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20 posts categorized "Boston Bruins"

June 01, 2011

Pro Hockey | Stuart bros. speak on Thrashers' move; Colin a free agent again

Posted by: Feldman

The announcement on Tuesday that the Atlanta Thrashers have been sold and are relocating to Winnipeg, was just another twist in an odd three months for Rochester native Mark Stuart.

On Feb. 18, he was traded from the Boston Bruins, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2003, and for whom he played 283 games over six season. He was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers and 10 days later, he signed a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. He became an instant hit with the Thrashers players and fans, even wearing the "A" as the team's alternate captain for a handful of games late in the season.

Last month, Stuart, a former Lourdes player, wore another letter -- this time the "C" -- as captain of the U.S. team at the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, where the U.S. was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Since coming back to his offseason home in Minneapolis, he has seen his former team, the Bruins, advance to the Stanley Cup Finals (they play Game 1 tonight at Vancouver) and has current team, Atlanta, get sold to a group that will move it to Winnipeg.

Stuart couldn't be reached Tuesday, when the announcement was made. I put in a call to Rob Tillotson with the Thrashers media relations department, and Rob called me back this morning. He said some players are hesitant to comment on the move right now because they don't want their emotions to speak for them. So, I may hear from Mark today, or may not. It's understandable if he doesn't want to speak emotionally right now; he obviously really enjoyed his short time in Atlanta.

I did reach Mark's brother, Colin Stuart, who was a 5th round draft pick of the Thrashers in 2001, and played 51 games for them from 2007-09. He also helped the Thrashers' AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, win the Calder Cup in 2008.

Colin said he had talked briefly with Mark on Tuesday when the announcement was made in Winnipeg by True North Sports and Entertainment, the group that purchased the Thrashers and will move them to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

"I think Mark's disappointed they couldn't make it work in Atlanta; he liked it there," Colin said. "It's confusing anytime something like this happens. But he's excited to play in Canada, in front of some of the most die-hard hockey fanatics."

Mark Stuart did speak to the Globe and Mail, one of Canada's two or three biggest newspapers, yesterday. Here's some of what he had to say:

“I saw it coming. After Phoenix went through and they were going to stay, we became the topic of conversation. So I expected it, but there was kind of just a waiting period until it became official. It doesn’t really come as that big of a surprise.”

“I’m excited to go (to Winnipeg), I’m excited for the fans there. Everyone can see how excited they are to have an NHL team back and they’re very deserving of that.”

“(Bruins defenceman) Shane Hnidy texted me today saying I’ll really enjoy it there. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve heard stories about Winnipeg from guys that had a chance to play there and really enjoyed it. About the support and the fans. That’s very exciting for a player.”


C. Stuart enters free agency ... again

For a second consecutive summer, Colin Stuart will enter unrestricted free agency, on July 1. A year ago, he signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization and was a key player all season for their AHL affiliate, the Portland (Maine) Pirates.

He played three games for the Sabres, bringing his career total to 54 NHL games (he has 8 goals and 5 assists in those games).

In Portland, he played 72 regular season games and was the seventh-leading scorer for the Pirates (16-28--44). He also had 3-4--7 in 12 playoff games for the Pirates, who lost to the Binghamton Senators in six games in the AHL Atlantic Division Finals. Binghamton went on to sweep Charlotte in the Eastern Conference Finals and the B-Sens are now playing the Minnesota Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, in the Calder Cup Finals (that series is tied 1-1, with Game 3 coming up tonight at Binghamton.

Colin isn't ruling out a return to Portland/Buffalo. He said, in a way, it's nice to be an unrestricted free agent and be able to choose where you want to play. But, he said, it's also stressful to not know if what teams, if any, will be interested in him.

"I would have obviously liked to have spent more time in the NHL," he said. "Buffalo is a great system to be in. I was fortunate to play under a couple of great coaches in Portland (Kevin Dineen and Eric Weinrich). They respect their players and make it a joy to come to the rink every day. And Portland was a great city for me and my wife."

Now, Stuart will wait and see which teams show interest in him on July 1. He's 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and is a left-handed shot. And, at just 29 years old, he'll surely help a team, either in the AHL or NHL, next season.

