WILMINGTON — The flu bug that has been plaguing the Bruins finally got to management. With coach Claude Julien sidelined by illness, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli stepped in Wednesday after practice at Ristuccia Arena to address the state of the team.
“[Claude]’s a little under the weather; he’s got the tail end of that flu,’’ said Chiarelli. “He’s at home convalescing and he’ll be with us on the plane [to Buffalo].’’
Chiarelli described Julien’s status for Thursday night’s game against the Sabres as “probable, hopeful.’’
The Bruins, reconstituted repeatedly over the last two weeks as they have been forced to find replacements for injured, ill, and suspended players, changed again Wednesday. This time, defenseman David Warsofsky, the former Boston University star and a native of Marshfield, was called up from Providence and will make his NHL debut Thursday. Leaving is defenseman Kevan Miller, who was on the verge of playing his 10th game with the Bruins, which would have left him exposed to waivers should he be sent down at a later time. Miller goes back to Providence. The Bruins also returned forward Craig Cunningham to Providence after one game.
“We felt that Kevan would probably be a waiver pick-up by somebody,’’ said Chiarelli. “We didn’t want to risk it. So I spoke to Kevan before and he understood it. I told him I felt good about his play up here. Probably the next time we bring him up will be for good.
“It’s kind of a cold business decision.’’
In nine games, Miller had one goal and one assist.
In the 23-year-old Warsofsky, the Bruins will get a small, mobile defenseman adept at moving the puck.
“He’s played very well,’’ Chiarelli said of the 5-foot-9-inch, 170-pound Warsofsky. “He’s a little undersized but a very good skater and moves the puck well. He’s had a real good year. He got dinged up a little on Friday, but he’s good to go.”
Warsofsky has 2 goals, 14 assists and a plus-10 rating in 26 games with Providence.
Warsofsky replaces Adam McQuaid, who has missed seven games with a lower-body injury. McQuaid is practicing with the team, but Chiarelli said he is still a little bit away from returning.
The addition of Warsofsky, coupled with the subtraction of Miller, shifts the balance in the Bruins’ defense.
“Kevan Miller was up and he’s kind of cut in the mold of Adam McQuaid, size-strength guy, right shot,’’ Chiarelli said. “Now you have a guy who’s cut a little in the mold of Torey Krug, so we’ve maybe gone from one extreme to the other. But they all play the same defensive zone coverage in Providence, so you see a pretty seamless transition with these guys and I would expect the same for Warsofsky.”
Chiarelli said the organization’s depth has proved crucial as injuries, the flu, and a suspension have run roughshod over the roster. Six regular players have been out of the lineup for multiple games.
“The silver lining to all this is it’s good for the young players that they’re getting a chance,’’ Chiarelli said. “They’re getting a chance to play at this level and show us what they can do.’’
Chiarelli said he wants the call-ups — Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Nick Johnson — to be more than placeholders.
“If these are players that we’re going to consider for permanent roster spots, you don’t want them just to be neutral,’’ said Chiarelli. “You want them to start showing their wares.’’
Chiarelli pointed out that Spooner, for example, is an offensive player with speed who can make plays at the NHL level and Fraser has a terrific shot and release.
“I understand when they come up that they’re a little bit nervous because we stress two-way play and it’s really important to protect your side of the puck,’’ said Chiarelli. “But now we’re through that period, so in general you want to see those guys show what they can do.”
Raising some issues
In Vancouver Saturday, Brad Marchand raised a commotion after he taunted the Canucks, making a gesture to kiss his Stanley Cup ring finger. Later he feigned holding up the Stanley Cup.
Chiarelli did not ignore Marchand’s actions.
“I don’t throw it out,’’ he said. “I talked to Brad and that’s all I’ll say. I wasn’t happy with it but he understands.’’
Chiarelli did not think the boarding penalty that Marchand took in the 2-0 victory over the Flames Tuesday with a hit on Sean Monahan was anything more than a penalty.
“It was a penalty and I don’t anticipate any disciplinary stuff,’’ he said. “That stuff happens. We’re a physical team and that results in body contact maybe more so than a lot of other teams, so we’re under the microscope a little bit that way.’’
An out clause
Milan Lucic, who was involved in a scuffle outside a bar after the Bruins played the Canucks Saturday night, claimed he would never go out when he returned to his hometown. Cooler heads have prevailed. “This has been a very difficult week for me given the recent events that took place in my hometown of Vancouver,’’ Lucic said in a statement issued by the Bruins. “As I have had more time to think I want to make it clear that regardless of what has happened, I am still — and always will be — proud to be from there. It is home. While the actions of a few individuals have deeply upset me and will impact the time I spend downtown going forward, I will not let those incidents diminish the love and pride I have for the city as a whole. This will be my final comment on this subject.” . . . Loui Eriksson (concussion) continues to have symptoms. “I talked to Loui a little bit [Tuesday],’’ said Chiarelli. “He’s coming along but he’s still experiencing some symptoms. With that type of injury, you see slow improvement and that’s what Loui’s going through right now, so I don’t know what the time period would be.”