B's hope team-building takes hold

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins spent their annual team-building weekend at Diamond Cove on Great Diamond Island, Maine.

The resort is described on its website as “an island without cars or cares” but after the coaching staff and players arrived via ferry Sunday morning, the exercises and discussions were geared toward caring and preparing for the upcoming season as defending Stanley Cup champions.

“It’s no different at all,” coach Claude Julien said. “Every year that we’ve done this team building, we’ve given ourselves a challenge and we know this year is going to be challenging to get back to where we were and repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Understanding that, we have to make ourselves better.”

Because the majority of the team is the same, Julien explained the importance of reinforcing which aspects worked best for the team last season, and which aspects he would like to see solidified this winter.

“We do have basically the same guys coming back, but there are always things you can improve on and work on,” assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s very important for us to do that this season. Last year, one of the reasons why we accomplished winning the Stanley Cup was we were all put in the same direction, and we were so close as a team and the chemistry was so good, and we have to give credit to those types of activities to help us build that.”

A lot of the activities the Bruins participated in were held on the water, which Julien described as challenging and fun.

“Our group really enjoyed it, but also had a lot of things accomplished as far as what we need to do this year to be competitive again and put ourselves in a contending spot for hopefully a Stanley Cup at the end of the year,” Julien said.

Unlike in years past, when the Bruins have opened the season with a road-heavy schedule, Boston will play 13 of is first 17 games at TD Garden, so there’s no real time for the team to bond on the road. That’s why Julien believes the last two days will be even more important to start the season off right.

“Everything that we built up last year, we just feel like we’re reinforcing and there’s some good carryover from all the lessons we learned last year on how to be successful,” veteran defenseman Andrew Ference said. “With all that said, you still have to go out there and prove it. Actions definitely speak louder than words, so we’ll have to get some good wins under our belts to prove it to ourselves.”

The Bruins will raise their Stanley Cup banner to the Garden rafters Thursday night before hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. Julien said he’s pleased with the mindset of the team moving into a new season.

“We have a close-knit group right now and we’re not a group that has egos and we don’t plan on having egos. We just want to make sure we’re all on the same page before the puck drops,” Julien said. “We want to show it more than we want to say it. Words right now are not worth much, our actions that will show people what we’re ready for this year.”