"We'll wait and see what happens on July 1," he said. "It's exciting, but a little nerve-wracking to be looking for work. You just hope your reputation is good and your play speaks for itself."

February 18, 2011

Mark Stuart traded to Atlanta

FELDY: Rochester native Mark Stuart is going from a division-leading NHL team to one that is battling just to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. The 26-year-old Rochester native was traded just more than an hour ago from the Boston Bruins to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Stuart has been a healthy scratch in recent weeks for the Bruins, after returning from a hand injury. But the former first-round pick was dealt today mainly because of salary cap reasons. The Bruins needed to clear space to acquire Tomas Kaberle from Toronto, so they sent Stuart (and his $1.675 million cap hit) and former Gopher Blake Wheeler ($2.2 million cap hit) to Atlanta in exchange for center Rich Peverley and minor league defenseman Boris Valabik. Peverley and Valabik together earn barely more than $2 million.

Once the Stuart/Wheeler trade was completed, Boston sent another former WCHA standout, Joe Colborne (a former first-round pick who played college hockey at Denver), and its 2011 first round draft pick to Toronto for Kaberle.

So, what does this mean for Stuart?

First and foremost, it means he gets to give life in Atlanta a two-month trial run to see if he would like to play there in coming years. Stuart will be just 27 when the season ends, and he'll be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. (Obvious question: Might the Wild be interested in him? We'll get back to that point later.)

Second, The move reunites Stuart and Wheeler with Thrashers head coach Craig Ramsay, who was an assistant in Boston until taking the job in Atlanta this season. But his injury issues over the past two seasons have left some Bruins fans disgruntled with a former first-round pick they perceive as injury-prone. The reality is, Stuart is a gritty player. He plays a style of game that can lead to injuries. But his name was batted around a lot after last season as a potential captain of the team, so you know players and coaches around the NHL have a lot of respect for the way he plays. He has a goal and four assists in 31 games this season (Wheeler has 11-16--27 this season).

And, third, Stuart will likely see more playing time in Atlanta, too. The Thrashers need his physical presence on the blue line. Stuart (6-feet-2, 213 pounds) and Wheeler are being viewed in Atlanta as guys who can help take the Thrashers from tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference up into the top eight and a playoff berth.

The Thrashers now have the market cornered on Rochester natives, as they also hold former Century goalie Alex Kangas' rights. Other Minnesota connections in the Atlanta system: former Cup winner Dustin Byfuglien (Roseau), forward and ECHL All-Star Michael Forney (Thief River Falls) and forward/draft pick Tanner Lane (Detroit Lakes).

So, whether the Thrashers reach the postseason or not, Stuart will have the chance in June to pick where he wants to play in 2011-12 and beyond. Which begs the question, is there a chance he ends up in a Minnesota Wild uniform next season?

It's a great thought, but it looks unlikely. Of the eight d-men the Wild have on their NHL roster right now (Burns, Barker, Schultz, Scandella, Spurgeon, Stoner, Zanon, Zidlicky), six are between the ages of 20-28. And with guys such as Justin Falk, Tyler Cuma (his injuries not withstanding) and Nate Prosser in the minors, it seems unlikely that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher would be willing to pay the kind of money Stuart may get in other places (it's reasonable to think he could get $2 million per year or more in a free agent deal).

As for Stuart potentially getting back into the playoffs, this time with the Thrashers, it could come down to the final weeks of the season. Atlanta is currently tied for ninth in the East with Buffalo, two points behind eighth-place Carolina.

And, for anyone who wondering if the Thrashers play near Minnesota again this season, they don't. They played the Wild, in Atlanta, back in November (a 5-1 Thrashers win). Just two of Atlanta's remaining 23 games are against Western Conference opponents.

January 31, 2011

Stuart on the trading block in Boston

FELDY: So maybe this is part of the reason why Mark Stuart has been a healthy scratch in the Boston Bruins' past three games.

