By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Adam McQuaid was as surprised as anybody when he walked into the TD Garden dressing room prior to Thursday nights preseason game against the Senators, and spotted the 'A' on the shoulder of his sweater.
He spent the evening as the alternate captain alongside Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara in the 2-1 loss to the Sens, and the 24-year-old defenseman took it as a huge compliment heading into his third season with the Black and Gold.
I walked into the room before the game and saw it, but kind of pretended like I didnt see it, said McQuaid. But then some of the guys started kidding me about it a little bit, and it was out in the open at that point. Im such a young guy in a room full of veterans, so I wasnt really expecting it or anything.
"But I take it as a really big compliment from the coaching staff and my teammates. Im not a big talker, but I try to lead by example with hard work and dedication.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman has the respect of every other player inside the Bruins dressing room given the effort he puts into his game, and the willingness to drop the gloves in defense of fallen teammates. The 2005 second round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets became more than just a fighting defenseman last season, though, and established himself as a capable stay-at-home D-man with a possible future as a shutdown defensemen.
He nearly led the Bruins with a plus-30 rating in 67 regular season games last year and 15 points in an impressive bit of offensive improvement, and has clearly made an impression on the Bs coaching staff as a quiet source of leadership.
A lot of players have had the A letter in preseason. Looking at the guys that had it and the guys that hadnt, I thought he was a good candidate for that, said coach Claude Julien. I think hes well-respected from his teammates and hes a guy that competes hard every night. Hes a hard, honest player and I thought he was deserving of wearing it.
Theres no indication as to what the Bruins will do with the second alternate captain once the regular season starts, but McQuaid is simply concentrating on skating with different defensemen partners getting ready for whatever the season holds.
I think its been getting better as the season is coming along. A lot of times were kind of mismatched around with our pairings, said McQuaid. So youre out there with different guys a lot. I think obviously theres room out there for improvement, but thats what the preseason is for. We have another game to make sure were ready when the season starts.
Given the three-year commitment that the Bruins made to McQuaid that will keep him and his flowing mullet in Boston for the foreseeable future, he couldnt be more ready to start the season and keep working on his blue collar defensemen game.