Tag: Tim Thomas

Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Okposo

Julien downplays Boychuk’s return to Boston


New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk was the casualty of the Boston Bruins cap crunch earlier this month.

GM Peter Chiarelli dealt Boychuk, a pending unrestricted free agent, to the Islanders for a trio of draft picks on Oct. 4.

Tonight, Boychuk returns to the TD Garden for the first time as a member of the opposition.

“It’ll be awkward. I’ve played with him for a while, and some guys have played with him for five plus years,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “It’s definitely going to be a bit of a different feeling when guys have to fore-check him, and have to hit him. Or when I stand in front of the net and he shoots.

“It’ll be different, but in the end it’s about winning a hockey game. We’re focusing on that. It’s funny and it’s awkward. If you have to chip a puck behind him and them hit him, that’s when it feels a little bit weird or different.”

Boychuk, 30, spent six seasons with the Bruins capturing the Stanley Cup in 2011.

As Haggerty points out, it’s not the first time the Bruins are welcoming a high-profile former teammate. Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Tim Thomas have all returned to Boston as a member of the opposition.

As a result, coach Claude Julien was downplaying the significance.

“This is a business, guys,” said Julien. “Once the puck is dropped you’ve got to fight for your team, and fight your own battles. You can be friends afterward, and chitchat before and after. But during the game itself, if you don’t do it then he will.

“I don’t see an issue there. All of the guys liked him, but there are plenty of guys we’ve liked that are playing on other teams. When the puck is dropped then the game is on.”

Boychuk originally a second-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche (61st overall 2002) appeared in 317 games with the Bruins scoring 19 goals and 75 points to go along with 198 penalty minutes.

LaRose approaches Canes about possible NHL return

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After leaving the Carolina Hurricanes on strange terms and sitting out the 2013-14 season entirely, Chad LaRose approached his former team about a possible return to hockey, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said he hopes to meet with the 32-year-old soon to discuss options, including a possible tryout.

“I’d like to talk to him,” Francis said. “He took a year off and obviously he’d need to earn his way back. There are some options. We could get him to camp on a tryout. He could start the season in Charlotte (AHL), show that he could still do it.”

At LaRose’s age, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to imagine that he could stick as a bottom-six forward. While his last season with Carolina was pretty hedious (just four points in 35 games played), he’s a two-time 19-goal scorer who enjoyed five-straight seasons with at least 11 goals and hovered around the 30-point mark for four straight years. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he’s at least shown enough ability to potentially land back on an NHL roster.

The Hurricanes have also been open-minded about training camp auditions in the past.

Jeff O’Neill gave it a shot with the Hurricanes after sitting out a season at the same age of 32. While that didn’t work out, Radek Dvorak managed to make the team after impressing enough during a PTO prior to the 2013-14 season.

Other players have returned after absences as well; while Tim Thomas had an injury-plagued, up-and-down season, he did show flashes of his former brilliance last year despite a well-publicized hiatus.

So, really, the odds aren’t on LaRose’s side, but he’s probably used to that as a small-ish, undrafted free agent.

Flyers goalie Zepp looks to Thomas, Fasth as inspiration


One of the more unlikely free agent signings on July 1st came from Philadelphia, where the Flyers brought aboard a 32-year-old goalie that’s never played in the NHL — Rob Zepp.

Zepp, twice drafted by the Thrashers and Hurricanes, never advanced beyond the AHL level with either club and has spent the last nine seasons in the Finnish and German leagues. While his road to the NHL is an unlikely one, it’s not completely unheard of.

“Over the years, guys have done it,” Zepp said, per Simcoe.com. “Tim Thomas and Viktor Fasth came over in their 30s and we know the success they’ve had, especially Tim.

“Stories like that provide inspiration and motivation for guys like me.”

(Thomas was 31 in his first “full” NHL season and won his first of two Vezina Trophies at 34. Fasth was 30 upon making his NHL debut with Anaheim.)

As far as picking teams, Zepp chose wisely with Philadelphia. Steve Mason’s entrenched as the No. 1 and Ray Emery is returning as his backup, but neither is a lock for a huge workload. Mason missed time last season with a concussion and has never appeared in more than 61 games in a single season; Emery, who turns 32 himself in September, didn’t exactly have a banner campaign in ’13-14 (9-12-2, .903 save percentage, 2.96 GAA).

Throw in the fact AHL Adirondack goalie Cal Heeter is still relatively untested — he has just two full seasons at the American League level — and ’12 second-rounder Anthony Stolarz is still just 20 years old…and, well, Zepp could really have a shot at this. He’s no slouch, going 24-14-0 with a 2.39 GAA and .931 save percentage with Berlin last year, and knows this might be his real last chance at playing in the NHL.

“Ten or 15 years ago it was not possible,” he explained. “But maybe more teams realize guys have maybe been lost in the shuffle.”