Seguin and Eriksson: A tale of two hockey players

Seguin and Eriksson: A tale of two hockey players
July 9, 2013, 12:15 am
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BOSTON – The contrast between the incoming player and the outgoing skater couldn’t have been more striking.

While 21-year-old Tyler Seguin is alternating public moments of embarrassment between alleged “trade parties” on Cape Cod over the weekend and needing mommy to fight his public battles for him, it’s pretty clear his replacement in the B’s lineup isn’t going to need any of those things.

Loui Eriksson met with Boston reporters via conference call on Monday morning, and displayed exactly the kind of quietly modest demeanor and simple grace that seems to come naturally for Swedish hockey players. He was understandably surprised at being traded from the Dallas Stars employer that originally drafted and developed him, but it didn’t take him long to warm to the idea of the Black and Gold.

“I’ve watched some games in the playoffs. I watched many games when they played because I know they’re a good team. I know they play a tough kind of style, a good defensive kind of style,” said Eriksson. “I think that will fit me real well. I like to play that way.

“I’m just happy to be coming to a team like Boston. I know it’s a really good team to play in so- yeah, they have really good players on that team and I’m really looking forward to come here and see them in the preseason and start to play in the season.”

It doesn’t appear Eriksson even has an individual twitter account, and it certainly doesn’t seem likely he’d be the player type that’s been “hacked” three times in less than a month.

Instead, Eriksson simply mentioned he was willing to play right wing if that’s what the Bruins wanted and also seemed to grasp that notion of just how lucky he’d be if he shared a forward line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Those kinds of players speak for themselves, and would clearly drag Marchand out of the offensive doldrums he suffered toward the end of last season.

“I know they have really good players especially [Patrice] Bergeron and they have [David] Krejci among the centermen. They have a lot of good players to play with so I don’t think it would be any problem to play with those guys,” said Eriksson. “They are going to make me better . . . I’m going to try and make them better too. It will be real nice to come and play with them.

“[Bergeron] is a really good player in the league and he’s been really good for many years here. I think it will be a good fit for me to play with him. I know he’s a smart player, and he can play a really good defensive game, all style. He can also score goals and do a lot of things out there so I think that will be a really good fit for me. I’m just going to try to make him better too when I play with him.”

Given Eriksson’s skating speed, his ability to finish off offensive plays and his close attention to defensive detail when the timing is correct, skating with anybody except for Bergeron doesn’t make sense. But you won’t hear a peep out of him about it either way as he simply goes about his business next year, and gives the Bruins a player that all can be depended on for in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Instead of broken Toronto curfews and paid team security standing guard outside the 21-year-old’s hotel doors, Eriksson projects to be a straight professional that Boston’s management will never have to worry about. He also arrives with a cap hit that’s $1.5 million lower than Seguin’s for the next three years along with Lady Byng Trophy nominations -- a nod to the gentlemanly way that Eriksson has played the game over the last four years.

Make no mistake that the Seguin-for-Eriksson and prospects deal has done wonders for the Bruins bottom line in terms of the NHL salary cap. Eriksson should be able to provide the production lost by Seguin’s departure, and the three affordable prospects will go a long way toward keeping the Bruins snug under the cap.

Keeping the family together is something Seguin and some of the veteran Bruins players were probably hoping for headed into this offseason, but all that was before a dreadful playoff performance that left Seguin with one goal and a drop to Boston’s third line.

It certainly doesn’t appear Eriksson is headed down that same kind of turbulent road full of growing pains and feeding a young man’s ID. Instead, the skilled Swede is proving to be the picture of consistency over the last four full regular seasons: an average of 29.5 goals and 69.5 points per season.

Don’t let the Lady Byng finalist nods for the newest Bruins forward fool you either: Eriksson isn’t afraid to engage in one-on-one battles all over the ice, and might just jump in even if he might not have the chance to win.

“That’s how I’ve been playing through my years in Dallas,” said Eriksson. “I’m not trying to take penalties that much and I haven’t. I know the Bruins like to play physical, and they play really good that way. I’m going to try to do that too. I’m going to try and do everything I can to help the team.”

Doing everything to help the team can mean many things: playing responsibly and covering for your teammates in the defensive zone when those moments make it necessary, being strong on the puck when it matters most in all three zones, or taking a hit to make a play without sidestepping or ducking out of oncoming attackers.

These are all on-ice areas that Seguin struggled mightily with during his three good years with the Bruins organization, and appeared to regress during this past spring’s playoffs. But those are also now the challenges, headaches and responsibility of the Dallas Stars.

Good luck to Jim Nill and Co. trying to wrangle in their talented, immature 21-year-old puck prodigy while the mild-mannered Eriksson gets ready to enjoy an excellent first season in Boston.

The boy band hysteria that followed Seguin around from the very first time he stepped onto the ice at B’s development camp is now officially on life support, and it will be completely dead after Eriksson lights the lamp a few times for Boston.