In their long history, the Boston Bruins have had some of the game's greatest offensive defensemen -- Bobby Orr, Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper, Fernie Flaman, Raymond Bourque and Bill Quackenbush all are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But those players would be among the first to stress the importance of teammates like Don Awrey, Lionel Hitchman, Jack Portland, Bob Armstrong and Gary Doak, stay-at-home defensemen whose defensive skills gave their Hall-of-Fame teammates the confidence to join the attack.
Adam McQuaid likely never will be a top offensive defenseman for the Bruins, but he showed signs last season, in his rookie year with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, that he can complement offensive defensemen with his strong play in his own end.
"Adam played a similar role to his role in juniors for us this past season in Providence," said Boston Bruins Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development Don Sweeney. "And he made great strides from where he was in development camp last summer. There were stretches in Providence where he proved to be a very stabilizing influence. He reads the play well and he's an effective puck mover. He takes pride in his own end."
2007-08 SEASON STATS
(8th east/15th NHL)
|Change from 2006-07||+18|
(9th east/21st NHL)
(2nd east/5th NHL)
"McQuaid is often among the first players in the dressing room to offer his time to visit community events, most notably a trip to a Special Olympics event at the Rhode Island Convention Center. That, along with local restaurant and store visits, has made the first-year blueliner a fan favorite in Providence this season," the P-Bruins said in nominating McQuaid for the AHL's Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, the league-wide man of the year honor.
McQuaid, 6-foot-4, 197-pounds, scored a goal and 8 assists in 68 games. He had a plus-14 rating and was physical, but only totaled 73 penalty minutes.
"Adam has a bit of a bite to his game and he will stick up for himself and his teammates," Sweeney said. "He's getting stronger and he can be a physical influence."
"Adam hit something of a wall late in what was his first pro season," Sweeney added. "But he got back in stride in the playoffs. His minutes diminished a bit, but he benefited from playing in all those games, and you can't trade anything for the experience you get in playoff hockey. We are pleased with where Adam is at. He has a little way to go yet. He's a solid, steady-Eddie type. Those guys are often undervalued and underappreciated."
After four years with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League – his defense partner for most of that time was Marc Staal, now of the New York Rangers – McQuaid was taken No. 55 in the 2005 Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He never signed with them, and was dealt to Boston in May 2007 for a fifth-round pick in 2008.
"I had a good opportunity to play there (Sudbury) for coach Mike Foligno," McQuaid said. "I got to play right away, so it was good. It was tough for me at first because I wasn't used to having such an intense coach. It was a rah-rah, in-your-face kind of thing and a learning experience for me. He taught me how to push myself and work that much harder. Coach Foligno was always making sure we were pushing ourselves to 100-percent effort. His style was work hard and be physical, do what it takes to win, have the right mentality, and a lot of that rubbed off on me.
"I know I'm not the most skilled player but I'm willing to do the little things, work hard and stick up for myself. Coach Foligno taught me not to be intimidated."
Staal was just one of the fine young players McQuaid played with in Sudbury. Other teammates included Zach Stortini, Nick Foligno, Benoit Pouliot and Akim Aliu.
"McQuaid is often among the first players in the dressing room to offer his time to visit community events, most notably a trip to a Special Olympics event at the Rhode Island Convention Center. That, along with local restaurant and store visits, has made the first-year blueliner a fan favorite in Providence this season." Providence Bruins
"Over the years, we had really good players in Sudbury and a lot of them already have some time in the NHL. Zach Stortini worked very hard, gave important pointers and was a good leader. He had a great work ethic and was really tough. He stuck up for his teammates. I got to play two years with Benoit Pouliot, a player so talented he made things look effortless. We were a better team when he was on the ice."
McQuaid continued his development in Providence under the guidance of head coach Scott Gordon, recently named coach of the New York Islanders, and assistant coach Rob Murray, who was promoted to replace Gordon.
"They started right away with me in development camp and spent a lot of time with me," McQuaid said. "My skating was big concern so they had me work with Paul Vincent and that got me a leg up going into training camp. I worked on all the same stuff throughout the season. I'm adjusting to the skating requirements of the pro game.
"I played most of last year with Matt Lashoff as my defensive partner in Providence. He's an offensive defenseman who moves up with the play. I hung back to cover if he got caught up-ice. We were a good combination because he had NHL experience from the year before. Matt's calm and good to talk to."