Several Boston media outlets are reporting today that Stuart, a 6-foot-2, 213-pound defenseman, is being pursued by multiple teams in a possible trade. The Rochester native has a $1.675 million cap hit this season, meaning, if traded, it would clear up a good amount of cap space for the Bruins. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Stuart, who recently returned from a hand injury, hasn't played since a loss to Buffalo on Jan. 20. A few possible destinations for Stuart in a trade, that I've seen thrown out on different Internet reports: Carolina, Detroit and Colorado.

The trade deadline is Feb. 28.

January 18, 2011

Stuart shines in return to Bruins' lineup (w/link to video)

FELDY: Most people, Boston Bruins fans included, would never accuse Rochester native Mark Stuart of seeking the spotlight. But the Bruins' fourth-year defenseman couldn't avoid it on Monday night, scoring the game winning goal in his first game back from a finger injury that sidelined him for more than a month (18 games).

Stuart scored Boston's first goal in a 7-0 victory against Carolina. His first goal of the season -- a heavy slapshot from just inside the blue line -- came at the 7:56 mark of the first period.

Here is video of the goal; it's the second highlight on the video, about 25-30 seconds in.

Boston leads Montreal by two points in the Northeast Division standings, with a game in hand on the Canadiens.

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was among the players who were happy to have Stuart back on the ice. Stuart wore a brace on his right hand to protect the healing ring finger.

"He was very good, especially for being out for awhile," Thomas told ESPNBoston.com's Jimmy Murphy. "He didn't have the shakiness that sometimes can happen when you haven't played for a while. He was very calm with the puck. He made some good plays and was strong."

January 13, 2011

More from Stuart, including video of his post-skate media session

FELDY: Thanks to Bruins.NHL.com, here's video of Mark Stuart's post-skate media session today, where he discusses his return after more than a month off due to a finger injury. Stuart skated this morning with the Bruins, who have a game tonight against Philadelphia. It was a good way for him to get back on the ice, as game-day morning skates are generally not as intense as a regular practice.

If you don't have time to watch right now, or can't turn it on at your desk at work, here are a few highlights of what he had to say:

* He's wearing a splint on his right hand (his right ring finger is the injured digit), which he'll keep using for the next two or three weeks. He can pass the puck fine, but he didn't attempt any hard shots. Instead, he said, he just flipped a few soft wrist shots at the net today.

* Other than his recovering finger, he feels great physically.

* "I don't care who you are, you always want to be in the lineup. You never want to be on the outside, but having been through it before made it a little easier. I knew what to expect," he said.

* He hopes to return to game action next week, but, he said, "it's up to the coaches. It's not like I'll get free pass back into the lineup. I'll have to earn it."

NHL | Stuart back on ice with Bruins

FELDY: Rochester native Mark Stuart took a big step this morning toward getting back into game action with the Boston Bruins.

Stuart, a 6-feet-2, 213-pound defenseman, went participated in the Bruins' morning skate today, in advance of tonight's game against Philadelphia (6 p.m. CST). It marked the first time he's been on the ice with the Bruins since the first week of December, when he suffered a fracture and dislocation in his right ring finger.

Stuart won't play tonight, but on the Bruins' website, he said he "feels great" and he hopes to be able to play by next week. Tonight's game will be the 17th consecutive game Stuart has missed because of the injury. He has two assists and 23 penalty minutes in 26 games this season.

Stuart, 26, is in his fourth full season with the Bruins. He played in all 82 games in each of his first two seasons in the NHL. Last year, a hand injury caused him to miss 26 games.

The Bruins are 23-12-7 (53 points) and are in first place in the Northeast Division. Tonight's game is a big one for the Bruins, as they play host to rival Philadelphia, which sits atop the Atlantic Division standings and currently holds the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

December 09, 2010

Another bad break for Mark Stuart

FELDY: There was no pun intended with the title of this post because I'm sure this is no laughing matter for Rochester native Mark Stuart.

The Boston Bruins defenseman has suffered another injury -- another hand injury -- that will keep him out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks. He left Tuesday's game against Buffalo in the first period and did not return. According to a statement from Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, Stuart suffered a fracture and a dislocation in his right ring finger.

The injury actually occurred last Thursday against Tampa Bay, and Stuart said "it was sore, but we took X-rays after the (Tampa) game and they were negative, so we just decided to see how it felt and look at it in a couple of days."

