By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If you’re going to take a break from rigorous rehabilitation in Boston, there are few places better than St. Lucia.
That’s where Bruins forward Noel Acciari wound up this past summer after he married his longtime girlfriend Kaitlyn and then departed for the honeymoon. Earlier in the offseason, Acciari had had surgery to fix a sports hernia.
“Literally we just relaxed and the training staff was great getting me ready, knowing I’d be away for at least a week and a half or so,” Acciari told CBS Boston. “And I think that helped too.”
Acciari was sure to not get carried away with his newfound health and the multitude of ways to get adventurous while on the island.
“I kept it simple. We were on a boat one day, they asked me if I wanted to snorkel but I was like ‘I’d rather just sit here and enjoy the water and the views,’” he said.
Since the Bruins reported to camp last week, Acciari’s been all business. He started out just skating with Torey Krug, who’s also recovering from injury, before the full squad took the ice at Warrior Ice Arena. This week he joined the group a couple of times, and Thursday he was cleared for contact.
Playing against Acciari is never a day at the beach, and rookies Axel Andersson and Jakub Lauko both found that out the hard way. Acciari hammered Andersson as the defenseman tried to carry the puck up the left wall. Acciari also collided with Lauko during a drive to the net.
“Skating’s one thing, conditioning-wise. And adding the hitting aspect of it is definitely another part of it because you’ve got to skate, you’ve got to get the hit and you’ve got to get your feet going again,” said Acciari, who has recorded 232 hits (second among Bruins forwards) in just 89 games the past two seasons. “It’s a different kind of conditioning. But getting that in today was really good for me.”
Acciari’s injury denied him the chance to get his feet going the way he needed them to go during most of last season. He revealed that “every stride was painful.” That pain has subsided and he’s progressing properly, regaining his speed and almost reaching the level he wants to be to start the season.
Acciari’s still targeting one or two of the Bruins’ final four preseason games to help him shake off the rust. Playing in games could also help him find chemistry with new linemates. Acciari, who had 10 goals and one assist last season, was at his best skating with center Sean Kuraly and left wing Tim Schaller. Schaller left the Bruins for Vancouver as an unrestricted free agent over the summer. Kuraly is competing to move up and be the third-line center. Of course, Acciari may also fit on Boston’s third line if Kuraly is centering it.
Acciari is ready for anything.
“I’m not sure what the lines are going to be, but whatever they may be, my game’s an easy simple game,” Acciari said. “And I think whoever I play with, whether it be Sean, Chris [Wagner] or [Joakim] Nordstrom or whoever it is, I think they’ll figure it out soon enough. … It’s a simple game, get pucks to the net, take the body and I’m easy to feed off of and I’m able to open space where I can.”
It was eventful offseason for Acciari, who also got to meet and walk a practice round with world-class pro golfer Jordan Spieth in Norton. One thing Acciari noticed was that Spieth always hit the fairway. With his repaired lower body, Acciari shouldn’t be missing many of his targets this season either.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.