Video: Bruins consider development camp a success

Mike Loftus

With apologies to every student, parent and teacher planning or enjoying a vacation, Patrice Bergeron would just as soon wish away the days from now until after Labor Day.

After four straight days on the ice – three during which he gorged himself on contact drills – the Bruins’ 22-year-old center is even more certain than he was last spring that he’ll be playing hockey this coming season, and can’t wait until training camp opens.

“I felt great,” Bergeron said Friday after skating for the final time at Boston’s development camp, which concludes Saturday morning here at Ristuccia Arena. “There is no question in my mind that I’m ready.”

Bergeron, joined for the camp by veteran goalie Manny Fernandez (he’s coming back from season-ending knee surgery), was disappointed when he didn’t receive medical clearance to return from a Grade 3 concussion during last spring’s playoffs. He had been sidelined since Oct. 27, when Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones drove him into the boards from behind during a game at TD Banknorth Garden.

Bergeron, who had been allowed to experience full contact in practices by the time the B’s were eliminated by Montreal, may have given and taken more hits during the development camp than he did last spring. As the regular season wound down and the playoffs approached, Boston – like most NHL teams – didn’t run many full practices.

“That’s the reason I came here this week – to skate, and because I knew we were going to practice, do some battle drills,” Bergeron said. “I knew the kids were going to be hungry to show their skills, show their dedication.

“It made this good for me because it made it a challenge. There’s some good talent here, and some good size.”

Fernandez, who was limited to only four games before knee surgery ended his first season as a Bruin (Boston obtained him in a trade with Minnesota), also found the development camp beneficial.

“Everything is getting better,” said the 33-year-old goalie, who practiced frequently with Bergeron at the end of last season, but also didn’t get into any games.

“I still had some question marks before I came here. Coming here and doing it (skating, plus off-ice workouts) three hours a day really kind of shows me that my knee’s ready for the workload. Toward the end of the season, we put a pretty good test on it, but never like this. This has been the ultimate test.”

Fernandez, who is expected to compete with incumbent No. 1 goalie Tim Thomas for playing time, felt the timing of development camp was perfect.

“If there are any touch-ups, or anything more that could have been done (either surgically, or through rehabilitation), this was a good time to put it out there,” he said. “So I think this has been good for everybody. It gets everybody to stop asking questions, you know?”

Bergeron might argue about how well the development camp was timed. He’d prefer it to be much closer to training camp, which begins in mid-September.

“It will be hard to wait,” he said, “but I’ve got to go through it. The time before camp is going to help get me even stronger, and better – and hungrier for September to get there.”

Development camp concludes Saturday. Fans interested in attending should call the Bruins' information line (617-624-1910) for updated schedule information.

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