- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- The Boston Bruins should be in the midst of their preseason exhibition schedule, but due to the lockout, the preseason has been canceled and the 2012-13 regular season may be in jeopardy.
While the NHL and the NHLPA are meeting again this weekend, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, along with coach Claude Julien and his entire coaching staff, attended the first day of training camp for the organization's AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, on Friday afternoon at the Rhode Island Sports Center.
Chiarelli cannot comment directly about the lockout because he would be fined by the league, but he admitted that he really misses the game.
"You should ask my wife that," Chiarelli said with a laugh. "She's ready to kick me out of the house. I miss it. It's a real exciting time to see everybody competing for jobs, to see the fruits of their labor throughout the summer and what has transpired with each player. Yeah, I miss it and I hope to see it soon."
Some Bruins players are all ready playing overseas until the lockout ends and the NHL resumes. Goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenseman Andrew Ference are playing in the Czech Republic, while blueliner Dennis Seidenberg is playing in his native Germany. Forwards Rich Peverley (Finland) and Tyler Seguin (Switzerland) are also playing in Europe.
"We're prohibited from talking to locked-out players," Chiarelli said. "For the most part, our players are very responsible and we've got a pretty fit team, so I don't anticipate any issues there."
As far as Chiarelli is concerned, it's almost a double-edged sword that Bruins players are elsewhere at this point because of the lockout.
"There are two sides to that argument," Chiarelli said. "One, they may get hurt (knock on wood they won't), and two, they'll be ready when we start, so to each his own. I hate to generalize in this, but that's all I can do."
In the meantime, Chiarelli can keep a close eye on all the prospects that will play for the P-Bruins this season. He said his duties will change "quite significantly" because of the lockout, but he plans to make more scouting trips and will spend more time in Providence.
"It's exciting just to watch hockey," Chiarelli said. "Twenty years of my life, every training camp and you miss it. It's good to see the guys out skating. Obviously, it's a little different in a different environment, a little different setting, but the guys are energetic."
If and when the lockout is settled, training camp won't be as long as it normally is, so Chiarelli will use this time in Providence to gain a better sense of the organization's prospects and their development.
"If/when [training camp] will be shorter and there will be less players because if it's into Providence's year you don't want to -- in fairness to them -- pull out half their team, so that's why we have the coaches here to oversee it, to look at these guys and get a good flavor from these guys."
For players like Jordan Caron, this season could have been a good opportunity to make the Bruins out of camp as a full-time player. The 21-year-old forward will have to hone his skills in the AHL, but he knows there will still be plenty of eyes on him.
"I just want to be a part of the team here and help the team win," Caron said. "I think we have a good group of young guys here this year. There's no NHL so [Chiarelli] will be here a lot more, but it's just like a normal season where you have to play hard every night. And when the NHL starts again, you've got to be ready for that."
Chiarelli watched both on-ice sessions Friday afternoon and met with all the players attending P-Bruins camp. His message was simple and to the point.
"Just that they focus on the task at hand, that they don't think about the NHL," the GM said. "This is a good league, it's a really good league and we want to put a good team out there. Oftentimes those bubble players, they may think that they are, but they're not fully engaged down at the American League and that hinders their development.
"I remember the last work stoppage, it was a tremendous league and there were a lot of players that were surprised at the level. So the silver lining will be it's a good development time for them."
Here are the players attending camp:
Forwards: Chris Bourque, Carter Camper, Jordan Caron, Justin Courtnall, Craig Cunningham, Justin Florek, Christian Hanson, Alden Hirschfeld, Jared Knight, Lane MacDermid, Kyle MacKinnon, Matthew Pistilli, Tyler Randell, Bobby Robins, Max Sauve, Ryan Spooner, Jamie Tardif, Trent Whitfield and Kelsey Wilson.
Goaltenders: Michael Hutchinson, Adam Morrison and Niklas Svedberg.
"We've got some skill, some good young skill at forward and defense," Chiarelli said. "You want that skill to come out in a good, proper working environment. At least they're playing and we're able to watch it, so I'm happy about that."