McAvoy resumes skating; ‘No reason to think I’ll come back different’


McAvoy resumes skating; ‘No reason to think I’ll come back different’

BRIGHTON, Mass – Charlie McAvoy was out on the Warrior Ice Arena practice ice on Monday afternoon taking a few twirls ahead of the team’s first skating session coming out of NHL All-Star weekend.

Under normal circumstances that would be no big deal, of course.

But in this instance, the 20-year-old defenseman was wearing a cranberry no-contact jersey in his first hockey act since undergoing an ablation procedure for an abnormal heart rhythm just a week ago at Mass General Hospital.

McAvoy, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and B’s team doctor David Finn were all on hand prior to practice to discuss McAvoy’s procedure, his prognosis and the events leading up to the medical procedure performed on Boston’s bright young talent. McAvoy said it was a relief to know that his supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) condition was one that, though it involved his heart, didn’t put him in danger and could be treated effectively with one procedure.

So, McAvoy’s absence shouldn’t be very long and he’s expected to go right back to being the workhorse rookie defenseman that’s been at the heart of so many good things for the Black and Gold this season.

“I think it was a relief, first off, to find out that it was not life-threatening and not dangerous to my overall health. That was my best takeaway from it…to realize that obviously, because I’m in there, I’m kind of nervous that this is going to be something that is really bad and that I might not be able to play again or anything like that,” said McAvoy. “To find out that it was something that was not dangerous, not life-threatening and something that I could still continue to play with, that was a good takeaway right away from the overall situation.

“I have no reason to think that I would come back different. I think maybe just some time, some extra time, to get back, but I’m still the same person. I’m one week removed. I feel good, so we’ll get back out there, and we’ll get back on the ice and see how things are going. When the time is right [for a return], I’ll get back out there.”

Sweeney indicated that McAvoy will be having a follow-up appointment with doctors this week, and that will determine the timetable for his return to playing.

According to the initial timetable given out by the Bruins, McAvoy was expected to return roughly a week from today ahead of back-to-back road games against the Red Wings and Rangers. But Sweeney indicated it all depends on how McAvoy is doing, which is perfectly fine judging by his presence on the ice Monday: “It’s all based on how Charlie feels at this point.”

What’s amazing is that McAvoy played roughly six weeks after his “episode” where his heart was racing in a Nov. 26 loss to the Oilers and there was no hint in his approach or play on the ice that any kind of heart procedure was looming. Instead, McAvoy went out and played a game-high 28 minutes, 11 seconds while scoring a goal in his next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and mapped out a surgery date that could take advantage of time off for NHL All-Star weekend.

That would be heady stuff for most 20-year-olds (McAvoy was actually still 19 when it was diagnosed in November) even if the heart condition and treatment wasn’t considered life- or career-threatening, but then again most 20-year-olds aren’t like Charlie McAvoy.   

“For us, we were very fortunate that we had [Dr. Finn] on site and that Charlie was being very honest with what he was going through. We were able to take the next steps and really make the best medical decision,” said Sweeney, of the initial time that McAvoy was complaining of symptoms after the loss to the Oilers. “We can talk about the time frame when the decision was made, but ultimately it was about making the best decision for Charlie regardless of what games he was going to miss.

“He was 19 at the time when he was diagnosed and one of my boys is 19,” Sweeney said. “Fortunately, the medical staff was very definitive in their diagnosis, and I was quickly educated to the risks that were not there [when you talk about] heart situations. I think we felt very comfortable. Clearly, we needed to be 100 percent, if Charlie was going to be [playing], that he was at zero risk. His family was involved in all the decisions and during the dad’s trip [in early December] we just talked to make sure that Charlie was good mentally and physically through this entire process. That’s been one of the more amazing things is how well he’s handled it knowing that this was on deck. It says a lot about him.”

McAvoy’s poise has always been one of his best attributes as a hockey player, but he took it to another level these past two months while addressing his own health situation. Now, McAvoy and the Bruins can look forward to their D-man prodigy returning in short order to his duties as one of the best young blueliners on the planet and somebody who’s already become a difference-maker for the Black and Gold.   

