Thursday afternoon brought Media Day to the Dunkin Donuts Center. The Providence Bruins players and staff gathered en masse for a group session with members of the press.
Before the ‘festivities’ began, the P-Bruins held practice. Despite the season’s near-imminent beginning, the mood was loose and the players seemed to be at ease. Throughout the drills, the players cracked plenty of smiles and goofed-off during intermittent downtimes.
The Baby-B’s will open the season Friday night at home against the Manchester Monarchs, the farm team of the defending-champion Los Angeles Kings.
After noon, the players filed into the conference-room alongside their coaches and several members of the brass. After a brief intro, P-Bruins’ head coach Bruce Cassidy spoke about the team’s goals and expectations:
“We’re anticipating a better start … because of the people we’ve added to our mix and because we’re expecting the young group we had last year to build on their successes… but until the puck drops, you’re never quite sure where you stand.”
Obviously, the organization is focused on postseason hockey as a goal. Cassidy stated, “… we need to get back to the playoffs and then go from there.” Still, the franchise won’t “…lose sight on developing players for the Boston Bruins.”
“Our mission is always to develop and do it in a winning environment.”
Boston Bruins’ assistant GM Don Sweeney also attended the conference. After Cassidy opened, Sweeney said, “the group that we’ve assembled here is a nice blend of youth as well as returning guys as well as some newer flavor to our organization that we feel will complement each other.”
After a season spent with the AHL’s worst powerplay, Cassidy believes the influx of the AHL’s leading scorer (among others) will help turn the beleaguered man-advantage around. With a smile, he stated bluntly, “I expect Chris Bourque to be very good on [the powerplay] and I’ll start right there.”
After the opening segment, I had a chance to talk to Coach Cassidy and the brief interview was filmed by Winter Adams of The Pink Puck:
Bourque’s resume and performance earned him one of the Providence Bruins’ alternate captain’s spots. Bruce Cassidy told the Providence Journal that Trent Whitfield will continue to wear the team’s “C”.
“We’ve upgraded our personnel… and so that, right there, will be a positive for us.” He touched on Carter Camper and David Warsofsky as prime examples of returning players whose impact on special-teams would only increase.
“I think last year we were introducing a lot of different systems – from breaking the puck out, to puck support, to tracking through the neutral zone – that, maybe, some days, we didn’t have enough time in the day to take care of the powerplay. That won’t be the case this year… our expectations are higher.”
Carter Camper believes in focusing on the day-to-day when dealing with the increased expectations that come with his increased role. “[I just] need to block that out and focus on my game, improve every day and be the same guy that I am.”
“Looking through the lineup, we have four pretty good lines… which will hopefully mean some more exciting hockey.”
Camper is happy to see the season get underway: “I think everyone is [excited]… This was my first offseason in pro and it seemed like it took forever…”
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @HockeyMand