Payne hoping to be perfect fit with Bruins


Payne hoping to be perfect fit with Bruins

PITTSBURGH The numbers werent going to do Cody Payne justice at any level of junior hockey.

The 6-foot-2, 201-pound winger clearly has the ideal size for a power forward in training, but didnt get much of an opportunity to show off his skills playing as a bottom-six forward for the OHLs Plymouth Whalers. The numbers werent breathtaking at all as some scouts watched him struggle to earn more than two or three shifts a game for the Whalers.

But Bruins scouts saw Payne get more of a chance in December when some of his teammates went off to the World Junior tournament.

The 18-year-old skated in a top-six role for Plymouth in a handful of games, and the Bruins saw what they liked: a power forward prospect capable of fighting, protecting the puck and using his size and toughness to create offensive chances. They selected him in the fifth round.

Payne was born in Great Britain, but he came to idolize Bs power forward Nathan Horton while growing up in Florida and watching the Panthers play.

"Theres definitely a player and a certain style that screams out Bruins. Player-wise, Nathan Horton, I grew up watching him here in Florida and he was one of my favorite players and he went to Boston, said Payne. He had that year with eight fights and it was a real good year. Thats something that was pretty inspirational.

"When I think of the Boston Bruins I think of, you know, a hardworking club and grinding hard and fighting and shooting pucks and hitting and a hard forecheck and stuff like that. I mean . . . it sounds like a good fit to me."

Payne started out playing roller hockey in Florida before moving into the junior hockey ranks in Canada as he continued to improve, and the Bruins are banking on that upward trend to improve given his natural athletic gifts.

Hes heard plenty of Tyler Seguin stories given that hes playing for the Bs prospects junior team in Plymouth, and hes also hoping that perhaps he could one day play with the Boston phenom if he puts in enough hard work.

Hes diligently worked to be more effective in a third line role at the OHL level while stuck behind other players, and knows he must improve as a raw prospect known for his hitting, fighting at grittiness at this point in his young career.

Im definitely working on my skating . . . thats one thing. Thats a big thing. Im trying to get faster in order to beat guys wide and stuff like that. Im really working on and developing my hands and my shot and using more of my hands and my shot in games, said Payne. So Im trying to improve game-like situations and using the skill that I do have.

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while refraining from shoving any world leaders today.

*Larry Robinson and the San Jose Sharks are parting after working together for five seasons, per FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz.

*Speaking of Kurz, he also has a Sharks mailbag on which players are most likely to be traded out of San Jose during the offseason. Somebody has got to go, and you’d think it would be somebody without much tread left on the tires.

*Moving on to other topics, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said that losing a Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals to the Nashville Predators was the “toughest” loss of his career. I don’t see how this is possible. You see, Kesler is no slouch at falling short. In fact, he’s a tremendous loser, having dropped a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and also having lost a Gold Medal Game for Team USA at the hands of Sidney Crosby and Canada in 2010 in overtime that was also played in Vancouver. It took a simple Google search to find an actual postgame video of Kesler crying into his hockey glove on the bench in the aftermath of Game 7 vs. the Bruins. So, pardon me if I’m not buying Kesler talking about a conference finals loss as the worst of his career when he was one home win away from being a Stanley Cup champion in Game 7, and proceeded to lose like he’s done many, many times in the most important games of his career. Dude, you’ve been through tougher losses. Trust me on that one.  

*The idea of trading Alex Ovechkin might be gaining some traction with the Capitals fan base, but it doesn’t seem to be based on reality at this point.

*The pride of Melrose, Mass, Conor Sheary, delivered in Game 7 for the Penguins as they return to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons.

*Bobby Ryan said his strategy for success in the playoffs, at least in part, was staying off the phone. Maybe he ought to try that a bit more during the regular season.

*Congrats to the folks at NBC for another successful Red Nose Day that featured a reunion of the “Love Actually” cast among other things.