When the Boston Bruins signed free agent and former Michigan Tech standout Andre Savage on June 12, 1998, it generated little fanfare in Beantown. After all, the polite and unassuming hockey player had made a name for himself out in the WCHA and anybody who is from the New England area knows that when you talk about collegiate pucks, Hockey East is king. Savage did well in the 1998 Bruins Training Camp and was sent down to Providence where he quickly established himself as one of the AHL’s top rookies. Bruins fans who shrugged when he was originally signed, soon realized that Andre was a keeper and a pleasant surprise to boot.
Andre Savage, a native of Ottawa, Ontario spent four years with the Michigan Tech Huskies where he toiled in relative anonymity, despite the fact that he became only the second player in school history to lead the team in points in three consecutive seasons from 1995-1998. During the ’97-’98 season, Andre earned WCHA 1st All-Star and WCHA All-Academic Team honors. He finished his college career with 52 goals and 143 points in 149 games. When Savage showed up to Bruins Camp later that fall wearing the number 54, many folks said, “Andre who? “It didn’t take long for him to attract attention with his excellent skating ability and very accurate shot.
With the departure of Tim Taylor, who signed a four-year, $5.8 million deal with the Rangers in July as an unrestricted free agent, Coach Pat Burns had an interesting training camp finding a new combination to match the gritty play of last season’s checking-line. Fighting for Taylor’s checking line position were Sean Pronger, Joel Prpic, Andre Savage, Shawn Bates and Mikko Eloranta. Entering his first professional season…Drafted by the Bruins as their ninth pick, 247th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft…Eloranta siezed the opportunity and will center Rob DiMaio and Scandinavian counterpart P.J. Axelsson. “Mikko is a solid, two-way player, a forward with skill and grit,” said Bruins Vice President of Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager Mike O’Connell. “He’s a versatile forward in that he can play left wing or center and he was used in all situations with his club in Finland.”
It is hard to believe that the opening of Boston Bruins Training Camp ’99 is less than 10 days away, but the summer has indeed flown by and this year’s annual camp and pre-season promises to be an interesting one for head coach Pat Burns, as the Bruins have added a lot of new faces to their system, to complement the talented nucleus of youngsters that led the Providence Bruins to the AHL’s 1999 Calder Cup Championship. Here is a look at what prospects are in and out, and which players you’ll probably see wearing the spoked B during the season.
Who’s In(New to organization):
Jeff Zehr LW(FA), Nick Boynton D(1-99), Matt Zultek LW(2-99), Mikko Eloranta C/LW(9-99), Joe Hulbig LW(FA), Vratislav Cech D(FA), Sean Pronger C(FA), Kay Whitmore G(FA)
Randy Robitaille(Nashville), Jim Baxter(Carolina), Bob Prier(Ottawa), Paxton Schafer, Matt Alvey, Terry Virtue(Rangers), Chris Taylor(Buffalo)
When the Boston Bruins open training camp in early September, one name not to forget as a possible replacement to Tim Taylor is Marquis Mathieu. Mathieu a 5-foot-11, 190 pound center, spent most of last season playing on the “D Line” for the Calder Cup Champion Providence Bruins recording 15 goals, 30 points in 64 games with 166 pim. In the past 5 years, Mathieu has had stints in Wheeling, Fredericton, Raliegh, Toledo, Worcester, Johnstown, Birmingham, and Houston. Recently, Marquis held down a job at the parts counter of a Suzuki dealership in Quebec city.
Two years ago, Mathieu was recovering from abdominal surgery and worked for a Suzuki dealership. “I found out what it was like to wake up every day and have to go to work for a living. I thought there had to be a better life for me than working 9 to 5″. Realizing he wanted to give hockey another chance, Mathieu joined the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and impressed bench boss Peter Laviolette. When Laviolette took the head coaching job in Providence last season, he convinced Bruins management to sign Mathieu to an AHL contract. By October, the Bruins liked Mathieu so much they promoted him to Boston ahead of top prospects Cameron Mann and Randy Robitaille. Mathieu signed a 1 year NHL contract with the Bruins on the airplane to his first game in Montreal for $325,000 (U.S.).
The 1998-99 hockey season was filled with ups and downs for Peter Ferraro. From being signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins during the offseason, to making the starting line-up with the Bruins, to fighting through a string of injuries over a four month period, to being reassigned to Providence in the American Hockey League in early March, to leading Providence to the Calder Cup Championship and winning the Jack Butterfield Trophy as Playoff Most Valuable Player. Peter showed drive and determination to overcome the hard times and he ended the season on a very positive note.
Ferraro signed on with the Boston Bruins as a free agent on July 21, 1998. After spending the better part of three seasons (1995-96 through 1997-98) shuffling between the NHL and AHL, that road taking him from the New York Rangers to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and back to the Rangers organization, the stage was set for Peter to prove that he belonged in the ‘big show’.