Bruins

BU’s Greenway a pioneer in quest for Olympic gold

BU’s Greenway a pioneer in quest for Olympic gold

All it takes is one glance at the Agganis Arena ice to notice the Boston University hockey player who stands out from the rest. The sole African-American on the team, Jordan Greenway, stands 6-5 and weighs 238 pounds, making him the biggest player on the team.

Yet the thing that truly distinguishes Greenway from his teammates goes beyond the human eye. He’s in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

One Christmas gift arrived a week late for the BU forward, but the phone call he got was worth the wait. On his drive home from winter break, Greenway found out he had been selected to the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team.

“Jim Johannson called me a couple of days before and just told me, ‘You’re on the team.’ It wasn’t official yet, it wasn’t official knowledge so we kind of kept it confidential. But it was really good. I was really excited,” Greenway said. “One of the best Christmas presents I got.”

Johannson is the U.S. men's hockey team’s general manager and was part of the selection process. In April, the NHL announced that its players would not be participating in the Winter Games, which gave some minor leaguers and college players the opportunity of a lifetime. 

At the beginning of the year, it was Greenway’s goal to represent Team USA and now, he’s one of the four NCAA men’s hockey players to compete in South Korea.

Now, 60 years after Willie O’Ree integrated the NHL by playing for the Bruins, the story of hockey’s unhurried progress comes full circle in Boston. It wasn’t until an interview that Greenway learned he will be the first black player to break a 98-year color barrier in U.S. Olympic men’s hockey. As historical as this accomplishment is, the 20-year-old just hopes the sport will continue to grow.

“I just think I’m another kid going to play in the Olympics, I don’t really see it like that,” Greenway said. “I’m happy I am the first. I hope I’m the first of many and I hope I can just motivate younger kids to kind of try something different. I don’t think a lot of African-Americans play hockey at a high level. I’m just trying to get more and more of those kids to try and go out and do something different.” 

Hockey has taken Greenway around the world but he has always had the support of the two people he grew up with in Canton, New York. His mother, Shannon Sullivan, and younger brother, James “JD” Greenway have been his biggest supporters since this journey began.

When Jordan was 14, Sullivan agreed to send her sons to Shattuck-Saint Mary's, a boarding school in Faribault, Minn., on one condition; The Greenway boys would earn scholarships for college. At that time, Jordan didn’t know he would be this successful in the sport, but in retrospect, he’s glad he took a chance. 

“They’ve been great. My mom, she kind of lets us do as we please,” Greenway said. “She’s very helpful especially letting me go to Shattuck at a really young age. I don’t know if I would be here without that help but she’s done everything in her power to get us where we needed to be, even financially getting us to Shattuck. She’s been great.”

As for life after this year, Jordan says he’s just trying to live in the moment. The Minnesota Wild prospect has until Aug. 15 after his graduation from BU but he’s in no rush to think that far ahead.

February has brought a few more gifts to Jordan. Before heading to South Korea, he helped the Terriers defeat Harvard 3-2 in the first round of the Beanpot tournament at TD Garden. Greenway assisted on Brandon Hickey’s goal in the third period. The annual event includes BU, Boston College, Harvard and Northeastern competing for bragging rights, but more important, the chance to drink out of the precious Beanpot. (that is, only if they’re 21, of course.). BU meets Northeastern in the final Monday night. Last year, the Terriers fell to Harvard 6-3 in the final.

The Games begin Friday and (full TV coverage on NBC and online at nbcolympics.com) and the men’s hockey competition starts Feb. 14, but the highlight of the month has nothing to the sport he loves. Jordan will be celebrating his 21st birthday on Feb. 16 and, of course, there is only one more gift he wants…

An Olympic gold medal.

Torey Krug hoping he's "part of next wave of players" to get deals with Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy taken care of

Torey Krug hoping he's "part of next wave of players" to get deals with Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy taken care of

BRIGHTON, Mass – Torey Krug long assumed that the reason he hadn’t talked contract extension this summer with the Bruins was that they were busy working on deals for restricted free agent D-men Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.

Now that both McAvoy and Carlo are back in the fold with reasonable cap numbers for the next few years, Bruins general manager admitted a couple of days ago that the team can move on to future forecasts and discussions with looming free agents. As of a couple of days later the Bruins and Krug hadn’t started a dialogue on a contract extension, but the productive offensive defenseman is eagerly looking forward to those discussions as he readies for the final year of a current deal paying him $5.25 million per season.

