PRAGUE --Boston coach Claude Julien, like most bench bosses, prefers to go with experienced, steady hands. But did he signal a change in direction today?
During a late-morning chat with a handful of Boston reporters, Julien noted the success Colorado enjoyed last season with an abundance of rookies in the lineup (Matt Duchene and T.J. Galiardi prime examples).
Julien hinted at the prospect that he could opt for youth over experience in some situations, perhaps begining with Saturday's NHL season-opener vs. the Coyotes here at O2 arena.
''You have to be careful not to be afraid to use them,'' he said. ''[Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron] are two quality young players. We have confidnece in them. They're here because we think they can play.''
Those Bruins...what dolls
Some of the downtown souvenir shops are selling wooden Bruins' dolls, the kind that open up to reveal yet another, smaller Bruins doll, followed by yet another...follow by yet another...a total of five Black-and-Gold dolls for a cost of around $50.
But someone has to teach the trinket merchants something about scale.
The outermost, and therefore biggest, doll is Marc Savard, followed by Patrice Bergeron, then David Krejci, Zdeno Chara (a real life 6-feet-9) and finally Mark Recchi.
Without taking out the ruler here, they probably got it right with Recchi, the aging little wizard of Causeway. But slotting Chara in the four-hole? Must have followed American baseball directions, slotted Big Z as cleanup.
Give it a rest
A day off skates for the Bruins here in the Czech Republic, allowing the training camp survivors time to rest, tour, or simply stretch legs with a stroll across the historic Charles Bridge that is nearly adjacent to the team's downtown hotel.
''We've only had three days off since the start of camp,'' explained head coach Claude Julien, meeting with a small Boston-based media contingent outside the hotel, his back to the scenic Vltava River. ''And two of those days were in Vermont (for a team-building retreat). Other than that, it's been just the one day on this trip (spent traveling from Belfast to here). So it was time to give everyone a rest.''
But it was not a full day away from hockey. Early in the morning, Julien gathered his charges at the hotel for an instructional session of watching game video. Later in the morning, again outside and high above the Vltava, all the players met for about an hour with a tour group from New England that included some 130 Black-and-Gold fans.
The fans, here on a AAA Massachusetts tour, were scheduled to watch the 02 workout, then have their meet-and-greet at the arena. But when the open workout was scrubbed, the loyal legion of fans, many of them proudly sporting their B's ballcaps, T-shirts and various paraphenalia, were directed to the hotel for about a 60-minute casual meeting with all the players on a small plaza high above the river. Hard to find a more scenic setting for the fandom. A far cry for the look down Causeway Street.
Players were spread out in pairs at high-top tables. Team captain Zdeno Chara was closest to the entry, paired with rookie Matt Bartkowski, the young defenseman who was assigned on Wednesday to the Providence (AHL) roster.
Nearly every fan stopped at Big Z's table, and the smiling captain signed all manner of souvenirs, shook hands with one 'n' all and posed for an infinite number of pictures.
Collectively, hockey guys still hold the industry's award as the most agreeable bunch of pro athletes. Second overall, of course, to the media contingent.