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Baby Bruin bounces back: Ferraro, MVP in Calder Cup shoots for NHL

By John Vellante, Globe Staff, 09/10/99

WILMINGTON - The last time we saw Peter Ferraro, he was sipping bubbly from the Calder Cup after the Providence Bruins won the American Hockey League championship.

Making the celebration even sweeter for Ferraro was the fact that he'd been named Most Valuable Player after racking up nine goals and 21 points in 19 playoff games.

Neither scenario was expected.

The fast-skating wing, signed as a free agent by the Bruins in July 1998, broke camp with the parent club and played in 46 games (6-8-14, 44 penalty minutes). Ferraro missed 13 games with assorted injuries and did not dress for five others, meaning he was around for the first 64 games of the Bruins' 82-game regular season.

That's why he was shocked and disappointed when he was placed on waivers March 5 and, after going unclaimed, assigned to the Baby Bruins March 8.  He thought he had done everything the Bruins had asked of him.

But he took his shock and disappointment down I-95 and turned what he saw as a negative into a positive. In 16 regular-season games with Providence, Ferraro potted 15 goals and assisted on 10 others. He calls the demotion a ''blessing in disguise.''

Now he's back in training camp, hoping once again to show Bruins coach Pat Burns he belongs in the NHL. Ferraro enjoyed his time in Providence, but the NHL is where he wants to be.

''Obviously you want to finish in the National Hockey League, and to have had a chance to play in those playoffs would have been a big thrill,'' said Ferraro after a brisk 90-minute workout yesterday morning at Ristuccia Arena. ''But I took [being sent down] in a positive sense, played well, and won a championship. I played with a great bunch of guys, and it was a very memorable season down there. But I want to play in the NHL, and right now I'm just trying to fit into any situation that I can.  Whatever it takes.''

Even after his star-spangled stint in Providence, Ferraro still wasn't sure he was wanted by the Bruins because he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and selected by Atlanta. All that changed in a heartbeat, though, when the Bruins turned around and traded Randy Robitaille to the Thrashers and reacquired Ferraro.

''That [the Bruins wanted him] would be the assumption for sure,'' said Ferraro. ''I still don't know the extent of the whole situation, why I was traded back, or why I was even left unprotected, but, hey, it's an assumption that they want me. I'm certainly happy because I enjoy being in this organization.

''I feel I can fit in here and possibly contribute to whatever extent they want me to. I have to play well and show that I'm capable of fitting into any line they give me an opportunity to play on. There are a couple of loose holes now, and whatever they ask of me, I'll try to prove capable of the task.''

One thing Ferraro has in his favor is that he is not an unknown quantity.  The question is whether he's what the Bruins are looking for.

''We know Peter Ferraro. He's not trying to leave an impression,'' said Burns. ''We know what he can do. But is he going to be able to beat out somebody we might be looking at? Is he going to be able to beat out a bigger player? Those are some things we'll have to see.''

Forward Cameron Mann had surgery Wednesday at Massachusetts General Hospital to repair his nose, which was broken when he was struck by a stick during Tuesday's practice. He may skate today, but he has been ruled out of tonight's (7 o'clock) Black and White game at Tsongas Arena in Lowell ... Burns will be looking closely at exhibition game performances to help him shape his club. ''That's the big difference
now,'' he said. ''That's where they're going to leave that impression or not. It's time to see if they can keep the pace and do the right things.  I don't have time to experiment at the start of the year with players.  This is not an experimental farm. This is something where I have to go out and win hockey games. I'm going to take the best guys that are going to make me win a hockey game.'' ... The Bruins play their first
exhibition game tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) in Rochester, N.Y., against the Eastern Conference champion Buffalo Sabres, who eliminated the Bruins in the second round of the playoffs last season ... Goalie John Grahame had a full day. He was on the ice for 90 minutes in the morning session and then returned for 75 minutes in the afternoon ... Nothing new to report on holdouts Byron Dafoe, Hal Gill, and P.J. Axelsson.

This story ran on page E06 of the Boston Globe on 09/10/99.
Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

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