BELFAST — The Bruins’ overnight charter from Logan touched down here at approximately 9:45 a.m. local time, roughly five hours after departing the Hub of Hockey.
There can’t be another airport in the world with such a vast array of livestock so close to its landing strips. All around as far as the eye can see, nothing but green, rolling pastures stocked full of cows, sheep and all manner of farm animals.
”Beautiful,” said Boston GM Peter Chiarelli. ”The green pastures and rolling hills were what I expected, to be honest, but it was great to see.”
Bruins winger Shawn Thornton, whose mother (formerly Christine Mills) grew up here and moved to Canada as a young child, arranged to have her flown here for Saturday night’s game against a UK all-start squad. He also got her 20 tickets.
During the on-ice workout, coach Claude Julien told Thornton that the winger would really enjoy sitting in the stands here Saturday, watching the game with family and friends.
”He lost his smile there for a second,” said a beaming Julien, ”until he realized I was joking around.”
Teammate Patrice Bergeron said he hopes to hear today from his dad, Gerard Cleary, in hopes of the visiting the Cleary clan’s stomping grounds, which he is told are in or around Belfast.
How the defensive pairings and lines shaped up during an hour-plus workout at Odyssey Arena:
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart-Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference-Matt Hunwick
Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid
Mark Recchi-Patrice Bergeron-Jordan Caron
Milan Lucic-David Krecji-Nathan Horton
Blake Wheeler-Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder (with Brad Marchand spelling Ryder).
Danny Paille-Greg Campbell-Thornton (with Brian McGrattan spelling Thornton).
Chiarelli said 25 players remain in camp, including goalies Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask and Nolan Schaefer, and that he’ll trim the roster to 23 by next Saturday’s season opener in Prague.
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.”