BOSTON – The Boston Bruins fell two wins short of winning their second Stanley Cup in three years. So they weren’t about to change much.
The Bruins opened training camp Wednesday with only two roster spots seemingly uncertain, and those were on the third and fourth lines.
“We’ve kept our core together,” coach Claude Julien said. “We’ve got some great leaders, a great core group of guys. And we’ve added some quality people in there, too.”
The Bruins signed free agent Jarome Iginla to fill the vacancy at right wing on the first line created when Nathan Horton signed with Columbus. They also obtained Loui Ericksson from Dallas for Tyler Seguin in an exchange of right wingers.
“I think it’s important every once in a while to get some fresh faces in and continue to create that excitement of being competitive and wanting to win every year,” Julien said. “You know things can get stale after a while.”
The Bruins are back less than three months after the stunning end to their season. Close to forcing a seventh game in the Stanley Cup finals, they allowed two goals in the last 76 seconds and the Chicago Blackhawks won the sixth game, 3-2, and the championship.
For some players, that took a while to leave behind.
“There were quite a few days that you thought about it,” defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said. “We can only hope that we learn from it and get better from it.”
The Bruins tended to their long-term future by signing two cornerstones to eight-year contracts—goalie Tuukka Rask for $56 million and centre Patrice Bergeron for $52 million.
The series-ending goals were a deflating end to Rask’s outstanding post-season.
“You can’t just sit back and think (there’s) something you could’ve done differently,” he said. “You’ve got to just shake it off and move on. Obviously, it’s going to stay with us for the rest of our lives, but we just have to learn from those kinds of things.”
The Bruins let Andrew Ference leave for Calgary as a free agent but still have seven defencemen who contributed last season to a team that allowed 109 goals, third fewest in the NHL: Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.
So with nearly all of last year’s contributors back, the Bruins are optimistic.
“There’s always high expectations with this organization,” Seidenberg said. “We have a great team on the ice again, a good mix again between the younger and older players. So there’s no reason for us not to succeed.”
The Bruins lost two other forwards: Jaromir Jagr via free agency and Rich Peverley in the trade with Dallas. But Swedish star Carl Soderberg, who played sparingly in the post-season, has offensive skills that could earn a regular shift.
Iginla finally joined the Bruins after a detour to Pittsburgh. He nixed a deal during the season that would have sent him to Boston and chose to go to the Penguins instead. But Boston swept Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals and then signed Iginla on July 5.
On Wednesday, he and his teammates took part in off-ice testing. They’ll skate for the first time in camp Thursday.
“Everybody’s prepared,” Iginla said. “We know guys are relaxed. You can tell they have that swagger and that confidence that it’s a really good club and it’s fun to join that.”
The Bruins open the season Oct. 3 at home against Tampa Bay.
“It’s got to be a fresh start,” Julien said. “When you win the Cup, you’ve got to turn the page and say, ‘We’ve got to do it all over again.’ That doesn’t change when you lose in the finals. I think we’ve got to turn the page and create ourselves another opportunity.”