He jokes that he was never involved in any hockey-style fights on the diamond, but he did smash a few batting helmets in his day.
The southpaw posted a 20-11 record, along with a 2.55 ERA in 246 2/3 innings of work to help the Braves win the National League pennant.
Not only did Glavine excel at baseball, he also was a standout hockey player. He received a scholarship to play hockey and baseball at UMass-Lowell and was also drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round (No. 69 overall) in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
He decided to focus on his baseball career, and this weekend he will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
After winning his first of two Cy Young Awards in 1991, Glavine was invited to practice with Neely and the Bruins at the old Boston Garden.
Glavine was 25. Neely was 26.
“Even back then he certainly was well on his way to a great career,” Neely said. “Being a local kid and actually being drafted by another sport was something, I think, a lot of athletes would have made a mental note of, so to have him come out was kind of cool, because he’s a guy playing a different sport, and not many baseball players played hockey -- Larry Walker being another one -- but not many played hockey. So, it was kind of cool to have him out there. It’s a cross interaction with a different athlete from another sport.”
“It was more of 'Let’s just have some fun with him out here,'” Neely recalls. “Obviously, if you get drafted you have some abilities, right? Someone saw something in you and thought you could play, so I think it was kind of cool to have a baseball player out on the ice with you, knowing he was drafted in the NHL.”
The two remained in contact once in a while.
When Atlanta still had an NHL team, the Thrashers before they relocated to Winnipeg and became the Jets, Glavine would attend games when the Bruins were in town. During baseball’s offseason, he would attend Bruins games at the Garden, too. He wouldn’t ask for tickets, and most times the Bruins didn’t even know he was in the building.
“He’s a guy, obviously, like most athletes, whether you’re a pro or not, you follow the hometown, unless you play against that team, right?" Neely said.
Neely was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005. As Glavine heads to Cooperstown, Neely understands what the days and hours are like leading up to a player’s induction.
“You start to reflect on all the people that helped you become the athlete and person to be able to have that great honor,” Neely said. “For me, a lot of the guys I spoke to, when you start preparing your speech you start thinking way back, like your parents getting up early to take you to practice. You think about all the coaches, volunteers and parents that helped along the way, and then you get into your teammates at the pro level and everything that they helped you accomplish.”
“Bruce has done an unbelievable job of developing players,” Julien said. “And to me, he’s still a fairly young coach. He’s coached in the NHL, and I think he’s one of those guys who should certainly be considered to be a coach in the NHL again, too.”
Julien explained that since he, assistant coach Doug Houda and Cassidy are all former defensemen, having Sacco, a former forward, in the mix works better in Boston.
“[Cassidy] was certainly a strong candidate and certainly a very capable one, but again, we sat down with Bruce, Peter and I and had a real good chat. We talked it all out, and he’s certainly happy in Providence. He mentioned that he’s certainly not unhappy there, but I think the decision was a decision we made for all the right reasons.”
General manager Peter Chiarelli quickly endorsed Loui Eriksson for that role to play alongside center David Krejci and left wing Milan Lucic. Eriksson brings a different skill set than Iginla did, but Chiarelli is convinced Eriksson can handle it.
During a Thursday afternoon conference to introduce the Bruins’ newest assistant coach, Joe Sacco, head coach Claude Julien also said he believes Eriksson can perform on the top line.
“Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year,” Julien said. “I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.
“But at the same time, Chris Kelly will be coming back, so are we going to look for somebody to be a third-liner, or are we going to look for somebody who’s going to be replacing Iggy? There are a couple of things here that we have to resolve, but at the same time, we do have some young players in Providence that are going to deserve a look. So, when training camp starts, I think a lot of those decisions will probably be taking place.”
Kelly suffered a herniated disk in the fourth-to-last-game of the regular season at Minnesota. He did not play in the playoffs and eventually had offseason back surgery. He’s expected to be healthy for the start of training camp Sept. 18.
Kelly has the ability to play both center and the wing. For the majority of last season, Boston’s third line consisted of Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Eriksson.
After Iginla’s departure, Chiarelli also said he’s happy with the team’s second line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith, so it’s likely that trio will remain the same. The Bruins’ energy line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton no longer exists, since Thornton signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers.
Heading into camp, the Bruins have six players -- Ryan Spooner, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, Bobby Robins, Alexander Khokhlachev and David Pastrnak -- for two forward positions.
Overall, the salary-cap-challenged Bruins have been relatively quiet this offseason, but Julien believes the organization will be ready for the 2014-2015 season.
