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Proteau's Blog: Bitter and sweet

Another day, another story on The Hockey News' pre-season predictions – and the fury they generate in some people and players.

This time, it's Boston defenseman Aaron Ward whose UnderArmor is in a twist. Apparently, he's none too pleased we picked the Bruins to finish last in the Eastern Conference this season.

“There's a reason why (those writers) are not putting skates on,” said Ward, employing the incomparably lame “Youse-guys-ain't-NHLers-and-therefore-can't-comment-on-nuthin' ” argument. “And if (writers) really knew what they were doing, they wouldn't be writing in Toronto or Montreal or New York. They'd be in Vegas, putting their money where their mouth is.”

Hey Aaron – there's also a reason why the Bruins finished with the second-worst defense in the NHL last year. And with no alterations to your defense corps, there's a perfectly understandable reason why pundits aren't expecting the world from you and your teammates this season.

• Inviting former star defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh to training camp on a tryout basis is a classy, low-risk/high-reward move by GM Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks.

Ozolinsh, a Stanley Cup champion with Colorado in 1996 who also has seven NHL All-Star appearances to his credit, struggled with off-ice issues – he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2006 – the last couple years and entered the league's substance abuse program in 2005.

If Ozolinsh has his life together now and can re-establish himself on the ice, San Jose will have a veteran, puck-moving blueliner at a much cheaper price than the one the Edmonton Oilers paid for Sheldon Souray (who is, granted, at a different level than Ozolinsh at this stage of his career).

Perhaps just as importantly, the fact Wilson was willing to take a chance and welcome Ozolinsh back into the Sharks fold underscores the family-type environment that helps the organization continually attract the game's best people and performers.

Here's hoping it works out for both sides.



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