- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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Bruins prospects Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, both drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Level draft, arrived back in Boston as the summer winded down ready to attend the Bruins' 2012-13 rookie and training camps. With their junior hockey careers completed and some solid showings at the Bruins’ summer development camps, they were ready to embark on their pro career in the AHL with Providence and, if they had impressive training camps, quite possibly in the NHL with Boston.
But due to the current NHL lockout, Knight, Spooner and other prospects never got the chance to break camp with the big club. Instead, they were sent straight to Providence to develop their pro game under the tutelage of head coach Bruce Cassidy and his staff. And while NHL regular-season games are being wiped from the calendar, Knight and Spooner will continue to pursue their dream while playing for the P-Bruins as they open their 2012-13 season against Manchester in Providence on Friday.
Instead of letting the lockout delay their growth as pro players, the two prized prospects are taking this time in Providence to improve their game and learn the difference between pro and junior hockey.
“This is still a good opportunity for me and the other young guys to gain experience and play with veterans,” said Knight recently. “I played four years in the OHL so coming here there’s bigger and stronger guys. It’s good to get the feet wet and I’m ready when the time comes in Boston.”
With Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien -- as well as other team brass and coaches -- in attendance at most practices and games now, Knight, Spooner and other prospects are getting the chance to impress them firsthand. And they're paying closer attention to detail.
“It's definitely more motivation to know those guys are watching you,” said Spooner, who had 259 points in four seasons of junior hockey in the OHL with Peterborough, Kingston and Sarnia. “You have to make sure even more that you go out there and play your best. I think the most important thing -- and it always should be -- but with them there, you make sure you go out there and make sure every shift is your best.”
Knight, who had 209 points in four seasons with London (OHL), concurred. He said that with so many Boston management and coaches regularly on hand, a player in his situation doesn’t want to be the one to make that lazy pass at center ice that goes back the other way for a goal.
“We know they’re up there and it’s definitely in the back of your mind,” Knight said. “You don’t want to screw up or give up that goal by putting that puck in the middle of the ice. I try not to focus on it. We know they’re there but we’re professionals and we know just to block that out and play our game.”
Another thing Knight and Spooner are trying to block out is the bad news coming from the CBA negotiations. They simply tell themselves their chance at the NHL will come someday soon and focus on the task at hand.
“I don’t really pay attention because if you do that you get sidetracked a little bit,” Spooner said. “Things will hopefully get resolved, but for now I just need to focus on what’s going on here.”