As told to Jess Isner
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid is keeping a diary for BostonBruins.com during the team’s 11-day road trip through Western Canada and the Midwest. In this edition, he reflects on his favorite cities to visit during the course of the NHL season, as well as some of the special relationships he has formed with teammates, past and present.
We’ve officially been on the road for a week now, and today, we arrived in our second-to-last stop: St. Louis. Though this is a place that might be known for its barbecue, I don’t know if that will be the best choice the night before a game, but we’ll see. I haven’t visited St. Louis quite enough to know where the best places to eat are, but I’m sure we’ll find something good.
One of my favorite road trips every year is the one that takes us through Nashville. We were there in December this year, and it’s a pretty cool spot. We always end up being very close to Broadway, and there’s a lot of history there with country music. There are also so many talented people there: You can just pop in anywhere and sit down and have the chance to listen to some great music.
Another of my favorite road cities might come as a bit of a surprise: Montreal. That’s always an exciting atmosphere. Obviously, we have quite the heated rivalry with the Canadiens, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement of visiting that city — and the Bell Centre — a few times a year; in fact, it probably adds to it. It can be a fun place to play if you’re able to get a win there.
We’ve been on the road for a while now, but I’ve kept it pretty low key, and of course, I’ve had the opportunity to put in some quality time with my teammates. The day off we had in Calgary, a bunch of us got together for lunch and just kind of hung out and chatted, and then the entire team got together that night for dinner. It was pretty nice just to get together as a team, outside of the norm of being at the rink.
While we were in Edmonton, I was able to meet up with a real close friend of mine who’s working up there now. It was great to see a familiar face, and even though we only had a couple of hours before he had to go to work, it was good to hang out and just catch up, and almost feel a little taste of home, in a way.
All of the plane rides we’ve had has given me a great opportunity to catch up on my rest. A lot of guys play cards or watch movies during those flights, but I’m pretty boring. Some guys probably wish they could be like me because I have a hard time staying awake on the plane. I’m one of the guys that usually sleeps for the majority of every flight. When I haven’t been sleeping, though, I’ve been keeping up with Scandal. I’ve watched a few of those episodes since we’ve been on this trip.
I live alone now, so being out on the road is a good chance to really catch up with all of my teammates — the ones I’m close with, and also the ones that maybe I don’t see as much away from the rink. For a couple of years, I actually lived with Dougie Hamilton, and that was a really good experience, I think, for both of us. It was great to have someone else around, just to coordinate with, drive to practice with, watch TV with. On top of that, while I was living with Dougie, I tried to just make his transition to the NHL a little bit easier. As a young guy coming into the league, that transition is much smoother when you don’t have to go out and find your own place, plus all of the things that come with that.
Being a young guy coming into the NHL, there’s enough to adjust to with that alone — so with Dougie, I just hoped to help out with that transition. I don’t know if there’s a whole lot I could tell him on the ice; he probably taught me a few things in that regard. Now, Dougie has moved out and is living on his own, and I think that’s part of the maturation process that we’re seeing from him.
In general, I just like to try and be approachable with all of the young guys, and easy to talk to. I know that went a long way when I first came into the league. When I first came to Boston, Shawn Thornton was really good to me; he was just a guy that I felt comfortable approaching, and he was happy to help me learn the ins and outs of what it was like to play in the NHL. Andrew Ference was great, too. I played with him quite a bit my first year in the league, and he was just really approachable and really easy to talk to. That translated well onto the ice; he kind of gave me that confidence, and I felt comfortable with him, and therefore I was comfortable playing with him.
We actually just played against Ference a couple of days ago in Edmonton, and it was great to see him and catch up with him. I think you’re definitely able to stay friends with those guys even after they’ve moved on from Boston. When you’ve built friendships with guys, you don’t lose that. When you go out and play, obviously, it’s different — you’re out there to compete, and you’re not going to treat anyone differently. But before a game starts, and once it’s over, you still have those relationships, and that’s one of the many great things about playing in this league.