Bruins

Brad Marchand: Charlie McAvoy's lateness was "learning the way and learning the ropes"

Brad Marchand: Charlie McAvoy's lateness was "learning the way and learning the ropes"

BRIGHTON, Mass – It all started with a few jokes from Brad Marchand during “The Pick Up” with NBCSportsBoston.com about Charlie McAvoy getting coal in his stocking for Christmas after being late to a few things for the Bruins.

“The kid always seems to find himself in trouble being late for everything,” said a joking Marchand on “The Pick Up” when asked who he’d give coal in their stocking for Christmas. “I’d get him a clock, or a watch. He is late for everything. I’ve never seen anybody more late for planes, buses or meetings than that kid.”

But as with many jokes, there was certainly a kernel of truth to it all.

Then a report from the Boston Globe on Monday morning narrowed it down to a pair of incidents where McAvoy was tardy – one for a special teams meeting and one for being late to a bus after a game on the road – this season, and that it was Marchand himself that discussed the situation with the 21-year-old defenseman. All involved with the Bruins have indicated that it wasn’t a big deal or a real behavioral issue with McAvoy like it might have been when Tyler Seguin was benched for a game in 2011 for missing a team meeting in Winnipeg.

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But it’s also pretty clear that McAvoy still has some growing up to do at a time when he could have still been a senior at Boston University, and that the tough conversation with Marchand was one that was necessary. Marchand discussed it with NBCSportsBoston.com on Monday after practice, and said it was something that veterans did for him countless times when he was a younger player.

“Chucky is a great kid and an awesome teammate. He’s a very good person, very good teammate and very good kid, and he’s going to be a great hockey player for this team for a long time. But everybody goes through things where you’re coming in as a new guy, and you have to learn the way and the ropes,” said Marchand to NBCSportsBoston.com. “Things like that happen. It was documented that it happened to [Seguin] his first couple of years here, and it definitely happened to me my first couple of years here. When you’re a kid and you get that responsibility and you go from living with billets or your family to living by yourself, sometimes something might happen when you’re late here or there.

“It came about [on the “Pick Up”] because we were just joking around in the car about Santa Claus. It’s not an issue in the room, and it wasn’t really necessary for [Globe reporter] Kevin Paul DuPont to make it an issue. Chucky is a great teammate and great player for this team, and it’s a non-issue for this room. It was just something that sometimes you need to learn along the way. It’s not like we’re worried about Chucky in any kind of way, or anything like that.”

What it comes down to in Marchand’s estimation is a college kid learning how to be a pro. It started last season as a rookie when Bruce Cassidy did have to talk to McAvoy about upping his urgency level at practice and getting on the ice earlier for the quick-paced practices. Cassidy also said after practice that it hasn't been an issue for McAvoy being late to mandatory team meetings, and the coaching staff "has no beef" with his attendance. 

This season it amounts to not making his teammates wait for him in a couple of instances, and instead probably needing to be early for everything – team-mandated or not – as one of the younger guys on the team.

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“It’s a lot easier for the guys that have kids. We’re up at 7 [a.m.] and it’s again something that you learn along the way,” said Marchand to NBCSportsBoston.com. “These are things you don’t know about to be a pro and how to do things the right way. But those are things you’re going to learn along the way. A lot of these things we’re told a time or two, you get from there and you build it into your routine and everything.

“It’s not a big deal. By no means do we have any issues with Chuckie. He’s a great teammate and a great kid. He’s very young and he’s got a lot of responsibility thrust upon him because of the player he is and how good he is. Sometimes it’s hard, but he’s coping well with it, doing well with it and he’s going to be a great player.”

So who were the guys that Marchand heard it from when he was a youngster back in 2010-11 and needed to be called out to get in line with being a pro’s pro at the NHL level?

“It was a little different with me. We had so many [veteran] guys. It was pretty hard on the young guys, but it was great because we learned pretty quickly,” said Marchand to NBCSportsBoston.com. “[Greg] Campbell and Shawn Thornton were my [early] linemates, so they talked to me a lot. A lot of times they didn’t make it on easy on me. They were very hard on me, especially Thortie. And then there were guys like Bergeron, Chara and [Mark Recchi] and [Andrew] Ference, so it wouldn’t take long for somebody to say something you stepped out of line.

