Despite Wednesday’s lengthy series of meetings between the NHL and the Player’s Association, headed by grizzled negotiating veteran Donald Fehr, it doesn’t appear that much progress was made. Unfortunately, this would lead us right to where we are today, entrenched into the third NHL lockout in Gary Bettman‘s tenure as the league’s commissioner. In Boston, general manager Peter Chiarelli began his preparations for the September 15 expiration of the current – and now-old – collective bargaining agreement early, placing veterans Christian Hanson, Jamie Tardif, Trent Whitfield and Garnet Exelby all on waivers with the purpose of assigning each to the Bruins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island.
All four of these players would eventually clear waivers, making them eligible to report to Providence’s training camp, which will open on Friday September 28.
Next, Chiarelli decided to officially assign 19 more players to Providence in advance of Saturday night’s league-imposed lockout. The players who will be joining the P-Bruins in less than two weeks are listed below.
Forwards: Carter Camper, Jordan Caron, Craig Cunningham, Justin Florek, Jared Knight, Tyler Randell, Max Sauve, Ryan Spooner
Defense: Matt Bartkowski, Ryan Button, Colby Cohen, Tommy Cross, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky
Goaltenders: Michael Hutchinson, Adam Morrison, Niklas Svedberg
At first glance, none of these names will jump out at you when compared to some other teams who will have the benefit of all-star NHL players like Adam Henrique, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Jeff Skinner skating for their AHL squad. However, the youth, potential and depth of this group of players is what should make for quite an interesting year down in Providence.
Up front, the forward core will be led by 2011 AHL all-star Carter Camper, veterans Christian Hanson and Trent Whitfield and top prospects Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner. Most fans of the Black and Gold will be looking forward to seeing what both Knight and Spooner can do in their first professional seasons. Each has already appeared in a handful of AHL games after being assigned to Providence at the conclusion of their junior seasons. After four years in the Ontario Hockey League, both will be looking to make their mark with the P-Bruins in hopes of impressing the Boston brass, prior to the opening of NHL training camp (whenever that may be).
On defense, the group’s depth is incredible. With the eight players listed and defensemen already under contract to Providence, there will be quite the crowd on the P-Bruins’ blueline. Torey Krug, Colby Cohen and Matt Bartkowski all have the benefit of previous NHL experience and should provide solid two-way performances for the P-Bruins.
Adding to the excitement surrounding the Bruins’ longtime minor-league affiliate is the fact that the AHL All-Star Classic will be emanating from their home arena in Providence this winter on January 27-28.
If the NHL lockout does provide hockey fans with one positive, its the chance to enjoy various other leagues that the sport has to offer. I urge you to expand your depth as fans and check out some AHL, ECHL, College or Prep school hockey action this fall. Do not let the lockout keep you from enjoying the sport that you love. I plan to heed my own advice, through covering some P-Bruins’ games all across New England this season with my good buddies from BruinsDaily.com.
It most certainly isn’t the most ideal of situations, but if faced with yet another lengthy NHL lockout, at least there will be some great hockey to be played just 60 minutes south of Boston at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.