<
>

Dennis Seidenberg has long reach

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins enjoyed some rest and relaxation at owner Jeremy Jacobs' house during a rare day off in South Florida last Saturday.

As the Bruins were in the midst of a five-game road trip, the team bonding experience included fishing, basketball, golf and tennis. It was a day to unwind before the most grueling portion of the lockout-shortened schedule -- 33 games in 62 days -- began this week.

Veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg stood on the tennis court and was ready for any opponent. Not surprisingly, there weren't many takers.

During his teenage years, Seidenberg was a ranked amateur tennis player in Germany. He seriously considered the sport as a career, but he preferred the team concept of hockey rather than a one-man show.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is built for hockey. He has a warrior's mentality and has been a perfect fit in Boston since being acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on March 3, 2010.

He's been a force on the blue line and was one of the reasons the Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011. His contributions never go unnoticed, and they've been key again this season as the Bruins are 12-2-2 and set to host the Ottawa Senators (12-6-2) Thursday night at TD Garden.

Seidenberg currently ranks No. 100 in total ice time among the league's defensemen, and he's only played in 14 games this season. He averages 23:12 per game, and virtually every second he's on the ice he makes something happen. The amount of ice time he logs is important to him.

"Huge pride," he said. "It means a lot to me being sent out there that much, and gaining that responsibility is something I really enjoy. It's awesome. I can't ask for more."

Bruins coach Claude Julien has asked a lot from Seidenberg. When the coach decided to pair Seidenberg with captain Zdeno Chara during the 2011 playoffs, the defensive duo became nearly impenetrable.

For the majority of 2012 and so far this season, Seidenberg and Chara have had different partners. On the road, that's especially important because the Bruins don't have the last change, and it can be difficult to match Chara against the opposition's top lines. If Julien can't get the matchup he wants with Chara, then Seidenberg becomes the go-to guy.

"If you're going to put Seidenberg there in his place, I don't think I'd worry too much as a coach," Julien said. "If he can't handle that, we're in big trouble. We feel strongly about his play and what he's capable of doing for our team.

"We've said it often: This guy, you can't tire him out. He's a horse. He's strong, and he's in such good shape. He's been a valuable addition to our team since the day we got him. All we've got to do is look back at some of the playoff series he's been in and, he's been an outstanding player."

The Bruins are a humble group of players, and Seidenberg ranks high in that category. He doesn't like to talk about himself and describes his game in an interesting way.

"It's pretty boring, pretty steady," Seidenberg said. "It's not crazy. I like to take care of my own end first and hopefully get some offense here and there. It's been pretty good, but there's always room for improvement. I would like to get going a little more offensively by getting more shots through, and hopefully that will come."

Becoming a mentor for rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton is another important contribution Seidenberg is making this season.

"It's been real easy. [Hamilton]'s been developing great so far," Seidenberg said. "He's very poised with the puck, he makes great outlet passes and he skates effortlessly. He's learning every game. He's been better every game and he's been making good plays on the power play, so it's been all positive so far."

Hamilton's start in the NHL has been impressive, and his transition to the pro game has been a smooth one so far. Still, he's going to make mistakes, and the few times he has this season, Seidenberg has been there to back up his partner. The veteran admits he hasn't changed his style of play because he's not worried about Hamilton.

"It's pretty much the same," Seidenberg said. "I'm a pretty conservative player. It doesn't matter if it's him, or [Joe] Corvo or [Tomas] Kaberle in years before. It's the same kind of approach, and it's not changing."

Hamilton's approach this season has been a simple one. He's playing his style of game while trying to master the team's defensive systems. The 19-year-old blueliner is learning from all of his teammates, and Seidenberg's work ethic on and off the ice has been a focal point for Hamilton.

"He's definitely real professional how he takes care of himself, preparing and stuff like that," Hamilton said. "On the ice, too, how hard he works in his battles and how well he moves the puck. I've learned a lot."

When Seidenberg first arrived in Boston in the spring of 2010, he played only 17 games before he suffering a nasty injury when he lacerated a tendon in his left forearm and missed the playoffs. His presence was surely missed, as the Bruins lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Philadelphia Flyers after holding a 3-0 series lead.

He's been instrumental every season since, and he's continuing that streak in 2013. The 31-year-old Seidenberg will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2013-14 season, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he remains in Boston.