BOSTON – It’s been a little over four months since the Bruins’ took the ice last at the TD Garden. And today, the optimism surrounding the 2010-11 season began when they opened their first session of Training Camp.
A blend of familiar faces – like Zdeno Chara, Shawn Thornton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic – and new faces – like Nathan Horton and No. 2 pick Tyler Seguin give Bruins fans a reason to be optimistic for the upcoming season. But for now, the start of Training Camp means only one thing: Time to get back to work.
And for some, like Horton, that means getting accustomed to a new scene.
“We have so many great players, even the young guys are great,” said Horton. “This team will be good for a number of years, so it’s nice to be on the ice with so many great players and hopefully be able to make plays. I had a lot of fun in the first session and hopefully I’ll be able to continue that.”
For Horton, going from a team who doesn’t get much fan support, to a team with a great fanbase – one that drew over 25,000 fans for the two rookie games against the Islanders – can only be a good thing.
Horton got a glimpse of what to expect from the Bruins fanbase when he attended one of the rookie games earlier this week.
“It was pretty nice to see,” said Horton about the Bruins fans at the rookie games. “It was a big crowd and it was like a playoff game, one I haven’t seen in a long time.
“I was shocked to see so many fans cheering loud and its a rookie game. You can tell that the fans here like their hockey and they take pride in winning, so its fun for me.”
So, what was the crowd like in Florida? Well, we’ll leave that up for the former Panther forward to answer.
“We couldn’t get (14,000) in the regular season. Maybe 4,000,” Horton said with a laugh.
From one big addition who was watching the rookie game as a spectator (Horton), to the other big addition who was participating in the games on Wednesday and Thursday (Seguin), there’s a reason that there’s a good buzz about this team.
The 18-year-old Seguin will be looking to make as big of an impact as possible with the Bruins in his first season. But unlike most hot-shot rookies, he’s not going to need a “savior” label, unlike Sidney Crosby, Taylor Hall, John Tavares or Alex Ovechkin just to name a few. Today, the No. 2 pick from the 2010 draft skated alongside the oldest member of the Black and Gold, Mark Recchi, during the second practice session.
“There’s a lot of excitement about him,” said Recchi about the youngest member of the Bruins. “He’s going to be a heck of a player for a long time. For a kid like that who just came out of juniors, it’s nice for him to get excited about the opportunity. Just by being out there with him he can skate.”
For Recchi, the fun part was trying to skate stride for stride with Seguin during drills.
“He’s damn fast,” Recchi said with a laugh. “It’s good for me because he could be my son. It’s good because I have to keep up with him. He’s a good skater, he looks like he’s got some great skills. I’m going to have some fun with him and work with him and it looks like he really wants to learn.”
One member of the Bruins who was in a similar spot when he first entered the NHL was Patrice Bergeron.
A second round pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, Bergeron made the jump right to the NHL in 2003-04 from the QMJHL. In his first season with the Bruins, Bergeron had 16 goals and 23 assists in 71 games.
While no one knows exactly what kind of season Seguin will have as a rookie, Bergeron, the longest tenured Bruin on the roster, gave out some advice to the youngster.
“All I would say is have fun with it,” Bergeron said on what advice he’d give Seguin. “It’s a learning process obviously and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just learn as much as you can.
“From my first year when I was 18 I was learning so much from the older guys and there was so much fun and I learned a lot. It’s something he [Seguin] is going to have to do, but he’s such a good player from what I saw today, and he’s impressive to see.”