BOSTON — Mixed with the excitement and anticipation, the nervousness and uncertainty, an unexpected emotion permeated the Bruins’ dressing room on Tuesday morning.
Whether they were about to catch the team’s plane bound for the start of training camp in Shenzhen, China, or among the group staying behind to begin preparing for the 2108-19 season, the Bruins — especially those who have served for any length of time — were sobered by the news that veteran defenseman Adam McQuaid had been traded to the Rangers.
“It’s a tough day — very disappointing news,” said winger Brad Marchand, now one of only five Bruins remaining from the 2010-11 Stanley Cup team. “When you look around the room, you want guys like him … He’ll do anything for the team, for each and every player.”
McQuaid, 32 next month, faced the likely prospect of making more contributions off the ice in the coming season. Last season’s development of rookies Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk into full-time players, combined with the July 1 addition of free agent defenseman John Moore, gave the B’s eight NHL defenseman. Ultimately, they decided that was too much of a good thing.
“We had gone back and forth for a while, debating whether or not we were going to stay as-is (eight defensemen), and feel very confident about our group,” general manager Don Sweeney said, “or to allow some of the younger guys to continue to push through and feel OK about our depth, minus the obvious — if we have injuries.
“Some teams reached out to me (about acquiring McQuaid) right around that July 1 time frame, so I sort of had things I’d explored. This just presented itself late (Monday) night, and we made the decision (Tuesday morning).”
The B’s received Steven Kampfer, a journeyman defenseman who played for them previously (48 games over 2010-11 and ’11-12), appeared in only 33 NHL games over the past two seasons, and is not expected to compete for a position on the team. The Rangers also sent a fourth-round draft pick in 2019, plus a conditional seventh-rounder.
“Very difficult day for me personally, and the organization as well,” said Sweeney, whose first Hockey Operations position was as Director of Player Development in 2006-07 — the same year McQuaid arrived in the organization via a trade with the Blue Jackets, who had drafted him in Round 2 (No. 55 overall) in 2005. “He willed himself, made himself into a really, really good player, and he won a Stanley Cup (2010-11 was his first full NHL season) as a result.
“It’s a testament to him, and the work he did right from the time he stepped on the ice … A lot went into it, and I was there every step of the way.”
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who joined the organization as an assistant coach at AHL Providence a year after McQuaid arrived, saw most of McQuaid’s development, too.
“It’s been 10 years we’ve been together, since way back in Providence,” the coach said. “Today was a tough morning.”
McQuaid’s departure, however, alleviates a potentially complicated situation on defense as the B’s enter what is bound to be a complicated, two-continent pre-season.
“Going into the year, we had eight defensemen, and (only) six would play,” Cassidy said. “It wasn’t automatic that Adam was going to be one of the two out, but if it worked that way, it would be difficult.”
Now, Cassidy can focus a little more on other roster situations, such as evaluating young centers Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic, while also monitoring developments in the Boston-based camp assistant coach Joe Sacco will run.
“Once we get on the ice, I’m hoping it’s all business,” Cassidy said. “We have our allotted amount of (practice) time, and we’ve got to make sure we take advantage of that — get the proper teaching in, and the proper work.”
Goalie Tuukka Rask, another of the few remaining Cup winners (Marchand, captain Zdeno Chara, and centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are the others), said the work won’t seem the same at first without McQuaid protecting him.
“Your career is not going to be too, too long, and there’s always going to be young guys coming in,” Rask said. “At one point, we’re going to have to move on … but it’s tough to see your teammates go.”
Published at Tue, 11 Sep 2018 18:26:50 +0000