Matt Beleskey experienced the playoffs at TD Garden even after the Bruins missed out on a shot at the NHL postseason in his first year in Boston.
He would have preferred to be on the bench rather than in the stands, the parquet floor stored away, and the fans decked out in black and gold instead of green of white, but watching the Celtics compete in the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals provided the forward with plenty of motivation heading into his second year with the Bruins.
“Boston in general is intense about all their sports,” Beleskey said Tuesday after a captains practice at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. “I’d love to be in the playoffs this year and be able to see the fans rally behind us.
“I got to see a couple Celtics games in the playoffs, and the Garden’s a crazy place in that atmosphere, so it really shows how much they love their sports here.”
Beleskey and forward Jimmy Hayes were the newcomers for the second session of the week at the Bruins’ new practice facility. David Krejci, Noel Acciari, Frank Vatrano, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, and John-Michael Liles were back on the ice after practicing Monday.
Taking shots and weaving through sets of cones during a series of drills was no problem for the 28-year-old Beleskey, fully recovered from offseason surgery on his left hand.
“I should be good to go,” Beleskey said. “They just had to remove a bone in my hand that I had broke, just like a chip or something like that, so nothing too major. It happened whenever we played Toronto last; it happened in Toronto. And I just kind of played with it for a bit and wanted to get fixed up for this year.”
The Bruins signed Beleskey, a former Anaheim Duck, on July 1, 2015. He played in 80 games last season and tallied 15 goals and 22 assists.
Missing the playoffs led to a long summer. Beleskey used the time to travel, visiting Italy and accompanying teammate David Pastrnak on a trip to China for “Bruins Global” that included hosting clinics for Chinese youth hockey players.
But Beleskey was ready to be back in Boston.
“Me and my wife drove back yesterday, super excited to pull into town,” he said. “I think this season is going to be a great year for our team. I think we had a lot of guys that had some learning curves last year, me included.
“Obviously we’re looking at bigger, better things, and I’m looking forward to the season.”
Born and raised in Boston, Hayes already knew about the excitement playoff hockey brings to the Garden before he joined the Bruins last summer.
“We want our team to be a winning team, and that’s what the city wants out of us and that’s what we expect out of ourselves, as well,” Hayes said. “Being a local kid, you don’t want to be on a team that doesn’t make the playoffs.”
The 26-year-old Hayes also was acquired by the Bruins on July 1, 2015, in a trade that sent Reilly Smith to the Panthers. Hayes notched just 13 goals and 16 assists in 75 games last year, his season a microcosm of the Bruins’ scoring struggles that ultimately cost them a playoff spot.
“My mind-set [this year] is to be there and be a contributor the whole entire season,” Hayes said. “You never want to go on scoring droughts, and I’ve got to continue to find a way to be able to produce throughout the entire season.”
Dropped to the fourth line at times last season, Hayes anticipates friendly competition during training camp and throughout the season as players vie for better spots on the depth chart.
“You’ve got to be able to show up, especially at the end,” he said. “We need everyone to go and we need a full team effort.”
“Our best games are when we had everybody going. If we can continue to do that and have guys showing up every night, then find ways to get points and put ourselves in a good spot, we’ll get back to where we want to be.”
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General manager Don Sweeney announced Tuesday the Bruins signed four players to one-year deals, including former Harvard standout Dominic Moore.
Signed for $900,000, the 36-year-old Moore was drafted in 2000 by the Rangers, where he has spent the last three seasons.
Last season, Moore appeared in 80 games for the Rangers and scored six goals to go along with nine assists.
In 2014, Moore won the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
The Bruins also signed defenseman Chris Casto and forward Brian Ferlin to one-year, two-way deals. Both players spent the 2015-16 season in Providence.
Former Coyotes defenseman Alex Grant also signed with Boston. The 27-year-old played five games at the NHL level last year.