BostonBruins.com -- It's not shocking that Saskatchewan-born Garnet Exelby, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound defenseman who doesn't mind dropping his gloves, idolized a Boston Bruin as a boy.
But it's somewhat shocking that his favorite player wasn't Cam Neely, Ray Bourque or the like.
"When I was very young -- I’m not sure why because I never ended up being a goalie -- but I remember being a big fan of Andy Moog," joked Exelby.
And while the 30-year-old blueliner, who recently signed a one-year, two-way deal with the B’s, doesn't have too many other connections to the current edition of the Black & Gold (including a distinct lack of bouts against anyone currently in Boston) Exelby is certain that his style of play is suited to the Bruins.
"I think I try to play a pretty solid defensive game," said Exelby. "I definitely have always enjoyed and tried to bring that physical aspect.
"I guess the biggest thing is I try to be as unfriendly as possible to the other team while I’m playing, so I guess a byproduct of that is obviously getting in a scrap every now and then or, at least, having someone chase me around by the end of the game.
"That’s kind of the way it’s gone," he said.
The snarl in Exelby's game (and tone) is exactly why he came to the attention of the Bruins, but it's not the only trait that the defenseman brings to the table.
"Garnet is a big, strong player that I think has that big brother approach to be able to take care of some younger players that he will certainly see if he is in Providence," said Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney. "But he’s also at that stage where he’s like 'I’m going to continue to push forward.'
"He’s played a lot of NHL games, has a lot of NHL experience. And if some of the younger kids aren’t ready to occupy in a six-seven role where you’re bounced in and out of the lineup maybe he can continue to step into that role.
"I think he adds to that competitive internal competition factor."
For his part, Exelby comes into the Bruins organization ready for a return to the NHL.
"I think it’d be a pretty special thing to put on a Bruins jersey and get to play NHL game for the Bruins in that city with that kind of history," said Exelby. "That will be really exciting for me.
"With the team being not far removed from winning a Cup I would find it interesting to be there…and see what, you know, the atmosphere is like around the training camp and the dressing room and just the whole organization."
However, the veteran defenseman said his approach wouldn’t change whether he is wearing Black & Gold in the Dunkin' Donuts Center or the TD Garden.
"I’ve had a lot of great mentors along the way," said Exelby, who explained he'd like to thank those players by "paying it forward" with the youngest Bruins.
"I’m just trying to be a pro like I always take pride in doing whether I’m at the NHL level or the American League level," added Exelby. "Because I’ve been to the NHL for a number of years and played a lot of games there that’s just a valuable thing for younger players to see what a guy that’s kind of been there and back, you know, puts into the game and how he treats it as a privilege and treats it as a professional."
But make no mistake, Exelby, who is already deep into his offseason workouts, plans to make a very strong bid for the NHL Bruins roster.
"Just finding a way to fight my way onto the NHL squad is my number one focus," he said.