DeBrusk on being subject of trade rumors: "I love being a Bruin"

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DeBrusk on being subject of trade rumors: "I love being a Bruin"

TORONTO – Jake DeBrusk has heard about the trade rumors. Heck, the 21-year-old has actually been traded before in his hockey career as he was dealt in junior hockey from Swift Current to the Red Deer Rebels in his final season. It’s a little different, however, when DeBrusk hears his name involved in trade rumors with New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and reports indicate that DeBrusk is a name that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton wants included in any deal. 


It makes perfect sense with DeBrusk off to a strong start to his NHL career with 11 goals and 29 points in 54 games while playing a top-6 role next to David Krejci, and just scratching the surface of how good he can be with the Bruins. Brandon Carlo has likewise been mentioned prominently as well as a young NHL player being sought after in trade talks. 

But the bottom line for all the Bruins youngsters is that they don’t want to go anywhere, and are doing their best to block everything out while preparing to go out and do their best. 

“I got traded in junior, so I know a little bit about it…but it’s a little different when it’s the magnitude of the NHL,” said DeBrusk. “We’re just focusing on getting wins, and doing everything I can do to help the team win. At the same you’re keeping an eye out and looking [at the rumors] secretly. But it is what it is. You can’t control it. You can only control your play, and do anything I can to help the team win now. You can only take it day by day. 

“I love being with these guys and we’re a pretty tight group. So whatever happens is going to happen, but at the same time whoever is on the ice we’ll go to battle with them.”


Clearly DeBrusk wants to stick with the team that selected him 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, and the Bruins would do well to keep a talented, likable and bright youngster that could be a meaningful member of the organization for a long, long time. But he’s also drawing whatever positive that he can out of the situation, and the biggest one is that other NHL teams are clearly taking notice of what he’s done this season as a rookie. 

Being the primary name mentioned in a deal for a player like the captain of the New York Rangers means you must be doing a lot of things right. 

“When you’re a rookie with your name being thrown around and the other guy has some pretty high stature in the league, it’s a compliment. But I don’t look too much into it,” said DeBrusk. “I love being a Bruin. I just want to continue to get better, continue to improve and I’ve got lots of room to grow. I’m just taking it shift-by-shift.”

That’s a smart kid with a good answer as he focuses on his game on the ice, and learns on the job to navigate through his first NHL experience that’s now included being at the heart of a juicy trade rumor for the Black and Gold.


Holden 'very excited to get started' with Bruins

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Holden 'very excited to get started' with Bruins

TORONTO -- Nick Holden suited up wearing No. 44 at his first official Bruins practice on Friday morning at the Ricoh Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies, but it remains to be seen exactly how things are going to shake out with the 30-year-old defenseman.

Holden mixed into the bottom pairing with a crowded back end of Matt Grzelcyk, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Paul Postma, and it sounded like he might not be breaking into the B’s lineup immediately. Bruce Cassidy might go with the same defensemen group that’s won two straight in Calgary and Edmonton, and then simply revisit with each passing game as the Bruins play a whopping 24 games in the final 44 days of the regular season.

“He’s big, he’s long,” said Cassidy. “I watched some of his shifts against us and Philadelphia . . . [he's] a good defender and [has] a good first pass. I think he’s going to help us.

"I know the next question is ‘when?’ We’re going to talk about that today. I don’t know when he’ll go into our lineup, to be honest with you. I don’t know if it will be tomorrow or Sunday (in Buffalo), with the reason being that we’ve liked the seven guys that we’ve used over the last two months.

“We can’t forget about that, or not have the loyalty to the guys that have got us here. We talked about it with him directly. We’ve played the guy that deserves to play this year, and once he’s in it’s his job to stay in. That’s about it.”

As it stands this weekend, the Bruins have nine healthy D-men on their roster and Holden is excited to get a chance to suit up in Black and Gold with his new team.

“I kind of knew I was getting traded, and when I found it was the Boston Bruins I was really excited,” said Holden. “Obviously they’re having a great year and it’s a really good team, so I’m very excited to get started. It worked out good that I was able to get in two days ago and go out with the team to dinner [in Toronto] and kind of meet everybody right away. It’s been great.”

Holden admitted it will be a change for him going more zone defense than man-to-man as it’s been in the past with the Rangers and the Avalanche, but those things tend to work themselves out in short order.

Otherwise it was a full group for the Black and Gold on Friday morning with Kevan Miller (upper body) fully healthy, and Tuukka Rask named as the starting goalie for Saturday night’s big game vs. the Maple Leafs.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Maple Leafs based on Friday’s practice session: