BOSTON (CBS) – The Bruins were granted a well-deserved day off Tuesday by head coach Claude Julien after two extremely differing lineups won both halves of a preseason back-to-back series with Montreal Sunday and Monday.
We’re now nine days away from the season-opener against Philadelphia at TD Garden, so now’s as good a time as any to look break down at least one of the team’s handful of positional battles.
A reader of my site, TheBruinsBlog.net, named Paul recently wrote me to ask about Jordan Caron, who as a second-year professional doesn’t require waivers to be sent to the Providence (AHL) farm club. He asked why it wouldn’t be better to just cut veteran Chris Clark, who is in camp on a tryout.
Well, there’s no doubt that if Caron is having an excellent camp. He looks even better prepared than he did this time last season, when he made the team out of training camp and was a regular in the team’s top 12. Remember, he played so well, his presence was one of the reasons Daniel Paille, who played such a prominent role in the Stanley Cup run, was a regular healthy scratch for the first month and a half of the season.
However, Clark has proven this camp that at 35, he still has a lot to give. The guy never takes a shift off, even in practices. Here’s what Julien had to say about Clark last week:
“He came into the NHL and he’s become a captain on the teams that he’s played with so his leadership quality, and what I liked about Chris was that you knew he was going to play hard every night and to play against a guy like that, that’s not an easy thing, but you learn to respect and like those kind of players. I’ve always admired that from him and that’s what he’s shown here again. He’s a pretty determined individual, very focused, mentally strong. He’s a fun guy to be around, I think he’s already very well respected by our players on our team because I think they’ve seen the same thing as I did when we played against him.”
The Bruins have to weigh a couple things in making this decision. They have to determine if Caron would play regularly – meaning someone like Daniel Paille might have to sit out – or if he’s ready to be the 13th forward rather than play regularly in the AHL. And second, they have to decide if there’s enough veteran leadership left in the room after Mark Recchi’s departure. You can’t overlook this because so much of the Bruins’ core is still 26 and under. If there are enough vocal, wise leaders, that would make Clark expendable.
From what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t mind the Bruins keeping Clark around to start the season and letting Caron get started in the AHL. If they sign Clark, it’s not going to be for much more than the league minimum and they could easily cut him if they decide to make a change a month or two into the campaign.
EMPTYING OUT THE NOTEBOOK:
Thornton’s First Fight
Shawn Thornton engaged in his first fight of the preseason Sunday night in Halifax, Nova Scotia against Montreal’s Alex Henry.
He managed to not have to deal with any dust-ups during team scrimmages, and the Black and White game in Providence. Intra-squad fights have gone the way of the wooden stick, even since the early days of Thornton’s career.
The Boston forward remembers fighting in both Colorado and Toronto’s camps.
“You’ve got to be able to play the game. Players have to be able to play some,” Thornton recently told CBSBoston.com about the changes. “Maybe when I was first starting out, the toughest guy got the job. That’s not the case anymore. You have to contribute in every facet of the game.”
Several Bruins have worn the ‘A’ as alternate captains during preseason games. Unless they decide to go with a rotation wearing the one formerly worn by Recchi, you can expect the Bruins to make a permanent decision for a second alternate to join captain Zdeno Chara and alternate Patrice Bergeron by opening night. After weighing several options, my choice would be Andrew Ference, who has proven without a doubt that he’s a go-to guy for everything you’d expect from a designated leader of a pro team.
Here’s what Ference said earlier in camp about possibly wearing an ‘A’:
“You see what Rex, how he wore it and what he did with something like that. He didn’t go out of his way to try to be somebody he wasn’t. I’ve mentioned that before about Zee [Chara], what a great leader he is because Zee’s just himself. So we have a group of other guys that have learned from Zee or Rex, and learned those lessons. How Bergie carries himself. So I think that within the confines of this dressing room, I think we all know that everybody has their own strengths of leadership, whether it’s by example or some guys are more vocal than others. Whether you have something on your jersey or not, I think you have a responsibility to add what you can to the dressing room. So I don’t think it changes who you are or what you should be or anything like that. I think it just is what it is. They have to put it on somebody.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operates TheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets.