Tyler Seguin doesnt remember what it feels like to be a normal person his age.
At 19 years old, he won the 2011 Stanley Cup and was named to the NHL All-Star team this season. Now 20, Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals during the regular season and scored the game-winning overtime goal on Sunday to keep his team alive for Game 7 of their first round series against the Washington Capitals.
Growing up as a star athlete, there was little time to do the everyday things, not when he was on the fast track to professional sports.
The drive downtown to the bus stop was just the start of the hour-and-a-half morning commute. After being dropped off by his mother, a 40-minute bus ride followed, usually in traffic. And there were days when the young hockey player fell asleep and missed his next stop, elongating the trip.
Next was a walk through the Yorkdale Shopping Centre to get to the subway, which he took to the St. Clair stop. From there, he walked to St. Michaels College School in Toronto. His family relocated from Whitby to Brampton so he could attend the school.
Obviously every family has to make sacrifices for money. There were a lot more little things, Seguin said. They made that sacrifice to move, it was only an hour-and-a-half, but to move for my hockey . . . There were a lot of little things, sacrifices they had to make, just for me to have a chance to chase my dream.
Seguin grew up with hockey in his blood. His father suited up four years at the University of Vermont and his mother played for a local team, the Brampton Canadettes, which his sisters played for as well.
As Seguins hockey career began to take off, his parents wanted to keep him grounded. They were strict with him and enforced the value of earning everything himself and making the necessary sacrifices to do so.
I think thats what helps me get here, he said. Obviously my moms going to say congrats and say youre the best and my dad will say that, but my dad also and some friends would say stay humble, dont become complacent, keep driving to do your best. I do the best I can to stay humble, but sometimes you get a little sidetracked.
Seguin left Canada as a teenager and moved to the United States to play for the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) junior hockey team. He lived in Michigan for three years, hoping the experience would help him prepare for life in the NHL.
I think youve got to jump into it pretty fast, he said. I figured that moving to another country would help me be able to adjust to if hopefully I made it to the NHL at an early age. And it did, but its still obviously hard with everything that happens outside the rink, having to be as professional as you can, and you have to mature a bit faster. So you do the best you can.
Seguin has had to mature faster than perhaps he even expected. After winning the Stanley Cup during his rookie year, all eyes quickly turned to the teenage star.
Even if I was doing well, my dad would never say youre better than everyone else, he said. My parents stayed on me to be a polite humble person as best as you can. Obviously when we won the Cup and with my age, I was going to act like a 19 year old because I thought I deserved to, but I try to do the best I can.
There was more than just a trophy that went along with winning it all. His post-championship celebrations were chronicled. This season, his absence at a team meeting (it wasnt the first time) became a hot topic surrounding the then-teenager. He was scratched from a game in December for missing the obligation.
Im watched like a hawk, Seguin said. I dont really remember what to just be a normal guy. I think it stopped right when you come here. In juniors, youve got to grow up a bit because youre playing with older guys, older than youve ever played with before. Some guys are four years older than you. So youve got to mature a bit but youre still with guys around your age and you can still act your age. When you come here, I still have guys I can maybe I act my age with, but the only time I could really be a 20 year old, which is what I take advantage of, is in the summer. Im with kids all my age all time.
But even then it is difficult for Seguin to open up completely. His walls have to be up higher now as not everyone has different motivations for being around him. To some, he is still Tyler Seguin, the childhood friend. To others, he is Tyler Seguin, the Stanley Cup champion.
Its kind of funny, Ive lost some friends because of that, he said. I monitor people really hard of who I can trust and who I cant trust, especially my close friends. I have my friends who like me for me, who have been my friends since two years, three years, five years before the draft. And then I have friends who have been my friends for a couple years before I came here. Now with the way text messages are, I just cant be friends how we were anymore because they look at me as someone bigger than what I want to be looked at.
With this transition comes new friends as well. Over the last two seasons, his teammates have become his new social circle.
They become your new group of friends because they are in the same shoes as you are, he said. Thats why a lot of guys become so tight over their careers because theyre going through the same lifestyle changes that I am.
Seguin has found friends around the same age in hockey. He has become closest with Brad Marchand, 23, and rooms with Jordan Caron, 21, this season. Last summer he lived with Boston University hockey player, Adam Clendening, who is 19.
But he has become so accustomed to spending time with older teammates, there are instances when he has trouble relating to people his own age.
It actually gets kind of annoying sometimes because Im use to 30-year-old men all around me, he laughed. Im used to Zdeno Charas little jokes he laughs at that I dont laugh at, and then you go back to guys around your age and just the maturity level, of course. It gets a little weird.
Seguin is among a small handful of professional athletes who have accomplished coveted feats by the age of 20. Yet, in some ways, he is still experiencing the same transition to adulthood that others go through. This season he has mastered the art of cooking eggs.
Last year I lived on my own for the first time in my life, he said. I went through learning to cook and do laundry. Probably during this summer Im either going to live on my own or have a buddy move in with me. I cant go back to living with my family, really. Its just not the privacy Im used to.
Life is far from normal for Seguin. Then again, that means he has accomplished what he set out to achieve years ago.