When Tyler Seguin arrived in Wilmington, Mass., earlier this month for Boston's development camp, the second pick of the 2010 Entry Draft was greeted with a nice welcome from Bruins fans.
Ristuccia Arena, the club's practice rink, has seen some decent crowds at past development camps and practices, but nothing compared to the 1,000 fans who packed the cold rink during an early July heat wave in the Boston area. Bruins Nation is excited about their potential new superstar, and the fans let him and the Bruins know throughout camp.
Chants of "Say-gin, Say-gin," echoed through the rink as the prospects and hopefuls took the ice each day, and got louder every time the 18-year-old phenom touched the puck or even stepped on the ice for a shift.
"I was surprised, and was like 'Wow! This is a big crowd,'" Seguin said with a laugh. "It just shows this is a good market and there's a lot of support here and the fans are great. Usually if anyone's talking about me it's like 'Seguini' or 'Seegin' or something. These guys, they have it right on point."
Seguin was honored to have young Bruins fans paying homage to him and asking for autographs, but he didn't expect any special treatment from the team or his fellow prospects.
"I thought it was pretty cool, a little kid saying my name," he said of a youngster who greeted him the first day of camp. "Other than that, there's no special treatment here. Everyone is treated fair. I don't think it matters if you go first round or fifth round, everyone coming in here has the same opportunity to earn their spot and that's just what I'm trying to do."
One thing that stood out to Seguin throughout camp was the elevated level of workouts and the professional attitude and environment. Not that he didn't know it before, but the NHL is a business -- and to play in the best hockey league in the world, he will need to treat it as such.
"Here you have to be a professional," Seguin said. "This is a job. You're trying to take other players' jobs here and trying to get to the next level. I think it's just the adjustment of how much bigger the players are here and I think it's different than sometimes in the OHL. Everyone here is 100-percent committed to their dream. It's just a little bit different than what I'm used to. It's just a whole other step."
Throughout development camp, the Bruins had the prospects go through team-building exercises to develop chemistry with players they quite possibly could be teammates with in the near future. U.S. Marines taught one of the exercises and the experience put things in perspective for Seguin and his fellow Bruins hopefuls.
"That experience with the Marines was really something," Seguin said. "You obviously first realize listening to them talk and tell stories from what they've been through that we're lucky to have the chance to get paid to do what we love. They make that possible with their sacrifice and it makes you grateful. But yeah, the exercises and what they had us do was tough. Hard stuff, but fun, too."
Through those exercises, as well as on-ice drills and scrimmages, Seguin was able to familiarize himself with other prospects and build some camaraderie.
"We really had a good bond here," Seguin said of the chemistry between prospects throughout camp. "It feels like we were here longer than a week but it's only been a week. It took two to three days for everyone to come together, but I think we did."
The Brampton, Ont., native and former Plymouth Whalers star knows a roster spot won't simply be handed to him; he is ready to go to Boston in September and earn his way onto the team.
"Obviously I'm very excited," Seguin said. "This has been my dream my whole life, to get this opportunity. It's right around the corner, training camp. I'm going to come in here and work my hardest and hopefully earn a spot."