BOSTON -- Boston Bruins training camp is under way and with the team returning most of the players from its Stanley Cup-winning run, there haven't been a lot of questions or storylines so far. But one of the hotter topics has been who will wear the alternate captain's A after the departure of Mark Recchi, who retired.
Reached recently by ESPNBoston.com, Recchi agreed that veterans Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton are the top candidates. But Recchi isn't overly concerned about who is named an alternate captain. As Recchi witnessed last season, not only do the Bruins have veteran leaders like Ference, Thornton, Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and captain Zdeno Chara, but they have a group of young leaders who have blossomed over the years.
"Really, yeah you've got great candidates in Thorty [Thornton] and Andy to wear that A, but it's really just a letter because there's so many good leaders there," Recchi said Monday. "Guys like Kells [Kelly] and Pevs [Peverley] will step up, too. But what is so promising, and I saw it even last season as the year progressed, was the young guys that became part of that leadership group and stepped up. Obviously Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] is already an alternate captain and such a great leader even at his age , but you've got a lot of the young guys that really know their roles and know they can assume that leadership role. We encouraged that throughout the season and you'll see that even more this season. I'm not worried at all when it comes to that with this core group of young guys."
Ference agrees with his former teammate. As Ference pointed out, the emergence of so many young leaders like Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Bergeron in the dressing room was one of the main reasons the Bruins progressed so much on the ice last season.
"That's probably the secret to some of the success that we've had over the years," Ference said of the experience gained by some of the team's younger players. "We've had a group of younger guys that have been included and leaned on heavily no matter their age and their experience. It's been a real group thing right from the start and there's no real one flag bearer in the room or maybe a couple guys that lead the charge. It's been by committee. I mean when Luch [Lucic] was young, and now he's been around for a bit, and he has had a say from the start. Or look at Bergy and those younger guys that have come in since; they've never been treated like rookies who should just come in and hang out and kind of contribute."
The focus of the veteran leaders has been to let the younger players know they have an equal say on matters in the dressing room.
"They're viewed as an equal member of the team and they're expected to perform like that and treated accordingly," Ference said. "That's been a great thing for this dressing room because I don't think anybody feels like there's some two- or three-tiered system or real hierarchy of where your importance to this team stands. Young guys do feel on an equal level and know they can and must speak up or lead by example. They've done that, and that's why we are where we are."
"Some guys are a year older now and probably need to step up a bit that way," Thornton said. "I'm sure they will and just like Andy said, it's on us to try and make sure that they're comfortable being able to do that."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.