“It’s been no secret that it’s been at the forefront getting those two deals done because [McAvoy and Carlo] are a big part of our team,” said Krug. “At least we have them locked up for the near future. So you just hope that you’re part of the next wave of guys that will get dealt with.

“I’ve made no secret that I want to be part of this room, part of this organization and part of this city [beyond this season]. So I’m hoping sooner than later it gets dealt with so I can clear my mind and focus on hockey. But that being said, it’s never a distraction. I’ve done it year after in my career aside from the [current] four-year deal.”

Only Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson and John Carlson have scored more points than Krug’s 163 points over the last three seasons among NHL defensemen, and three out of those four have won Norris Trophies over that time span. Sure Krug has also been a minus-12 over that span as well, but there’s no denying his offensive prowess when he’s averaged nine goals and 54 points a season while playing top-4 minutes on the back end.

The 28-year-old also finally showed he can stay healthy during the postseason last spring and posted two goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games last spring. If the Bruins had won the Cup then Krug would have been in the middle of the Conn Smythe discussion, but instead his spring performance just added to his current value headed into a contract year.

Given all of the above and the fact the Bruins don’t have anybody – Matt Grzelcyk may never be that guy and McAvoy hasn’t developed to that point as of yet -- ready to replace Krug’s offense, re-signing the 5-foot-8 undrafted D-man should be a priority. Krug had a career-high 30 points on the power play last season as the top unit quarterback and continues to be an aggressive, smart catalyst perfectly cast in Bruce Cassidy’s offense that caters to creativity and hockey intelligence.

Best of all, Krug is willing to take a hometown discount similar to the way Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all took a little less to remain in Black and Gold.

It's a far cry from the $10 million-plus per season salaries doled out to Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner in Toronto, and Krug has made it clear he’s not looking to get every last nickel on the table when it comes to staying in Boston.

“Absolutely. I think that’s something each individual player takes into account with the situation that they’re in. The role that they play on each individual team, how good their team is and how good their team will be moving forward. [Those are all] things that I’ve definitely considered. We’ll see what happens,” said Krug. “There’s a fine between protecting yourself and what you bring to the table, and also being happy and living in a place that you love, and your family loves. I have a little girl that I have to think about now. All of these things sound cliché, but they are things you have to take into account and worry about. We’ll see what happens.”   

One thing is for sure: Krug is going to get paid somewhere. He may take a little less to keep the band together in Boston moving forward, but the seven-year, $53.025 million contract signed by Jared Spurgeon in Minnesota would seem like fair market value for Krug should he become a free agent on July 1. That’s obviously a long way from now and Sweeney and Co. will get every opportunity to come up with something fair that could keep Krug in Boston for the long haul.

But if Krug does get to free agency, he doesn’t exactly sound worried about that prospect either given the money and potential suitors that would be there vying for him.

“It’s a good problem to have, right? That being said my focus is on the Boston Bruins and the here and now, and hopefully getting some clarity [on his contract]. I’m well aware that what I do in this league is something that people want and desire, especially with the way that the game is moving,” said Krug. “The transition game is so crucial to team success and the power play helps you win hockey games in the regular season and in the playoffs. These are things that I do well and I’m sure would be things that a lot of teams would be happy to have. But I’m just worried about the Bruins here and now.”

The Bruins have said all along that they’re well aware of Krug’s importance to everything that they do on the ice. Now is a golden chance for the B’s to prove it by showing just how much of a priority it is to retain Krug beyond this season while the player is admittedly looking for “some clarity” on his future in Boston.

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Highlights from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Flyers in preseason

Highlights from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Flyers in preseason

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 3, Flyers 1

IN BRIEF: The Bruins grabbed their first win of the preseason in convincing fashion over the Flyers Thursday night. Danton Heinen, Peter Cehlarik and Connor Clifton netted goals for Boston in this one. 

BRUINS PRESEASON RECORD: 1-1-0

HIGHLIGHTS:

HEINEN STRIKES FIRST

HALAK WITH A CRAZY SAVE

FLYERS TIE THE GAME 

CEHLARIK PUT THE B'S BACK ON TOP

CONNOR CLIFTON MAKES IT 3-1

UP NEXT:

@ Blackhawks, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
vs Flyers, Monday, 7:00 p.m., NHL Network 

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