Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, making his first expansive comments since the end of the NHL lockout last weekend, sounded optimistic Saturday that the new labor agreement can build fiscal stability among the league’s 30 owners and that it eventually can lead to another agreement in a process he termed “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.’’
Jacobs, who turns 73 this month, also talked as if he is preparing for the day he will step down as chairman of the league’s Board of Governors.
“I can see them wanting to get a fresher mind than mine,’’ he said, while his son, Charlie, sat by his side during a 27-minute news conference on the Garden’s second floor prior to the Bruins’ 3-1 victory over the Rangers.
Asked for names of likely successors should he leave, or be removed, from his role as chairman, Jacobs said there were a number of worthy candidates but chose not to identify them.
Jacobs, owner of the Bruins for 37 years, was vilified around North America, by fans and media alike, as the face of the lockout, the third in league history. Though widely considered a hawk among owners, Jacobs underscored a number of reasons why he would have preferred not to have a lockout, but he said a new, redesigned collective bargaining agreement was necessary to put the game on stronger fiscal ground.
“Think of this,’’ said Jacobs, asked how he felt about being characterized as the lockout’s leader. “First of all, you’re not in a position to try to defend yourself because it’s not constructive to the process.
“I am coming off winning a Stanley Cup [in June 2011]. I’ve got a sold-out building. I have a financially sound business — no debt. I’ve owned [the team] for 37 years. I’m the last guy that wants to shut this down. I don’t want this to shut down.
“Unfortunately, I play in a league with 30 teams and when I step back and look what’s going on with the broadest sense of the league, I’ve got to play a role that is constructive. My selfish interest was definitely to keep this going within the parameters of the deal that was out there. But it [didn’t] make sense for the league, long-term.
“We have a lot of people [among the 30 ownership groups] that were tired of this. A lot of people were promised that we would try to right-size this. And I had to play a role in it.
“To be vilified, I don’t think is right, but . . . what’s my opinion on something like that?’’
Jacobs, reading earlier from a prepared statement, said the season, “could have and should have’’ started on time, and that the lockout should not have been necessary.
Why did it not start on time? “You’d really have to ask, uh, the other side that,’’ he said.
Bourque plays for real
On Saturday, the space Chris Bourque once considered a playroom finally became his official office. Bourque made his Bruins debut, fulfilling a goal he rarely considered possible.
Bourque, skating mostly on the third line, had 12:46 of ice time. He wore No. 48 in honor of Bobby Orr (No. 4) and Cam Neely (No. 8).
“It was awesome,” Bourque said of his Bruins debut. “I’ve been here in the crowd to watch these games. But to play in front of this crowd was a special moment for me. It’s got to be the best crowd in the league. They’re so loud and so passionate. I grew up being in that crowd, so to be out there playing in front of them was real exciting.”
When father Ray Bourque was playing for the Bruins, Chris was doing his own kind of playing. Chris and younger brother Ryan Bourque would hit the Garden ice, then race around the dressing room when they were shooed off the sheet.
“I grew up in this locker room and the one in the building right next door that’s not here anymore,” said Bourque. “Just skating on the ice before the team, not wanting to get off, but getting kicked off when they started practice. Then coming in here, running around, and probably [upsetting] all the trainers.
“I had a lot of fun in this building. I grew up here. Me and my little brother thought we owned the place. It’s a lot different now, coming in here and playing for the team.”
Bourque didn’t rely on his name to win his spot. On the first day of camp, he skated in Benoit Pouliot’s former position on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Bourque gave his bosses no reason to try anyone else. He had a goal and two assists in Tuesday’s scrimmage at the Garden against Providence. He has been the right-side half-boards quarterback on the No. 2 power-play unit.
They are roles he never assumed in Pittsburgh and Washington, his two previous NHL spots. For the first time in his career, Bourque broke camp with an NHL team and with specific marching orders. Those tasks — creating chances on the third line, shooting and playmaking on the power play — have helped him frame his approach.
“It’s really helpful,” Bourque said. “I’ve never really made a team out of training camp like that, where I was on a line with a certain role. It really helps me out. I know exactly what they need me to do. Now I’ll just go out there and play. “
Hamilton on display
Dougie Hamilton will have five NHL games to show his stuff. When he appears in his sixth, Hamilton will burn a year off his entry-level contract, even if the Bruins return the defenseman to junior.
If Hamilton plays like the Bruins expect, that six-game threshold will be irrelevant. Hamilton had two shots and three hits in 13:40 of ice time.
“He’s used to playing against 16- to 20-year-olds. Now he’s playing against men,” said coach Claude Julien. “I thought he handled the corners and the battles pretty well.”
Hamilton was paired with Dennis Seidenberg, his regular partner during camp. With Zdeno Chara busy against Rick Nash, Hamilton and Seidenberg were given the task of rubbing out second-line wing Marian Gaborik. Early in the third, when the Rangers had an odd-man chance, Hamilton got his stick on a Gaborik attempt to bust up a backdoor scoring opportunity.
“It was really fun,” Hamilton said. “Just looking around, it put a smile on my face every time. I kind of had to remember I was playing. Just so much fun. I look forward to the rest of the games.”
Hamilton officially changed to No. 27, his number in junior. He had been wearing No. 53 in camp.
Practice for Pandolfo
Jay Pandolfo participated in Saturday’s morning skate. He remains on his professional tryout agreement and is eligible to practice and use team facilities . . . Adam McQuaid received his final medical clearance Saturday. It was McQuaid’s first game since April 5, 2012 . . . Shawn Thornton logged the team’s first fight. Thornton squared off against heavyweight Mike Rupp in an extended bout. Three seconds later, Gregory Campbell dropped the mitts against Stu Bickel . . . Lane MacDermid and David Warsofsky were the healthy scratches . . . Aaron Johnson, assigned to Providence on a conditioning loan Thursday, appeared in his second straight game Saturday. Johnson is eligible to remain with Providence for 14 days. It’s possible the Bruins could recall him and assign Warsofsky once the ex-Columbus defenseman regains his game pace . . . Johnny Boychuk, who scored a goal, turned 29 on Saturday . . . The Bruins won 60 percent of their faceoffs. Peverley (2 for 10) was the only Bruin who lost more draws than he won.