June 20, 2013

NHL Notebook: Bruins' Chara making huge impact on defense

The Associated Press

BOSTON - Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has been a workhorse throughout the NHL playoffs.

He averaged 30 minutes, 4 seconds in 19 games before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night. That is more than any other player in the series.

Have the Blackhawks been too preoccupied with the 6-foot-9 Bruins captain?

"I don't know if we're giving him attention, respect or whatever," Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville said. "Certainly he's playing meaningful minutes. He's going to be out there against top guys. It's not like we're keeping guys off the ice (to avoid him)."

Chara played 45:05 in the triple-overtime first game, 30:58 in the single-overtime second game, and 25:47 in Game 3.

For Chicago, defenseman Duncan Keith's average of 27:17 in 19 games led the team entering Wednesday night's game. Against Boston he played 48:40 in Game 1, 32:09 in Game 2, and 26:21 in Game 3.

PREDATORS: Nashville signed defenseman Victor Bartley to a three-year, $2 million contract.

BOSTON'S BRAD Marchand had a scratch in the middle of his forehead -- courtesy of his late-game fisticuffs with Chicago's Andrew Shaw, he said.

"Yeah, I've got a nice scratch on my forehead right there, a little claw mark. Like a kitty cat," Marchand said. "But that stuff happens in scrums."

Marchand and Shaw paired up and drew the first fighting majors of the series with 12 seconds left in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night, a 2-0 Boston victory that gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Chara and Bryan Bickell also squared off and were sent off for roughing.

Marchand said he didn't mind that Shaw got in a few more punches after they fell to the ice.

"That stuff happens," he said. "I've done that before. The eye gouge I didn't like but it's part of the game."

FLYERS: A person familiar with discussions confirms Danny Briere is set to become a free agent after Philadelphia informed the veteran forward it intends to buy out the final two years of his contract.

The Flyers still owe Briere $5 million as part of the eight-year, $52 million contract he signed in free agency on July 1, 2007. He's a 15-year NHL veteran, who had six goals and 10 assists in 34 games last season.

A seven-time 25-goal scorer, Briere's production has tailed off as a result of various injuries, including a concussion.

The move will shave $6.5 million off the Flyers' salary cap.

Philadelphia had one of the NHL's most expensive payrolls last season, and has been forced into a position to shed salary in order to get under next season's cap, which will drop from $70.2 million to $64.3 million.

RED WINGS: The Detroit Red Wings and city officials announced a $650 million plan for a new arena in Detroit's downtown entertainment and sports district.

Plans for the 18,000-seat arena were announced at a meeting of economic development officials to approve the deal. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has long said he wanted a replacement for the 32-year-old Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings say there will be $367 million in private investment and $283 million in public funds in the complex. It also will include residential and retail space.

GM MEETINGS: The league's general managers have embraced many changes recommended by the competition committee, including hybrid icing and the mandatory use of visors for all players entering the league.

A blend of touch and no-touch icing that offers referees the discretion to blow a play dead will be in effect during the 2013-14 preseason. If the experiment is successful, hybrid icing will be implemented for the regular season, pending a vote by the league's board of governors.

The rule is designed to promote safer play, allowing a linesman to blow his whistle if he judges a defending player is likely to reach the puck first.

Also approved was the use of shallower nets and video review on four-minute high-sticking penalties. Both will be introduced next season if approved by the board.

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