'Grizzy' living a dream when selected by hometown B's

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'Grizzy' living a dream when selected by hometown B's

PITTSBURGH Matthew Grzelcyk has obviously always had the dream of suiting up for the Bruins since he was a two-year-old hockey pup skating on the old Boston Garden ice with his dad.

Grzelcyk grew up in Charlestown in the shadows of the Garden before it was knocked down, and then the new TD Garden after it. Even better his dad, John, has worked in the bull gang crew changing the ice over to hardwood at the Garden for over 35 years.

So Grzelcyk comes from a good, old-fashioned Boston hockey family and has been a diehard Bruins fan for as far back as he can remember. Getting selected by the hometown Bruins in the third round (85th overall) as an undersized 5-foot-9, 171-pound defenseman is about as good as it gets.

I really cant put any of it into words. Its pretty over the top, said Grzelcyk. I met with the Bruins, but I didnt come in with high expectations. Its kind of a shock, but I couldnt be happier.

I wasnt ranked that high and Im kind of a smaller guy. So this was unexpected, but being a hometown kid this is exactly what you dream about. Its all come true. Ive always had this dream to play for the Bruins someday, and hopefully that comes true too.

Grzelcyk played in the prestigious US Team Development Program over the last two seasons, so he was away from Boston much of the time. But the 18-year-old will be heading back to Boston in the fall when he begins his college career at Boston University, and begins the latest in a long line of Bruins properties that develop their game as Terriers.

The easiest comparables in terms of size for Grzelcyk with the Bruins would be Matt Hunwick or David Warsofsky, but Bostons scouting staff believes that he holds a higher offensive ceiling. His skating is well above-average, his first pass out of the zone is unfailingly accurate and his considerable offensive abilities will be his meal ticket to the NHL if he can make it that far.

The game is built on speed and its something that I pride myself on. I move the puck up to the forwards and let them do the work. I play my best when Im aggressive and jumping up into the play on offense, said Grzelcyk. Theyve built that team on toughness, so maybe they need somebody that can break the puck out and get the puck to the forwards.
Grzelcyk meanwhile said hes always loved Bryan Rafalskis game when it comes to NHL players, but has idolized Nicklas Lidstrom from afar while growing a fan of the Black and Gold.

His favorite Bruins player? Patrice Bergeron.

So if Grzelcyk can harness the natural grit in growing up a Charlestown Townie and combine that with Bergerons leadership skills and high motor, Rafalskis ability to efficiently move the puck and Lidstroms longevity the Bruins could have themselves something pretty special.

I watched a lot of Bryan Rafalski growing up because I was a smaller guy, but my idol was always Nik Lidstrom. Its pretty easy guy to model yourself both on the ice and off the ice.
It will also be a victory for local hockey programs as Grizzy was a product of the Middlesex Islanders minor hockey program coached and organized by former Merrimack Hockey product and BluesBruins forward Jim Vesey. Veseys Islanders produced three players that were selected in the 2012 Draft in Grzelcyk, his own son, Jimmy by the Nashville Predators, and Malden Catholic forward Brendan Collier.

The fact that all three are well-steeped in the great Charlestown tradition of blue collar hockey just makes it all the better.

Ive known all these kids since I was young, so I was so happy to be able to experience this with them. Its kind of a surreal feeling to be here with them, said Grzelcyk. Im just happy that I was able to share it with them.

Id never been to a draft before. This was a cool experience seeing the passionate reaction from the fans. I wasnt sure if I was going to come because I didnt know where Id go. But I had a couple of teammates that were going high in the draft so I wanted to support them too.

As it turns Grizzy went much higher than even he expected after ranking 117th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting list, but he had a couple of things working for him. The Bruins have never shied away from undersized defensemen that play with heart and courage, and the Black and Gold are still searching for that elusive puck-moving defenseman.

Grzelcyk will get that shot someday with the Bruins, and thats all a good, hockey-loving kid that grew up around the Bunker Hill monument could ask for.

Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

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Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while gearing up for Big Papi weekend.

 
*A “behind-the-scenes” look as Jimmy Vesey was sold on the New York Rangers, but there’s not too much detail about the pitches from the other teams. Feels pretty apparent at this point that Vesey wanted to live, and work, in New York City.

*Damien Cox says that the World Cup of Hockey better get it right the next time, or else…or else what, Damien? You’re going to block them on Twitter?

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban making their preseason debuts on Saturday. David Backes and David Pastrnak will play their first preseason games for the Bruins as well.  

*It’s a complicated, strange story with Vladimir Sobotka, the KHL and the contract he seemingly can’t get out of to again play for the St. Louis Blues.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is ready to get back to work with the Arizona Coyotes after his World Cup experience.

*San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier is out for the next month with mono, which is definitely worse timing than Zach Senyshyn getting hit with the mononucleosis bomb over the summer.

*A quick look at the Philadelphia Flyers in advance of their preseason meeting with the Black and Gold tonight, which won’t be televised.

*For something completely different: there will be some pretty funky stuff happening on The Walking Dead this season.

 

 
 

Claude Julien on David Ortiz: 'Finishing in style, you don't see that very often'

Claude Julien on David Ortiz: 'Finishing in style, you don't see that very often'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It hasn’t been difficult to spot Claude Julien randomly at Fenway Park on a nice summer night in Boston over the past ten years. The Bruins coach doesn’t hide his affection for the Old Towne Team. 

So, Julien didn’t waste much time before sharing his thoughts on the final season for David Ortiz and the celebration of his Hall of Fame-worthy career that’s going on at the Fens this weekend.

It might have been a chore when the rest of the Team Canada coaching staff was watching the Toronto Blue Jackets during the World Cup of Hockey, but Julien never strayed too far away from his Red Stockings.

“He’s finishing in style, and you don’t see that very often,” said Claude Julien of Big Papi, who was sitting with numbers of .316 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI that border on the ridiculous at 40 years old. 

“A lot of times when people retire the game has caught up to them big time. Not him. He doesn’t seem to have missed a beat here. I’m pretty impressed with how he’s handled this year, and what he’s done. If I’m correct he just hit the home run last night for the game-winner.

“But as you know I was in Blue Jays land for about two weeks, so I had to keep a low profile. They were watching the Blue Jays and I’m Canadian too...but I was watching the Red Sox. So, it was healthy competition for our [World Cup] coaching staff.”

The most intriguing part about all is that the best is still yet to come for Ortiz in his farewell tour as he gets one more chance to clutch up in the postseason. It'll give Julien more to marvel at over the next few weeks while showing again why Big Papi will go down as the greatest clutch hitter in the history of Major League Baseball.