Mar 13, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson (21) is defended by Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle (3) with goalie Mike Smith (41) in the net during the first period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Keith Yandle Crashes Boston Bruins Practice

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Yesterday, CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty did as he does best.

The Boston Bruins Twitterverse, as I am wont to say, exploded. For a team that has had one of the most stressful off-seasons, Boston fans were hungry for some good news. Hearing that 29-year-old Selke winner and Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron was hosting a pre-season practice did that in spades- with so little good news coming out of the B’s front office this summer, it was nice to see stories that hinted at a good season.

The practice didn’t just include Bruins teammates, though. In addition to a couple of the team’s prospects and former Bruin Shawn Thornton, a few party crashers made appearances to run the drills:

That’s right; Arizona’s very own Keith Yandle skated out with the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions and last year’s President’s Trophy winners. Makes sense, since the blue liner is a Boston native.

As an Arizona fan, this news seems like it’s better for Boston than it is for them. After all, it’s nice and all that Keith Yandle is getting his practice drills in while at home in Massachussetts- but is this really any different from the Halifax Hockey crew getting together to play rugby in the offseason?

This may seem like the case, but look at it from a more season-oriented perspective, and it’s a whole lot better for Arizona that you’d expect.

Think about what we all know of Keith Yandle. He’s got a great offensive drive, and a positive locker room presence. He’s also got terrible puck possession, and can be inconsistent on his own end of the ice. He’s an enthusiastic player, but at 27, the 6 foot 1 blue liner is getting too old to be characterized by his on-ice immaturity. He ended the last season with 8 goals and a mind-blowing 45 assists… but a -23 rating.

Looking at these numbers, Yandle is an enigma. He’s a 50-plus point guy for his team, which is beyond valuable… particularly in such a talent-saturated Western Conference. He’s also the team’s alternate captain, though, and needs to step up accordingly. Fans shouldn’t go to a game at Gila River Arena unsure of whether Yandle is going to score the game-clinching goal, or give up the puck in a series of hot mess disasters in his own zone.

“He’s got a great offensive drive, and a positive locker room presence. He’s also got terrible puck possession, and can be inconsistent on his own end of the ice.”

This is where skating with the Bruins comes in.

The practice was a wealth of talent on the blue line alone- in addition to Yandle, there were a number of notable defensive appearances. Two of Boston’s biggest powerhouses, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid, showed up, as well as hot topic prospect Dave Warsofsky and former Bruins blue-liner Hal Gill. McQuaid and Seidenberg may be coming off of injuries, but both were absolute monsters during the team’s successful cup run in 2011- and Hal Gill? Won a cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. Having this kind of experience- particularly playoff experience- surrounding Yandle in a practice gives him the opportunity to pick up on what they do to meet with this kind of success.

The practice wasn’t just beneficial for the Boston native on the ice, though. Keith Yandle was named the team’s alternate captain in 2010- and while his play may be controversial, he could very easily become the face of the organization as current captain Shane Doan continues to age.

“The practice wasn’t just beneficial for the Boston native on the ice, though. Keith Yandle was named the team’s alternate captain in 2010- and while his play may be controversial, he could very easily become the face of the organization as current captain Shane Doan continues to age.”

When the Boston Bruins traded then-captain Joe Thornton (who maybe has the worst captaincy record in the league, as non-P.C. as it may be to say) to the San Jose Sharks back in 2005, it was considered a given that the franchise was choosing to refocus the team’s dynamic around the 20-year-old centerman. Nine years later, Bergeron has certainly learned how to take responsibility for his team- while I don’t think that Keith Yandle is necessarily bad at leading his team, hanging with Bergeron certainly can’t hurt him. On a team that Reddit fans joking voted the most hated in the NHL, Bergeron has done a bang-up job setting a positive example for his teammates- and fans- alike.

Yandle could also use some advice in one more aspect- being the vet on his line. Should Connor Murphy become Yandle’s new partner in 2014-2015, he’ll have the opportunity to step up and serve as an experienced voice for the 21-year-old.

Let’s hope that Yandle learned a thing or two up on the East Coast- if he can pull off a consistent season, the team could be looking at that elusive Wild Card spot as less of a possibility and more of a reality.

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Tags: Adam Mcquaid Dennis Seidenberg Keith Yandle Patrice Bergeron

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