BOSTON -- Perhaps to make Tyler Seguin feel a little bit more comfortable, Andrew Ference gave the 20-year-old forward his Ceske Budejovice school-bus-yellow retro sweater to wear during Monday mornings skate at Agganis Arena.
It wasnt a complete replica of Seguins colorful outfit that he donned as Switzerlands leading scorer over the last four months with 25 goals in 29 games for HC Biel. But it was certainly Euro enough to qualify.
He had a different jersey over there in Switzerland for being the leading scorer, so he felt right at home, said Ference. He was just missing the helmet with the flames shooting out of it.
Make no mistake about it, though. Seguin looked like he hasnt missed a beat while weaving through defenders and firing off sizzling wristers with a lightning-fast release. He was joined by Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask and Ference on the ice at Boston University, and was clearly the best player on the ice skating among All-Star performers like Keith Yandle.
If anything, the 20-year-old looks even better than the hockey player last remembered for his overtime game-winner against the Washington Capitals last spring, and looks primed for a dominant stretch over a 48-game shortened regular season. Seguin looks more like a player ready to take on a bigger role, more ice time, more responsibility and a key role on the Boston power play thats been screaming out for more of his skill and creativity over the last two years.
I feel great. I played a lot of games over in Europe, said Seguin. Obviously Ive got to re-adjust to playing on a smaller ice surface again. Even today it felt like the D were coming up a bit quicker. But I feel well-conditioned and ready to go.
Seguin said hes just happy to be back in Boston after a long, strange journey in Switzerland, and he's looking forward to once again donning the Black and Gold.
Words cant describe it. From not seeing the guys to missing the game, its been a long couple of months, said Seguin. I want to apologize to the fans for everything that happened, but hopefully we move forward from here.
There was a couple of times I got text messages telling me to pack my bags, and then I got a call the next day telling me it was a false alarm. That got a little annoying. Obviously we missed some games and hopefully the fans come back. Were looking forward to putting that stuff in the past.
While the third season in the NHL is typically when young stars blossom into superstars and Seguin is already coming off an All-Star campaign where he led the team in goals scored and points, theres another element to it as well. Playing on his own for a few months in Europe adds another stage to his development as a player and a professional athlete, and has him in a position to really hit the ground running once the NHL season opens on Jan. 19.
For a guy like Tyler I think he grew up a lot over there in Europe, said Ference. He learned a lot about life in general and the type of hockey he was playing over there was tremendous. All down the line guys are going to be prepared at game speed ready to go.
Thats on top of the good core group of guys we have coming back anyway. So its really exciting.
Unfortunately a 48-game schedule means that Seguin cant put up a 35-40 goal season with some gaudy offensive numbers to show how much hes improved from last years version. But it should be apparent early and often if the same No. 19 flying around the Agganis Arena ice surface is zipping through defenders when the Bruins open their schedule on Jan. 19.