his zone with skating. He can defend pretty well. He’s got a decent size, better than decent size, so we kind of have if you include Dougie [Hamilton] in the mix, there’s like four [defense] for two spots. And he’s got a chance, I mean we kept this camp small and limited to guys who we felt had, based on their performances, who we thought had a legitimate chance of earning spot. And that includes [David] Warsofsky too. I’ve seen you there quite a bit. He’s had a good start too. So he’s, [Matt Bartkowski], I don’t know if you can say he made the team that year, we had to bring over extra players yeah, but he had a good camp. He’s got a chance and again, I said it earlier, it may be harder to get him adjusted in a short period of time. With [Matt Bartkowski], it’s like maybe it will be to his benefit if we had a few exhibition games, so it’s unfair but those are the cards that we were dealt.

On the likelihood of carrying extra players with the shortened season…
Peter Chiarelli
Not specifically for the shortened season, I don’t think there are any roster provisions. There are some new provisions in general regarding, if you remember a few years ago Calgary was in some soup there once when they were kind of at the cap and they couldn’t put any players in. There’s some provisions there where you can add these players are minimum plus a little bit salary. That may come into play. Not for us, but you asked what provisions there are that might come into play. I think we’re just lucky to have Providence close by so we can shuttle players in and manage their ice time better whether it’s through practices, games, at both levels so think we’ll probably carry one and one. One extra forward one extra [defense].

On Jay Pandolfo….
Peter Chiarelli
I remember him more from a few years ago, so it would be unfair for me to characterize him right now because I haven’t seen him, you know I’ve seen him the last couple of days. I think with him it would be that if he’s going to be in our plans we’ll see how he does in training camp and then maybe we have a look at Providence. He’s obviously got some attributes. We always see him bring defensive style forward every year. He looks like he’s going that kind of stuff going so that’s one of the reasons we extended the PTO. I think if something like that happens it will be in stages.

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