October 3, 2011

B's bond, reinforce positives from Cup-winning season on trip to Maine

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron hopes to have another at being a hero during the Stanley Cup Finals. (Getty)

With opening night and the raising of their sixth championship banner just three days away, the Bruins made their way back to Boston from a team-building trip on Great Diamond Island – a secluded spot just off the coast of Portland, Maine – on Monday night.

The getaway featured the Black and Gold partaking in activities by the water, group chats and some familial bonding, with the focus being on what the team needed to do to accomplish the same feat they pulled off last season.

“It was challenging, a lot of fun and I think everyone enjoyed it,” coach Claude Julien said. “We feel coming back from there that our group got a lot of things accomplished -- as far as what we need to do this year to be competitive again and put ourselves in a contending spot for hopefully a Stanley Cup at the end of the year. It was nice to have a lot of our players from last year back. A lot of that is about a follow-up, and we understand we have to be a little better and certain things have to happen. It was a great opportunity.”

The trip has become an annual tradition for the Bruins, who in years past have voyaged to Vermont. But even as Stanley Cup champions, Julien didn’t feel like much changed from their previous excursions.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think it was any different at all,” he said. “Every year we’ve done this, we’ve given ourselves a challenge because there always is a challenge. We know it’s going to be challenging to be able to get back to where we were and be a repeat champion. We have to make ourselves better. Every year we go, we work on certain aspects we feel we have to get better (at). It’s not just about working out the kinks, it’s about solidifying and reinforcing the things that were valuable and certainly good for our hockey club in the past.”

Patrice Bergeron and Andrew Ference checked in via conference call en route back to the Bay State, and both walked away feeling like the two-day stint in Maine was a productive one.

“I think it’s always a nice thing to do before the season,” said Bergeron. “There are always things you can improve on and work on. It’s very important for us to do that. I felt last year, one of the reasons we won the Stanley Cup was because we were all pointed in the same direction and so close as a team, and the chemistry was so good. I think we do have to give credit to these types of activities to help us get that.”

Apart from working a few new faces into the fold, Ference believes the B’s will benefit greatly from their lack of turnover this past offseason.

“I think one of the things that our team feels so good about is that we have a continuation from last year,” the veteran defenseman said. “We have so many things we worked on last year, whether it’s systems or relationships within the team. We have a very tight unit here. That’s one of the big advantages I feel we have over certain teams. 

“Nothing is a given in this league and every year is a test, and I don’t think anyone on this team is kidding themselves. We know how hard it is to even make it into the playoffs, let alone the little bounces and help you need in the playoffs to have success. Everything we built up last year, we feel like we’re just reinforcing. With all that said, you still have to go out there and prove it, and actions definitely speak louder than words. We have to get some good wins under our belts to prove ourselves.”

Their first chance to do so will come Thursday night at TD Garden, as the Bruins will welcome the Flyers to town for their first tilt of the 2011-12 campaign.