“Well, right now I think there’s still some time and there’s still some things that can be done and there’s no doubt we’re still working on a few things,” Julien said. “But nonetheless, we don’t feel like we're in a real tough situation.”
The deal is worth $600,000 at the NHL level.
Warsofsky played six games for the Bruins last season and registered his first NHL goal against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 28. He played in 56 regular-season games for the Providence Bruins of the AHL and posted six goals and 26 assists.
The Bruins acquired the Marshfield, Mass., native and Boston University product via trade with the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Vladimir Sobotka on June 26, 2010. He has played 190 games for the P-Bruins.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli recently said Warsofsky is ready for the NHL and will compete for a job during training camp.
Warsofsky is eager to prove that he belongs.
"It definitely gives me a little bit of confidence," he said of Chiarelli's comments. "I think when the management and the coaches say that about you, it pushes you even more. You know that they think you’re capable, and I think I am capable of it also, so I kind of want to go out there and prove them right. And every kid’s dream is to move up from the AHL to the NHL on a regular basis, so that’s what I’m shooting for this year.”
The Boston Bruins have hired Joe Sacco as an assistant coach, the team announced Thursday.
Sacco, 45, of Medford, Massachusetts, and a former Boston University standout, served as an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres last season.
He also served as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche from 2009 to 2013 and recorded a 130-134-40 record, and won the Jack Adams Award in 2010.
"It's obviously an exciting time to be part of the Bruins organization right now and the success that they've had in the past number of years," Sacco said during a conference call on Thursday. "And moving forward, especially with the group now, I feel pretty fortunate right now to step in and serve in the capacity that I'll be doing so. So it's an honor and I feel fortunate to be part of such a strong group, a team that's had success for a number of years, and hopefully we can continue that success moving forward."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said there were several candidates for the job, but that Sacco stood out for several reasons.
"He's got some great experience, not only as a hockey player but also as an assistant coach, whether it's been in the American League or NHL," Julien said. " He's also been a head coach in both leagues as well, so I think just the fact that we've been able to have a guy who has that much experience coming into our group. Also, the fact that he's been a player for such a long time, we all know that he'll have instant respect from our players. For me, it was important to get one of those kinds of coaches because of the fact that I give them a lot of responsibilities and it was important to have somebody that I felt real comfortable with and that I could trust extremely well. So Joe was that guy."
Here’s the list:
Bruins games on NBC Sports Network (all times Eastern):
Wednesday, October 8 vs. Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 15 at Detroit at 8 p.m.
Tuesday, October 28 vs. Minnesota at 7 p.m. (also on NESN)
Wednesday, November 12 at Toronto at 8 p.m.
Monday, November 24 vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. (also on NESN)
Wednesday, December 17 at Minnesota at 8 p.m.
Monday, December 29 vs. Detroit at 7 p.m. (also on NESN)
Wednesday, January 7 at Pittsburgh at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, February 4 at New York Rangers at 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 8 vs. Montreal at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 17 vs. Buffalo at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 2 at Detroit at 7:30 p.m. (also on NESN)
Wednesday, April 8 at Washington 8 p.m.
Bruins flex games on either NBC or NBCSN:
Sunday, February 22 at Chicago 12:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, March 8 vs. Detroit at 12:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. (NBC/NBCSN)
Sunday, March 15 at Washington at 12:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. (NBC/NBCSN)
Saturday, April 11 at Tampa Bay 3 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. (NBC/NBCSN/NESN)
The team signed forwards Jordan Caron, Craig Cunningham, Tyler Randell and Justin Florek, plus defensemen Tommy Cross and Zach Trotman.
Caron's deal is a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000. Cross's deal is a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $72,500 in the AHL. Cunningham's contract is a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $85,000 in the AHL. Florek's one-year, two-way deal is worth $600,000 in the NHL and $90,000 at the AHL level.
Randell's deal is a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL. Trotman's contract is a two-year deal. In Year 1, it's a two-way deal worth $600,000 (NHL) and $80,000 (AHL). In Year 2, the contract is a one-way deal worth $650,000 (NHL).
The 46-year-old Recchi will be in charge of working with prospects throughout the minor leagues as well as at the college and junior levels.
Recchi spent the last two years as a senior adviser with the Dallas Stars. He scored 577 goals during a 22-year career that included stints in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Montreal, Boston and Carolina. Recchi won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins, the Hurricanes and the Bruins. He retired after the 2011 season.
The deal is a $40,000 decrease from the one-year, one-way contract he played under with the Bruins during the 2013-14 season.
