The Providence Bruins opened up training camp on Monday, September 19th with a mix of seasoned AHL veterans and young hopefuls fresh from NHL camp in Boston. Head coach Scott Gordon enters his third season at the helm of the Providence club, and his sixth as part of the organization. In the coming weeks, Gordon and his staff will face the task of not only evaluating players for the final roster, but also to prepare them for the rule changes in the upcoming season.
“Right now, there’s a lot of different things we have to consider with the new rule changes, the red line no longer being there, and calls are going to be made a little bit differently as far as penalties,” said Gordon. “There’s going to be a lot more flow to the game as far as guys being able to skate and not be held up, or pinned against the boards. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on trying to get our players prepared for the types of situations that are going to come up with the new rule changes.”
With all of the preparation for rule changes, however, the most important lessons will be learned within the context of actual games. Gordon pointed to the number of penalties in Boston’s first two preseason games, anticipating a similar outcome for the Providence squad as they adjust. As players become accustomed to these changes in a game setting, the hope is that they will adjust and the number of penalties will level out.
“You can talk about it all you want,” he said. “When push comes to shove you’re going to go back to your old habits, and for us, we’re trying to make sure our guys learn from that and break those habits.”
Boston’s intrasquad game did offer a glimpse of how some of the younger players may fare. The rookies had the opportunity to mix it up with the NHL vets, and performed very well.
“Actually, I think everybody thought the younger guys were probably a little bit sharper,” said Gordon. “It’s hard, because so many of the NHL guys, they didn’t play last year, so they’re still getting their feet under them. But I think everybody was happy with a lot of the guys that played in Providence last year.”
The 2004-05 Providence squad lasted through the third round of the Calder Cup playoffs with a strong core of players, made stronger than usual by the NHL lockout. Many of those players will not be back for this season, but Gordon is confident in the group of players coming in.
“You know, really, we shouldn’t have had players like Andy Hilbert or Patrice Bergeron last year, so I look at it that this is probably more of the norm than anything else,” he said. “The ideal situation is that players here do go on to the Boston Bruins. Every year that I’ve been here at least half the team has changed over and that’s part of the process.”
Aside from Hilbert, who asked for a trade earlier in the preseason, and Bergeron, who’d made his mark in Boston two years prior, there are a handful of other players from the 2004-05 Providence team who could make the transition to Boston this season.
“Hannu Toivonen, Milan Jurcina, Kevin Dallman, Andrew Alberts,” named Gordon. “Then you got Brad Boyes, Colton Orr, those are the guys that from last year’s team that we’ve talked the most about and that Boston’s talked the most about as far as having an opportunity.”
The Providence training camp and preseason will run through the beginning of October, and the first regular season game will happen on October 14th against the Portland Pirates.
Upcoming preseason games
September 27th vs. Hartford (Boss Arena/URI)
September 30th vs. Springfield (Mass Mutual Center)
October 1st vs. Portland (Portland Ice Arena)
October 2nd vs. Portland (Bridgewater ice arena)
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