Providence Bruins head coach Rob Murray
may have been out of the loop when the Boston Bruins
announced they'd be showcasing their rookie games at TD Garden.
"I just saw it online," Murray said. "Nobody had told me."
That doesn't seem to bother Murray. With Boston set to drop the puck on its first rookie game with the New York Islanders
tonight, the excitement of playing in the home of the big club was palpable for coach and players alike at the morning skate Wednesday. The Bruins' and Islanders' rookies will be playing Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. with proceeds from the games going to charity.
The games had originally been scheduled for Shelton, Conn., until the teams decided to move them to Beantown last month.
"There's a wow factor for me," Murray said. "We had played down in Shelton two years ago and the year prior to that we played against New Jersey and then two years ago it was the Islanders. It's just a public rink, and it's a nice facility, but nothing compared to the Boston Garden."
It presents a major opportunity for a number of Bruins prospects to display their skills in front of what they one day hope to be their home crowd, but for players like Joe Colborne
, Jordan Caron
and recent first-round draft pick Tyler Seguin
, the chance to make an impression on management and earn a job in Boston is a very real consideration.
"I want to be looking at crowds for a long time in this rink," Colborne said. "It's pretty nice to finally get out and skate on it. Tonight we're going to have some butterflies going. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Despite whatever anxiety the players might be feeling, most stressed the importance of maintaining systems and strategically playing the game like any other, but enthusiasm for most of them was clearly noticeable. Colborne estimated "at least an 11 or 12" when asked to rate his excitement on a scale of 1 to 10.
Seguin, the headliner of the group, has been getting media attention for most of the past year as the 2010 Entry Draft approached, and while the No. 2 pick seemed relieved to actually be playing a game at long last, the moment wasn't lost on him either.
"It's special to feel the buzz in the room or just the experience itself," Seguin said. "It's been three or four months since I've actually played in a game.
"It'll be quite the experience tonight."
As Murray said Wednesday morning, the expectation is for Seguin to challenge for a spot on the NHL roster, but Seguin was quick to note that his place on the big club had to be earned rather than assumed. It is by that token that he, too, was towing the party line on sticking to the fundamentals. Despite the crowd, everyone was wary of turning Wednesday's game into a glorified skills competition.
While Seguin displayed his shiftiness and quick hands during the morning skate, the game itself should be all business.
"I'm not going to go out there and try to do a fancy move and get smoked or hurt," Seguin said. "I'm going to go out there and work my hardest, show my game. Hopefully we get the win."
Players acknowledged the anxiety that might come from skating in an NHL rink, meaning the ability to keep a level head and focus on the game will be paramount to performing tonight. Colborne said he planned on listening to relaxing music most of the afternoon to keep his nerves at bay.
Still, it would seem almost inhuman to ignore what is clearly the highlight for most of these rookies to this point in camp, and for the front office and the coaching staff the benefits will be tangible down the line.
"It really gives them a taste and gives them a hunger to get where they need to be," Murray said. "That's obviously here in Boston."