Stuart said he had the Bruins trainers tape up the hand before a game against Toronto on Saturday "and it wasn't feeling good," so he was going to have it X-rayed again after the game against Buffalo on Tuesday. But, he said, on his third shift of the game, "all I did was make a pass and the thing just caved in. It was just hanging on by a thin thread, I think."

It's a tough blow for Stuart, who had played in all 26 of Boston's games this season, contributing two assists.

It's the second consecutive season that a finger injury has kept Stuart -- in his fourth full NHL season -- out of the lineup for a significant stretch. He played in all 82 games in his first two full seasons with the Bruins, but last year the finger injury limited him to 56 games.

If this injury keeps him out of the lineup until the end of January, Stuart would miss 24 games.

Here's a link to a video of Stuart meeting the media today in Boston.

November 02, 2010

Hockey | Mark Stuart podcast, tough news for Gophers

FELDY: First off, here's a link to today's interview with Rochester native and current Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart, on 101.7 WFNX Radio in Boston. Today's topics: Playing on the road in the NHL, the play of red-hot Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, and what kind of shoes does Stuart like to wear on his size 13 feet?

Next, some bad news for Gophers hockey today. Sophomore forward Zach Budish may be done for the season after tearing the ACL in one of his knees in a moped accident. Kevin Gorg of FSN reported the news this morning on KFAN radio.

If true, it's a big blow to a Gophers offense that really clicked at Colorado College last weekend, scoring 13 goals in the two-game sweep against the Tigers. Budish was an anchor on the Gophs' second line so far this season.

October 26, 2010

NHL | Mark 'Stewart' gets some love from Boston radio

FELDY: Rochester native Mark Stuart has earned enough respect in the Boston Bruins locker room over the past three seasons, that there's been talk of him eventually becoming a team captain.

Now, on a weekly basis, Bruins fans (and anyone who knows how to listen to a podcast) can find out a little more about the big defenseman's personality. Stuart will make a weekly appearance on WFNX (101.7 FM) in Boston. That podcast can be downloaded/listened to here.

As you may have noted on the title of this post, he is listed as Mark "Stewart" on the WFNX page. It's a rock station, so we'll cut them some slack! There are enough Bs fans listening in New England, that I'm sure the station will be informed of the spelling error!

Regardless, check out the podcast. Stuart talks this week about some of the new faces on the team this year, the loss of fellow defenseman Johnny Boychuk for about a month due to a broken arm, and Stuart tells us what his favorite band of all-time is.

Stuart doesn't have a point yet this season, but he is plus-1 and has 7 penalty minutes through six games for the 4-2-0 Bruins.

September 24, 2010

Stuart bros.: Colin gets shot with Sabres, Mark wears "A" for Bruins

FELDY: When Rochester native Colin Stuart signed with the Buffalo Sabres back in August, it was considered by Sabres fans and Buffalo media as a move to strengthen the grit and depth of the Sabres' AHL franchise, the Portland Pirates.

While it's likely that Stuart will at least start the season in Portland, reports from The Buffalo News indicate he's at least being given a chance in camp to show what he can do. Stuart, considered a strong defensive forward and valuable penalty-killer, scored a goal in an intra-squad scrimmage over the weekend and he's listed as a fifth-line winger for the Sabres, who open their preseason at home on Saturday against Toronto.

Stuart is one of 22 forwards listed on Buffalo's roster, but from the looks of it, he'll get a chance at some point this preseason to show what he can do in a game against another team.

Here is a look at the Sabres line combinations heading into Saturday's game.

* In Boston, Colin's brother, Mark Stuart, will clearly be an every-night defenseman for the Bruins, barring the injury troubles he battled last season. In fact, Mark didn't dress for Boston's preseason opener on Wednesday, but he wore an "A" for the Bruins' game Thursday against Florida. Boston lost 3-2.

He was on the Bruins' second defensive pairing, along with Steve Kampfer. while Nathan McIver played with Zdeno Chara on the top pairing.

There was some good and some bad for Stuart in his first preseason action. He played on the second power-play unit, but he also had a couple of rocky shifts, including one in the final minute of the first period that led to a scoring chance for David Booth.