BOSTON – Go ahead and ban the word “repeat” from the Boston Bruins locker-room. Coach Claude Julien would rather not hear it pass from his players’ lips.
“We’re certainly not a group that’s overconfident. We’re certainly not a group that’s going to think ‘We’ve got it made,’ or that it’s going to be a repeat season for us,” he said as the Bruins prepared for Thursday night’s opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. “We don’t really want to use the word ‘repeat,’ because we know how hard it is. We aren’t talking about the playoffs, because we’ve got 82 games to play before we even think about the playoffs.
“We’re going to go through this year just like we did last year, we’ve just got a little more experience.”
The Stanley Cup champions returned on Monday from a team-building trip to Maine that was designed to help the players bond before the start of the season. The Bruins will receive their championship rings in a ceremony on Tuesday, and on Thursday night the Stanley Cup banner will be raised above the ice at the TD Garden before the regular-season opener against the Flyers.
Last year’s team, obviously, had enough of the right chemistry to win it all. So Julien is turning his attention to this year’s team, which has many of the same players but also some new faces to replace departing veterans like Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder.
“One of the things our team feels good about is we have a continuation from last year,” defenceman Andrew Ference said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “We have a very tight unit here, and that’s one of the big advantages we think we have over other teams.”
Here’s another advantage: The Bruins will play seven of their first nine games, and 13 out of 16, at home to start the season. While that will give them a chance to get off to a good start, Julien was concerned that the team would miss the bonding that takes place on the road.
So he packed the team up and took them to Great Diamond Island, off the coast of Maine.
“We’re not going to get that much of a chance to spend time together as a group and get real comfortable,” Julien said. “When you’re at home, you go your own way, you have your own families and your agendas and those make it a little hard for guys to bond together. This was a great opportunity to start off on the right foot.”
Last year’s team played exhibition games in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and in the Czech Republic before opening the regular season in Prague. That worked out OK, as they won their first NHL title since 1972.
“If something works well for you,” Julien said, “you don’t ignore it.”