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Boynton, team at impasse

Contract numbers just don't add up

WILMINGTON -- The Bruins have gone through seven days of training camp without defenseman Nick Boynton. The sides have not been able to reach agreement on a new contract for the restricted free agent, and yesterday general manager Mike O'Connell said the parties are a half-million dollars apart with no end in sight.

"There's nothing new," said O'Connell. "I talked to [Boynton's agent, Anton Thun] two days ago. We're just kind of apart right now and we'll wait and see how things shake out. We feel we tried to make a deal for two years like we did with Joe [Thornton] and Sergei [Samsonov in their previous contracts]."

The issue for the team is that Boynton wasn't eligible to file for arbitration this summer. He will, however, be able to do so next offseason. In trying to come up with a two-year deal, O'Connell has tried to predict Boynton's value next year in order to split the difference.

"It's tough for the players, especially players who make valuable contributions to your team, to try to figure out where they should go in," said O'Connell. "What we've done in the past with these guys is try to take into account their qualifying offer, which is just under $800,000, and where arbitration would put him after this year coming up when he has arbitration rights. We add the two together and figure out where it's going to be. Whether he takes this or waits the one year and goes to arbitration, it would be the same."

Boynton averaged the most ice time on the club last season (22 minutes 40 seconds). He's recently been dealing with a hamstring pull suffered during his offseason training, but if the sides were able to come together, it doesn't appear the injury would sideline him for long. "The trainers feel comfortable that he's not up to speed yet but he will be," said O'Connell.

Now if they can only figure out a way to make the financial figures work.

"They told us the numbers they wanted to be at and I told them the numbers we're going to be at so there's a little bit of a difference of opinion right now," said the GM. "Maybe we can massage it somehow. We'll try." . . .

Thornton, who is nearly fully recovered from his latest bout with an infection -- this time above his eye -- won't suit up tonight for the team's first exhibition game (against the Canadiens in Montreal), but he expects to play Sunday afternoon against the Islanders in Bridgeport, Conn. Coincidentally, Thornton's older brother Alex had a similar infection in his elbow around the same time Thornton's flared up. "The doctors said that maybe I don't go well with the antibiotics they give me," said Thornton. "When I get an infection, it just hits me a little bit harder than anyone else. They're not sure how I get it, it just springs up. It's not like it's painful. It just bummed me out having to be in the hospital for a couple of days." Thornton said he didn't think his family was predisposed to infections, but acknowledged it was odd his brother went through it, too. "It's just very strange," he said. "All of a sudden, the same week both of us got it. He hit his elbow and then just the rubbing on the console for the eight-hour drive down here, it got infected." . . . Count Thornton among those who have high hopes for goaltender Felix Potvin. Thornton, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, was an impressionable teenager when he watched Potvin during his time with the Maple Leafs. "I told him during the physicals the other day that I was a big `Cat' fan back in the day in 1993 when they went to the [Western Conference finals] against LA," said Thornton. "I watched him quite a bit in his Toronto days. The day that he signed with us, I was over at a buddy's house and he showed me the Potvin jersey he had up in his bedroom. So it's kind of funny that he's here. I'm just happy to play with him." . . . A few of the Bruins, who are scheduled to fly to Montreal this afternoon, plan to take a trip to the hospital where defenseman Jonathan Girard is recovering from an automobile accident.

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