Prior to the start of the free-agent period on July 1, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted other organizations had contacted him about the possibility of acquiring Caron’s services. Even though the Bruins have re-signed the 23-year-old forward, it’s still possible Caron will be traded.
Caron, a first-round pick (25th overall) in the 2009 draft, has played a total of 132 games in parts of four seasons with the Bruins and has registered 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points. He spent much of last season as a healthy scratch, but played 35 games during the regular season and seven during the playoffs.
“I think he can be a full-time player,” Chiarelli said earlier this month of Caron. “I’ve gotten a couple calls on him today and I have talked to him about this. It may be that it is time for him to get a chance with another team. As I said at the draft, I’ve talked to a few teams about him and Jordan wants to stay in Boston, but he would welcome another opportunity also. So I will continue to explore those.”
The Bruins and Bartkowski avoided an arbitration hearing with the deal, which is worth $1.25 million.
"It's always good if you can come to an agreement before the hearing. So I think it sends a positive message to Matt that we want to have him back," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement.
Bartkowski, 26, played his first full season with the Bruins in 2013-14 and registered 18 assists in 64 games. He also had a plus-22 rating and 30 penalty minutes.
"I'm grateful to be able to sign with the Bruins organization, because I know we have a chance to win every year and I'm excited for the upcoming season," Bartkowski said.
He began the season as a healthy scratch and eventually worked his way into the lineup after Boston's blue line suffered numerous injuries.
Now that we've had some time to consider how each team's haul from the 2014 draft fits into their pipeline, we can identify which clubs now have a new No. 1 prospect in their system.
A reminder on the term "prospects" as I define them: Players outside the NHL are eligible if they have played fewer than 25 NHL games in any season, and fewer than 50 career NHL games total. So players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Mikhail Grigorenko and Teuvo Teravainen are eligible, while Brett Connolly and Beau Bennett are not.
Here, in alphabetical order, are NHL clubs that now have a new No. 1 prospect in their system thanks to the 2014 draft.
David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins
2013-14 team: Sodertalje (SHL-2)
Pastrnak had one of the most productive seasons in the lower Swedish league for an under-18 forward in decades, despite a late back injury that kept him out of the under-18 championships. His 24 points in 36 games surpassed Filip Forsberg's 17 points when the Nashville Predators prospect was in this situation. His hockey IQ is really high, as he sees all his options, processes the game very quickly and understands how to play with pace. He's a good skater with shiftiness and an above-average top gear, who also possesses a quick release on his shot.
The top few prospects in the Bruins' system are all small, skill forwards with Pastrnak joining Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev. Pastrnak is a level higher in terms of the skill/hockey IQ combination, so even though they all have similar skill sets, Pastrnak's potential is a level higher. He has fringe top-line potential.
Sam Reinhart, C, Buffalo Sabres
2013-14 team: Kootenay (WHL)
"I want to be in the NHL every year," the Providence Bruins head coach said Thursday, "simple as I can say."
Those words come as Boston has a vacancy on its bench. Last month, Bruins longtime assistant coach Geoff Ward resigned to take a head coaching job in German after serving for seven seasons on Claude Julien's staff, and Cassidy has been mentioned as a possible replacement.
"Well that's where I am now," Cassidy said of his status with Providence. "So whatever happens down the road with the vacancy here will happen. But I'm always preparing for Providence. You know, if something else changes, well give me a call and I'll talk to you about it."
For example: The 20-year-old goaltending prospect was nearly 45 minutes late getting onto the ice for the first day of camp Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena. After the session, Subban explained he experienced leg cramps after the dry-land running drills and needed to ice down before he put his equipment on to join the others on the ice.
There's still plenty Subban needs to learn about being a pro, and that's why he's here.
"As a young goaltender, we felt that the time he would be able to spend with [goalie coach] Bob [Essensa] would be very, very instrumental in continuing his development," Sweeney said. "So, he had a really good first year, had some ups and downs, had to fight through some things, and try and try and battle for the net. It's healthy for him to be around kids really his own age, to be honest with you, even as a first-year pro. So we're happy that he's here and going to be able to take advantage of that extra time."
The Bruins selected Subban in the first round (24th overall) of the 2012 NHL entry draft, and he spent the entire 2013-14 season with the P-Bruins, posting a 15-10-5 record and a 2.31 goals-against average, with one shutout in 33 games. Sharing the net (with Niklas Svedberg) was something Subban was not used to doing in his career.
