This past Monday, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg spent his day with the Stanley Cup in Atlantic City, N.J., capping the day off with a private VIP party in a Caesars Palace ballroom and drinking champagne from the oldest known bottle of champagne out of the oldest trophy in sports. For the German-born rearguard, that night and this whole summer have been vastly different from how he spent last summer. After a season-ending wrist injury just before the 2009-10 Stanley Cup playoffs, Seidenberg spent last summer rehabbing and working hard to be ready for the 2010-11 season.
"This summer has definitely been different," Seidenberg said with a laugh in a recent phone interview with ESPNBoston.com. "Really busy and lots of partying right after we won the Cup. Then June 21, I was at my brother's wedding in Florida, so the partying and busy-ness just continued. Lots of appearances and just seeing a lot of friends and family, especially this past Monday with the Cup. It's been a lot more enjoyable, that's for sure."
A far cry from the pain and suffering of summer 2010.
"That was a hard summer and tough on the body at first, but I worked my hardest I've probably ever worked in an offseason to get back," Seidenberg said. "But that's what you need to do if you're going to keep your spot in this league. I knew I could've helped the team in the playoffs that spring, and I wanted to come back and prove that."
Seidenberg was rewarded with a four-year deal from the Bruins last summer, and he lived up to it on the ice, coming back to prove how valuable he is on the Bruins' blue line. He finished the season with 25 assists and 32 points in 82 regular-season games, but he really shined in the playoffs. Coach Claude Julien paired Seidenberg with captain Zdeno Chara, and the two formed one of the best shutdown defensive pairings in the playoffs. In addition to playing tough defense, Seidenberg chipped in 11 points (10 assists) in the playoffs. That point total included two helpers in the Bruins' Cup-clinching Game 7 win in Vancouver.
"Like I said, it was so hard watching in 2010, and then when they [the Bruins] had enough faith in me to sign me to that contract and give me and my family that security, it made it that much easier," Seidenberg said. "You want to go out and prove them right, and I liked this group of teammates so much already, so you want to win for them, too. It was so amazing to be able to do that and then just to reward the fans. It's such a great sports city."
The chemistry and opportunity to play with Chara was also very rewarding for Seidenberg, as he really found his niche on the team.
"Obviously he is such a great player, and that shows with the Norris Trophy he won a couple years back and then the way he played this season," Seidenberg said of the Bruins' captain. "But playing with him, he is just so good defensively and smart that it allows you as a partner to play your game and not be worried. You know he is always there, and then we just really formed a great chemistry and helped each other a lot. It's great playing with 'Z.'"
Seidenberg is looking forward to the possibility of being paired up with Chara again this season and is also excited that the Bruins will bring back most of the players from their Cup-winning team. Although the Bruins will miss the likes of Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle, they have a solid core of younger players, including Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
"It's tough that we lost Rydes [Ryder] and Kabs [Kaberle], but that's part of the game, and I wish them both the best," Seidenberg said. "But you look at the guys we have back, the young talent that has already won it all, and that's pretty sick. We're going to contend again, and I am excited at the potential we have."
Seidenberg has another wedding to attend soon, and then he plans on trying to salvage some of the summer before he puts his workouts and conditioning into full speed.
"The summer is almost over, but I am hoping to get in a few lazy days before I come back to Boston for camp," he said. "Before I know it, I'll be working hard every day, and then camp will start. But it's been a great summer, so I'm not complaining."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.