Up until this point, his hockey life has been stable. In juniors, he spent four uninterrupted years with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls. His entire NHL career was spent with the Anaheim Ducks — until now.
Obviously, the 2015-16 season will be a change, an adjustment. But he couldn’t be more ready, and he couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s a totally new world,” Beleskey said following Wednesday’s informal practice at Ristuccia Arena. “But it’s going to be exciting, and I’m really excited to be here. Obviously, I’m looking forward to the season. Can’t wait to get started.”
That much is evident: Beleskey has been a mainstay at informal practices since they began on August 31. Each and every day, he has been out on the ice, getting to know his new teammates and their tendencies, getting a sense for what it will be like to play his first season in the Spoked-B.
“I’ve done the same thing before, coming about two weeks early, and it’s always good to get back with the guys,” he said. “Everyone’s excited to get out there and start skating together. So it’s good to see everyone here and start getting used to seeing guys out there and try and get some chemistry.
“Everyone’s been great so far, obviously. It seems like it’s a really close team, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
There aren’t any coaches present, and the drills and scrimmages are more laid back than they might be during a regular-season practice, but there is still plenty to be gleaned from pre-camp informal skates — especially for a player like Beleskey, who is on the verge of beginning his first season with the B’s.
“You get to see the way guys play, kind of the holes they’re going to find, and you hopefully can pick up on some tendencies in guys,” he said. “I have no idea who I’m going to play with, but you try and find some chemistry, even in just 3-on-3 out there.
“And to see some of the young guys out here, too — you see the skill of some of the young guys coming up, and you like to watch guys make plays, see how they like to play the game, defense, everything — [and] find who I can score on in practice,” he added with a laugh. “It’s been a fun start so far.”
Beleskey arrived in Boston without really knowing anyone on his new team. He sort of knows fellow newbie Zac Rinaldo from their days playing in the OHL, and given that he spent four years suiting up alongside Montreal’s P.K. Subban, he sort of knows goaltender Malcolm Subban — “He used to come to games when he was 12 with his parents and everything, so it’s kind of funny to be out there shooting on him now” — but for the most part, everything here in Boston is new to him.
But on the ice and off, his new city gets rave reviews. Sure, it’s different from Southern California, and it’s different from his hometown of Barrie, Ont., but to him, everything that makes it different is also a perk.
Exhibit A: The fans — the sheer quantity of them — and their diehard passion for everything Black & Gold.
“I think I’m still flying under the radar a bit,” he said, “but anyone that finds out you play for the B’s — they’re excited, and everyone seems to be really happy and looking forward to this season, same as me.
“Anyone you talk to who lives in Boston seems to come back, so I can see why. This city is great. We’ve had a great time here so far, and I’m looking to keep enjoying it.”
He also is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to play in a market like Boston. Yes, there is pressure that comes along with it, but if there was no pressure, it would mean that nobody cared.
“Everyone’s watching because they love hockey, and they like supporting their team and their city,” Beleskey said. “I’ve been to a Red Sox game, going to be able to take in a Patriots game later this week, and you just see the passion in the city and how they love their sports, and that’s something I’m really excited for.”
He is excited to show Bruins fans his brand of hockey. In fact, he is pretty confident it will fall right in line with what the Bruins are all about.
“I’m going to be a physical forward — get in on the forecheck, try and get to the front of the net, create some room for linemates and I’m just going to be out there working hard, trying to lay it out on the line every game,” he said. “That’s something I try and pride myself on.”
Of course, Beleskey knows there could be pressure aimed directly at him this season, too. He’s new to this team, the expectations are lofty, and he is coming off a career year.
But there’s always pressure, he said, no matter who you are or where you play.
“I think there’s pressure being in the NHL every single season, when your team wants to do better than the year before,” he said. “Yeah, it’s a new group [in Boston], but there’s still a big core here, and obviously, they didn’t have the season they wanted to last year, but that’s why everyone’s hungry.
“You see how hard guys work here; they’re hungry to be better, so that’s a big thing.”