"I'm used to playing a lot of games and being the go-to guy, so it was kind of tough being the secondary guy," Subban said. "I just tried to stay focused mentally, and that was the hardest thing for me mentally was to stay focused and earn my way. You don't play as much, so when you get a chance to play you got to play well, and that's what I tried to do."
Added Subban: "Last year was huge for my development I felt, adjusting to the game and seeing where you belong and what kind of style you have to play. Obviously, you don't want to change too much, but I felt I needed to make a couple of adjustments coming into the AHL. I thought it went really well, to be honest."
The Bruins recently signed Svedberg to a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000 to serve as Tuukka Rask's backup.
If that plays out during training camp and Svedberg earns the backup role, Subban will see plenty of rubber in Providence next season. Subban said he's prepared for anything, so when the Bruins informed him that he would participate in development camp, the response was typical. He told Sweeney, "Hey, man, whatever you want," explained the assistant GM.
"He's very easygoing that way," Sweeney said. "Great nature, and really wants to be on the ice. [I] felt that he would be able to take advantage of it as I described it, and [he] was very, very receptive."
With Rask locked up through the 2020-21 season, where do Subban and Svedberg fit into the Bruins' plans, beyond having depth at the goaltending position and a healthy internal competition?
"I think the book on goaltending is that you should be patient to allow them to go through some ups and down and experiences," Sweeney said. "Tuukka is a great example of that, spending time in the American League, coming up, having an apprenticeship, so to speak, then getting the net."
Now that Rask is the true No. 1 goaltender for the Bruins, Svedberg and Subban find themselves as the so-called apprentices.
"[Svedberg] is going to try and go in and be that backstop, the complementary piece to Tuukka," Sweeney said. "The other guys are going to move along the path that they're supposed to be."
Subban doesn't lack for confidence, but he understands his role in the organization and will prepare this summer to compete for the backup role in Boston or be ready for another season in the AHL. So the fact that he's back at development camp does not bother Subban or ruffle his ego.
"It's good," Subban said. "It keeps you sharp for the rest of the summer, and it's good to get back on the ice and see the guys. It's a fun camp, besides the run test."
Subban is disappointed about one thing: He left his Xbox at home. David Pastrnak, Boston's first-round pick (No. 25 overall) in this June's draft, has an extremely outgoing personality and is already chirping that he's better than Subban at NHL14.
"I wish I brought it, but we might go get one," Subban said with a smile.
Realistically, Subban needs more time to develop at the pro level. He knows he has to be outstanding in order to earn a spot and play in the NHL for the Bruins. That progress began last summer at development camp, and it continues now.
"I'm just focused on getting better this summer and competing for a spot in September," he said, as he took a drink of water.
"It's a pretty small hockey world," Boston College forward and Massachusetts native Ryan Fitzgerald said Thursday after skating in the second day of Bruins development camp, "to be this far down the line and still be playing with kids that I played with when I was 10."
It's been a common occurrence for the Bruins in the last several years.
Boston has drafted a Massachusetts-born player in each of the last three drafts. The organization hasn't really seen a bumper crop of New England-born players from the region's secondary schools since the period from 1984 through 1992 -- a span that also happens to coincide with what many view as the zenith of high school hockey in Massachusetts.
Many of the recent draft picks have ties to the team. Both Fitzgerald and Ryan Donato, this year's second-rounder, have fathers (Tom and Ted, respectively) who donned the spoked B. Charlestown native and current Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who was selected out of the United States National Team Development Program in the third round in 2012, is the son of John Grzelcyk, longtime member of the "bull gang" at TD Garden.
In addition, the Bruins drafted defenseman Robbie O'Gara out of Milton (Massachusetts) Academy in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Although O'Gara is a native of Long Island, he and 2013 fifth-rounder Wiley Sherman (Hotchkiss School/Greenwich, Connecticut) add further New England roots.
All are in attendance at development camp this week.
"I think half the guys here are from Massachusetts," Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy quipped after Thursday's skating session.
It underlines one of two recent trends in the Bruins' draft philosophy.
In the same years the organization has increasingly pulled from its backyard, the Bruins are also looking to Sweden. Boston has taken five players from the country's junior ranks in the last two years, headlined by the Bruins' first picks in each of those years -- 2014 first-rounder David Pastrnak and 2013 second-rounder Linus Arnesson.
The Bruins also have beefed up their presence in the area, adding former fan favorite P.J. Axelsson as a European scout, in addition to Svenake Svensson, who also is based in Sweden and has been with the team for 24 years.
It points to the evolving nature of hockey at home and across the pond -- one that has brought two schools of philosophy closer together.
