WATERBURY, Vt. – When Andrew Ference signed with his hometown Edmonton Oilers in the offseason, it left multiple voids for the Bruins. There was his defensive spot, which will be filled by some up-and-comers. Ference was also an alternate captain, sharing the “A” with Chris Kelly.
Kelly will now share the A with David Krejci.
Patrice Bergeron is the other alternate and Zdeno Chara wears the “C.”
“Unanimous,” said coach Claude Julien of the decision to make Krejci an alternate.
A number of Bruins served as alternates during the preseason, including Shawn Thornton, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic, and Adam McQuaid.
Asked if it means a lot to Krejci, Julien said, “It does. He’s been a good leader on the ice. And every year in the playoffs, he comes up big. I think it’s important for him, same as Looch that he can step up and be more of a leader. I think it’s time for him to show that for us, and after I talked to him, he seemed keen on wanting to be that guy.”
Krejci, though, was not on the ice Tuesday at the Waterbury Ice Center. The top line center suffered back spasms Friday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and did not play in that night’s game.
Julien said the team was “optimistic” Krejci would be back on the ice Wednesday, the day before the Bruins open the season against the Lightning.
The news on Carl Soderberg’s ankle injury is not as good, with the Swedish winger now doubtful for Thursday’s opener.
Soderberg caught a rut in the ice at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, and though the injury was initially deemed minor, his ankle swelled up over the next couple of days.
Julien said the team would know more when the swelling goes down.
Jordan Caron, the 13th forward, skated in Soderberg’s place on the third line with Kelly and Tuesday.
The Bruins spent two days in Vermont doing a variety of team-building exercises. The activities included horseback riding, orienteering, and skeet shooting.
“I think that’s the whole goal, is to be together as a team for a few days. [To] have a chance to welcome in the new guys but also the core guys get used to one another again,” said Bergeron, who was paired with Dougie Hamilton and Chad Johnson. “It’s a lot of fun. We’re trying to work on some things, work on our leadership skills as an individual, but also together as a team.”
Bergeron said the team spent time on communication, also “pumping each other’s tires,” as he put it.
“We’ve got a lot of new players this year on our hockey team, and it was a great opportunity to spend more time together and get to know each other a little bit better,” Julien said. “Team chemistry, as you know, is an important thing for any team — any pro team, even minor hockey.
“When guys get along and they have each other’s back and they play for each other, it makes your team that much better. That’s what we try to accomplish here.”
For Hamilton, it was the first time he was on a horse — since pony rides as a kid.
“A lot of fun to experience that with your teammates,” said Hamilton, who said the skeet shooting was his favorite. “There are a lot of good stories from it . . . It brings the team together.’’
Local boy is good
Kevan Miller, who spent four years at the University of Vermont, was swarmed by media after practice. The rookie is a surprise addition out of training camp, giving the Bruins eight defensemen. “Very impressed with the way he plays, the way he skates, moving the puck,” Chara said. “He’s improving so much, almost on a daily basis. It’s great to have a guy like that that brings you another dimension.” The 25-year-old Miller spent the last two seasons in Providence. “A lot of people were like, ‘Are you surprised?’ You come into camp, I had goals, to play in the NHL,” Miller said. “I wasn’t surprised. It’s exciting. I’m happy about the opportunity. Hopefully get in some games.”
The NHL adopted the hybrid icing for the upcoming season. That means it will be up to the linesman to determine whether there is a chance for an offensive player to beat a defenseman to the puck on a potential icing. “I was in between, I guess. I wasn’t always for it, and in other situation I felt like it was fine,” Bergeron said. “I feel like when there’s a really tight race, it’s really hard for the linesman to make a decision that quick. I’m in between, but I’m going to go along, get used to it more. It’s only been three games, so it’s hard for me to really judge.” . . . It was standing room only at the Waterbury Ice Center Tuesday. Julien called the reception “humbling a little bit. You don’t think you have that big of an impact this far away from Boston, but it’s amazing the amount of support we’ve had here and the excitement that we’re told that we’ve created in this town.” There were hundreds of fans at the Ice Center, and plenty more that had to be turned away because of fire code safety regulations.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.