Thursday night will be an evening of firsts at the TD Garden — specifically, the regular season Bruins debuts for Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson.
Iginla, 36, will start on a line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, taking Nathan Horton’s role on the popular “HuLK line” of a year ago.
“I want to make a good first impression,” he told WEEI.com. “It’s a great building to play in and a tough building to play in and we want to keep it that way.”
Eriksson, 28, has a slightly different perspective heading into tonight. Having spent his entire career in Dallas, he’s excited about playing in a hockey-mad city for the first time — a far cry from Iginla, who spent 17 years in a passionate Calgary market.
“I’ve seen in these weeks that I’ve been here, there are a lot of fans around here,” Eriksson said. “Everyone talks hockey in this town, and it’s nice to be in an environment like that.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Eriksson is slated to play alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the B’s second line.
The third and less ballyhooed debutant will be Reilly Smith, who came over from the Stars along with Eriksson in the Tyler Seguin trade.
He’s projected to be on the third unit with Jordan Caron and Chris Kelly, and is keen to show off some of the offensive flair that saw him score 58 goals over his final two seasons at the Miami University (Ohio).
The Boston Bruins have placed defenseman Kevan Miller on waivers for purpose of assignment to AHL Providence.
The move comes after Miller was included on the Bruins’ opening-day roster, and also after the 25-year-old had been drawing praise from head coach Claude Julien.
“I think he’s improved immensely over the years in Providence, and he’s become a very steady, dependable defenseman,” Julien, per CSN New England. “Everybody knows he’s not the flashy type, but he is very dependable. He’s big. He’s strong. He defends well, he moves the puck well and he’s got a good shot.
“So he’s got a lot of qualities, and he’s certainly a guy that had a great camp while earning a spot with us.”
But the Bruins have seven other d-men — Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Dennis Seidenberg, and Adam McQuaid.
So we assume this is partly to do with numbers. Perhaps the club felt it was worth risking that another team claims Miller in order for him to keep playing in Providence, as opposed to sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch in Boston.
Tuesday proved to be captaincy day across the NHL.
With new sweater letters being assigned in Buffalo, Edmonton and (eventually) Tampa Bay, Boston got in on the action by announcing that David Krejci and Chris Kelly would fill the alternate captaincy void left by Andrew Ference — who’s now captaining the Oilers.
Krejci and Kelly will rotate wearing the “A” and join a Boston leadership group featuring Zdeno Chara and the club’s other alternate, Patrice Bergeron. Their appointments make plenty of sense — Krejci has spent his entire seven-year career in Boston, appearing in over 500 games, while Kelly has been a key role player since arriving from Ottawa in 2011.
Contractually speaking, both players will be in Boston until at least 2015, at which time Krejci is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency (Kelly’s up in 2016).
It’ll be interesting to see how the alternate captaincy will affect Krejci’s negotiations when it comes time to create a new deal — the B’s already have some big-ticket contracts on the books for 2015-16, including Tuukka Rask ($7 million), Chara ($6.9 million), Bergeron ($6.5 million), Milan Lucic ($6 million) and Brad Marchand ($4.5 million).
Tampa Bay to name new captain tonight
Buffalo names Vanek, Ott co-captains
A’s for everyone: Oilers name six alternate captains
Carl Soderberg has been ruled out of 2014 Winter Olympic contention because of his decision to leave Team Sweden for the Boston Bruins, according to a report from Sport-Expressen.
Swedish head coach Par Marts said Soderberg has been “disqualified” after bailing on the national team in April, prior to the 2013 World Hockey Championships (which were being held in Sweden). Soderberg left to play with Boston in the late stages of the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs, signing a three-year deal.
Soderberg, 27, faced issues upon trying to join the Bruins. His transfer was temporarily blocked by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association — based on his selection for the Worlds — but was eventually green-lit, allowing Soderberg to appear in six regular season and two playoff games for the B’s.
A 6-foot-3, 200-pound skill forward, Soderberg has been a curious figure in the world of international hockey. Originally drafted by St. Louis in 2004, he’s spent the last eight seasons in Sweden and lead the league in goals last year. His breakout campaign coincided with Boston’s increased interest in bringing him to North America.
In speaking with Expressen, Marts said the decision to exclude Soderberg was his own — not the SIHA’s — and noted that Soderberg was not named to the 35-man orientation camp announced in late July.
The race to be the 13th forward in Boston was won by the incumbent rather than the outside challenger.
22 year-old Jordan Caron, Boston’s 2009 first-round pick, locked down the job as the team is putting Nick Johnson on waivers.
For Caron, winning the job as the extra forward could be a sign that coach Claude Julien believes he has it in him to thrive staying with the organization. It could also be his last chance to show the team he belongs as well.
Johnson, 27, was coming off a season that saw him score four goals in 17 games with the Phoenix Coyotes. Chances are good that he can clear waivers and remain in the organization. That means if Caron doesn’t keep his play up, the two can wind up changing places if needed.