BOSTON -- The circle is complete for 33-year-old Mike Mottau, who wondered if hed ever get the chance to suit up for the Black and Gold team he cheered on as a hockey-crazed kid in Avon, Mass.
The veteran NHL defenseman grew up idolizing Ray Bourque and loved the way Cam Neely played, and still hasnt quite come down from the realization hell be skating for the Bruins at TD Garden in a big Tuesday night tilt against the Ottawa Senators. Mottau nearly signed with the Bruins two years ago coming off a highly successful stint with the New Jersey Devils, but the timing wasnt right then for the team then.
The timing is right now for both team and player, and its a pretty sweet experience for a kid that lived the dream and won a Hobey Baker while at Boston College.
"Its a dream come true," Mottau said. "Ive been a Bruins fan throughout my entire NHL career. To put on the sweater this morning was really special even though it was only a morning skate. My wife didnt believe me when I first told here I was coming to the Bruins. The excitement level is through the roof for my parents, my sister and brother and my in-laws.
Ill play wherever they need. I just want to get on the ice and provide some depth for the stretch run here.
Its excitement for me and controlling my emotions. Its the same game for me once you get out there, which is a comforting feeling. But the events leading up to the game and seeing familiar faces in the stands will be pretty exciting.
Mottau will also see some familiar faces in the locker room. He has been friends with Shawn Thornton for a long time and was Joe Corvos roommate during World Championships for Team USA.
Mottau will be playing in only his second game since coming back from a serious concussion, and doesnt know how long hell be in the lineup with Johnny Boychuk recovering (mild concussion) and Greg Zanon expected to practice with the Bruins on Wednesday. But hell enjoy his debut and bring his responsible two-way play as a defenseman to the table while giving Claude Julien options once the Bruins have eight healthy defensemen.
Whether its by Zanon or Mottau, Corvo is expected to have his starting spot challenged after underwhelming all season with the Bruins. He is second among defensemen in scoring, but hes held little influence on the power play or five-on-five offensively with his heavy shot and passing instincts. His woes in the defensive end have kept him to under 20 minutes of ice time on most nights.
Claude Julien said both Mottau and Rolston will suit up for the Black and Gold against the Senators, and his newest defenseman plans on making a good first impression.
Its a physical lineup," Mottau said. "Coach Julien has done a good job implementing a system where everybody knows their role, and everybody plays that role to the best of their abilities. That shows theres an accountability factor in the lineup and that speaks volumes to the amount of success that theyve had over the last few years. Im just happy to be here and be able to contribute.
Mottau wont be a top-pairing defenseman and isnt going to be a game-changer for the Bs headed into the playoffs. But hell play an important role with the Bruins as they're very unlikely to get through the postseason without major injuries as they did last year.
Theres something very right about local kids like Mottau and Josh Hennessy becoming the first Mass. products to play for the Bs since Bobby Allen did in the early days of Peter Chiarellis career with the Bruins.