"I think the game's becoming more centralized," Cassidy said Thursday. "The North American game has gone more toward the European game -- with puck possession and the way the lineups are filled out. And the European game has moved a little bit toward the North American styles. Some of these Swedes that are coming over here and they're gritty, they're hard on the puck, they're hard to get the puck from, they compete for it, whereas in years past you might not have said that."
It should come as no surprise that the Bruins' assistant director of amateur scouting is a local as well. Scott Fitzgerald, brother of Tom Fitzgerald and uncle to Ryan, is part of the brain trust that has charted a course to familiar waters.
"It's pretty special putting on the black and gold, but it's awesome to be able to do it with a couple of Mass. guys as well," Ryan Donato said Thursday. "It shows how good Mass. hockey is. I think it just shows that Mass. hockey is getting better."
There might just be a symbiotic relationship to hockey in the area. For all the rinks and hockey careers Bobby Orr inspired, the same might be able to be said of the Bruins' most recent Stanley Cup victory.
"You watch [Donato's] family realize how exciting it is, both Ryans for that matter [Donato and Fitzgerald], and Grizz's [Matt Grzelcyk] family is a great story," Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said on Wednesday. "They weren't drafted because of the story, but the best part about it is they get to add another chapter. And if they do go on to fulfill their dream, then it becomes that much better, that much more rewarding for everybody involved because the Bruins are part of the fabric of this community."
While tight-knit, there are six degrees of separation sometimes in the hockey community.
Despite growing up in the same state, having fathers who played for the same team and being separated by only a couple of years in age, the younger Donato and Fitzgerald had never met until joining the team at Ristuccia Arena this week. The centers have more in common than not. Besides their first name, they share the same outlook regarding the name on the back of their sweaters.
"He'll probably say the same thing, we've had it our whole life," Ryan Fitzgerald said about the pressures of growing up in an NHL family. "It's something that we've dealt with. We don't feel that much pressure to be honest with you."
Donato reflected on the impact he and his fellow local Bruins could have on the younger generation. It's also possible that Massachusetts could produce next year's overall No. 1 draft pick in Chelmsford's Jack Eichel -- a former teammate of Donato's at the youth level -- in addition to several potential first-rounders in a rich draft class.
"Little kids will look up to them and a bunch of the guys here and want to be like them," Donato said. "That's a pretty special thing."
A world of hockey that's pretty small, after all.
But the 18-year-old native of the Czech Republic is making his case to stay in North America. In fact, the Bruins’ first-round draft pick might not have any choice in the matter for some time. He told reporters on Thursday that he lost his passport.
His agent told him that he might have “lost it on purpose” in an attempt to stick in Boston.
At 6 feet and 173 pounds, it’s a bit premature to imagine this year’s 25th overall selection sticking in Boston, but he’s turned heads in his two-day stint thus far.
“He’s fast, he plays at a very high rate of speed,” Bruce Cassidy, the head coach of the Providence Bruins, said after Thursday’s camp session at Ristuccia Arena. “He’s got great one-on-one ability, body control. He’s a high-end skill player. It’s hard to evaluate his overall skill at this point, obviously, because it’s mostly one-on-one, but you can see why he’s a high pick.”
“There is a time when I changed my game,” Pastrnak said of his time with SSK. “I think I’m a two-way forward now. It’s important, you have to be a two-way forward if you want to make not just the NHL but any big league.”
The decision came with much debate, after considering coming to play junior hockey in North America. Pastrnak said the move away from home was difficult enough and admitted to being home sick.
If he’d come to North America earlier, Pastrnak added, “They would have crushed me here.”
Another benefit to playing in Sweden -- and aiding his potential move to the Americas -- was Pastrnak learning a new language. He took it upon himself to learn English, in order to talk with this teammates.
There’s another part of Pastrnak’s game that translates as well.
“If you can skate, you can play anywhere,” he said.
While Pastrnak’s raw skill is apparent, he’s only begun his physical development.
“You’re playing against men -- violent, angry men a lot of nights,” Cassidy said of life in the NHL.
However, the Bruins are depleted in a category Pastrnak can satisfy: right-hand-shot forwards. And that, in addition to his eye-popping skill that had him ranked fourth among European skaters in the NHL Central Scouting’s midterm report last year, could bolster his odds to stay.
“That’s an area of need,” Cassidy said of the Bruins' depth on the wing, “so he has that going for him as well.”
Pastrnak wasn’t looking past this week’s camp.
“It’s hard to say, you never know,” he said of his chances for making the big club out of the chute.
“I just want to show them they made the right decision.