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Boychuk on Bruins: "This is My Family"

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MAJohnny Boychuk is well aware that the upcoming year is a contract year for him.

But as far as he’s concerned, he’s going about his business no different than he usually does. This summer was no different than any of the previous few summers. He has a training camp to prepare for, and a blueline to help commandeer in 2014-15.

“Just try to play your game, and try not to do anything extraordinary,” he said, when asked how he is preparing for the upcoming season. “Just, you know, just play solid.”

That — playing solid — is something Boychuk has become very proficient at over the last six years with the B’s, but never was it more evident than last year. Boston’s blueline suffered a barrage of injuries — most notably, to Adam McQuaid and to Dennis Seidenberg — and as a result, Boychuk needed to step up and accept a larger leadership role.

Not only did that mean he had to serve as a veteran presence for the plethora of inexperienced defensemen on the roster, but it also meant that he, alongside Zdeno Chara, had to anchor a very young defensive core. Boychuk did just that, and more.

He worked through injuries that could have knocked out anyone else for a lot longer. He came up with clutch goals at the most clutch times, like in Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs against Montreal. In the end, he had his best statistical season to show for it: five goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 75 games, with a plus-31 rating.

To Boychuk, accepting a greater role was simple. It was necessary, so he did it, and that’s all there was to it. That is the attitude Boychuk brings to most of his responsibilities with this team: if it needs to be done, it’s done, no questions asked.

In fact, last season may have prepared Boychuk for an even bigger leadership role he might need to adopt in 2014-15.

“Every year, somebody’s going to leave the team,” Boychuk said. “Even if you win the championship, there’s always somebody that’s going to leave the team. It’s not like you’re going to keep the same exact same team every year. You’re going to see guys coming in and going, and that’s part of the game.

“You know, if you like the place, like a lot of guys do here, you want to stay.”

That is also something that has been on Boychuk’s mind of late: His desire to remain in Boston.

Boychuk is well aware of the situation the Bruins find themselves in at present. They do not have much cap space to sign coveted players — of which Boychuk is one — and they do not expect to have much room for the next few years, with so many core players requiring new contracts. The blueliner enters the final year of his current three-year contract in 2014-15.

Boychuk believes himself to be one of those core players. Earlier this summer, Chiarelli indicated that he believes Boychuk is a part of that core, too.

“I’ve been here for a while,” Boychuk said. "And I mean, I’m not coming up from the American League like I was a couple of years ago. So it’s nice to be part of that, you know, core that we do have. I guess I am part of it; I think I am. We have such a good group. You would hate to see anything happen to it.”

Yet, the reality of the hockey business is that some tough decisions must be made.

“You don’t even have to worry about that,” Boychuk said. “You just have to play the way you can for right now, and all the time."

“I don’t know; it’s tough to hear [trade rumors]. But, you know, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what anybody says. If it happens, then you have to work on that part. But until it does, you can’t control it, so you just got to keep playing the way that you can. You know, you always want to stay here, but if something happens then it does, but you have no control over it. You want to stay with the guys you grew up playing with.”

That is the heart of the matter for Boychuk: the Bruins, he feels, are a part of his family, and Boston is his home away from home.

“This is my family, and you always want to stay with them,” he said. “It’s such a great team and organization.”

Though Boychuk admitted that the rumors can be irksome at times, he is doing his best to maintain his tunnel vision and focus only on what he can control — which, at the moment, is his performance in training camp, and eventually, in the 2014-15 season.

And when it comes to the upcoming season, there is plenty to ponder. The B’s did not end the 2013-14 campaign the way they had hoped or expected to. As a result, the new season will be about learning from the errors of the past and, as always, improving.

“We had a tough loss against Montreal,” Boychuk said. “We want to go obviously deeper than that, and every team’s goal every year is to win the Stanley Cup. That’s the goal we have right now."

“At this moment, we’re just worried about training camp and hope everybody’s healthy at the start of training camp until the end. Then we’ll start at the beginning of the season and go from there, and try to do as best as we can throughout the season and into the playoffs.”

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