BOSTON - In an attempt to strengthen the Bruins blueline with some offensive depth, Bruins Interim General Manager Jeff Gorton dealt defenseman Nick Boynton and a 2007 fourth round draft pick to the Phoenix Coyotes. In return, the B’s acquired local defenseman Paul Mara and the preference of either a 2007 or 2008 third round draft pick.
Mara also agreed to a two-year deal that will keep him in Boston through 2008. It’s a dream come true for Mara, who grew up in the Boston area and currently resides in Cape Cod during the off-season.
“I’m very excited,” said the defenseman en route to Fenway Park to catch a Red Sox game. “I grew up here and my family and friends are here, so coming back is a real exciting time and a big thrill for me.”
The Belmont native grew up rooting for the Bruins as a die-hard fan. He fondly remembers watching Ray Bourque and Cam Neely dominate the opposition.
“Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s being a hockey fan and being a defenseman, you always watched Ray (Bourque) play,” admitted Mara. “I grew up idolizing him and trying to emulate the way he played.”
As for Mara’s playing career, the 6’4”, 219-pound defenseman has done quite well for himself. He finished the 2006-07 season with career highs in goals and points with the Coyotes. The 1997 seventh overall draft pick tallied 15 goals and added 32 helpers for 47 points through 78 games. Mara believes his play will continue to improve too.
“Each year in the NHL, I have improved statistics wise and this past year was my best season,” he said, with career totals of 52-126=178 in 424 games played. “Hard work and the new rules have really helped my game and hopefully it’s just a taste of what is to come.”
According to Gorton, the Bruins are equally excited with the addition of Mara and cannot wait to see him in Black n’ Gold.
“The trade enabled us to get somebody who is more offensive and more capable on the power play,” said Gorton. “I think it will blend well with what we already have and we are looking forward to Paul coming here and wanting to be a part of the turnaround.”
The solid two-way defenseman is thrilled about reuniting in Boston with an old teammate as well. Mara became friends with David Tanabe after playing defense together in Phoenix.
“I played with Tanabe for a long time there and we became pretty good friends,” he said. “I talked to him last night after the trade went through and I’m pretty excited to be able to play with him again too.”
Tanabe was also pleased to see Mara coming home to Boston to wear the spoked-B. He feels Mara can log a lot of minutes on the ice and fortify the power play.
“I’m real excited for Paul to be coming back to his hometown to play,” said Tanabe via phone from his Minnesota home. “Paul has great offensive upside and with the stamina he has, I think he can really help us.