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Bruins notebook

Clearing up Bergeron’s name

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / October 1, 2010

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BELFAST — Now wait a minute, wait one Guinness-drinking, leprechaun-lovin’ minute. Shawn Thornton wasn’t the Bruins’ only Irishman in residence as they unpacked their bags here yesterday for practice only hours after their charter flight from Boston touched down at the local airport.

Let us not forget Patrice Bergeron-Cleary, No. 37 in the program, whose father is only a couple of generations removed from this neck of the Emerald Isle.

“Yeah,’’ mused the Bruins’ humble center, cooling down after the squad’s afternoon workout at Odyssey Arena. “I should be Patrice Cleary.’’

And then, after a very short pause, he added, “Not should be — I am Patrice Cleary.’’

Actually, the 25-year-old center, as noted in the club’s just-off-the-presses media guide, is officially Patrice Bergeron-Cleary. As he made his way through youth hockey in his home province of Quebec, as he has explained many times over the years, his name typically was truncated for simplicity’s sake. When in French Canada, do as French-Canadians do, and therefore “Bergeron’’ was the name that stuck on the back of his hockey sweaters and youth hockey registration forms.

His father, Gerard Cleary, hopes to forward Patrice info in the next day, informing him exactly where the Cleary clan grew up around here.

“He knows it’s in the Belfast area,’’ said Bergeron. “But he’s not sure exactly where. He’s going to let me know. I’d like to go visit before we leave. I don’t know if there will be enough time, but I know he still has family here and I’d like to go.’’

Meanwhile, Thornton’s ties are easier to track down. His mother, whose maiden name is Christine Mills, was born in Belfast and lived here until age 6-7, according to her son. She was on a flight here yesterday from Ontario, where Shawn grew up, and likely will be at practice this morning as part of her homecoming. She hasn’t been to this part of the world since the day she left for Canada.

“I got her a flight to come over,’’ said her son, “and she’s called me three times a day ever since. She’s ecstatic. Thank God I had those air miles.’’

Thornton has scraped together 20 tickets for the Bruins game tomorrow night against a local all-star squad, the Giant Selects, and it’s up to his mother to play ticket distributor/peacemaker.

“Honestly, I don’t know who’s getting them,’’ he said. “All I told her was that she’s got 20 tickets to do with as she pleases and she said she could use every one.’’

Thornton was surrounded by a small pack of local media, as well as the traveling contingent from Boston, in the dressing room after the workout. The club’s charter flight landed here just before 10 a.m., local time, and it was after 11 a.m. before players were dropped off at their downtown hotel. Less than three hours later, they were on another bus headed across town for practice. All of which hadn’t allowed the Bostonians much time to look around the city.

“But so far, so good,’’ said the unofficial mayor for the day, the one who wears No. 22 on his Spoked-B sweater. “But I am looking forward to grabbing a pint of Guinness tonight. You know, when here . . . right?’’

When here, do as the Irish do. Skate, then slainte.

Lining them up
The Bruins arrived with 25 players — 14 forwards, eight defensemen, and three goalies. According to general manager Peter Chiarelli, the club will operate with a 23-man roster. Barring a dramatic, unexpected trade of Tim Thomas, goalie Nolan Schaefer is a guaranteed drop, which leaves Chiarelli with but one cut prior to next Saturday’s season opener against the Coyotes in Prague.

For now, this is how the defensive pairings shape up:

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg

Mark Stuart-Johnny Boychuk

Andrew Ference-Matt Hunwick

If one cut comes from the defense, it would be either Matt Bartkowski or Adam McQuaid, based on how coach Claude Julien matched his pairings for yesterday’s hour-plus workout.

Up front, here is how Julien arranged his four lines:

Mark Recchi-Bergeron-Jordan Caron

Milan Lucic-David Krecji-Nathan Horton

Blake Wheeler-Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder (with Brad Marchand spelling Ryder).

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Thornton (with Brian McGrattan spelling Thornton).

Based on those alignments, it is all but certain that the 18-year-old Seguin will stick with Boston to start the season and will play center.

“We are still tinkering with it,’’ said Julien. “But we are trying to keep them together now, give them a chance to get to know each other.’’

Spaced out
The ice sheet is Olympic-sized, 100 feet by 200 feet, meaning it is 15 feet wider than NHL sheets. The Bruins will have to adapt to that extra room, a transition that often takes time. “It’s more of an adjustment in the defensive zone,’’ noted Bergeron. “With that extra room, it’s important to collapse into the slot on defense. If you are spread out, you are giving them too much space.’’ . . . The lush green grass of the Irish countryside was what initially hit the Bruins as they looked out their airplane windows while landing. “Beautiful,’’ said Chiarelli. “The green pastures and rolling hills were what I expected, to be honest, but it was great to see.’’ . . . Caron noted that Bergeron and Recchi have been helpful with an endless array of tips. Ditto for Chara when the big man on defense has opposed Caron in drills and scrimmages. “One thing he has told me is to shoot if I have the chance,’’ said Caron. “He’s told me not to worry about whether guys might think, because I am rookie, that I’m selfish if I shoot. He said they want me to shoot if it’s there.’’

Get real
The Bruins will fly to Prague early Sunday, then play their last exhibition Tuesday vs. Liberec. Come next Saturday, the points are for real. “Those points are going to be precious to us,’’ said Julien . . . During the on-ice workout, Julien told Thornton that the winger would really enjoy sitting in the stands here tomorrow night, watching the game with family and friends. “He lost his smile there for a second,’’ said Julien, “until he realized I was joking around.’’

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