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Friday, July 9, 2010
Cross, Warsofsky put rivalry aside

By James Murphy

Just as many young prospects have to put their rivalries aside and play together with their respective national programs, the same can be said for the Bruins prospects who have participated at the Bruins development camp this week. Many of the players at camp face each other regularly in their junior or college leagues, but when they’re here in Boston playing for the team that drafted them, with possible future teammates, they must maintain that competitive spirit but also put their bitter rivalries aside.

“I think they put it aside,” Bruins assistant general manager and camp director Don Sweeney said. “Now they’re all on the same team so I think they kind of walk on those eggshells and that will change when they go back and play each other again.”

But Sweeney believes the rivalries can also serve as a motivator and incentive to beat out their regular opponents during the season for a spot with the Bruins.

“I believe there will be a little extra incentive because the bottom line is that while you’re on the same team here, you still want to compete against each other for quite possibly the same job,” he pointed out. “So there’s a fine line in that dynamic and there’s a balance. But I would expect there’s incentive to be better than the guy lining up against you because there should be in this sport.”

A perfect example of that this past week was seen with Boston University junior defenseman David Warsofsky (acquired recently from St. Louis in a trade for Vladimir Sobotka) and Boston College junior blue-liner Tommy Cross, a 2007 second-round draft pick of the Bruins. The rivalry between the Terriers and Eagles is one of the oldest and fiercest in any sport. In fact, Warsofsky and Cross demonstrated this when they got into a physical clash that almost led to fisticuffs during the “Battle Of Comm. Ave.” at Fenway Park this past January.

But now that they’re both playing with a spoked B on their chest, the normal hatred must be quelled and the two rear guards are finding a new respect for each other.

“It’s different, first of all,” said Cross of playing with Warsofsky. “But I think you come to realize that he’s obviously a good guy and that’s usually the case. You have mutual respect for each other and even on opposite sides you have that respect for each other. You do go at each other pretty hard and there’s some dislike there, but it’s a different setting here. Like I said, he’s a good guy and that respect is still there.”

Cross had to go through the same transition with former Terriers forward Jason Lawrence, who was a camp invite last summer. But just as he did then, he is learning to play with Warsofsky.

“Last year Jason Lawrence was here and he actually sat next to me so it’s a little better that he’s [Warsofsky] on the other side,” Cross joked. “No, I’m just kidding! It’s all good and we respect each other a lot. We’re on the same side right now and we’ll do whatever we can to help each other out. But come October it’s a little different story.”

And what if they ever became teammates in Boston?

“If it’s up here, I would love it,” Cross said with a big smile. “I’d absolutely love it.”

Spooner Looking To Follow In Footsteps Of Another Kanata, Ontario Native

Ryan Spooner, who was selected in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (45th overall) last month, is known to be quite the creative playmaker by many NHL scouts. The Kanata, Ontario, native, who scored 112 points for the Peterborough Petes (OHL) over the last two seasons, has not shied away from his game this week.

Spooner tried to make something out of nothing and utilize his vision and creativity during scrimmages Thursday and Friday. When asked if he was afraid some of the Bruins brass or fellow prospects may take that as showboating, Spooner didn’t seemed worried.

“You just want to be yourself, and no matter where you go, you have to play to your strengths,” Spooner said. “You come to a camp like this, everyone is a lot better than you’re used to whether because of skill or experience. So it’s more challenging and you have to go out there and try different things. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but you want to play your game.”

Not surprisingly, the 5-foot-10 175-pound crafty center likes to emulate his game after the Bruins star pivot Marc Savard, who is the same height but doesn’t let his size impede him and also shares another important similarity.

“Savard is a great player and if I was to try and play like someone, it would be him because he’s a smaller guy yet he’s great with the puck,” Spooner said. “He was also born in the same town I was so I have to like him!”

James Murphy has covered the Bruins and the NHL for the last eight seasons. He has written for NHL.com, NESN.com, Insidehockey.com and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also authors a blog, Drop Puck Murphy.