“I had to be talked to quite a bit when I was coming up, and then as I got older I started hanging with Chris Kelly a lot. He kind of saved me. He used to talk to me a lot on the car rides to the rink, and he’d kind of fill me in during the car ride rather than me getting yelled at in the rink on how to act. Then you’d go from there. I still have lots to learn.”

Certainly those players of Bruins’ past have contributed heavily to what Marchand is passing along now with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and the rest of the proven veteran leadership group in the room. Now it’s up to McAvoy to receive the message and learn just as Marchand did so many years ago, and by all accounts the young D-man is doing just that. 

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Bruins' Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug make NHL's list of Top 20 defensemen

Bruins' Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug make NHL's list of Top 20 defensemen

Both the present and the future are indeed bright for the Boston Bruins, and the Black and Gold representation on the NHL Network’s “Top 20 defensemen right now” list is just further affirmation. Both 21-year-old Charlie McAvoy and 28-year-old Torey Krug ended up making the list of the top defensemen headed into the 2019-20 season.

McAvoy moved up five spots from his position as 19th on the list last summer, while Krug held strong at the 16th spot for the second year in a row after putting together a Conn Smythe-worthy postseason on Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. On Sunday night’s NHL Network show highlighting the list, NHL Network analyst and three-time Stanley Cup champion Ken Daneyko had nothing but positive things to say about Krug’s place within the current pantheon of D-men.

“Don’t look at his stature, he can skate. We saw him in the playoffs bring some physicality. Helmet off, just flying into everybody,” said Daneyko of Krug. “I love guys that play the game that hard, and Torey Krug [has a] deceptively hard shot from the point. … [He] plays 10, 15 pounds heavier and two inches taller than he really is.”

McAvoy and Krug are in the top-20 list of defensemen right now, and they’ll also be among the highest paid D-men at this time next year. McAvoy is an unsigned restricted free agent who’s going to earn a handsome raise when he finally does sign a contract for this upcoming season and beyond. Krug has put together three straight 50-point seasons, and is entering the final year of his contract with the Bruins before he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

In addition to McAvoy and Krug, teammates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak ranked fourth and 10th, respectively, on NHL Network’s Top 20 Wings Right Now last week while Patrice Bergeron ranked seventh on Top 20 Centers Right Now two weeks ago.

Where does McAvoy rank on this year's '20 Under 25'?

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Zach Senyshyn: NHL action 'definitely lit a fire under me'

Zach Senyshyn: NHL action 'definitely lit a fire under me'

In the 2015 NHL Draft, the Boston Bruins took a winger by the name of Zach Senyshyn with their third of three consecutive first-round picks. Senyshyn, 18 at the time he was picked, was considered to be a bit of a reach with the No. 15 overall pick, as some scouting services had him graded as a second-round prospect.

For a few years, it did seem that the services may have been right about Senyshyn. He struggled to gain footing in the Bruins' organization. But last year, he finally made his long-anticipated NHL debut towards the end of the season. And in the action he saw, he performed well.

In two games for the Bruins, Senyshyn showcased his speed and was able to notch the first goal of his career (albeit an empty-netter) in that action. And getting time at the NHL level has sparked him to perform better ahead of the 2019-20 NHL season as he spoke about in a recent interview.

"It definitely lit a fire under me," Senyshyn said of his NHL playing time, via the Bruins official Twitter account. "When you get a taste of it and how close it really is, you get really excited for the upcoming season. For my summer training, it's made me a lot more passionate and really excited for the upcoming year."

Senyshyn did have some thrills last season, including getting to work with the Bruins during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. While he didn't log any postseason action, he did get to see how veterans prepare for key games up close and personal. And he is hoping that will help him to prepare as he battles for a spot on the Bruins' roster moving forward.

And speaking of Senyshyn's battle for a roster spot, Senyshyn noted a few things he wanted to do in order to ensure that he has a chance to make the squad this season.

"You know, I Just kinda worry about my own game and really be confident out there," Senyshyn said. "Know what I do well and play into my strengths and really just do whatever I can to help the team win."

Senyshyn will have a lot of competition for a spot on the Bruins roster, as new additions Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie will be vying for spots on the regular roster as well. But if he can continue to show off his speed and shows better goal-scoring instincts, Senyshyn should have a chance to make the roster.

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