Growing up Seguin: No such thing as normal

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Growing up Seguin: No such thing as normal

Tyler Seguin doesnt remember what it feels like to be a normal person his age.

At 19 years old, he won the 2011 Stanley Cup and was named to the NHL All-Star team this season. Now 20, Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals during the regular season and scored the game-winning overtime goal on Sunday to keep his team alive for Game 7 of their first round series against the Washington Capitals.

Growing up as a star athlete, there was little time to do the everyday things, not when he was on the fast track to professional sports.

The drive downtown to the bus stop was just the start of the hour-and-a-half morning commute. After being dropped off by his mother, a 40-minute bus ride followed, usually in traffic. And there were days when the young hockey player fell asleep and missed his next stop, elongating the trip.

Next was a walk through the Yorkdale Shopping Centre to get to the subway, which he took to the St. Clair stop. From there, he walked to St. Michaels College School in Toronto. His family relocated from Whitby to Brampton so he could attend the school.

Obviously every family has to make sacrifices for money. There were a lot more little things, Seguin said. They made that sacrifice to move, it was only an hour-and-a-half, but to move for my hockey . . . There were a lot of little things, sacrifices they had to make, just for me to have a chance to chase my dream.

Seguin grew up with hockey in his blood. His father suited up four years at the University of Vermont and his mother played for a local team, the Brampton Canadettes, which his sisters played for as well.

As Seguins hockey career began to take off, his parents wanted to keep him grounded. They were strict with him and enforced the value of earning everything himself and making the necessary sacrifices to do so.

I think thats what helps me get here, he said. Obviously my moms going to say congrats and say youre the best and my dad will say that, but my dad also and some friends would say stay humble, dont become complacent, keep driving to do your best. I do the best I can to stay humble, but sometimes you get a little sidetracked.

Seguin left Canada as a teenager and moved to the United States to play for the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) junior hockey team. He lived in Michigan for three years, hoping the experience would help him prepare for life in the NHL.

I think youve got to jump into it pretty fast, he said. I figured that moving to another country would help me be able to adjust to if hopefully I made it to the NHL at an early age. And it did, but its still obviously hard with everything that happens outside the rink, having to be as professional as you can, and you have to mature a bit faster. So you do the best you can.

Seguin has had to mature faster than perhaps he even expected. After winning the Stanley Cup during his rookie year, all eyes quickly turned to the teenage star.

Even if I was doing well, my dad would never say youre better than everyone else, he said. My parents stayed on me to be a polite humble person as best as you can. Obviously when we won the Cup and with my age, I was going to act like a 19 year old because I thought I deserved to, but I try to do the best I can.

There was more than just a trophy that went along with winning it all. His post-championship celebrations were chronicled. This season, his absence at a team meeting (it wasnt the first time) became a hot topic surrounding the then-teenager. He was scratched from a game in December for missing the obligation.

Im watched like a hawk, Seguin said. I dont really remember what to just be a normal guy. I think it stopped right when you come here. In juniors, youve got to grow up a bit because youre playing with older guys, older than youve ever played with before. Some guys are four years older than you. So youve got to mature a bit but youre still with guys around your age and you can still act your age. When you come here, I still have guys I can maybe I act my age with, but the only time I could really be a 20 year old, which is what I take advantage of, is in the summer. Im with kids all my age all time.

But even then it is difficult for Seguin to open up completely. His walls have to be up higher now as not everyone has different motivations for being around him. To some, he is still Tyler Seguin, the childhood friend. To others, he is Tyler Seguin, the Stanley Cup champion.

Its kind of funny, Ive lost some friends because of that, he said. I monitor people really hard of who I can trust and who I cant trust, especially my close friends. I have my friends who like me for me, who have been my friends since two years, three years, five years before the draft. And then I have friends who have been my friends for a couple years before I came here. Now with the way text messages are, I just cant be friends how we were anymore because they look at me as someone bigger than what I want to be looked at.

With this transition comes new friends as well. Over the last two seasons, his teammates have become his new social circle.

They become your new group of friends because they are in the same shoes as you are, he said. Thats why a lot of guys become so tight over their careers because theyre going through the same lifestyle changes that I am.

Seguin has found friends around the same age in hockey. He has become closest with Brad Marchand, 23, and rooms with Jordan Caron, 21, this season. Last summer he lived with Boston University hockey player, Adam Clendening, who is 19.

But he has become so accustomed to spending time with older teammates, there are instances when he has trouble relating to people his own age.

It actually gets kind of annoying sometimes because Im use to 30-year-old men all around me, he laughed. Im used to Zdeno Charas little jokes he laughs at that I dont laugh at, and then you go back to guys around your age and just the maturity level, of course. It gets a little weird.

Seguin is among a small handful of professional athletes who have accomplished coveted feats by the age of 20. Yet, in some ways, he is still experiencing the same transition to adulthood that others go through. This season he has mastered the art of cooking eggs.

Last year I lived on my own for the first time in my life, he said. I went through learning to cook and do laundry. Probably during this summer Im either going to live on my own or have a buddy move in with me. I cant go back to living with my family, really. Its just not the privacy Im used to.

Life is far from normal for Seguin. Then again, that means he has accomplished what he set out to achieve years ago.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.