If you see Johnny Boychuk around town, please dont buy him a Red Bull.
The Bruins defenseman returned last weekend from Austria after a two-month stint playing for the EC Salzburg Red Bulls, and said that the teams facilities lived up to their team name.
In other words the only thing to drink in the locker room and practice facilities was Red Bull energy drinks. Now thats certainly something most players would love to get fully pumped before a hockey game, sometimes the situation calls for a Gatorade or a bottled water. Nowhere to be found, said Boychuk, but at least the tap water was delicious in Austria.
So it goes without saying that the 28-year-old Boychuk is happy to be back in Boston where his favorite flavor of Gatorade is always fully stocked -- and where hes signed on for the next three years to continue his role as a hard-hitting, big-shooting guardian of the blue line. But he also appreciated the chance to be one of the NHL-high 12 Bruins players that skated over in Europe, and get into the kind of game shape that will help jump right into the fray.
It was kind of like I wanted to go and play somewhere and get into actual game shape, and work hard while I was there, said Boychuk. I heard you have to work really hard, so it was good. We rode the bike a lot and you got in shape really quick there. That was a key part of going there, was getting into competitive hockey, too.
Boychuk said simply in words that will put Bs fans at ease: Im ready.
The hard-working defenseman finished with eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 15 games in Salzburg, and clearly enjoyed more of an offensive role with the Red Bulls. Energy drinks might have been at the heart of some of the greater offensive output, but it was also a matter of a more aggressive offensive philosophy for the Austrian defensemen.
It was a little bit different, he said. The coach wanted us to jump up in the play more and it helped up a lot.
Now I just want to step my game up a little bit more every year and play well defensively and when theres a chance to jump up there offensively I will.
That leaves Boychuk as one of five projected Bruins defensemen that played regularly throughout the lockout, and gives Boston a serious leg up on some of the competition.