WILMINGTON — Chris Kelly didn’t let his mind work over the possibilities. He has been around long enough — 10 years in the NHL — to know that it is simply a waste of time.
So while the Bruins front office was remaking the team this summer, Kelly didn’t worry about his status with the club. He didn’t think about it.
“Wondering does you nothing,” Kelly said Thursday after the team’s informal practice at Ristuccia Arena. “Moves can happen to anyone at any time.
“I think management’s job is to make their team better and they’re going to make the moves that they feel are going to make their team better. Me wondering at home isn’t going to serve anyone any good.”
Kelly has been a frequent target of Bruins fans’ frustration, given his $3 million cap hit and the team’s cap situation. But after a summer of change within the organization, Kelly remains exactly where he has been for the last four-plus seasons, since he was acquired from Ottawa at the trade deadline in 2011.
Things around him, though, are different. The absences include Carl Soderberg, one of the players with whom Kelly has spent much of his time on the ice over the past two years.
Asked how he will carry on without Soderberg (who is now with the Avalanche), Kelly quipped, “Will Carl be able to carry on [without me]?”
He added, “I think Carl changed his number quite quick because I sent him a note — otherwise he just forgot all about his old teammates — because I sent him a note to congratulate him and I don’t know. But guys move on, and good for Carl for getting rewarded for his play.”
The changes have come, noticeably, in some of the youth and inexperience of the current roster. Kelly, at 34, is the second-oldest player on the Bruins, behind only Zdeno Chara at 38. The Bruins currently have four players 31 or older in Chara, Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg (34), and Max Talbot (31).
That is likely to affect the team not just on the ice, but also in the locker room, where the alternate captain has taken on a large role.
“That’s hockey,” Kelly said. “I think that’s for every team. Very rarely do you see a team just keep getting older and older and older. Yeah, you have players that get older, but there’s always new young guys that come in and filter in and that’s a great thing about hockey.”
He believes that the Bruins continue to have a strong group of players, of leaders, willing and able to improve on the issues that resulted in their too-long summer and their changeover in personnel and management.
“It’s always difficult when you don’t do your job on the ice and it affects other people losing their job,” Kelly said of former general manager Peter Chiarelli. “Obviously, Peter, I had him in Ottawa, he brought me here to a great team. I was able to win a Stanley Cup and have success here. I wasn’t surprised he quickly got a job somewhere else.
“With [new GM Don Sweeney], he knows us. I think that’s the great thing about him coming in. It’s not a person that nobody knows, he doesn’t know anyone. He knows all the players, he knows what he has, he knows what it takes in this group to build a winner and I think he’s done a good job.”
Now, it’s on Kelly and his teammates to prove the truth of that statement.
“I think it’s rare in hockey to not have changes,” said Kelly. “It’s such a business that there’s turnover, there’s changes everywhere — players, management, coaching staff.
“It depends on how do you react to those changes — that could be a good thing or a bad thing.”