It clearly wasnt the happy ending Massachusetts native Mike Mottau was looking for during his run with the Boston Bruins, but he still appreciated a taste of the hometown team experience.
For a kid with Black and Gold dreams growing up on the South Shore, donning the Bruins sweater for the last few playoff games this season was one of his career highlights.
Mottau still appreciated the experience after starring for Boston College and embarking on a journeymen NHL career through stops in New York, New Jersey, Calgary and Long Island among other places.
So a chance to play in front of family and friends was something to be cherished despite the bittersweet ending.
For me it was a great experience. It was a childhood dream fulfilled. The disappointed feeling is going to stay with me for awhile. You always want to have a positive impact. You want to be out there for the winning goal rather than the final goal against, said Mottau. But Ill always take these couple of months that Ive been here whether I come back or not and Ill always have that. It was pretty special. I always took a couple of extra seconds before I put the game jersey on. Ill always remember that.
The guys in the room were fantastic and just to be out there on the ice I cant speak enough about it.
Mottau always played the good solider and supportive teammate after arriving in February as a healthy scratch when every ounce of him wanted to be out on the ice. More importantly he was solid when called upon to perform with no signs of rust.
Sure, Mottau was on the ice for the game-winning Joel Ward overtime goal in Game 7. But that was much more about a feeble dump attempt by Benoit Pouliot at the offensive end than it was about the Bs defensemen pairing caught scrambling in an unwieldy line change.
At nearly every turn Mottau was solid, dependable and able to execute Claude Juliens system as a sixthseventh defensemen whenever called upon, and showed the kind of quick decision-making and hockey IQ to excel in the Bs system. Those kinds of veteran players are worth their weight in gold to a coach like Julien looking for stability, accountability and reliability in his reserve players.
Mottau knows he can still play in the NHL and will find work somewhere next season regardless of the NHL location. But Boston has the first spot in the priority rankings.
Id welcome it a lot more after being able to get into the lineup and know that I could have some success here. Its a good group of guys that work with each other. I know I could have success here because it plays to some of my strengths: hockey intellect and decision-making, said Mottau. I know I could be inserted into the lineup and play, and add value. I would totally welcome that.
Its really ultimately up to them to see where I fit within the organization. Well have a conversation and see where it takes us.
The 34-year-old Quincy native hopes its with the Bruins as a depth defensemen that can step up when needed, but also remain sharp if the Bs are going with six strong defensemen ahead of him. Inevitably defensemen go down with injuries during the year, and the Bruins need more than 20-somethings among their organizational depth when it does happen.
Its a spot the Bruins have searched long and hard for over the last couple of seasons. Shane Hnidy wasnt capable of playing big minutes while serving in that role two years ago, and young defensemen like Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski, Andrew Bodnarchuk or Torey Krug arent going to be dependable in a reserve role.
Thats the exact kind of place Mottau could fit in with the Bruins at a very affordable price for the next season or two.
The former Eagles blueliner knows it would be difficult to move elsewhere after playing for the Bruins, and hes hoping it doesnt come to that.
As far as being a free agent, its par for the course. Hopefully you opened some eyes around the league if the Bruins arent interested, said Mottau. As a player you always want to play, but I know I could be ready when called upon to play well. Playing for the Bruins in a reserve capacity would definitely be a welcome option for me.
Just two seasons ago Mottau was playing 22 minutes a night for the New Jersey Devils and logged 79 games played for Lou Lamoriellos crew, so theres plenty of flexibility and upside if the prodigal son returns for a full season run.
A Mottau return is up to the Bruins brain-trust, but its an option that makes a whole lot of sense for a local kid beaming with pride at wearing the Black and Gold.