McQuaid's thoughtfulness pays dividends for B's

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McQuaid's thoughtfulness pays dividends for B's

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
Adam McQuaid was a mess of emotion during Bostons Stanley Cup parade.

On that sunny Saturday in June, with over one million people bearing witness, McQuaid felt overjoyed, blessed and . . . awkward.

At first it was almost uncomfortable, he said. Just being up there in front of so many people. . . . People screaming and stuff.

Candor is one of his most endearing qualities.

The Bruins defenseman just finished his first full season with the Bruins. He had 19 points (3 G, 16 A) in 67 regular season and 23 playoff games. He finished plus-30 before the postseason started to lead all rookies in plus-minus. One month after winning the Stanley Cup, the 24-year old signed a three-year extension with Boston. General Manager Peter Chiarelli called McQuaid the poster child for Bruins development.

It is the stuff of pond hockey dreams. The realization nearly embarrasses him.

It definitely was amazing to see the reaction of the city. Especially . . . you know . . . at the parade and even . . . I would go all season long just walking around town and going to different restaurants and whatnot and no one had a clue who I was, he said.

Then I was only in town for a few days after the parade, but people would be coming up and saying congratulations and whatnot. It was definitely a little different, but . . . I don't know . . . it's nice to see the support that we had.

The words dont come easily. Not because McQuaid isnt well spoken he is. And its not because he hasnt taken the time to think about all thats happened this year he has. He gropes for a reaction because, in some ways, he cant get his arms around the whole thing.

Its even more fantastical than the kid on the pond could imagine.

I still think that I don't realize just how big, you know, it is, he said. Really the course of the year just so much has gone on with, first off, playing a full season, and winning, and a new contract again. There's been so much going on it's been kind of hard to grasp everything.

McQuaid is a small town kid.

Cornwall, Prince Edward Islands last reliable census data comes from 2006 and marks a population of 4,677. This number is something like 126-times smaller than Bostons 2006 total. For excitement, residents travel 11 kilometers to Charlottetown a treasure trove of five outdoor rinks and public skating facilities (two dollars for adults; five for families).

Harsh winters on P.E.I. make the sport a natural, if not a default, focus. School and hockey, said McQuaid. Thats it.

So he dreamed like all the rest of skating in the National Hockey League.

After a year of major midget in Cornwall and two years with the OHLs Sudbury Wolves, the Blue Jackets drafted him in 2005s second round. He went back to Sudbury after the draft and played another two years before Columbus traded him to Boston for a fifth-round pick. The Bruins signed McQuaid to a three-year deal and sent him to Providence.

Still in the AHL, he was on guard in the third year of his deal.

I felt like it was a make or break year, McQuaid said. I hadwatched a few guys go up and down. It's a fairly small window of opportunity and I knew it was going to be a big year for me. I tried, really, not to worry too much about the call-up situation when I was sent down. So I had to work hard that, if there was going to be an opportunity for someone, I would be hopefully at the top of the list.

As it happened, his opportunity was the result of other mens injuries.

Three Bruins D-men Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart and Derek Morris all went down in December 2009. McQuaid came up. He celebrated the what and not the why.

When you're all in the same organization, you're all teammates and friends and stuff, you never want to see someone get hurt. But it happens. I just really wanted to make sure I left it all on the table and no regrets. You can put too much pressure on yourself, too, and I just tried to focus and put my best foot forward.

Kids got a big foot.

The 6-foot-5 blueliner played a physical game in Providence. Knowing NHL ice time is precious he also led with the body in Boston. By throwing down with guys like Raitis Ivanans and Troy Bodie both 6-4 he hoped to at least fulfill a basic need for the Bruins during his first NHL weeks.

Its classic thinking for a defensive defensemen like McQuaid. But the funny thing? Hes not a confrontational guy. Teammate Andrew Ference once remarked on the character discrepancy, calling McQuaid cool and calm as can be.

Its startling to watch him fight.

When he fell during a November tangle with Rod Pelley, he got back up, ripped of Pelleys helmet and finished the bout. A month later he forced veteran Matt Bradley to the ice with purpose. In his ninth fighting major of 2011 (he finished with 12), McQuaid pulled a Cam Neely-esque move on Brian Sutherby, pulling the Dallas center in by the jersey to pop him a couple in the face. Days later referees held McQuaid back from Max Pacioretty the rooks arms were still a flurry and he had fire in his eyes.

Hes a monster.

No. He looks like a monster.

It's something that I've had to, to be honest, kind of work at it, McQuaid said. It's not really something that comes natural. I've just kind of come to the realization that I want to have a career in the NHL, so it's one of those things where I had to learn how I needed to play if I wanted to make it.

What he is, is thoughtful. It seems nothing escapes him without some analysis or reflection. Most experiences lean toward the positive, what doesnt he can at least reconcile.

Was extended time as a healthy scratch frustrating? No, McQuaid said, he benefited from practicing with the Bruins.

At what point did he know hed won teammates confidence and trust? Actually, McQuaid said, security came from having confidence in his teammates to support him.

His maturity is impressive, especially under the bright lights of the big city, Stanley Cup at his side. The first-year service award is there, too. Its just tough to see in the shadow of a three-foot chalice.

I definitely know how fortunate I am this early on to have won. If nothing else, for me right now, it was such a thrill to win.

There he stopped, searching.

Now you know how hard it is. You know how good it feels to do it and it gives you more of a drive to want to do it every year.

Another active pause.

Obviously, that's not realistic -- you're not going to win every year . . . But it keeps you motivated to want to do it again.

How many athletes say when not in defense of failure they cant win every year? They all know its true, as do the fans who cheer them and the writers who cover them, but who wants to hear it? What kind of guy is calmly grounded in reality within the fantasyland professional sports often seems to be at 24?

A small town kid. Those Cornwall roots run deep.

Moments after the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup Adam McQuaid stood on Vancouvers ice with the most important people in his world: mother Dianne, father Mark, brother Chad and sister Michelle. Dianne, in a black and gold sweater set, didnt even reach Adams shoulder. He kept his left arm wrapped around her for the entirety of a CBC interview.

It was important.

I moved away when I was 16 and that was tough for my parents to see me go, he said in retrospect. I was 20 hours away and I could only get up to Cornwall once a month. There was a lot of sacrifice on their part as well, so I wanted to make sure they were as much a part of the celebrations as possible.

All that joy and overwhelm. And with so much still ahead.

The Bruins believe McQuaid will continue to develop as a hockey player. Both sides want him to turn into a top-four defenseman who plays big minutes. The new three-year deal could give him that time to foster shutdown ability.

The emphasis is on growth, not change. In McQuaid, Boston has a bright, thoughtful young talent whos committed to learning all he can.

The awkwardness? Simple sincerity.

I'm going to do everything in my power to make it look like a great move on their part, he said.

In a lot of ways, it already does.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.