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McGillis at home riding the blue line

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Dan McGillis arrived in Boston at a chaotic time, when the struggling Bruins needed defensive help, and the situation was complicated by the fact that McGillis was recovering fom a concussion.

Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell made deals at the trading deadline last March, acquiring McGillis from San Jose and Ian Moran from Pittsburgh. The pair of blue liners barely had time to get their bearings when O'Connell fired coach Robbie Ftorek and went behind the bench for the final nine games of the regular season.

After a disappointing end, with the Bruins losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Devils, McGillis went into the summer looking forward to a fresh start with his new club. A back injury kept him out of action early in camp but he accompanied the team here, where they faced the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Metro Centre last night, and he's hoping to be available tonight to play against the Red Wings in Detroit.

"On the second day of camp, I felt really good on the ice but my back just stiffened up," said McGillis. "I thought it would get looser being out there but it got stiffer. It's a lot better now. It's just stiff in the morning but I get warmed up and it loosens up. It's 100 percent better than it was."

The 31-year-old attributed the back woes to a change in his offseason training regimen.

"I did a lot of running this summer, more than I ever have," he said. "It's probably not the smartest thing for a guy 230 or 235 pounds to be running. I was probably running anywhere from 15-25 miles per week, which is a little hard on the back. I stretched it out but I guess just that pounding, it builds up. Then, when you get skating, when you're bending over, you go from standing up straight to bending over, those muscles tighten up on you."

McGillis, who will be an integral part of the blue line corps, has been around long enough to know not to rush it; so if he has to wait, he will.

"We just want to make sure I don't jump the gun and go out there and then hurt my back and end up back at square one," he said. "It's unfortunate it happened at this time of the year but it's a good time for it to happen, at the same time."

After playing for three teams last year, McGillis said, it was nice to know he was going to be in one spot coming into the season. With Don Sweeney now in Dallas, Nick Boynton and Bryan Berard in contract limbo, and Jonathan Girard recovering from a serious car accident, McGillis and fellow veterans Hal Gill and Sean O'Donnell are going to have plenty of responsibility.

"Obviously, we have a new coaching staff so there will be some changes anyway," he said. "I'm sure there won't be any drastic changes. But it will be something where [coach Mike Sullivan] is going to tell us what to do and everyone might have to make a couple of changes. It will be nice to have a fresh start and a new year. I'm excited to get started."

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